Thursday, November 29, 2018

THEATRE: The Men who wanted to Build Uganda

''The Men who wanted to Build Uganda: Boldly transforming  a country or basking in denial?

The year is 2050,  an aging nonagerian  is screening a documentary titled ''The Men who wanted to build Uganda''. It is a series of profiles about overnight  tycoons, celebrities, self styled prophets and pastors, local philanthropists and traditional healers,sorcerers and fortune tellers. The documentary is screening on NBS and NTV, on Tuesday nights at 9, Eastern African time.

Unlike the ''The documentary The Men who built America'' where characters were titans of the early industrial age and captains of what we call modern day industry we worship and celebrate, the men who wanted to build Uganda were tea boys and girls call them messengers if you like. They were reeking with “new money.” The overwhelming proportion of them became rich literally “overnight.”  They were young  people whose wealth didn't  go beyond their generation.  Not only did they  have a short history of wealth, they also had a short future as well.  The money came “miraculously” and disappeared just as “miraculously.” They also included characters who sold their fame and popularity for cents from a well oiled dictatorship.

The cast contains startling revelations about its four main characters , Bryan White Bellisconi - born in Kyanamukaka and finally moved to Italy where he built his business empire before returning to Uganda to launch ''war against poverty'' through his cash bonanzas and handouts in full view of cameras and paparrazi. While in Italy at the island of Sicilly he learnt how to swim and jogg every morning- a culture where he horned his business acumen according to his biographer

 Zali the boss lady-  a self styled party-preneuer who introduced late night white and pink parties in the red light district of Kampala. She expanded her empire to South Africa and Tanzania which increased her reach and expanded her financial muscle. It was at this point that the government of Uganda hired her as tourism Ambassador to market the country's flora and fauna.

 Then came Bebe Cool-the Father of Afro beat whose music influence inspired inspired the government to hire him as Tuberculosis Ambassador. He  also the founder of Silent majority after testing first hand the wrath of disgruntled people power at  a music show that later turned into a bottle Olympics and Catherine Kusasira- condolences minister who distributed Presidential envelopes from one tragedy to another.

Based on the first episode, the documentary certainly gives us a glimpse of how NRM government at its climax wanted to deliver  an Asian Tiger other of sorts. This grand blueprint was based on speculation, conjecture, theorizing and guesswork. No wonder the middle income still evaded them, remained a text book slogan and a pipe dream until they were removed from power.

The series begins in 1986, just after the NRA capture of power , and it lays out its central theme bluntly. " No one should think that what is happening today is a mere change of guards,This is not a mere change of guards but a fundamental change,” the narration says, “the skinny man most capable of leading Uganda touted on the stairs of Parliament amidst ululations and jubilations.

 The series features, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his firebrand young intellectuals who launched a guerrilla warfare , and he certainly helps lead the country into a new era which was going to be characterized by a renewal and modernisation. The episode captures great milestones achieved by the NRA revolution during its hey days before diverting from the original ten point programme blueprint. The men who came preaching drinking water started drinking wine. In a typical Animal farm analogy. They said they were drinking wine to think better and wisely on our behalf. As they say the rest is history, Absolute power corrupted them and they were corrupted absolutely. The liberators and saviors of yester years started scavenging and hunting for bread. They started competing against  one another to build business empires and personal fortunes of absurd — some might say obscene — size.

The transcript of the next episode to be continued.........

Produced by  Henry K. Otafiire, Executive producer of ''The Men who wanted to build Uganda''.

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