Sleep raids Serena, takes Museveni’s ministers hostage

You can as well equate what happened at Serena Conference Centre on Thursday to kidnappings and hostage-taking scenarios dramatised in the violent Mexican films.

Figuratively speaking, sleep which has of recent found fertile ground in President Yoweri Museveni’s ministers, was at large as the President delivered the 2015 State of the Nation Address.

It all started at a point when the President was busy taking on Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal, over the bad culture of brown envelopes and handouts given to electorates everywhere Museveni visits.

“But I am the president and you (Cecilia) are not,” Museveni was labouring to explain, sending the hall into bouts of laughter.

Lukyamuzi, Kajura open the sleeping session

Famous for his calculating and unpredictable nature, Rubaga South MP, also leader of the Conservative Party, Ken Lukyamuzi, utilized the opportunity and stealthily stole away to slumber land.


MP Lukyamuzi opens the sleeping session [All pictures credit: Brian Kwesiga] 

As Lukyamuzi was sliding fast into deep sleep, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Service, Henry Muganwa Kajura, also started blinking faster and faster…trying to keep steady and awake.

The battle took only seconds and the minister was soon overpowered.

The aging and tired Kajura at last relaxed his eyelids and was fast asleep in the next moments.


Musisi, Kagina apply anti-sleeping tactics

Conscious of the nosy journalists that were alert and recording whoever tried to doze off, two powerful women, both executive directors of top government institutions, invented an anti-sleeping tactic.

The two ladies; Jennifer Musisi (ED KCCA) and Allen Kagina (ED UNRA) sent for mugs of strong black African tea/coffee.


Musisi and Kagina sip at their coffee


They sipped at their concentrated coffee and maintained a womanly but steady chit-chat to stay awake all through the address.

Nantaba and Jeje Odongo devise the Ferguson-strategy

Before you can credit Musisi and Kagina for their technique, you need to first weigh it against the creative Ferguson-strategy employed by ministers Aidah Erios Nantaba (Lands) and Gen Jeje Odongo (State minister for Defence).

Sir Alexander Chapman “Alex” Ferguson, a Scottish former football manager and player who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013, is famed for his non-stop chewing of gum “technique” that helped him win 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League and two UEFA Champions League titles in his career.

Jokes aside, Nantaba and Odongo stormed Serena with packets of chewing gum hid in a bag/pockets (respectively), sat comfortably and waited.

When the President took to the podium, Nantaba quietly opened her bag, rummaged it, pulled out a packet of gum and expertly extracted a piece while keeping her eyes glued on Museveni.


Nantaba is the genius behind the “chewing-to-avoid-sleep” tactic

She then cast quick side glances to ensure no one was looking, then quickly threw the gum into her mouth and started chewing very fast.

Unfortunately for her, Odongo had studied all her movements through the sharp lens of his glasses; the General too quickly let his hand drop into his coat only to return with gum which he chewed with equal vigour.

A few other ministers also borrowed a leaf from the duo and took to gum chewing; soon, the hall was like a Maasai kraal with ministers enthusiastically “chewing the cud”.

Inspite of these tactics, sleep nearly wrestles Gen Ali to the floor  

While the two techniques were working miracles for some ministers, sleep too changed its strategy like the little bird Eneke nti oba who learnt to fly without perching after men had mastered the art of shooting without missing.

Anyway, General Moses Ali, the current Third Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business, in his usual brilliant style, took advantage of his dark glasses and dozed off.

During the 2014 state-of-the-nation address, Gen Ali wore sunglasses too dark to enable anyone to see whether his eyes were open or closed-it works for him all the time.

They say when you go to a place where they eat flies, you try them too.

A dignitary donning the most respectable clothing in Africa (Agbada is the Yoruba name for a type of flowing wide sleeved robe, usually decorated with embroidery, which is worn throughout much of Nigeria by important men, such as kings and chiefs, and on ceremonial occasions like weddings and funerals) had also brought his glasses along.


Dignitary shows the West African version of sleeping at functions


Having mastered Ali’s style, the dignitary tracked down the General, caught up with him just at the gates of slumber land and rolled in together.

Meanwhile, the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, had employed his military genius to monitor his senior, Gen Ali’s eye-movements.

Soon as Gen Ali stole away, Otafiire who was seated beside Information minister, Jim Muhwezi, used his home advantage and slept like a baby.


Otafiire, the legend


Otafiire is becoming a legend; in February 2015, while attending the requiem mass of the late Assistant Inspector General of Police, Julius Shariita, Otafiire joined by Jova Kamateeka, the Mitooma Woman MP, Otafiire nearly fell of his chair while sleeping in church.

Presently, as Otafiire snored and snored, the International Relations minister, Henry Okello Oryem, who had been given the magical chewing gums, pretended to be leading a short prayer.

Head bowed and arms held prayerfully between his lap, Oryem, half-heartedly fell into a deep sleep but kept nodding his head forwards and backwards as if to let in the President’s words (I doubt if he heard any).


Oryem (L) leading “a short prayer”


For the sake of keeping a colleague company, the Minister of State for Regional Cooperation, Dr Philemon Mateke, also Uganda’s oldest serving minister, leant on his “walking stick” and wobbly-wobbly, gave Oryem a “sleeping hand”.

And as so it was at Serena, dear reader, at least for a couple of hours as is always the case whenever Ugandan ministers attend a function of national importance.

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