This year has taken quite a toll on my health. I am just thankful to God that He has given me the will to live and not to despair amidst pain and to constantly get back on my feet at the earliest opportunity. Of course many concerned friends have chided me for what they have rightly termed as recklessness on my part. After all the Rt Hon Speaker gladly granted me sick leave to seek comprehensive medical attention and recover fully. They argue out of concern that I would slow down and allow myself to heal completely.
I have the choice to sit back and allow self-pity to take the better of me. But, with the detractors around us and in full action, it is near impossible for yours truly to sit back and watch. Not with the madness around us. It is for that reason that the sacrifice on my part has sometimes easily passed as recklessness. In the face of the rising tensions across the country, we can no longer afford to postpone the debate on the direction our country should take.
Besides, it is the things that we have dismissed as small or trivial that matter most to our people. We live in a country where a woman will die in labour under very preventable circumstances and life goes on. It is during our time that a woman will take a child to a health facility and have to choose between two antimalarials one costing 10,000/= and another 30,000/= all prescribed by a health officer. In essence one is fake and the other genuine or politely put, one would cure the condition better. So it is a choice between fake and genuine. Given the economic circumstances, patients choose the cheaper medication. They heal just by the Grace of God though and this makes the fake drugs valid after all.
However, I am in one category of Ugandans who by virtue of my entitlements can access medical treatment abroad, specifically after exhausting the options locally available. All this is borne by the tax payer. It would be selfish of me not to give back to the electorate by offering my best legislatively to the tax payer who so diligently ensures that I access my privileges. To this end, I have decided to focus my legislative agenda around real life issues which have many times fallen through the cracks of our priority systems as we legislate.
Just a few days ago, I was in Dar es Salaam with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Service and Local Government as well as Mayors from across Uganda to benchmark best practices in Dar City for possible replication back home. I also planned it that I would proceed to hospital in South Africa for medical review and a diagnosis of the problem with jaw that had been nagging me of late. Out of curiosity and eagerness to learn from the new East African role that Rwanda is perceived to have become, I deliberately decided to fly Rwandair, a cheaper option, much to the surprise of my colleagues. In the first place, it was surprising that a Member of Parliament would choose a cheaper flight and on the other hand, many out of concern believed that Nambooze’s boarding Rwandair came with quite a few risks.
I noted that Rwandair has very few direct flights perhaps owing to its being relatively new and therefore just in the process of establishing air routes. So I had to go through Kigali, Kilimanjaro, then Dar. This makes the airline a regional town service taxi of sorts. Kenya Airways would charge two times what Rwandair charges but it would take you 4 hours instead of the 10 hours. I thought Rwandair still had some work to do but the lesson learnt set me against the revamping of Uganda Airlines.
From almost nowhere, our flight was diverted to Nairobi before heading to Kigali in the course of which we lost two hours instead of the normal 35 minutes to Kigali from Entebbe. In Rwanda, our aircraft and quite a number of other international fliers could not land to allow for a high profile activity at the airport presided over by none other than President Paul Kagame. Instead of Rwanda State House, he had chosen to use the airport for a detailed programme to see off the visiting King of Morocco. This we learnt when we landed after looming the air, our craft with about 250 tense and panic-stricken passengers on board, for what seemed like eternity. It is amazing how much power African dictators wield apparently. And a little discourteous that President Paul Kagame was hosting and seeing off a foreign King in grand style a few days after the death of Rwanda’s own King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa who has been denied a fitting regal funeral in Rwanda. Such liberty to keep planes hovering as they wait to land doesn’t happen even at the busiest airports in the world; Heathrow, Gatwick, Schiphol in Amsterdam, Brussels name it.
In the process, many passengers missed connecting flights and were referred to the hotels, the business lounge and the VIP lounge at the airport. I chose the business lounge for want of a more authentic experience.
The return journey was less eventful but gave me time to meditate on the few lessons learnt. It was clear that half of the passenger detail in the Business Class were security operatives of some sort dressed like air hosts and hostesses. This made it hard for me to eat anything with confidence despite the hunger after hours in flight and transit. The service was fairly commendable though, the suspicions notwithstanding. I noted also that there were so many White passengers, a sign that Uganda is losing many tourists to Rwanda. Constantly we were addressed in Rwandese first then English, a little disheartening but a sign that Rwanda could be dropping her francophone connections.
Okutambula kulaba okudda Kunyumya.
Now back to those asking Nambooze to slow down, she won’t heed to that call. Instead, just pray for her complete healing. I presume those that fell sick during the Museveni bush days in Luweero could NOT afford the privilege and luxury of falling sick. Instead they had to have Dr. Kiiza Besigye to treat them at the battle front then get back to work soon after. All we need is to provide as many “doctors” as possible to treat the fighters at the frontline instead of asking the fighters to retreat.
I had traveled with my son to who I had intimated that with the spies on the plane, I couldn’t afford to fall asleep. I tried my best but he has just sent a picture of yours truly asleep mid-flight. Tufudde.