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If only Andrew Mwenda listened more

I thought last year was the last time I would feel so  “outraged” to respond to this man’s sly comments but I was so wrong, we are just started; the good news is that somewhat  it is necessary for this kind of thing to go and on—the thing here is whiles every attempt I have made has been dressed in casual clothes, Andrew seems to have issues of being regarded unintelligent when he gets some inconvenient truths:no, Andrew, you are intelligent—take heart; problem though, you are a very poor listener. At your age and the years you have been in the media things, you should be the first to know that criticism isn’t a bad thing. I will not say you are gay, as some allege, but if you are going to understand this I am going to first state my place: my vantage point of view is that you have built a false assumption that those who don’t subscribe to your doctrine and ideology are dumb and stupid, you have tried that stunt before, it wasn’t good news for you if I am to remind you; just take a glance out of the window and tell me what you find.

I am mad as you can imagine but I am going to be very quick to paint my rebuttal, you Andrew are a very poor listener. Let me first remind you what Dr.Besigye said on November 4th 2015, that you emphatically pretend to have forgotten. He said: “we are going to have a campaign of defiance. We cannot have a compliant team that is complying with dictatorship”—unfortunately, those who have paid fidelity and stood by the precedent of this message are stupid and dumb in your world of reality. 

You have continually dismissed Dr.Besigye off as the loser of the last election we held here, just as a moniker to pivot your “gospel of truth” that surely has the simplest nail to its head—pay attention here, Andrew; calling out a pattern and practice of lies and propaganda is not a grudge match. Resentment doesn’t drive our vigilance in continuing to oppose what we rejected in Museveni at the polls February last year. If I am to remind you again, your friend Museveni dismissed an external audit, you will tell me why later. Of the things that make you a very horrible listener, you have selectively chosen to see that as important, but you are very fast to shove in a why; case in point, Besigye has failed to win the locals.

In this age of telephone, radio and television, most of us spend more and more time listening to the spoken word. Paul T.Rankin,of the Deteriot Public schools once made a two months’ study of the personal communications of sixty-eight people in different people in different occupations. He found out that, on the average, 75 percent of his subjects’ working day was spent   in verbal communication—30 percent in talking and 45 percent in listening. Yet most of us don’t know how to listen, like you Andrew, you are an incessant talker on several talk shows you have been to but you hardly pay attention to your opponent’s contribution to the discussion. I think it is prudent to stop feeding your ego, let us go back to common decency and etiquette for effective communication, listen to what we are saying on the outside—it is said, and out rightly so, listening is the most important skill but the most difficult to learn—the act of listening requires that you more than simply let sound waves into your ears, just as the act of reading requires that you do more than look at a print.

It seems we are at a point in time where it is unavoidable to say you wear blinders to the perils of human frailty, especially for the common Ugandan man.I will begin with my points of information: those who support Besigye are not stupid—they are patriots, in all forms, who are committed to Article one of the constitution of Uganda, to pursue truth and say what’s on their minds—power belongs to the people. You don’t make sense when you say  you are aware of the machinations your friend Museveni has put to thwart all there is to Besigye’s presidency yet you claim Besigye is the problem of the opposition.Besigye doesn’t need every Ugandan to become President, as is your underlying motive, for the most part. And finally, a question—are you a terrorist? In one of the your recent posts on facebook you advanced an agenda, both implied and figurative, saying that Ugandans should lose blood as is and was in Congo; that pushed Kabira to the opening of his eyes.

I saw you cheering on the police and army last year while the people in Kasese were being butchered last year, we lost in tens of bundles, but to you that was not enough. It doesn’t surprise me when you cheer on such animosity, it is fond of you; but I am frustrated and my angst is that you still claim to be a true altruist of the rights of humans. As you are aware, the last rebuttal on the specter of Police brutality, where I said succinctly inelegantly that you are employing the prism glass of a simpleton to overlook that, you left me lost for words.Maybe,in James Baldwin’s words, I can be more clear: “he may be a very nice man.But I haven’t got the time to figure that out. All I know is, he’s got a uniform and a gun and I have to relate to him that way.That's the only way to relate to him because one of us may have to die”, that is how bad it is, Andrew.

