A couple of weeks ago I met with a learned friend of mine along with a few other people at his residence. Together, we broke bread and toasted to life over a bottle of Single Malt from the Scottish Highlands, as we took in the breath taking night skies of Kampala from one of the hilltops that comprise it. Needless to say, he was hosting, hence my indulgence in such fine and expensive drink bought with hard earned money from standing before the lords of the courts of this land.
As the drinks flowed, our tongues loosened tantamount to their flow. The conversation oscillated from one topic to another, encompassing all sorts of issues, from the cost of sugar to just how sexual this generation is. Politics obviously is never a topic to evade such gatherings and soon it reared its head amongst us. It’s always amazing to hear how much people have to say about our country, the prevailing events and the players therein. As I have done countless times, I opened up my mind to partake of the various opinions on the table, but I also opened my mouth to voice mine whenever I had one. It was a rather stimulating session of discourse. At one point I put forth a question; “You all seem to have some impassioned points of view and some great ideas too. Does any of you intend to act on them? Stand for office? Raise your voice objectively?” To my dismay, there was an unequivocal response “No. Never! Not in this country!” When I went ahead to prod further, I was told that it was because they all had so much to lose especially since they were all parents and had a business or two along with some assets to their names (I was the youngest amongst the gathering).
They were cautious about speaking out because it meant exposing themselves and their children to potential harm and loss. They were quick to lay reference to people who had been vociferous about political issues and disappeared figuratively or literally, into an abyss, never to be seen again.
What I saw at that table was fear. Fear and not caution.
Fear has held us back from doing what is right for so long. It is disguised in so many forms and manners, caution being a dominant one. It is little wonder that the phrase “Do not be afraid” appears in the Bible a total of 365 times. A reminder for each day of the year. Granted we may have a young democracy (it has not failed) and perhaps sometimes opinions have been gagged because they did not flow down the right stream, but does that mean that we should all stand idly by and be mere spectators to a game that we should be playing? Watching from afar and never coming close enough to even learn. Being subject matter experts of an activity we think we understand but in truth, are mere novices? Should we be afraid to make things better and help our leaders be better? Should we fear to speak up?
Now I am yet to become a parent and perhaps it may be why I failed to agree with them. In my mind’s eye, it should be the contrary. If I had a child, I would be looking beyond my current existence to what their future will be like. I would perhaps be even more emboldened to play a part in making this nation better, if not for me, for them and their children. I would cast my vote, protest bad policy, applaud great government initiatives (and push for more of the same), pay my tax religiously (and scream bloody murder when it is misused) and maybe even take up public office to serve (and serve in the true sense of it)
This is not a call for anyone to take arms or lay waste to the progress that has been achieved to date. It is simply a provocation to you my kith and kin to take a more active role in how your country is run. Get involved in the micro levels of governance in your communities, your neighbourhoods and your schools. Use your voice objectively (take note of the meaning of objectivity) and for those of you in position to listen, open not only your ears, but your minds. Learn your biases, then unlearn them. Appreciate different opinions, internalize them and act on them where necessary. Understand what is at stake, not only for you and your children, but for theirs after them and make it count. But it has to start somewhere.
PS. This is a twist in the plot that has become my usual Monday liturgy in form of my blog posts, but hey….structured randomness is my theme after all. See you next Monday.
PPS. I have not forgotten about the Vitz either, but today I decided to tackle more serious issues and not bring games and toys to the table.