A lot has been written about our leaders; there is no need to repeat that here. A lot has been said that it is the leaders who do everything, and whatever you do, you need some sort of leadership. All this is true, but it is still only one side of the coin.
I know very well that our people – 80% of whom are peasants – pay more attention to immediate matters that concern them in their day-to-day lives. I believe that they have become a little bit complacent. The people, for the most part, seem to be slumbering, cynical, angry, or overwhelmed by a sense of futility, inability, and irrelevance.
It is nonetheless my considered view that civil society should provide the leadership, but more so demand the leadership. Civil society should say to present and future leaders that they want them to truly lead, as well as telling them those things that civil society want to be done. In our times, getting rid of dictatorship in all its guises, sharing power, the fight against corruption and poverty, abuse of office, equality before the law, among other things stand high on the demand list.
How does civil society make those demands? I see this when people band together, formally or informally e.g. against that 3rd/5th term or life presidency project. It is when people like you and me come together to discuss good governance in our country. This kind of banding may well provide the leadership in an imperceptible and almost virtually unseen way. This is the way leadership sometimes works and the way leaders sometimes emerge. Lao Tsu described a leader 2,000 years ago in the following terms: "A leader is best when people barely know that he exists; less good when they obey and acclaim him; worse when they fear and despise him. Fail to honor people and they fail to honor you; but a good leader, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say we did this ourselves."
In this way, we wouldn’t be reminded every second day how the so-called historicals went to the bush to liberate us from our liberators. The culture of liberating would stop right there, since we would at last have “liberated ourselves”. This opportunity exists in civil society. It is represented in what quite clearly seems to be a growing yearning for a greater meaning in life, for morality, for equality in a world that seems bereft of those characteristics at the present time.
The question that arises is: how can we get civil society involved in the shaping of our laws and institutions? Civil society involves all manner of groups – local and national, formal and informal, status quo and radical. I believe that in addition to NGOs and other groupings, this forum (FedsNet and others like it) is part of the exercise by which civil society is more and more getting involved in the shaping of the future of our country. I thus concur with Ms. Nabukeera that “potential” leaders of our country are here with us.
It is hence my considered view that Uganda will become a hot potato for dictators the day civil society rises to the occasion and gets actively involved. And, that is the other side of the coin.
The struggle continues.