24 Feb 2019


Lugala At Large: Love-hate Relationship Between Politicians And Journalists

"The politician is willing to teach the reporter an English word or two so the
village reporter can improve his vocabulary with buzzwords like BOOMING or INCENTIVE."

By Victor Lugala
Apart from Adija’s cartoons, political satire in our newspapers is dead. This is partly because the newspapers are a disastrous source of ridicule.
This is not to say our politicians at home, in the bush, or in exile, are not comical or ridiculous enough to crack our ribs.
If they are not wearing funny, ill-fitting suits with unmatched red neckties, boxing shoes, or blowing their noses at the airport, or fighting for space and trimming their physical size to fit into the camera lens, they will always gladly give press interviews.
And let reporters write lengthy political commentaries in village English acquired from under-the-tree schools. Their friends, the politicians, who push the brown envelopes, will rant, fume, and blow hot air that they were quoted ‘out of context’ – wonderful words frequently on the dollar-wet lips of politicians who don’t read from a written script for the obvious reasons: they are veteran members of our oral literature society.
Which school did you go to? The reckless reporter will receive a public dressing-down. The subdued reporter will be shy of saying he actually went to the same under-the-tree school as the politician.
Yaa jamaa, English is a foreign language, actually a colonial language - sorry to say – which must be handled with handcuffs... The politician fumes, hitting the table with a clenched fist.
The argument between the politician and the reporter stalls for seconds because uncle politician is pondering as to whether it is English or Arabic which is more ‘colonialistic’. At the end of the day, the two characters who hate each other yet secretly love each other, and depend on each other, silently admit they are products of cultural imperialism of long ago or recently bluetoothed.
Whether this friendly or fiendish conversation was taking place at a press conference, in the politician’s large office without internet, or in a three-star hotel, is neither here nor there.
The politician is willing to teach the reporter an English word or two so the
village reporter can improve his vocabulary with buzzwords like BOOMING or INCENTIVE. At some point both words sound complementary.
Oh, yes, politicians like journalists must use active verbs to strike a chord.
At the end of the day, and as they hit a one-for-the-road compromise, the politician promises to buy for his journalist friend the latest edition of the Oxford English dictionary from Addis Ababa, hoping that the peace talks will not be on a ‘missed call’ mode again.


Posted in: Opinions
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27/04/2018, 10:20 AM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
Yes, I recall an episode between a “politician”-minister and me. I showed him some cartoons I republished in Gurtong Focus Magazine, as an illustration of caricature as an essential part of journalism. These included "The Evolution of Museveni", featuring his childhood to schoolboy and emerging as mature revolutionary, dressed in uniform and adorned on his head in glittering horns of a matured Banyankoli bull; then grows old, older and older in the next three frames to the point he crawled on his hands and knees; then emerged again as a child growing up and on his way to school. Message? Museveni is grooming his son to secede him. Could it be said any better and more amusing than in that cartoon? Doubtful. The second one was of Kiir and Bashir entangled in oil pipes and turning the nozzles on each other in a shootout – remember the battle of Panthou/Igliq, followed by oil-shutdown? Message: What a stupid waste of valuable commodity! The politician forgot the meeting, which was lobbying for the passing of media laws, and furiously scribbled away, making comments on the cartoons; and I gathered he didn’t like it. He then got up, handed me the notes and rudely excused himself and left. When I later read his comments, they were scathing of journalism, ending that such practice of journalism should never be allowed in South Sudan. The East African leading publications, Nation and Standard, were soon mysteriously banned from being marketed in South Sudan, allegedly because of offending cartoons.
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