Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Why does marriage go haywire?

by Isaac Kalembe

I've just been discussing with colleagues over why relations (especially married life) finally go haywire. Here is my position:

1. Marriage is the most difficult institution.

2. There are few genuinely happily married couples.

3. Since marriage is a treacherous territory, the foundation of a happy marriage is love, trust and faithfulness.

Those three ingredients should be there from the word go.

Love: By love I mean the ability to be selfless in anything in relationship to the other person (s). Look beyond the physical appearance of your spouse (beauty/handsomeness), social status, connections, etc. Look at the inner person (character and personality). Ask yourself: "Is this the man/woman I'd like to spend the rest of my life with?

Compromise: You should be able to compromise, forgive and tolerate. It's impossible to get a clone, or a person with 100% of your likes and dislikes. But if s/he can meet at least 70% of your values/likes, then go for it.

Trust: Give the benefit of the doubt to your spouse. Believe what they tell you. Avoid spying on them or trying to find out what they do in their private time or even at their place of work. Don't even entertain rumours about them. Try to keep what you do to yourself.

Faithful: Be faithful to him/her. But remember, we are not angels, but human beings. Humans are fallible - have weaknesses and make mistakes (including lust, infatuation, or even cheating)! Being faithful does not mean you don't have your doubts about your lover/spouse. But simply treat them as such (Ekyotarozire tikikuruma-that's our Runyakitara proverb).

Timing: Do not rush to marry; take your time. It's not advisable to marry in teenage or adolescence age. You should be at least 27 years and above. For men, it's preferable to marry in 30+ (35 is better). Do not marry your agemate. There should be at least a gap of 5-7 years.

Similarly, grow with age and experience. Experience is the best teacher. As you grow, your perspective and values change. For instance, should you divorce your spouse because they have cheated on you? Or, is sex the be-all and end-all of marriage? Certainly yes, buy one's answer will vary depending on your age and experience.

True, humans are, by nature, selfish. Nobody would wish to share their spouse/fiancee with another person (I stand to be corrected as we've a few exceptions, for example, okurirana (sharing of spouses among close family members or clan/tribemates) in Western Uganda or the Tooro adage: omusaija tayangwa...literally a woman should respond favourably to any man's advance). But such liberalism is not good and merely an exception.

Cautious: Always think through your actions or intended actions. Do not act on impulse (emotionally) or under influence (alcohol, drugs, peer pressure, propaganda, etc). Act in a sane and mature way.

Responsibility: Own up to your actions. Always accept the outcome of your actions whether they are positive or negative, good or bad. There is little need to regret anything you do. But, if it's adverse, act honourably: confess, recant and ask for forgiveness genuinely. Even if the other person may not forgive you, it will clear your conscience. And, pray over it. By the way, prayer should be at the forefront of your plans and actions.

Morality: Morality and religion go together. Try to lead a morally-upright life. By this I mean, do not be a bad person; be good to others and to yourself. This rhymes with my definition of love above. Avoid doing evil (but do not confuse evil with human weaknesses/follies - things that any human being is culpable of, for example, lying, sex, anger, hunger, crying, or any form of emotional breakdown at one point or another). That's why I do not subscribe to such practices as celibacy (leading a sexless life) - yes, one can abstain, but not leave without sex. Similarly, one can fast, but not live on an empty stomach). That tantamounts to suicide! I do not believe in virginity/chastity beyond marriage age (35+).

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Flashback: When Patriotism was the Catch Word

A few years ago, when I was a columnist for an upstart weekly newspaper called The Manager, I wrote this article for People and Power (which was the name of my short-lived column). With the just-elected MPs tabling issues of their emoluments as the first business to be considered and the Speaker and her deputy getting Shs 800m (US$334,700.03) cars in the same week, I chanced upon this piece in my archive.

How pertinent it is in light of the fact that in Uganda, even the best intentions are belied by the spectre of the monetary benefit that rears its ugly head!

Does Patriotism Drive Need A Budget?
by Mwesigye Gumisiriza

When President Yoweri Museveni embarked on a country-wide tour to revive, according to him, the spirit of patriotism among Ugandans, he sparked off a huge debate on the subject. He defined a patriot as one who loves Uganda and Africa, promotes the East African federation, protects the environment and takes care of himself or herself.

Views for and against have been expressed in various fora on its definition, whether Museveni is the appropriate person to spearhead this initiative or the best example of patriotism but perhaps most significant is whether it can be or should be taught in schools. Secondary school students and teachers are the target group for the patriotism lectures and for the establishment of patriotism clubs. “Teaching children to love their country and its citizens…will promote patriotism”, Museveni argues. Starting off in Arua where he met teachers from the West Nile region, he has toured different areas including Lango, Acholi, Teso, Busoga, Mukono, Luwero and western Uganda.

As the debate continued, this week, government requested the parliament to approve Shs. 3.5 billion for the purpose of teaching patriotism in schools across the country and putting in place the necessary mechanisms to support this. Also, in the vote, there is Shs. 1 billion to fund a proposed Patriotism Secretariat to be established under the Ministry of Security while Shs. 2.5 billion is to be spent on lectures and clubs in schools.

Interestingly, though the money is to be spent by this Ministry, the funds were requested through the Ministry of Education and Sports.
“I want the money to remain where it is because that will help us work together with the other ministries”, said the Education Minister, Namirembe Bitamizire, as she defended this arrangement that raised eyebrows while appearing before the members of the Social Services Committee. However, this was not enough to convince the Committee who expressed their misgivings. These include whether Ugandans were aware of what the patriotism lectures entailed, whether if membership to the club is voluntary it is worthwhile, and whether the money would not be misappropriated.

Concerns are heightened by the fact that the Ministry of Security has no budget line, the Minister, Amama Mbabazi, is also the Secretary General of NRM—the National Resistance Movement and has accompanied the President on the patriotism tours. In addition, precedent has shown that accountability for funds spent under the ‘security’ tag tends to be ‘classified’ and hidden from scrutiny.

Furthermore, the President’s patriotism crusade has not inclusive, assuming partisan overtones as he justified his current pet theme. While in Masaka, Museveni said, “The liberation of Uganda was done by patriots, everybody should remember that...We the patriots said, we cannot give up Uganda, and we fought”. This is a definite reference to what is known as the Bush War that the then National Resistance Army (NRA) waged between 1981 and 1986, mostly from the infamous Luwero Triangle.

Col. Kizza Besigye, who was part of this Bush War but now leader of the main opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), has criticised the President over the patriotism campaign. The FDC are reported to have embarked on similar drive to counter it on a tour that will take them to Bunyoro, Kigezi, Tororo, Ankole including eastern and northern parts of Uganda.

Beti Kamya, a member of the party, in an article published in one of the newspapers, while alluding to the biblical Moses who grew up as an Egyptian prince but on discovering his Jewish parentage turned his back on a privileged lifestyle and sided with the enslaved Jews, argued that patriotism is inborn. She further wrote that patriotism cannot be budget-driven while drawing parallel to the voluntary but vibrant Nkobazambogo, Akalib’akendo and Ssubi lya Buganda groups that bring together Baganda students in tertiary institutions and secondary and primary schools respectively.

President of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Bidandi Ssali, one of those who formed Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) with Museveni to contest in the 1980 elections, says a patriot should be ready to serve at no cost.
Ironically, in Masaka, Museveni pointed out, “We did not fight for a salary. Who was paying us?” So, the question that Ugandans may be asking themselves is why does the government need Shs 3.5 billion that will mostly end up in paying salaries, per diem allowances, fuel and other costs to make us love our country more?