By Nyagaka Nyakundi HesbornWhen I watched ‘the Rise and Fall of Idi Amin’ for the first time, I was ten years old. It was sometime in 1997. In our part of the country then – as indeed was the case in many other parts here in Africa and elsewhere – a television set, let alone a video cassette player, was not among the common things many households could have placed in the sitting room.
But my father was a teacher, earning us one of the time’s rarest distinctions of possesing a black and white television receiver and a Video Home Service (VHS) playback machine. Every day at newstime, neighbours thronged into our house to sit and have ‘ a glance of the world’, as one of our neighbours, Rosalia( whom I have failed to forget), would put it. Children sat on the floor in front of their parents, amused more by the machine’s ability to show live images than what the news said.
This was a highly political time. A general election was approaching; there were screams of careless village bands almost everywhere you went, donning Kanu or Ford branded T-shirts and singing that ‘their candidate would take the election’. Daniel arap Moi ruled the country and almost every boy of my age and even older in my neighbourhood fully understood the word ‘Moi’ was the title by which our country’s president should be called. Political filth was flowing so furiously even little boys could see it.
|Joseph Olita in 'The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin" The actor passed away this week, but I will remember him for a long time to come.|
A week before, a man had been killed for allegedly not saying ‘Kanu is at the top of everyone else’, as required by reportedly drunk people who had accosted him on his way home. Despite the fact that I knew the man very well, and so had planned to listen to what would be said about his death at the send off, I could not attend his funeral because I was left behind to look after the house along with my brother as the others left.
But even with this disappointment, the incident had engendered a troubling mystery within the boy I was, which boardered on both fascination and disgust. What was politics? And why would people go to such lengths as killing another over their political belieffs? These thoughts would nag my head through that evening, and my attempts to distract myself by chewing the backs of mauritus thorn seeds – as was my wont strangely – offered no respite.
I was resting on my favourite branch up Mrs. Rosalia’s guava tree, when the sun suddenly went off. The clouds in the sky darkened and hurried in one direction – as they always did before it rained – as if running from the rain themselves.