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Uganda under Museveni:A story of betrayals

March 16, 2011

The Correct Line: Uganda Under Museveni
Olive Kobusingye
Author House® United Kingdom
© 2010 Olive Kobusingye

Rating Two Stars Good – Worth Reading but some major flaws
This book claims to be the first book length publication that is critical of the current Ugandan president and his regime. This truth means that it is not surprising that publication and circulation in Uganda of the Correct Line was a challenge to the author. No Uganda publishing house would accept it therefore it was published, in London, England. When it was imported it was stopped by Uganda customs at Entebbe Air port. After debate in parliament the book was released and then it was even serialized in a Ugandan daily newspaper. There could have been no better publicity for The Correct Line than the seizure and subsequent debate in parliament. My experience with reading a previously banned book has been disappointment because of excessively inflated expectations. I was wondering where was the challenge to state security in this book? Much that was presented is well known. However to be the first to write a critical book in the charged political atmosphere of Uganda takes courage and the author should be congratulated for exercising her right of free speech.

I have known the author since 1995 and am mentioned in this book in passing. I am not sure if knowing the author makes me sympathetic or more critical but it is a potential conflict of interest which I declare. The Correct Line does not follow time chronologically skipping back and forth a couple of time according to topics; it is a combination of several genres, memoir, current events and political critique. Although the themes are clear these time and genre complexities makes the overall book difficult to follow and even more difficult to review.

Initially the author presents a short memoir of the 2001 presidential campaign. She is forced to seek refuge during an attack by the Presidential Protection Unit perpetrated against supporters of the opposition leader who is her brother Dr. Besiege. This and the other memoirs are powerful. There is a very vivid description of the fear she saw in her medical colleagues at Mulago Hospital many of whom she had worked with very closely. They refused to give a medical certificate for her younger brother Saassy who was dying in a prison with a politically motivate charged. She mentions feeling sorry for the plight of these fearful colleagues, I would have thought her feelings would have been more complex; personally as a doctor this portion made me feel ashamed at their lack of courage. The author does not disclose the final diagnose which did kill her younger brother nor the means thar her elder brother the presidential candidate used escape into exile after the 2001 election. The burden that the presidential candidate suffered with the family losses, in particular the loss of the younger brother and the loneliness that the lead of an political movement has because he is no longer a person but a public figure provided insite. As a memoire there is a definite element of self censorship which somewhat reduces the authenticities of the book and makes one wonder what else may have been left out.

Each chapter of the book starts with a verifiable, Museveni quotation and then presents evidence that he has failed to keep his word. The technique which is intended to discredit Musevini is presented almost as a biblical exegesis which rather than undermining him may help maintains the myth that Uganda is Museveni and Musevein is Uganda. The author does express the disappointment and betrayal that she her family and other disaffected National Resistant Movement supports feel so profoundly. Another construct of the book is the comparison of the current plight of Ugandans under Museveni to the plight of the animals under the dictatorship of the pigs in Animal Farm. This literary methodology works but also avoids explicit criticism of the Ugandan President .
The author describes how the Ugandan constitution was one obstacle to Musevini and the manipulation and corruption associated with the amendment which resulted in the removal of term limits to allow an indefinite hold on power but she missed the point that this constitutional change together with the invasion of the supreme court by military forces on March 1 2007 were seminal events in consolidating the Museveni strangle hold on power. The broader issue concerning the invation of the supreme court was overshadowed by the fact that this event resulted in the continued incarceration of your brother Saasy. She describes the governments deadly suppression of a 2009 protests as equivalent to the 1966 coup when Obote deposed the Kabaka as head of state. I think the 2009 event although brutal is much less important and her assessment incorrect.
There was a powerful paragraph at the end of the book which is not elaborated upon. The issue was the complicity and silence of Ugandans. The failure to discuss this further seems to me to be another episode of self censorship. After the book was released I discussed the issues of Uganda slience with the author. She was fully aware of the extent of the problem and gave as an example her scathing opinion of the toleration and silence of parliamentarians following the beating, torture and then release without charge of other parliamentarians.
This circulation of this 6months prior to the 2011 presidential campaign could not have been coincidental. The author was and is close to the poltical situation personally which would make maintaining objectiviety difficult. The book became a part of current Ugandan political events. I wonder if her failure to criticize parliamentarians may have been due to the fact that her brother, Besige was running for president against Musevini for a third time. Some of those silent parliamentarianse may have included her brother supporters. Olive Kobusinge lives in Uganda and for that reason spared Uganda politicians and professionals and also protected the sensitivities of non political family members.Nevertheless this book is an important contribution to modern Ugandan history and should be read by all interested in the present and future of this country. The passage of time for critics to evaluate the Museveini regime.

She likely wanted give a wake up call to the Uganda population in order to influence the 2011 election. She failed to do so as Museveni again ‘won’ the Ugandan presidency in another highly flawed election. Perhaps the author will write another book or an epilogue to this one to provide her perspective on the 2011 campaign

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