Written by Jimmy Spire Ssentongo
Sunday, 09 October 2011 23:25
I have not been in the business of prophesying, but on this one my jubilant Libyan brothers and sisters will have to listen to me, and listen good.
I wouldn’t want to bring bad taste into your celebratory mood, but as with most prophecies, you simply have to pay heed, no matter in which taste it comes. As I prophesy for the Libyans, some Ugandan ‘friends’ may well write me off as an unpatriotic false prophet of doom but remember that biblical adage: ‘A prophet is never accepted in his own country.’
Libyans, the rebels have liberated you from Gaddafi. I watched as you celebrated their triumphant entry into Tripoli. It was the joy for a newborn child, but I could only afford an ambivalent smile. The rebels may well now refer to Gaddafi as a ‘swine.’ They will give excellent speeches with a moving picture of hope for Libya, a revolutionary shift from the ‘Manor Farm’ to the ‘Animal Farm’ where all animals shall be equal.
Yes, they will assure you that theirs ‘is not a mere change of guards but a fundamental change.’ They will blame Gaddafi for having been an extravagant leader. Why would he sleep on imported beds while there are beds made in Libya? Why would he travel in motorcades of expensive cars despite cheaper available options?
Indeed, they will offer you pieties of democracy that ‘the problem of African countries, and Libya in particular, is that leaders overstay in power.’ Listen to them, but with my prophecy in mind. The first years might well be rosy and in the spirit of the promises. And, in one movement, you won’t avoid singing praises for their names. I mean the liberators, the heroes, the visionaries.
However, comrades, over time, you will painfully watch your dream crumble, bit by bit, as the rebels start taking on a new face. You will then notice the Trojan horse that the revolution was. They will start eating on your behalf. Voicing your concern about such injustices and other afflictions might become sort of a crime in itself. Standing up in protest to express your dissatisfaction might become a big risk.
They may not only spray you pink but also move that you are locked up with no chance of bail. Be ready to be asked where you were when they were fighting. Weren’t you hiding under your beds when there was a patriotic call to ‘liberate’ Libya from Gaddafi?
Your indirect sacrifices in the liberation war may no longer count!
Perhaps not all will be lost. You will still have peace to hold on to as consolation that not all was in vain. But for that peace you will pay dearly. It might drain all other significance out of elections as the narrative of a disturbed past steals the soul of your rural masses. No matter what squalor they live in, they will spare some energy to recite that narrative and the rebels will make it their magic election card.
Yes, you will also have relatively more freedom to speak than during Gaddafi’s time. With that freedom you will realise how painful it is to speak when no one seems interested in listening to you. They will declare zero tolerance to corruption every year because they know you like to hear that.
But when they move to act, they will passionately protect and promote the corrupt. They will prove more devoted to protecting their own than to serving the nation. They will not question when those who fought become obscenely and suspiciously rich.
Now you are seeing them mix with you on the streets in celebration, but later they will start fearing you. They will move in convoys of expensive cars with soldiers armed like red ants in paranoia. Later, as an economic crisis will be eating you away, they will sit in the comfort provided from your taxes and ask with smiles on their faces: “Is there a crisis in this country? I don’t see any!”
And the Squealers of the Libya Farm will nod in agreement.
In total frustration with the system, you will go back to the wall to remind them of the rule that all animals are equal. Alas, you will find an addition in wet familiar ink: … but those who fought are more equal than others. Who owns the kill? It is the hunter and, perhaps, his dogs.
The author is a lecturer at Uganda Martyrs University.