Uganda: If Weed Wasn’t Harmful to Lumumba, Why Is Museveni Obsessed About Bobi Wine’s Past Smoking?

Can bashing weed help?

Museveni–obsessed with Bobi Wine’s past, smoking ganja. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

[The View From Uganda]

On social media, the battle to win the hearts and minds of Ugandan voters is characterized by the violence of the tongue. With the opposition giving the government tongue lashings at every turn that would win any verbal prizefight. 

Recently, however, the Empire has decided to strike back. Suddenly, social media is now awash with NRM posters which embrace the accomplishments of its opposition. 

One such poster read: Bobi Wine: “A ghetto kid who made a successful career out of his MDD from Makerere University. He has enjoyed many “high” moments in his life as a result of the peace and economic stability in Uganda. He now even believes he can rise “high” enough to be president”. 

Then, the sign off: “Bobi secured his future under Sevo. You should too. #secureyourfuture”. 

“Sevo,” is the nickname for Museveni. 

You can see for yourself how this backhanded compliment about Bobi securing his future under “Sevo” is riddled with references to his previous life as a premier weed smoker. However let’s first look at the NRM’s attempt to claim Bobi’s success as their own. By inference, according to NRM, Bobi has benefited from the economic stability and peace prevalent in Uganda under President Yoweri Museveni. 

Of course economic stability is a relative term, with relatives of the president enjoying it more than his non-relatives. For the nepotism, tribalism and cronyism underpinning this stability are as clear as the proverbial yellow used to denote sheer cowardice. 

Indeed, it is sheer cowardice to hide one’s shortcomings behind the achievements of one’s opponents as the NRM has done. Without a doubt, Bobi has achieved what he has achieved in spite of NRM rule; not because of it. For Bobi managed to rise above a Uganda where the poor have little hope of escaping hunger, cold, damp, disease, and exposure. 

In our Uganda, the destitute flood the streets. Thieves brush past, trying to rob you. As other thugs test the edges of knives they use to slice the straps that attach Chinese Gucci handbags to chic Kampala ladies. Above this crucible of chaos, a mafia masquerades as a state. 

By the NRM piggy-backing on Bobi’s achievements, the image of the elephant and the mouse is incarnated to us. You recall the fable of when the mouse hopped onto the back of an elephant for a ride? At one point, the elephant, with the mouse on its back, got to a rickety bridge. Due to the weight of the elephant, the bridge shook as the elephant walked across it. Meantime, the mouse was jubilant. 

“Look at how we are shaking this bridge! We are so powerful!” the mouse exclaimed. 

The poor mouse didn’t know that the elephant would’ve shaken the bridge with or without it. Ditto Bobi and the mousy NRM.  

Again, Bobi has been reportedly pilloried by several government functionaries for smoking weed. Two weeks ago, there were posters of him, seemingly lost in a haze of weed smoke, that were pinned around the perimeter wall of the Electoral Commission offices when he went to meet with commission officials.

Evidently, President Museveni is obsessed with Bobi’s weed. However, this is not new. “UPM was founded to remove the ‘Marijuana’ of confusion from the heads of Ugandans,” Museveni said at a rally in Gulu District on October 6, 1980. UPM was the party he headed in the 1980 elections. 

It seems it is this very weed which sent clouds of smoke into the sky which now pervade the country. Thereby presenting a clear and present danger to his yellowed government as ex-ganja king Mr. Wine attempts a Double Whammy: putting the past behind us while removing Museveni at the same time. In a word, he hopes to kill two birds with one stoner. 

That said, maybe Bob Marley was right: “Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.”

One senior Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) officer claimed weed would impair Wine’s ability to run Uganda towards the fabled Middle Income Status president Museveni lullabies us about. However I think it’s ironic that Patrice Lumumba, who is seen as a martyred saint to the UPDF soldiery, reportedly smoked more weed than Jamaica. 

True, the Americans and Belgians wanted Lumumba out so they could install a puppet who would protect their interests. And Lumumba proved too legit to quit, so they killed him. In brief, if weed didn’t impair Lumumba’s leadership it’s safe to say that it will not harm Bobi’s. 

So if the UPDF can love Lumumba in spite of his ‘high’ standing, Bobi should be given a similar shot at some UPDF loving.Then, for the first time, Uganda shall have a new commander in chief who has not been minted by war and devastation. 

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