Why Kalyegira needs a dayjob
I have been meaning to write and respond to one of his regular themes but had not found the time to do so until now. Just before I started writing this I read a piece by Jenkins Kiwanuka questioning Tim's demands for someone -- anyone -- to produce evidence that Idi Amin killed more than 600 people during his reign. Tim is right to note that some of the claims about Amin have been exaggerated -- but to use these broad brushes of inexactitude to try and gloss over the canvas of Amin's terror is mischevious at best and provocative at worst. Amin could have killed 5, 10 or 100,000 people but those would still be people he need not, should not, have killed. Tim has not provided the list of the 600 (or less) that he believes Amin killed; why then does he want or expect others to do the harder job of listing the 300,000 that are often quoted?
I think Tim would serve his readers better if he used his research skills to find out the exact (or approximate) number of people Amin killed -- and the whereabouts of their remains for those who are still listed as missing -- to allow friends and family find closure, not dance on their presumed graves in a mathematical tango of indifference and pedantry.
While Tim calls for scientific proof on Amin's murders on one hand, he, on the other hand, holds out encounters with a 'seer' about events that are likely to happen in the region, as truths that he holds to be self-evident!. Beyond the obvious contradictions between science and speculation, readers are subjected to doses of latter-day Nostradamus-like posturing by an unnamed oracle! Should we, really, not watch the weather forecast or carry out economic research because we have seers to tell us what next year's inflation rate will be (come rain or shine) and which countries will go to war? This from a guy who compiled an almanac and who says, in his latest column, that the most brilliant Ugandan is Fred Guweddeko, a researcher? Tim!
I, of course, have my own thoughts about that matter of brilliance (the original Daily Monitor stories on the matter, which were flaccid and insipid, spoke of the most powerful/influential Ugandans so this rejoinder was a comparison of apples and oranges) but let me say that while brilliance is relative, authorship of a letter speculating about possible motives for the presumed poisoning of a government civil servant do not hold much sway in my stable, but to every man his own.
More troubling for me, however, of all the things that Tim writes, is his regular theme on higher education, particularly that pursued by Ugandans abroad. In a nutshell (at least the way I understand it), Tim says Ugandans go abroad for master's degrees as a fad and that they have nothing to show for it in terms of changing the country when they return. This is a dangerous and false generalisation that needs to be exposed for the fallacy it is. Tim seems to have a problem, not only with higher education per se, but with higher education sought abroad, particularly in western universities. Tim has previously thumbed his nose towards Ugandans who go abroad for 'kyeyo' but these same folks keep people in school and food on tables in Uganda.
Of course many Ugandans who have gone for "further studies" in "outside countries" have ended up staying on, sometimes to do menial jobs that put to waste years of education. Others have returned to lives of crime, indifference or obscurity (or alcoholism, I hear some of you wags saying). But is a higher education to blame for these choices and other shortcomings? Why not encourage people to drop out of school at primary seven, then? Are the people who do their master's degrees at Makerere, Nkumba, etc., necessarily better than those who do them abroad? Does it even matter where you do it? And who says your degree is supposed to change the world? What of the hundreds who've used their opportunity to change/improve themselves and their families? Should they refund part of their scholarships or family contributions to their tuition because we still have no cure for Aids and still have a war in the north? Getting an MA or a PhD might not make you a better person or any smarter -- and it certainly won't change the world -- but neither will discouraging people from nurturing their aspirations and ambitions.
Tim is a smart fella and he ought to use his skills to do research to inspire people to work towards achieving their dreams. He does not need a PhD for that and while he might not change the world, he will change people's lives.