By Aggrey Nshekanabo
Well, for close to 10 years, I earned my bread doing Public Relations (PR). This is simply the art of persuasion; telling your well-considered audience that what you represent has the best of intentions. PR is a strategic communications tool for among other things; building bridges through rapport and story-telling.
Folks, you may remember that some months back, President Museveni belittled PR, insisting how he does not need it. I knew he knew he needed it especially in the Rwanda-Uganda tensions.
The next time you hear President Museveni, deriling something, please know that that is his craving; it is his immediate need on his political chase-board. I have been exonerated several times. When he scorned PR, I knew that that was his immediate political need.
In sending journalist turned diplomat; Ambassador Dr. AdoniaAyebare to Kigali, he bowed to the PR pressure. He knew Ayebare as a good story teller. Besides, he cut his diplomatic teeth in Kigali and it is from Kigali that he was catapulted to New York. Ayebare knows that he owes his success as a diplomat to Kigali and Kigali leadership knows that too.
About a month ago, I bumped into Dr. Ayebare at Speke Resort Munyonyo and said humble hullo, greeting him by his first nameand proceeded for my breakfastmeeting with my Kenyan business contact. Each one of us sat their guests about 10 metres apart. In between us, were some Sudanese gentlemen with their loud/shouting colour suites. Probably diplomats too. Ayebare was in company of a very reclusive seasoned PR person and donning a greenish round hat made famous by President Museveni; he was so casual on a Monday morning and easily passed for any ordinary person.Nothing diplomatic about him. He was consummately listening. I am not surprised he was on a mission.
As earlier noted, he was the right man to meet President Kagame (P.K). He is an amicable man with a likeable persona and with no air of arrogance whatsoever. Secondly, him and P.K are within the same age range of less than 10 years.
That allows the two men to freely chat and talk about Kampala and Mbarara and Kamwenge and how fate has thrust them in different paths. His boss at Plot 1 Uganda may deny his need for PR but in his deployment to Kigali where other men like Hon. Sam Kutesa have failed to get us any dividends, is a subtle admission to the power of PR. It is in order for Hon. Judith Nabakooba,the new Minister for Information, who is a former PR Officer of Uganda Police, to expeditiously support legislation where the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) is established by law.
But what is Uganda’s quarrel with Rwanda? Nothing. Zero. Zilch, sifuri. It is about egos and nothing more. The people of Uganda and Rwanda have nothing to do with the impasse. But as my people say;
“Enjojoibirikuzirikufukaana, ebinyatsin’emitinibyagirirwa” that when two elephants fight, it is the grass and the trees that pay the price and not even the children of the elephants or their spouses but the grass and trees that have nothing to do with the fight.
See, growing up in Bunyaruguru, this was one of the areas where the many Banyarwanda escaped to after the 1957-59 persecution of the Tutsis in Rwanda. Our immediate neighbour, MzeeMunyambonera in Kyenzaza was Rwandan as they can be.
He even failed to learn Runyankore in order to pretend not to be Rwandan. But he was so welcome and no one cared which nationality he was. Simply, he was one of us; simple farmers. There were so many others and we have lived so happily as neighbours and relatives.
My first visit to Rwanda about nine (9) years ago was so interesting. My employers had an office in Kimihurura and I was sent to give support to my workmates there. One of them, Laurent, who was supposed to be my guide refused to pick me up.
Reason? How can I fail to find my way in my own town and country? My protests that I had never been to Rwanda and neither am I Rwandan fell on deaf ears. See, I share the same name with his brother and therefore, could not have been Rwandan! That is how deep the two nations are related.
In fact, on return from Kigali, I asked my dad if there is no Rwandan blood in us and he said; “When you kill a Muranzi (our clan in Nkore), you will have killed a Rwandan inside him”. I am yet to meet a Munyankore/Mukiga/Muhororo who truly has no relations across the border.
The only cause of the tension is that the old-man with hat expects the men (yes, they are now their own men even if they served under NRA) to still salute him. In fact, I talked to one elder who intimated that if the Rwandan youngmen had not joined the 1981-85 NRM/NRA liberation war, Obote would still be President. It is important to respect agreements.
These Rwandans helped us and we repaid them as a country by supporting their own liberation. If a young man marries, he can no longer be invited to a wedding party on the same card with his father. He is his own man. They are two separate men and invited separately.
It is over 25 years since P.K stopped saluting Mzee and became his own boss. He needs no reminder of Uganda’s contribution to the liberation of Rwanda. He knows it. 25 years is a long time to recover and let go. It is about respect and nothing more and nothing less. Even me, no one invites my dad to their wedding and expects me to tag along as part of his family. I have my own.
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