During his address to The East African Legislation Assembly (EALA) in Kigali, Rwanda on 24th April 2004, Uganda’s long time President Yoweri Museveni said, “Why Africans forget easily… it is really amazing”. Museveni asked EALA Members of Parliament if they remember Mau Mau. As it seems, they did not respond the way Museveni wanted. So he pointlessly attacked all Africans based on the reaction of a few MPs, saying that they forget easily. Is Museveni a white man he likes to beg and blame? Did Museveni utter this out of irresponsibility, arrogance or mere ignorance and forgetfulness?
Today’s piece will pick a bone with Museveni who seems to say much without thinking. Are there any Africans who forget easily like Museveni and Robert Mugabe? I am trying to imagine. If such rubbishes would have been uttered by a white person what’d have been our reaction? I’m wondering. The media didn’t pick this abuse to show how racists sometimes some of our people can be.
Museveni isn’t alone in this racist race. Who’s forgotten how South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, recently showed disrespect and racist remarks about Africans as if he weren’t an African? He said, “We can’t think like Africans in Africa generally. We are in Johannesburg. It’s not some national road in Malawi.” For Zuma, J’burg that’s built by white racists is a big deal. J’burg for Zuma is a symbol of pride that one can pointlessly use to discriminate other Africans. Has he forgotten how J’burg’s built? Is Zuma among the Africans Museveni says forget easily because of the powers they abuse and misuse? None withstanding, Zuma’s forgotten that he’s not one of those whose policies of robbing the public and build his home village, built J’burg. In other words, Zuma’s trying to take credit where he didn’t perform. This is theft by legal definition.
As for Museveni, it is sad for the guy who’s been in power forcefully for decades to say such degrading words. Try to imagine. If such words were uttered by UK Prime Minister or the President of France, what’d have been the response from our Think Tanks and media, even the likes of Museveni? Has he forgotten that he’s an African like Zuma? Does Museveni remember some of his vows, some of which is the one of not overstaying in power? Again, for over two decade now, Museveni’s nary remembered that he’s overstayed in power!
Swahili sage that Museveni likes to mix with English has it, “Nyani haoni kundule namely the monkey does not see its back.” Interestingly, it is the same Museveni who seems to forget easily and think that all African do the same. For instance, Museveni took a dig on others for calling United Nations into their affairs which he called the vote of no confidence from the people. Obviously he’s referring to the DRC after it called UN to flush M23 away. He forgot that DRC was weakened by his invasion and his clandestine support to M23. Again, when the same Museveni tried to catch and kill Joseph Kony failed, he went himself to the same UN. Indirectly, his target was Kenya that took her case before the International Criminal Court (ICC). To Museveni this is failure.
Museveni went on showing how he easily forgets. He said, “China and Japan were backward technologically at that very time. This is not true. Historically, China was ahead of other countries in the world save that the king abolished his ambitious programs of building bigger ships that Europe had ever seen. The Europeans tried to colonise them but failed.” Even when Brits arrived in China for the first time they were baffled with the level of development and technological advancement China enjoyed. History shows and proves that China and Japan were vanquished and colonized. Museveni mentioned Opium war. To prove how he forgets easily he said that the British were defeated. Really? After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, if my memory serves me rightly, Britain won after its troops and those of France under General Sir James Hope Grant and Lieutenant General Cousin-Montauban defeated China three years thereafter. Again, whose fault’s this? Is it Museveni’s or his speech writers? Again, for the person who’s well educated and sane, you don’t pick up the speech and read it as it is. You do your own research in order to corroborate the facts and issues instead of regurgitating just like Museveni did to end up abusing all Africans and telling lies.
Again, Museveni’s naked abuses that Africans forget easily should be taken seriously. And he’d be told to his face that generalization’s the refuge for uneducated and lazy people. Academically, nothing’s sacrilegious to commit like generalizing everything without any gist of research. Mao Tse-tung used to say, “No investigation, no right to speak.” Africans don’t forget easily. If they do, they do so like any other human beings. So too, China didn’t defeat Britain in two Opium Wars.
When faced with reality of America being hated by many people under George W. Bush, Michael Moore, in his book “Stupid White Men”, wrote, “Friends, when are we going to stop kidding ourselves?” The same token fits Museveni and Zuma. Guys, when are you going to stop lying to us yourselves included? Again, Arabic proverb has it that arrogance diminishes wisdom.
Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.