Summary: Comrade Bidandi Ssali [BS] may no longer be the Socialist firebrand he once was (many no longer are) but, as they say, I am skeptical that he is the one now calling for people not to demonstrate ‘peacefully’ and for Mmengo politicians to remember and not hide behind the “glass cupboard“. He contradicts himself when, after calling for peaceful ‘demos’ [as though the demonstrators, and not the police, are the ones who provoke the situation with Kibokos and teargas0. How can we be sure, old SB is serious this time around, and not doing a “M7” again, as he did in 1996 (leave alone 1980)?
History, as they say, is a good teacher. Have a look bellow:
1/5. In1964, a picture, recently repeated from the archives, show two young men fighting it out with a group of other activists. These young men are Bidandi Ssali (a KCC councilor) and one Ssegwanga Misisi, of UPC Buganda, at their regional office, Kampala. The struggle: UPC and KY has agreed that KY should not open Branches in Buganda. Now, this was happening and the task of spreading the UPC in Buganda was in the hands of these violent young men. Calling for ‘non-violence today, on the part of Mzee BS therefore, is being unfair to the jobless youth of today.
2/5. In 1980, when trying to convenience Ssemo to leave Obote’s henchmen alone and to boycott the elections, he used these words, “..aba DP berabidde nti omupiira gw’enaku zinno si gwa bigere ng’ogw’edda, wabula gwa buutusi“. The DP’s have forgotten that today’s’ football, unlike that in older times, is not played bear-footed but with boots). What he meant was that, Ssemwogere’s DP had forgotten that those days, politics was for armed, not gentlemen-politicians. BS and M7 were calling for the boycott of the 1980 election then. DP answered: “We must register so that, even when we later boycott, the effect is quantifiable”. “Even if Muwanga and Co. steal our votes, they can’t finish them” (hence the saying “you can’t drink L. Victoria dry“). What we since harvested was Luweero and the rest is history.
The lesson here is that it should not be for Mzee BS to lecture people on how to handle the armed, violent NRM goons without doing it ‘forcefully’ [Bidandi, to be fair to him, never agreed with M&’s insurgency option a la Luwero, though he ended up at the University of knowledge, at Mpanga – the true name for Luzira landing site, on the shores of L. Victoria].
3/5. In 1996, M7 has already extended his rule beyond his own imposed stay in power. People were already smelling a rat. On the propaganda (elect M7) team, to convenience Buganda especially, was BS. So, beside a caption of Luweero skulls (on TV and in the press) and a burst of gun-fire (on the radios too), BS comes out with an advice of the wise, “Olina ke weekolededde?” [meaning something like: ” Remember! As you consider your choice, remember the Luweero violence and the fact that you are, today, able to do something peacefully. Have you already had enough..?”]. Result: M7 got more than 86% of the vote especially in Buganda.
4. At Kyankwanzi, about 10 years ago, BS had woken up. He (apparently) crossed the Rubincon: “We promised people this was our last chance. We cannot be seen to eat our words. We must show the difference“. He, like Matembe, etc were fired at the next reshuffle. meaning that, BS knows the truth, whatever he decides to do or say now.
5/5. Conclusion: BS may have mellowed with age (as they say, “obukade magezi” = age comes with wisdom). BS was a violent youth himself. he supported/mentored M7 for more than 20 years and served his government for more than a decade as the Minister for local government [he introduced de-tribalised district names hence Mbale instead of Bugisu, Gulu instead of Acholi, etc]. When he therefore seems to say that people should ‘be soft on M7, when opposing him”, people smell a rat. Why? This is not being himself – the firebrand we knew in 1964, etc. Instead, it reminds us of the 1996 Bidandi, who warned people, “olina ke weekoledde”? It is like he is asking Ugandans the same question again. On his warning to Mmengo, BS show ‘no change’. he has been ‘anti Mmengo for the last 50 years. No surprise here, therefore. Let one hope he is not looking for a PPP (his party’s) portfolio in the next M7 cabinet, a la Omara Atubo, Dr. Malinga, etc.