Two senior Ugandan journalists Andrew Mwenda and Timothy Kalyegira have launched an attack at what they term as “pretenders” running the “Save Carol campaign”.
The campaign coordinated by Muhereza Kyamutetera has so far raised Shs200m of the Shs270m needed to help Carol Atuhairwe get treatment in the US.
Carol is battling throat and lung cancer.
In his biting piece titled “The pretentious Kampala car wash fundraising drives”, Kalyegira says such drives were started by Gen. Katumba Wamala while still the Inspector-General of Police to raise funds for the police to buy patrol vehicles.
“It reached a new peak with the ailing Rosemary Nankabirwa, the former NTV news anchor. It skipped the ailing UBC TV news anchor Francis Bbale. Last weekend it went to the cancer patient Carol Atuhaire.”
Kalyegira says if the patient was, say a sick barefooted shamba boy, the “newfound celebrity/social fundraising” would skip him.
He says this social media philanthropy targets socialites or media personalities not the common person.
“Then from music stars to media personalities, to socialites and celebrity hangers-on, everyone will flock to a Panamera Bar or a Serena Hotel car park in Kampala to be seen to be washing a car as part of a fundraising drive for the young, fashionable and beautiful.”
He says all it takes is “being beautiful, a socialite or a fashionable media personality” and Ugandans will rush to your aid.
“From the cocky photos they posted on their Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter timelines during the Panamera event, one saw what this “celebrity” car wash was all about – self-indulgence.”
“(If only they could at least go to the cancer ward at Mulago Hospital, see for themselves the human misery and wash its floors and toilets, not these flashy cars.)” Kalyegira notes.
He said the car wash has become a chance to show off one’s latest car, handbag, phone or tattoo.
“Just another Blankets & Wine drinking binge. A goat race. An awards ceremony. A weekend out to party and take selfies.”
Mwenda fires out
In his “A frank memo to our elite” published by the Independent Magazine on April 25, 2016, Mwenda says cancer is not a major killer, not even among the top 20 killer diseases.
“So why all this self-righteous indignation? So the outrage is not about the ordinary masses but the interests of those that control weapons of mass propaganda.”
He further writes: “The thing I admire about Ugandan elites is our self-indulgence. We write in holierthan-thou tones, appealing to public emotions domestically and perhaps for recognition among the donor elite. We denounce those who have “failed the public trust” insinuating that if we were in their positions things would do better. Our audiences applaud us in silent (sometimes loud) admiration. This is the political point-scoring and public grand-standing we hypocritically indulge in to deceive ourselves that we care more about “the common man” than those who are elected to serve him.”
Mwenda says the Ugandan health sector is not managed by people from England or Chad but by our alumni, friends, relatives, relatives of friends, neighbours, in-laws etc.
They are not mean, cruel and heartless people out to destroy the country and harm its citizens, he states, but agrees that some are corrupt, others negligent and many incompetent and this causes myriad dysfunctions in our public health sector.
Mwenda doesn’t see any reason for the outcry that followed the breakdown of Mulago hospital radiotherapy machine.
In any case, he says, things that really affect the common man go unnoticed by celebrities with their unregulated social media platforms.