See: the battle isn’t for those that support Besigye alone albeit you have chosen to make it look that way while ferociously painting those who support him stupid. I am going to make a very impassioned attempt to take to you to class if you let me: ‘only two things are in life are certain’ Benjamin Franklin once remarked—death and taxes. But there is one unpleasant uncertainty: criticism. No one escapes it entirely. And often our careers, our emotional stability, our happiness depend on how we react to it.There are really two kinds of criticism: the gentle, tactful, constructive variety (which no one gets much of!) and the blunt, harsh, hostile kind. I can speak with wry authority about the second kind. For years everything in my life went fairly well. Then some very vocal critics of my writings and advocacy appeared; as soon as I singularly picked candidates of my liking that I supported with every nerve of mine, both in the local and international scenes. When the storm arose, I didn’t know how to handle it—I learned the hard way, that’s why and how I came to write a masterpiece on the quest for freedom and justice. What I learned mainly is that is that if you are a sensitive person, and an honest one, you can’t just brush criticism aside and pretend it’s not there. You have to face it on three levels: the emotional, the rational and the practical.

Controlling your emotional reaction is the hardest.Criticism is a direct attack on your esteem, like the gay-melodrama I have been seeing making rounds on the internet, I don’t want to talk about that—whether true or false, that your damn business. So it is easy to react with anger and resentment, paint those who  pay fidelity to the defiance campaign stupid, but that makes you more vulnerable—if all you do is resent your critic, you are only poisoning yourself.So,I have been thinking; the first step, if you are going to listen with intent, force yourself to be dispassionate. This is never easy but it can be done. For the last American Presidential election season, I met over a million readers of my work. One of the critics, of the people that called me a troll, as is the case with American dissenters taught a valuable reason. He came to comment on some piece I had shared with a news website, to that thread, someone had called “Putin” and said I was meddling in their Politics—this dissenter, who didn’t agree with my candidate of Choice, Hillary Clinton, said this: “Grace is a special kind of troll; he is annoyingly smart. He says things that I don’t agree with but I love the way he says them”—that’s why I said earlier I speak with wry authority to this. If you are keen enough, that’s the dialogue I often talk about to you.

The bible says, pray for your critics; bless them that hurt you. This may seem preposterous to someone smarting under the lash of undeserved criticism, but the amazing truth is that it does relieve the hurt. If you force yourself to pray for your critic, you cannot simultaneously brood about the injury that has been done to you. Yet another way to steady your emotions is to reflect that strong men and women have always been criticized. If your life has any vitality at all, if you are determined to get things done, and especially if you blaze new paths, you are going to encounter hostility and opposition. The greatest man who ever walked this earth was bitterly criticized, finally crucified by contemporaries who would not stand the point of his revolutionary ideas. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how, the very best I can.If the end brings me out all right, what said against me wont amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference”—if you ask me, Andrew, I am my biggest critic and at times I am harsh to myself, too.

Like I said earlier, you and I can be as certain as we look at our very faces in the mirror, we will always meet critics especially if we are still holding our pens. It is thus imperative for you and I to take up criticism and examine it objectively for as Theodor Leschiticky, the great piano teacher, remarked, “We learn much from the disagreeable things people say, for they make us think; whereas the good things only make us glad.” Ask yourself honestly if there is any truth in the criticism. Beware of self-excuses or rationalizations; if you give in to these, you may just compound the original error. If you are forced to the conclusion that whatever your critic is saying is the truth, the best thing to do is to admit it.This in itself will silence him. After all, if you agree with him, what more can he say? Besides, it is astonishing how people can admit that he has been wrong.
What I will not recommend to you to entirely, though, is what I just said above—you may choke on it; it goes back to the question: Is he reputable and sincere? If so, you had better dismiss his words too readily. Has he reason to be spiteful or jealous? Then perhaps you can dismiss them. Dignified silence is often the best reply to Slander. Sometimes, of course, if the criticism is false and damaging, you must reply to it.But it is best simply to sate the facts, not to try to retaliate. Another thing to remember: when criticism finally comes to your ears, it may have become exaggerated.There are always people who enjoy the excitement of a feud and will throw gasoline on the flames if they can. “Come on,” they say, in effect, to the Victim of the Criticism. “Put up a fight”. You must be aware of these not-so-innocent bystanders. If I am to reference the bible that Andrew doesn’t buy into a lot the bible commands us to return good for evil.This is not pious nonsense; kindness is stronger than malice.

As Disraeli once remarked, “It is much easier to be critical than correct”—so there will always be plenty of critics in the world, some well-intentioned, others cruel. You can defend yourself against the unkind ones by learning how to control your emotional reactions, by adopting a calm and rational attitude and by honestly trying to help your critics rid themselves of their anger. But, in the analysis, your best defense is your day-to-day conduct. It is keeping your moral standards high. It is having a clear conscience. It is living a life without any necessity whatever for deception or for lies or for concealment. That said, Andrew, the ‘old man of the clan’, allow me to rest my case. I am sure we will have another and if need be a cup of coffee; that’s how open I am to constructive dialogue.


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