Hypocrisy knows how to dress well. It is trained in the tactics of ‘show and hide’; it knows how to outwit even those who seek to uphold what is right.
In Uganda, we routinely witness ‘elephant-sized’ scandals of corruption. Year after year, we are rated among the most corrupt, internationally and in 2021, ranked 144 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption. These and more continue to ravage the dignity of our public institutions yet we, for the most part, direct our rebuke only to those that cannot threaten our social standing and status.
Our focus is often terribly misplaced. We are quick to label as “so bad” the one that goes contrary to the preferred mode of dress. And, on any election day, we are willing to vote for a well-dressed, well-spoken family man who will flagrantly suck public funds into oblivion. But a badly behaved woman candidate, even if she’s passionate about the fundamental change we claim we need, is where we draw the line.
Very articulate and sturdy candidates continue to lose elections because voters perceive them as, “too much,” i.e., immoral and not on the basis that they are or were incompetent at the time of contesting for those elective positions. The majority of those candidates that have crossed over, and now, legislators, are for the most part, posturing as representatives of the downtrodden masses of people in their constituencies yet they support tyrannical bills such as the Computer Misuse Bill and the constitutional amendment Bill of 2017 that were passed in into law by the National Assembly.
Any attempts at holding such and any other hypocritical leaders accountable are often futile, in part because of their clever apologists who are benefiting from the state of affairs. These people often scour forums of public opinion searching for any criticisms which they will routinely counter to defend and disguise the harmful effluvium that is the consequence of what is happening.
In a move to disguise and distract, a faction of the ‘respectable folk’ benefitting from the flawed system have presented themselves as ‘the hope’ – exploiting their rhetorical gifts and talents as well as facetiously crafting diatribes against these injustices. However, on closer observation, one will find that there is in fact, an unbelievably huge disconnect between what is publicly proclaimed and that which they actually practice.
If indeed, the hero among the oppressed is one who speaks up against oppression, isn’t it tragic when said hero is also in bed with the system? Will the cries of aggrieved persons reach the ears of the self-aggrandized, egocentric potentates in the higher realm – if the messenger is dining with the recipients?
Isn’t it insane that many, obsessed with populism, money and power only posture through eloquent writing or media interviews which endlessly make cases for; humanity, empathy, responsibility, honesty, truth, and accountability but hardly, if ever, care to translate into practice, any of such values? Meanwhile, their real intention is to stay aligned with the prevailing power structures while their actual behaivors are contributing to conditions upon which other pathological inequalities thrive?
At Trinity College Nabbingo, our school motto was, “Be True,” and that taught me that one of the highest, principal values of life is “Truth.” And, the degree to which a particular society views truth and honors it will greatly influence those who are assigned the important responsibility to uphold truthfulness.
While all such weighty topics such as the ‘gate-keepers of truth’ are imbued with a degree of complexity, they ultimately affect the quality of development of our institutions and the general quality of life of individual citizens.
When shall we get restless because our conscience is opposed to all the ways we are estranged from the paths of integrity? When shall we choose to self-discipline and cease to sacrifice what is most important for all Ugandans at the lower gradine of self-gains for the privileged few?
For active political leaders and legislators, when will you redirect your energies to check the abuse of power and seek greater accountability for the sake of those for whom you hold social contracts? When will we organize and re-strategize against dysfunctional systems – in ways that bring about change, in ways that are beneficial to us all?
When will we as Ugandans develop the moral strength to reject the aspects of unethical, common practices that are so unjust?