If Bobi Wine has no content, how did he get us drunk?

Every time her mum was mad about her actions, she would shout at her: ‘Mbwa ggwe’ (you dog).

It was indeed the case that Nakato was cantankerous, but she was never comfortable with being related to a canine by her own mother who she thought was to a considerable part responsible for what she was.

So, one day, with enough of it steaming in her head and after messing again, her mum throws the insult as usual. Nakato did not wait to think twice, like her response was found waiting impatiently on her lips, she returned in similar currency: ‘embwa ezaala mbwa’ (a dog produces a dog).

The mum’s lip dropped; speechless, but not clear if in thought, shock, both or more.  In not so much distance, here we are with this Bobi Wine phenomenon, speaking it in all directions but clearly saying more about ourselves, especially in the condemnation and slander.

That young man couldn’t have chosen himself a better moniker, for like wine, he now cannot be mistaken both in smell and effect all over the nation’s stressed and steamy space.

It is the substance whose stimulating presence in the nation’s psyche is making some of us speak and perform rather lower than prudence would command.

Judging by his effect on all sides of the multiple political divide, if he be a liquor, then the alcoholic content must be high. It’s no attempt at hyping him; in any case government has already charismatically beaten everyone at that, inadvertently placing him on a pedestal where they will have to labour so hard to pull him from.

Who cares when they soil their pants, anyway? It’s the proverbial case of a tree for which one was looking for an axe, only for wind to pull it down.

In Luganda, alcohol (including wine) is also called ‘entabaaza bakadde.’ By literal sense, it means ‘that which makes elderly people go all over the place.’ Have you ever seen an old man/woman head-bound by wine? For some, the child in them comes out to play.

For others, their aggression is awoken to duty. And indeed, for a couple of them, their shamelessness comes to the surface in a no-care state.

They may wet their pants in public, stammer, stagger, speak incoherently, spit with no bother, laugh where there ain’t a thing to laugh about, and sometimes strip. It must have been on account of such observations that the Romans said: ‘in vino veritas’ (there is truth in wine).

We have lived with Kazijayo, a mzee trotting his eighties now, for over thirty years in our village home in Masaka. A very responsible man, though his favorite bottle has always been any open one.

It was always an entertaining scene in our childhood seeing our old drunken Kazijayo wrestle with children of yesterday’s birth. Yet he wore a face as serious as though he was tackling a fellow octogenarian. Wine’s wonders!

But what does alcohol (wine) do to us? The basic science is that it blocks the neuroreceptors in the brain, thus disorganizing the organ’s conductivity, ultimately distorting smell, sight, reason/judgement, taste and motion. Precisely what we are witnessing.

Who is stupid, though? Is it the wine or the one it grips into a drunken frenzy? And, should we, like in the late Paul Kafeero’s lyrical resolve, close the depot? Well, bar talk subsequently had it that he ended up locking himself inside. Like he sang, whoever invented alcohol is mighty.

But it is everyone’s knowledge that wine is our product, from our very skills and material. Even the market madman knows it’s crazy for us to pretend not to know that wine is our creature. And, as we brewed it, so we shall drink it.

The more important question, though, should be: why is it that there is water, porridge, juice, energy drinks, yet many are choosing to drink Wine? Even though we may hold that people should be taking more water, why is it that many are opting for wine? If we think that wine is not good for the masses, won’t we have the honesty to ask ourselves why our water is shunned?

As we ponder the above questions, we shouldn’t also lose sight of the circumstantial and instrumental value of Bobi Wine. Isn’t it St Paul that wrote to Timothy saying, “don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23)?

Besides, among the many reasons why people drink is to relieve stress. Don’t we also need to be honest to ourselves about the source of this stress that is endearing us to Bobi Wine? Is it sufficient to condemn wine and its bar ‘hooligans’ but not the realities that people try to escape by getting tipsy?

And, while in your counterproductive denial, soon they shall be addicted to alcohol; such that even if you ban Wine, they surely shall find Whisky or Vodka.

You recall that case of changaa in Kenya, where unscrupulous brewers would add high levels of methanol to properly tangle their revelers? It is said that some drinkers went blind by its power but still assured the bartenders that ‘even if you switch off the lights, we shall continue drinking.’

For people that have found consolation in Wine as a sedative to their problems, you may not be the right person to tell them about the side-effects of Wine. For ‘even if’ Wine were not really good for them, which some doubt, in you they find more reason for drinking more and more of him. And ‘even if’ they were to be harmed by Mr Wine, you are still responsible for having pushed them to that corner.

The author works with the Center for African Studies at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi. AFP PHOTO / Isaac Kasamani

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Written by Jimmy Spire Ssentongo (0)

The author is a teacher of philosophy

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