“You Want Another Rap”
This will go in Uganda’s election history as one of the wittiest inventions by then NRM Presidential flag bearer Gen Y.K. Museveni in the 2011 elections. This song took the country by storm. From night clubs, FM and TV stations to phones, social networks etc, Mzee stole the show!!!
Despite its irrelevance to Uganda’s contemporary issues, political commentators opined that the hiphop-oriented track was designed to appeal to the country’s largest constituency–the youth! Early this year, I met one of the brains behind this song and they confirmed this notion.
Naturally, by constituting over 70% of Uganda’s population, the youth have the numerical strength to shape the political, social and economic destiny of this country. In fact, I have argued that under ideal circumstances, it should be the youth dishing out affirmative-action packages to other “special” groups in Uganda, especially the elderly basing on their numbers.
Furthermore, their (in)famous ‘fresh blood’ connotes novel ideas and perspectives to Uganda’s problems. Being tech-savvy strategically positions them to research and analyze the country’s challenges and propose conceptually-reasoned, innovative, contemporary and world class solutions to these problems unlike the elders who can hardly hold a mouse of a computer.
The youth are energetic. Being below 35 years means more zeal and energy to work. They seldom suffer age-related health complications like diabetes, blood pressure, heart complications, etc. Their brains are fully functional and can work for long hours. Thus, they are in position to channel much energy to national issues unlike the unhealthy, sleepy, worked-out and tired old people.
Lastly, the youth are risk takers. By having less accumulated wealth, probably no family etc., they are well positioned to take Ugandans to the biblical Promised Land. This is because majority of them have less personal interests at stake (businesses, family, property etc.). Literally, they have nothing to lose as opposed to the oldies that have to worry about their (ill-gotten) wealth, huge families, reputation, social class etc.
In one public lecture, Norbert Mao, the President General of the Democratic Party stated that he is more proud of the things he did as a youth—defeating a Cabinet Minister and later leading a censure move against another, opposing the sale of UCB etc.
As a matter of fact, most of the NRM fighters were youth (Gen. Saleh started fighting at 16) and they held big positions when they were below 35 (Muntu, Mayombo, Besigye, et al) and the country, it can be argued was doing well. Same can be said of the Independence heroes who were mostly young people.
But what is the reality in Uganda today? The youth are the ones taking part in divisive politics; soliciting or giving bribes; being used to fight other people’s wars; filling up space in our Prisons; asking for representation in Parliament as “Special Interest Group” (can you imagine?); engaging in street violence, etc. Completely misguided!
A section of youth kneel down to show their support for a certain candidate (Internet Photo)
This has led me to one realization—vulnerability is not about numbers but rather about status. Mere being the majority does not necessarily translate into being a powerhouse. Little wonder, any loaded old man/woman, can literally arm twist an entire hoard of youth to tow his/her line—in most cases, to their detriment.
I am not saying the youth should not be ruled by the aged or that the elderly are bad people. Even a forest has both young and old trees (as some politician argued last year). My issue with the youth is their failure, despite their comparative advantage over the aged, to organize themselves into a bigger force to shape the national agenda in all spheres of the country. Instead, they are the most disorganized, abused and misguided lot this country has arguably produced.
I regret being a youth today!!!