One nursery school song goes “Twagya tuli mbuzi, kati tugunjuse, abazadde mwebale okutuwerera translated as “We came ignorant, but now we are enlightened…” A key lesson in primary school is matching professionals with their designated work ie lecturers educate, farmers cultivate, freedom-fighters liberate, and a wrong answer got you spanked.
Such clarity of purpose in life steered us to our career choices through secondary and tertiary education, and finally into the marketplace.
Fast forward to 2013, the Emperor audaciously told university lecturers to go rear goats, without caring who would fill the void of mass sensitisation. Public sneers at goat tending were soon quelled by legislator Muhanga who testified that goats are transcendentally lucrative!
Her Shs10 billion profits justified random career switches akin to Dr Awor’s recent wish to quit her PhD-based university job to become KCCA executive director’s driver because the latter’s salary is 400 per cent more. Now His Excellency is personally leading nationwide radio classes on mandatory land acquisition!
Where are the community leaders, lawyers and journalists whose role the emperor is constrained to undertake? What became of delegation, good governance, empowering expert subordinates to engage grass root stakeholders and leave the head to focus on the vision?
What obliges the Commander-in-Chief on this mission? I perused the publicity flyer and it boldly stated: ‘Tune in! President Museveni answers all your questions on land matters between September 4-9, 2017 on radio stations in Kabale, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Hoima, Mubende and Masaka! Can a leader have all the answers?
Arguably a good leader makes a good teacher. But a great teacher is teachable too, listens attentively and humbly admits criticism or difficult questions. For instance, what do Ugandans lose if Article 26 of the Constitution is not amended?
So where is this initiative headed? What needs assessment led us to escalate land matters to the highest Executive? Are talk shows the best use of our President’s time yet we await his response to the calls for action against the escalating rape and murder in his Entebbe neighbourhood?
How shall we assess its output to verify better mass awareness? Is the commander’s personal control the most effective antidote to widespread opposition to the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2017? What is the opportunity cost foregone in his administrative role?
What cost-benefit analysis warranted investing in this costly drive? What a bizarre waste of meagre public resources because the financial, security and operational logistics of organising a week’s presidential activity in five districts are rigorous!
Is this school short of qualified teachers that only the principal must race and pant from class to class teaching this topic? Who then is administering his office? And does that not displace teachers to go off goat rearing? Honestly, this initiative reflects a “one-man show” where the alpha male is the author and finisher of land knowledge. It engenders dubious urgency in a power-driven mission, demoralises similar efforts and devalues civic participation.
Undeniably, a seasoned veteran commands mercenaries in battlefields: But not battalion classrooms. So it is also counter-intuitive to go against the wishes of one’s own caucus, which can better influence their constituencies. Even Jesus who recruited 12 disciples, occasionally suffered burn-outs, yet did not conquer all of Jerusalem.
Teaching is no easy job, but it is a noble profession. It entails imparting accurate knowledge in an open and safe environment where learners interrogate controversy without fear or favour. The instructor must command their trust and confidence as he deciphers their spoken and unspoken interests, and permits them to also teach each other.
Already, several institutions with lawful mandate, and technical competence are sensitising land owners and users about the amendment, and its repercussions. They include parliamentarians, the Bamugemereiwe Land Commission, local government, cultural leaders and civil society organisations.
Thus the presidential initiative should avoid duplication and instead support existing initiatives by restoring trust and confidence in them. This sensitive balancing act will deliver the desired results from the populace, without compromising fundamental rights to property.
Can we please leave these land matters to the community sensitisation generals, so that they teach us to how to think, and not what to think?
Otherwise, may the Emperor’s shows edify his listeners to realise how much control they possess over their land, and equip them to boldly harness that power to fiercely defend their rights. To all lecturers, may the convictions of your calling stimulate your learners into a fresh sense of curiosity over this urgency to compulsorily take private land, and to creatively surmount its evils.