04 August 2012 - Walter Mitty does his stuff
In March 1939, not long before the Second World War broke out in Europe, James Thurber, the American humourist had his short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty published in that iconic American magazine, The New Yorker. Walter Mitty occupies a strong place in literature, having even broken into the English language to mean an ineffectual person who spends time more daydreaming performing heroics than dealing with the real world. Worse: one who attempts to convince others he is someone altogether greater than he is. From this you could argue that Thurber’s short story is among the greatest, or at any rate the most influential, of the whole canon.
Cut to the man who is running for president of America, whose name is hauntingly near to Mitty, missing out by a mere ‘y’! His parents must have been blissfully unaware of Thurber’s creation, for who’s to say a mere name might not lead you to undreamt tragedies? Interestingly, a two-term holder of the same presidency, was by the same “y”, found out. Dubiya, so spelt, Bush, and whatever it meant, became Dubious by his strange actions. Could there be more to a name than Heaven dreamt of?
Mitty Romney, who went to impress, has just had nightmare visits to Britain, Israel and (whatever for?) Poland, so much so that Democrats back home are praying he will do them the favour of visiting each one of the US states to complete his self-immolation. He put his foot in his mouth and left it there. In Britain: he insulted the very people he wanted to impress; in Israel he intimated if president he would allow them to bomb Iran.
Even Netanyahu must have felt in his bones that here was a man who could start a World War unaided, without thinking how it would end. While in Israel his talk about “cultural” reasons being the difference in the achievements of Israel and Palestine must have, putting aside the racial stereotyping, given even supporters the impression he was dumb.
His press secretary’s response to tough media questioning was, “Kiss my ass!” God must be a Democrat, the Democrats say, to deliver so comprehensively a readymade snack for them in the coming presidential elections. If so, sit back and observe how the Almighty “works his purpose out as year succeeds to year”, as the hymn has it.
Few lovers of Uganda and Buganda (one of its most important component parts) would have remained unmoved at what the Kabaka of Buganda told his subjects this week, when, celebrating 19 years on his throne, he advised the Baganda to invest in peaceful dialogue with the Central Government. It didn’t come as a complete surprise since over the last weeks and months much of the heat emanating from the kingdom headquarters at Mengo had been noticeably reduced. But who better than Kabaka Mutebi to confirm this? With the Vision report to hand I sat me down and clapped my hands, humming the Buganda Anthem.
The vitriol of the firebrands, many at Mengo, had been doused, hopefully never to return. In its place, the Kabaka, while not minimising the fact that the kingdom still awaited Its Things to be returned by the Central Government, said “we shall continue to pursue dialogue based on truth and justice.” Who could ask for anything more, as the song goes. In fairness it has to be said that a great deal had already been returned, including his throne and vast tracks of land, and including recognition of Buganda’s position in Uganda. It was clear that for more (as Oliver Twist demanded) the whole country, through its parliament, would have to assent. What could be fairer?
Interestingly enough, former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, a naturally amiable man but who had latterly picked up some personal bruises, brought up a sourer note: “We should stop disrespecting the Kabaka, the way other people do.” Who, for example? He also said he saw no need for further negotiations, though hopefully not leaving the Kabaka stranded. By a pleasing co-mingling of souls, Thursday’s media showed President Museveni handing over a two-billion shilling cheque to the Buganda Premier for the reconstruction of the royal Kasubi tombs, gutted by fire five years ago.
As if this were not enough for a giddy week, Kampala Capital City Authority presented a Bombshell of Flowers when it gave 90 days to Nalongo Estates Ltd to vacate its development site. The flowers stand for a green belt in the city, the bombshell for the thrill now felt for what should have happened a long time ago, but had been shirked by the old Kampala City Council, as expected. At issue was the fact that a licence given to the company for other benefits to the city had been supplanted by the building of permanent structured without permission.
Nalongo Estates was the first, but others, as is the Uganda way, had quickly followed suit, with City Council eyes averted, whatever the inducement! If KCCA proves the new broom that sweeps clean, then doubtless all the cheap structures now fouling the once deep green park will be demolished without mercy, and replaced by what the city now lacks: green space. We shall take the air there, you and I!