On December 31 last year, President Yoweri Museveni gave his customary end-of-year address. The Head-Of-State centered the address on three issues: the high commodity prices and possible shortages (ebbura) of those commodities, crime; and okukongora (idling around while others are working).
The President gave an overview of measures that can be applied to minimise shortages of commodities and prices; enumerated gains made against a fresh wave of criminality perpetuated by the ADF and addressed the need for all segments of Ugandans to do something for their economic prosperity.
As usual, H.E the President was very lucid in his address, employing simple language and even borrowing words from local dialects to put across his message. Later, his speech was disseminated to various media channels.
Despite that, some cynics decided to either mishear the President or misrepresent what he said.
The first misrepresentation I came across and which must be clarified is what he said about games and sports. From social media, I saw some people claim that the President said games and sports are just about “playing” and no economic value; that nobody earns from them. How ridiculous for anyone to think that the President wouldn’t tell the difference between “idle play” and professional games and sports!
Below is what he actually said:
“…….we should clearly distinguish
the differences between emirimo (work) and emizaano (sports, playing), between okukora (work) and okutarama (trans-night) or ebinyumo (merry-making).
With the growth of modern economies, activities like music (okweshongora) and sports (emizaano), have shifted from just being amusements (kushemeza) and
hobbies, to emirimo (work) for the actors (some of the musicians and some of the sportsmen). These earn from those jobs. How about the fans? How much of
their time do they spend on watching these actors?
When do they have time to spend in their gardens, factories, clinics, etc. Is gambling (zaara), a job?
When we were young, we used to do the game of zaara with split beans – four of them. If they all faced down, that was 10 heifers (ennyana) for you; if they all faced
up, that was 8 heifers (ennyana for you), if two faced up and two down, you had two enyana; outside those , if I remember correctly, you lose.
This was a game (omuzaano), not a job (omurimo). Even in Ludo, in Mbarara High School, we would play that game. Can
you make that game and other forms of gambling, jobs? Moreover, if the musicians and sportsmen and
churchmen are making a living through those services, how about the fans and the followers?
Should they forget their own mirimo (crops, livestock, factory work, clinics, etc.) and spend all their time in concerts, churches, etc?”
There we have it! The President was vouching for the rights of fans to earn, either from their passion or a side job (or hustle as Bazzukulu would say). Sport is time and energy consuming, both for players and fans. Nobody should waste time and energy where they don’t earn. Even for players not yet in paid ranks, it’s advisable to have something to earn from on the side. Otherwise, how do they survive?
Superstar Ronaldo, formerly of Manchester United, has newly inked a deal with Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia. The deal is worth over 200million dollars per year. In Uganda Shillings, that’s well over 760billion. Ronaldo has millions of fans worldwide, including Ugandans. The question which the President wants answered is: “While Ronaldo earns close to a trillion shillings per year, what do you, his diehard fan, earn in return?” Other sports stars equally earn in super figures, but what do their Ugandan admirers take home after watching games and following news reports about their stars? Some go all the way to bet on their favourite teams and stars, and in the process, lose the little they may have on them.
They even risk and gamble school fees or money for domestic use, while their stars rake in billions per week. How shall our people catch up if they do not realise that what is just fun and leisure for them is big business for others? It’s possible to have leisure and make merry while earning, afterall, fans are expected to pay to watch games or even travel long distances to see their favourite stars.
And why would anyone attempt to twist this vital message; is it because of uncontainable hatred for President Museveni or being happy seeing Ugandans poor and exploitable?
Therefore, let those with ears always hear what the President says; it is all in good faith and intended to benefit those willing to take the next step.
I thank all those who tuned in to listen to the President, not only on this particular occasion of concluding the year but, as well, during his other addresses throughout the year 2022. Recall that last year, the country was gripped by Ebola, with the districts of Kassanda and Mubende bearing the heaviest brunt and going under lockdown for two months.
During that time, the President gave several addresses aimed at rallying the country to defeat the viral disease, and indeed, it was defeated. Thanks to Ugandans for taking heed of Presidential directives and guidelines that saw us make it through the year in one line.
With the same level of attention to his messages, we shall defeat poverty and other natural and manmade odds.
I wish everyone a very prosperous 2023!
The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org