seriously, what’s a coup d’etat

This is the track I was going along in a previous post when I digressed into the land of definitions and uncovered a massive scam surrounding… forget that.

What’s a coup d’etat?

A few weeks ago I found myself in yet another discussion over the woes of “Africa” with world citizens of non-African origin or residence. Why the wars, poverty, pestilence and general stupidity (not to be confused with General Mugabe), the fellows I had locked cerebral horns with asked.

For example, why has your President been in power for more than twenty years? WTF? Why are the roads not done up properly in Africa? Eh? Okay, in Uganda? Who is this Kony we hear about and why doesn’t your army just finish him? Why is the opposition not being allowed to operate? But first wait, your President has been in power twenty years?!!!

I was cornered.

“After the coup d’etat of 1985,” I began explaining…

“What’s a coup d’etat?” one chap interjected, face all afrown.

So I promptly kicked him out of the discussion, but as it was taking place in a public place that serves those who pay, I was as good as an international observer at Zimbabwe elections.

But the discussion ended anyway (as elections do in Zim, and the President goes on).

I simply refused to continue talking about serious issues in Uganda with fellows whose knowledge about our issues is overpowered and kicked into the corner of the room by their general ignorance of world affairs going back hundreds of years.

A coup d’etat, before we go further, is defined generally as “a sudden, violent and illegal seizure of power from a government.”

But even now you are not yet qualified to discuss governance in countries like Uganda, and whereas I am not going to advocate here the right of the stupid and inane to defend the indefensible, I still think it important for serious matters such as the present and future of an entire nation to be discussed only by those who have an understanding of its past.

The ignorant non-African residents of the public house in which I made the discovery that coup d’etats were not a global phenomenon in the 1970’s and 1980’s are not the only exemptees (not a real word, but feel free to add it) on my list from intelligent discussion of our issues. There are also a good number of Ugandans prominently placed on this list. Morons, mostly, who didn’t understand what the history teachers were talking about.

The point was not, ladies and gentlemen, to cram the entire list of factors that caused the collapse of the Zulu empire and be able to write down a narration of the process by which it happened within a three hour period in a poorly lit room guarded by an invigilator. The point was being able to study cause and effect, practice extrapolation and the composition of all the resulting thoughts into a decipherable format that in school was called an essay, in newspapers is called an article and in government is spread out and called a policy paper.

For example, Shaka Zulu rose through the ranks to become a great commander in Africa’s biggest empire of the time and spread the Zulu kingdom as far north as Tanzania. He developed devastating war tactics and even the most sophisticated weapons of the time, such as the Assegai and the Ikhlwa. His reign was fierce and encompassed the mfecane (the time of troubles), and he took battle and strife to lands far and wide. But his brutality and warring led to the many small groups he had alienated grouping up and his brothers joining up to rid the world of his manic self by stabbing him repeatedly to the death. (

Taking the above brief, one can create similarities between the greatness of Shaka Zulu’s empire and that of the United States, showing links between their sophisticated weapons of the time, and the mfecane in Iraq, Afghanistan and … well, anywhere there is war, and juxtaposing the final collapse of Shaka Zulu the man to the collapse of the United States economy to claim they were both results of the same factor – warring too much and spreading one’s influence far and wide will lead to collapse.

Don’t waste time punching holes in the above, this is just a blog being written because I am in a meeting.

One wouldn’t be too far off looking at Shaka Zulu to find a way of rationalising the United States of America right now. That’s what knowing history does for you.

So if you have no idea of what a coup d’etat is but want to express concern over the governance of a country that underwent about six of them in a span of 15 years, then give the history books a quick browse.

Or at least Google.

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