Poem: The debase II–extravaganza


Presidential candidates hold hands during Saturday presidential debate

chichichichi, grandson, my ribs are too old for this…apana, apana

its true grandpa, Mabirizi missed half the debate

and went to Africana instead of Serena hotel?

its just a rumour grandpa

how about storming aristoc for a dictionary?

I hear he mistook foreign policy for foreign police

and the calculator from Oasis mall?

I hear to tally his mock elections

so, he nearly missed the debase?

yes, but he said coming late is a president’s protocol

wait, wait, waaaiiittt…so he is the president?

no grandpa, the president is Museveni

the one who called the debase childish,

a talking competition for school kids?

yes, grandpa, he walked in like our headmaster coming for assembly

clutching his register with the names of latecomers under his armpit?

exactly grandpa, he greeted everyone like our headmaster greets teachers on duty

so the headmaster finally joined the primary debase?

De-BA-TE grandpa, the second presidential debate

and how did he explain missing the first primary debase?

that he was fa-aaa-r away grandpa

far away? was he outside the country?

no grandpa, at his home talking with yellow women

like lady Kyanywa? did he really play hide and seek with her?

Kyalya grandpa, she sat next to him, glancing at his notes, smiling all the time

and he seductively grabbed her hand as the crowd clapped?

yes grandpa, he dragged her off stage and disappeared in a dark corner,

when they returned, she received a presidential cup of tea

and then Amani amorously stole her away?

Amama grandpa, he walked across the stage, took her hand lightly,

amid cheers, and pulled her away

Ooh my! Valentine’s Day eve!

yes grandpa, even Justice Ogoola saw the whole thing

the man of big words? did he curve poetry out of it?

yes grandpa, he called it an…extravaganza…

and the man of eyes? he missed the romantic scene?

his wife was around grandpa, marking her territory

the one with glasses and sweet smiles?

yes grandpa. Winnie Byanyima, a real First Lady

First Lady? the wife of the headmaster?

no grandpa, the actual first lady is Janet Kataaha

Ooh, so Kyanywa seized the moment to sing nursery rhymes?

Yes grandpa, Kyalya was singing about change

Tetetetete! Sunday school! And the headmaster called the song fiction?

no grandpa, he meant Bwanika’s Kabale commando film

ooh yes, rescuing a demoiselle in distress with guns?

yes grandpa, with karate and taekwondo too,  the president even

endorsed him for a Nobel Prize in Literature

chichichichi, grandson, leave my tired ribs alone…

I’m not lying grandpa, it was an important decision in his life

ooh, did the headmaster discern fact from fiction?

yes, he told his own story of Zabuloni, grandpa,

Zabuloni, a drunk NRA soldier, killed a mwanainchi,

Minister Jim Muhwezi blamed beer for the civilian’s death,

so, Museveni ordered both Zabuloni and his beer shot dead

Hmn! was that his worst decision?

no grandpa, his worst was failing to shoot Idi Amin’s soldiers

remind me, didn’t he talk of security last time?

yes grandpa, we will lock up all who disturb security, he said

and what did Amani say about that?

well grandpa, Amama said security was absence of war

what did he mean by that?

that the Karimajong can’t have security when they are dying of hunger or 83% of youth being unemployed or 16 mothers dying everyday in childbirth…

and what will he do about all this?

change, change everything, grandpa

and the soldier who talked about bribes agreed with this?

Maj Gen Benon Biraaro grandpa? he wants a unity government

retired but not tired, I see. what did he say about R. Nile?

That there would be no war over water

like the Congo war and Shs10bn damages?

I hear UPDF stole Congo riches, so we have to pay

what was the headmaster’s take?

he said International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court are biased, that he was leaving those courts, grandpa

leave ICJ and ICC? and go where?

we must have African Court of Justice, he said,

and an East African super state

super state? he means to unite East Africa?

yes grandpa, he said since USA is the nucleus of Europe,

EAC will be the nucleus of Africa

and the man of eyes supported this?

not entirely grandpa, Besigye said the federation is,

about East African people, not the leaders

Ooh that reminds me: who was that yellow man,

moseying from corner to corner causing commotion?

Ofwono Opondo grandpa, the government spokesman

was he the chief organiser of the debase?

ofcourse not. he said debates are a waste of time

and he showed up? was he an usher?

you could mistake him for one, grandpa, but no

Hmn! citizens and subjects!

That’s Shaka Ssali grandpa, he asked if we belong to a king

ahaa! that was a good one. slaves or refugees?

I only heard Congolese, Rwandans, Tanzanians, Kenyans, S.Sudanese all come to Uganda to vote

and the headmaster allowed this to be said to his face?

yes grandpa. “This proves I’m the only one who can manage Uganda,” he replied

ho! ho! this must have sent his comrades cackling!

yes grandpa, Bwanika told him never to call oil “my oil” again

my oil? who calls something God put in the soil “my oil”?

Museveni, grandpa, he says his government discovered the oil

didn’t I hear Mbirizi say oil was a curse?

not really, he only said it can destroy the environment

and the man of eyes just sat there and looked on?

no grandpa, he said stealing votes sends people to tall grass

tall grass? do we still build grass-thatched houses?

not for building grandpa, he meant the Luweero bush war

ooh, and what did Amani say?

Amama said he would fight dictatorship to the death

wasn’t he in government for 30 years?

yes, he said…well, that he thought things would change

why not leave miracles to that born-again soldier?

Biraaro? he said the army is not “my army” but serves the people

what does he mean my army? who owns the army?

Museveni grandpa, he built it from 27 [or 41] volunteers all by himself

eeh, what did the “mother of the nation” think about this?

Kyalya? she said Ugandans are slaves of Indians for “my money”

my money? whose money are we talking about?

Museveni’s money grandpa, he says it’s all his

come on! don’t play with me grandson

its true grandpa,

did he then promise to leave power?

NEVER grandpa, old age, overstaying in power,

is a wrong argument, he said

in short, he is here to stay?

yes grandpa, he said after 30 years, he needs more time

eeh, that sounds like Jesus’ second coming!

what’s that grandpa?

[deep sigh]. I think I need a long rest my grandson.


Rogers Atukunda, the author, is a writer and journalist.

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