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Muzungu is running for local office in Uganda.

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Koba, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. K

    Koba JF-Expert Member

    Mar 2, 2011
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    Kampala Journal

    Of Irish Soil and Ugandan Politics

    [​IMG] Marc Hofer for The New York Times
    Ian Clarke, a family practice physician with dual Irish and Ugandan citizenship, is running for local office in Uganda’s capital.



    KAMPALA, Uganda — The patient crowd huddled around the shed — young and old, a mosaic of the Katwe slum — to hear the politician speak. They had seen his picture around town — how could anyone forget his face? — and now they had a chance to see him in action.

    Enlarge This Image
    Marc Hofer for The New York Times

    Clarke campaigning in a slum on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda.

    He railed against corruption and spoke passionately about water, latrines, paved roads.
    And when he was finished, he cast a glance over the crowd, and cracking a grin he yelled out “Londa mzungu,” which essentially translates as “Vote for the white guy!”
    This short and spry politician, Ian Clarke, is trying to do the highly unusual, but he may very well succeed.
    Outside of countries with large white minorities, like South Africa, few white people run for office in sub-Saharan Africa. And Mr. Clarke, 59, a family practice physician, with dual Irish and Ugandan citizenship, is running for local office in a hard-knocks neighborhood of Kampala, Uganda’s capital, where raw sewage trickles down the street and infants root around in the garbage.
    It is a long way from the bucolic Irish countryside where Mr. Clarke grew up on a farm.
    But if a recent, admittedly unscientific sampling of his potential constituents is any indication, Mr. Clarke may win. Many residents said they were going to vote for him for chairman of the neighborhood in the local elections scheduled for Wednesday.
    His race, they said, might even have something to do with it, stirring up a mix of stereotypes.
    “A white person cares and develops a place,” said Fatum Nakwato, a hairstylist. “But our own politicians just care about their own stomachs.”
    Such views “can only be understood in the context of people’s disenchantment in local politicians,” said Paul Omach, a senior lecturer in political science at Makerere University. Given their frustrations, many people “think that foreigners, not just white people, have better ideas or ways,” he added.
    Ugandan politics tend to be quirky and corrupt. One opposition politician running on Wednesday recently told male supporters that if their wives would not vote for the opposition, then they should be denied sex.
    The president, Yoweri Museveni, for his part, spent a record amount of money on his re-election campaign, estimated to be in the tens of millions, maybe even more, and won by a landslide last month.
    Mr. Museveni has been in office for 25 years and enjoys some genuine support for the stability he has instilled in a country that was steeped in chaos in the 1970s and 1980s. But he was not taking any chances. Diplomats and opponents complained that Mr. Museveni spent millions of dollars buying votes across the country and using the powers of incumbency — and the keys to the state coffers — to make sure no one else could effectively compete.
    But there was a playfulness to his campaign as well; he rapped on the campaign trail and supporters danced with posters of him looking like Rambo.
    Local elections tend to be especially dirty, with candidates strutting down the street handing out envelopes stuffed with cash. Mr. Clarke has presented himself as the antithesis of this, someone who is motivated by a development agenda. Still, he acknowledged that he had to play the game.
    In his makeshift campaign headquarters — a suite of offices inside a hospital he runs — he has a map decorated with color-coded stickers marking where he has campaigned, and all the recent goodies and good deeds he has sprinkled around his neighborhood: new wells, garbage pickups, emptying pit latrines. In some areas, as many as 600 people live together without a single toilet.
    “I don’t give money,” he insists. “But we do things like this, for the community.”
    He estimated that he had spent at least $50,000 on his campaign.
    His goal, he says, is to make his district, Makindye, with 800,000 people, a little better. He has been managing a major hospital here for 15 years, providing low-cost health care in a self-financing system that he says is more sustainable than simply dispensing services free of charge.
    “Am I going to stand up and say ‘this is a lousy country’ or am I going to make this a better country?”
    As for his race, and often being the lone white face on the block, he argued, “I’ve lived in Uganda so long, I don’t really notice it.”
    In Uganda, black-white relations are not quite as thorny as in some other African countries. While Kenya next door was a full-fledged British colony that became a tropical playground for aristocrats to guzzle gin, shoot lions and cheat on their wives, Uganda was a protectorate, so it was spared the masses of white settlers. Today it has less of an onerous stamp of colonialism than, say, Kenya or the Democratic Republic of Congo, places where, even decades after white rule was dismantled, there is still an omnipresent, discomfiting gap between the races.
    Mr. Clarke studied medicine in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and came to Uganda as part of an Anglican mission in 1987, just as the country was emerging from years of civil war. He was sent to treat people in Luwero, north of the capital. “There were a lot of skulls,” he remembered.
    He and his wife have raised a family in Uganda, with 3 of their own children and 10 Ugandan children they informally adopted.
    “Oh yeah, I’ll win, I’ll win,” he said confidently about the election.
    He faces seven other candidates, including the incumbent, Moses Kalungi, a local businessman, who seems to have no shame playing the mzungu card. (Mzungu means European in Kiswahili but is used almost exclusively, often mockingly, for white people.)
    When asked about the election and the issues in the neighborhood, Mr. Kalungi said: “I know their problems better than this mzungu. He does not know the culture of the people, he does not know how they behave, and there is a language barrier.”
    Mr. Clarke knows some Luganda, the dominant language in Kampala, but he admits he is not fluent. Some of Mr. Clarke’s opponents have called him a “ghost,” which in this contest could be considered a slur. But his biggest worry, he said, was the possibility of vote rigging. Already Uganda’s election commission has postponed some local elections because of allegations of ballot stuffing.
    He also said he was mindful of the fictional “white monkey” character in the movie “The Last King of Scotland,” a drama in which Uganda’s dictator, Idi Amin, appoints a Scottish doctor to be his special assistant.
    “I was thinking of that,” Mr. Clarke said. “But this is an electoral process. I happen to be white. This isn’t an appointed job. The people choose
  2. Bantugbro

    Bantugbro JF-Expert Member

    Mar 2, 2011
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    Safi sana bwana muzungu..
  3. MadameX

    MadameX JF-Expert Member

    Mar 2, 2011
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    Waafrika kwa kupend watu weupe atapata kura tu hata kama alikuwa gypsy kwao au hata kama hana vigezo :) Anyway thats the change we believe!!
  4. Nyamgluu

    Nyamgluu JF-Expert Member

    Mar 2, 2011
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    Ah heri. Hehehe! Kura atapewa,watu slum washajichokea sema kura zitachakachuliwa tu. I hope he does get elected tuone atabadili hali ya hawa jamaa. Nafkir ndio ntaamini kweli sisi miAfrika tunatatizo genetically.