ONE of the reasons Information & Communication Technologies are important is they create transparency in governance. As evidenced by this YouTube video of Ambassador Maurice Peter Kagimu Kiwanuka addressing a Symposium of the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy on the topic ‘The Role of Cultural Diplomacy in Furthering Sustainable Development’.
It is hard not to insult him personally while discussing the international appearance of this representative of Uganda, but considering that his presentation was an insult to the entire country and that he has an ongoing mandate to speak for us in places we know not of, I will plough on.
Mr. Kagimu Kiwanuka, 50, is a son of the late Benedicto Kiwanuka, a former Prime Minister of Uganda. He is also a former representative of an entire constituency in Uganda and was therefore a Member of Parliament AND, now, is an official representative of the Republic of Uganda to Switzerland, and Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations, World Trade Organisation and other International Organisations.
You therefore can’t blame any European for thinking that he is a true representation of every Ugandan out there.
This intro was clearly made at the start of the lecture by a lady who couldn’t pronounce his name and showed a little embarrassment at this, giving the Ambassador a couple of opportunities to sternly correct her and show the world that Ugandans don’t appreciate having our names mis-pronounced.
So the next time you meet a European and they don’t bother getting your name right, blame this man.
Within the first minute of the fifty-minute video, I was thoroughly irritated by his smiling back at her sheepishly each time she said “Ki-wa’nnaku”…but re-aligned myself when I realized that perhaps that should have been his name.
For Europeans or non-Ugandans reading this, Kiri wa Nnaku is a Luganda phrase that loosely translated means: “This is a disaster”, and I believe that God was guiding that lady to pronounce his name correctly as such.
Mr. Ki-wa’nnaku (whose name was spelt ‘Kiwamuka’ on the screen) kicked off by asking her – right there at the high table while whispering into the microphone, “I don’t know how much time you have given me…” The lady whispered back an embarrassed response and he asked again, “Half an hour with questions? With everything? Now, for talking how many minutes?”
Creating the impression in the minds of the world that Ugandans do not plan or prepare for stuff.
But then he took it a step further, telling them, “Usually for us in Africa time is not very much an issue but here it is an issue. I remember one Bishop was telling the priests that the first thing you do, the missionaries when they came you throw away your watches. But now here, time. I will try.”
This sentence, meanwhile, delivered with the type of smile that one immediately associates with the late Idi Amin – who, ironically, he mentions later on in his ramblings. I won’t go into the facial expressions and gestures used by Mr. Ki-wa’nnaku, but when you meet a European and he treats you like you’re a few rungs lower than him on the intellectual chain, blame this man.
The rest of the presentation is unbelievable. The man tells them he doesn’t believe in what he is saying but will only say it to please the person who presented before him.
The man speaks to this conference as if he is addressing a rally of chaps in Bukomansimbi, and rambles through his discussion like a man who has recently put away unhealthy amounts of alcohol.
If it were not for the banners in the background and the introduction by the white lady next to him, you would be convinced that Ki-wa’nnaku is acting out a comedy on Bukedde TV.
At one point, the description that comes to mind is that this fellow is the most African version of a mixture of Mr. Bean and about five Monty Python characters with a tinge of Idi Amin on drugs.
“They told me that when you are a diplomat you don’t mention countries,” he says at one point, having already mentioned China, Saudi Arabia, India and then going on to mention Somalia, Afghanistan, Burundi, Kenya, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Mali, Sierra Leone, Syria, South Africa, Rwanda, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, DRC, Southern Sudan, Iraq, Malawi, Senegal, Zambia…I stopped counting just in case he had a World Atlas in front of him.
Mr. Ki-wa’nnaku, unfortunately for Uganda, wore a pin with national colours on his right lapel, which I felt would have been more useful to the nation if the sharp end were about six inches longer.
“Switzerland does not have natural resources, but they have the brain…” he says, imputing that those with natural resources have none – which point he didn’t need to voice in this manner as he was the embodiment of this very idea.
“When you are talking people may get tired but for you you don’t get tired. Even if they are not enjoying for you you are enjoying…”
Not just me – the entire damn room.
The video doesn’t pan out to show their faces but I can certainly imagine them gazing at him in disbelief; enthralled by the idiocy spewing out of what could possibly be a bottomless pit of comedic ignorance.
As soon as he ended his ridiculous tirade, the room broke out into the laughter they had been holding in, and he immediately attended to a couple of SMS messages. Pitifully, none of them was from State House telling him to catch the next flight back to Uganda without passing ‘Go’.
When asked why he focuses on business and commerce when addressing cultural diplomacy, Ki-wa’nnaku says, at one point, “People are not going to eat human rights.” But that’s not the funny bit. He actually says:
“What my government does nowadays they bring in politicians in the diplomacy. Because sometimes when a career diplomat, the problem. He may stick to the principles. Civil servants are very obedient what. They stick to the letters. He says, for me I cam here for this. According to the law, this is the rule. Then he starts reading. Now things are changing For example if you are to include that the law has to go to cabinet then it has to go to Parliament and then policies and then what what what. But for me I am a political cadre. I know what my government wants so that is what I will follow. I will not go by the letters too much.”
Speechless. No words.
Okay, maybe some words: You stupid fool. You have actually told the world that you disregard the law, policies and procedures? You are a political cadre who what?! How do you know what the government wants without reading?
His display of stupidity is given full reign when someone asks why the average age of leaders in Africa is 75 when in developed countries it is 50.
Wading through words put together with consistent foolishness, he actually says, “Libya, they solved the problem themselves. Tunisia, they solved the problem. Egypt, they solved the problem themselves. People sometimes they solve the problem.”
If President Museveni fires this guy on the basis of this statement alone, God will bless him.
But perhaps I am being harsh; perhaps this man and his appearance to the world via YouTube is actually a true representation of Ugandans. Do we care that much about how our names are spelt or pronounced? Do we keep time? Do we plan and prepare for stuff? Do we care that we look buffoonish sometimes when going about our duties? Do we take care to not ramble, to not sound stupid in public…or private for that matter?
I don’t. And I know many Ugandans like me. So, the explanation we must give the world for the existence of this Ki-wa’nnaku is this: We sent him there so we could keep all the intelligent people here so Uganda can develop faster.