Last week, the country was pleasantly surprised when a deed poll appeared in the press by which our beloved leader, otherwise simply know as (President) Yoweri Museveni, clarified and regularised his name from “any other” to Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni. “Any other” featured the same names but arranged differently or some omitted while in use at different times when the President’s identity has been required in writing or speech.
The action taken by the President was a necessary procedure intended to set the record straight in accordance with the law, as a law-abiding leader.
Regardless of the name “change”, Museveni is the same reliable, focused and determined individual who has offered Ugandans trusted and tested leadership when they badly needed it. A famous writer, Shakespeare once said “A rose by any other name smells as sweet”. For Museveni, whichever name you give him, he is and remains the Museveni best known as Uganda’s “once in a life time liberator and proud son of Africa.” But it was correct and timely for the official name composition to be ascertained and publicised to ensure that the trail of a great leader is correctly and consistently documented-right from his birth records, through school and in national service.
In this age and era, identity theft and impersonation are common, as well as forgery; it is advisable for anybody to protect his or her identity by giving it proper packaging and legally reserving it. In some instances, it is not possible to put down one’s names for obvious reasons such as ease of reference or space economics. For example, it has not always been possible (or necessary) to write all the President’s names on all documentation or even in newspapers and other correspondences. For a well-known person, even one name is enough for people to recognise who is being talked about or who is concerned with a particular record. That is why at times even the “main name” Museveni is written as “M7” in newspapers and used a lot in social media. You cannot put down all the four names all the time when referring to him or expect to see all the names every time.
However, with an express legal requirement, it was prudent that there be a specific order in which the names are used “officially” for avoidance of doubt. The action may appear like a political move but it is because in politics some things matter more. An ordinary person down in Kangulumira may not attract attention if his or her name appears anyway, even misspelled but for a public figure, it matters.
The President’s handlers also learnt of attempts to misrepresent him, again, because of politics yet he has nothing to shy away from in his identity. By the way, Museveni, being so beloved, has so many nicknames derived from his many experiences and as given to him by adoring fans.
Among others, he is called “Ruhemba Ogwenjura” (the one who lights fire when it is raining), Ssabalwanyi (fighter of fighters or warrior of warriors), Isabirye (given by Basoga), Jalkunga (from the Jonam), Ogola (from Budama), Akiiki (from Tooro) and of course “Jajja” (grandfather-of Bazzukulu) and so on. Those loving appellations have political and cultural value but they cannot be used in formal records.
By the time of regularising his full name, Museveni is the flagbearer of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) for President in next year’s elections. He is due for nomination early next month. Nothing has changed in that regard; the name “change” is a timely sign of renewal and recommitment to the mission of liberating Uganda from lingering bottlenecks and speaking up East Africa and Africa’s standing in the world.
Museveni is still the same youthful visionary who was a thorn to fascist regimes of the past, the same middle aged fighter who sealed the fate of dictatorship, the young statesman who defied all odds to set back the country on track, the same ordinary person’s soldier, the same revolutionary who puts the interests of others ahead of self, the same father figure who introduced the concept of an umbrella arrangement to unite all Ugandans regardless of political or ethnic or religious differences; and the same fit and tested leader who best understands Uganda’s problems and how to address them in the contest of black Africa as a bloc.
So, the issue has never really been with how or what he is called- you can even give him mocking names but that cannot put him down. It is his character and mind that weigh most!
For those who had any doubts or questions about the official record of the henceforth “Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni” they can now rest assured and reconcile their anxiety with realities of the leadership needs of our time and make the best decision without worry that anything may be amiss in the credentials of the leader they cherish and understand best.
True democracy and lawfulness are at play as we continue solidifying our democratic systems by properly identifying the key players by their bonafide track record and rewarding them accordingly.
The author is a Personal Assistant to the National Chairman, NRM