28 July 2012 - Two steps forward one back
It seems only yesterday that Uganda was the Aids king, meaning not in its production, but in the fight against the deadly killer! Uganda, under its Knight in Shining Armour, President Museveni, rolled out its war plan to exterminate Aids, whose local name was Slim (yes, as in what White ladies would die for: clever jest, but in bad taste!) Museveni could talk about Aids until his cows came home. In any subject at hand he would find a way to introduce Aids, reminding every listener to steer well clear of the grotesque malady.
ABC was the catchy, though not very grammatical shorthand for it: Abstain, Be faithful, Condom (meaning if you couldn’t manage the first two, still be sure to use “the rubber”!) And it worked, witness the demonstrable drop in new cases; and those who flocked in from round the globe to study Uganda’s success.
Doomsayers prophesied it would not be long before Ugandan (and world) interest waned and the Old Killer made its reappearance. In the short term they were off the mark, but not, alas, in the long. New figures are already alarming; worse there is no sign of their dropping. Also there is a long record of viruses being stunned by new medications, but staging recoveries which make them the more ferocious, needing new medications which don’t always work.
My friend, Prof Manfred Dietrich, active supporter from the very beginning of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, especially in the armed forces, wrote to me this week expressing his fears about the return of the scourge. Was it because people were becoming more blasé because of available medications? Yet these never cure, merely suppress, and their necessarily lifelong use has severe side effects. Hopes for vaccines had never been fulfilled, although a recent USA conference once again promised it might happen in the next 10years.
Then the carrot of circumcision had, ahem, raised its head. But although circumcision might lessen the chances of contracting Aids to a certain degree, evidence of its valuable antidote remained very sketchy to say the least. All in all Uganda, and the whole world, had to go back almost to the beginning and fight HIV/AIDS anew. Second time around, meaning re-arousing fresh enthusiasms, is always more difficult. But while the enemy still prowls, there is absolutely no sense in going back to bed.
Which is also why we must return (groan, groan!) to the state of Sports in Uganda. I have been saying for years that we should do to the National Council of Sports what we do with the horrible coffee wilt: root it out and burn it to ash. So far it has fallen on deaf ears. But surely if there is God He will smite those who have so grievously failed our country in this respect. We know where the rot starts, and why.
The chief culprit is the NCS General Secretary, one Jasper Aligawesa. He came (or shall we say fell?) in this position by a lucky accident: lucky for him, extremely unlucky for Uganda, and especially for its sportspeople. I won’t bother you with the details, but his was not supposed to be a permanent positioning. But Mr. Aligawesa, grant him that, knows a soft bed where dreams can be achieved, and he has stuck there with the tenacity of a limpet. With limpets it seems only flaming petrol will shift, but how can this be legally administered to Jasper?
His present Minister of Sport won’t do it and the reasons are well known. The NCS Chairman, ditto, he is of the same mould. Yet I am willing to wager a sizeable amount of money that the day this Troika is booted out by the seat of its pants will signal a green Spring in the currently comparatively fallow fields of Ugandan Sport.
We read this week two events pointing to how far this country’s Sports administration had fallen. One was that NCS had passed the Tennis complex over to a private owner, his name doesn’t matter. When I gave up the Chairmanship of the Uganda Lawn Tennis Association in disgust (I might add not disgust then apparently shared by the current Chairman, who is now extremely angry about what has just happened) I said accurately that it might accelerate the demise of Tennis in Uganda, which has largely happened. We have also heard that officials will out-number sportspeople at the London Olympics. Heavens Above, how soon will you rid us of this nonperforming Trio?
To clean the mouth (did you for example hear the rumour that a highly placed official bought a chicken farm in Bulemezi for Shs 120,000,000 in cash?) I beg your indulgence to introduce a new cocktail to you, one moreover given birth by your columnist, as his plane flew over the Alps from Brussels to Africa. The nice stewardess, as they invariably are on this Airline, asked if there was an additional drink to the dozens on offer which I fancied. The brain ticked into high gear. I asked for the ingredients, Champagne, freshly squeezed Orange juice, Campari, in the ratios of percentages 60, 20, 10 and 10 of ice: Chaoraca! By the time the Alps were transcended, that first glass was empty. Very soothing!