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Some of Us Are Meant to Remain at the Bottom

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By Daniel Kakuru.

It was the month of July. The wind was silent and motionless. The trees were frozen like monuments, the leaves stationary. The birds were gasping for breath. The sun was getting hotter and hotter, showering fire, making the afternoon lesson intolerable. I was in senior two and we were in the throes of a Chemistry lesson: balancing equations.

The teacher, Sugar, as we fondly called him seemed burned out. Age had taken a considerable toll on him. He was fleshy, with an abdomen so full that you could allege he’d swallowed the world and get away lightly. An equation bullied him and for long, he was pensive. He stared at the chalkboard, at us, at the chalkboard again but couldn’t trace the exact point at which the equation had gone wrong. When he was sick and tired of it all, he annunciated bluntly, “this equation has refused to balance.”

Sometimes they refuse. So he said.

In 2001 general elections, two men; Francis Bwengye and Karuhanga Chapaa contested for the presidency. Yes, they led the race comfortably from the bottom, coming second-last and last, respectively. Yoweri Museveni, Kizza Besigye and Kibirige Mayanja were the front-runners. Two decades down the road, countless Ugandans have borrowed a leaf from this act of bravery (or is it sheer hooliganism?) A nameless individual comes running like a bat from Hell and contests for the presidency. They stand completely no chance of winning and they’re fully aware of this fact. But in order to fluke an undeserved place and have their names written in books of history as former presidential aspirants, they endure the humiliation of polling less than 0.0000001% of the total number of votes cast.

In 2016, it was Joseph Mabiriizi. It was a woman from deep within the bowels of Busoga and her name was Maureen Kyalya Waluube. In 2021, it was John Katumba. It was a one Nancy Kalembe, the only person that wore a vagina to the election. Fred Mwesigye and Willy Mayambala were also in that race, latent like rats in a jettisoned house. It does not matter how hard they tried; how much they invested in stealing a place in the books of history. All we know is that we have briskly moved on from them.

Where did MC Africa go? He emerged from nowhere, the way ghosts do, but disappeared almost as fast as he had appeared. His stint in the limelight was a trip from the nose to the eye – short and uneventful. “It’s a Friday! Twende tupaate!” I can almost hear him shouting. He was catapulted onto the celebrity scene by a Pia Pounds song, Twende Tupaate. While he and the song became the most sophisticated prospect in the country, poor MC Africa did not dare to look beyond his nose. He did not hatch a plan to keep himself afloat as soon as the song lost its novelty and stopped being a hit – songs do not top the charts forever.

Today, he is a fading memory. The mention of his name rings a distant bell.

Where did Charles go? Do you remember his toothy grin, threadbare clothes and famished English?

Eh, my Lord! I wonder!” I still remember him say.

Mzee Godfrey Jjemba Matte is now arguably the hottest social media prospect in the country. For well over a month, he has lived a celebrated life. His has been a typical grass-to-grace story. From reading announcements at funerals in Kayunga, to dominating social media streets, to chilling with the big boys in the most prestigious massage parlors in the country, to being a fashion model and brand ambassador. He doesn’t sport his blue faded jeans any longer. A young big-bummed woman has entered his life. By the time he returns to Kayunga, he will be different from the one we first happened upon last year in November or thereabouts.

Some of us are, no matter how hard we try to beat the odds, meant to remain at the bottom. We will work like Trojans but things will just refuse to click. We will remain in the shadows; unknown even to our relatives. Do you remember Clever J? Do you remember how his music career just refused to take off even when he attempted to relaunch it about two years ago? It’s also just a matter of time before names like Jjemba Matte, MC Africa are mentioned and you wonder who on earth they are.

The writer is just a worthless MugOfPorridge. His articles have sporadically appeared in print and online. He drinks and smokes and hopes to die by suicide.

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