THREE years ago, Ugandan strongman Yoweri Amos Kaguta Museveni told the world that his country would roll out its homemade COVID-19 vaccine.
Such braggadocios caught me offguard. Museveni’ is quoted saying: ‘‘We are working on our vaccine. Actually, our vaccine will be better than all those because it will cover all variants” (Daily Monitor, June 20, 2021). What a daring statement shall it be real and truthful! Congratulations, shall you make good on your promise.
First, I thought it was an April Fool’s Day prank. Again, how could it be when it was in the middle of June when the man gassed? Thus, it wasn’t a lie? Was it a political fustian? Who knows? Again, considering the one who broke the “good news”, I would think deeply, twice. Since when has Museveni become a stand-up comedian who can natter anything without underscoring the price to be paid for that? Everything has a beginning. Who knows?
After checking and counterchecking with my people on the ground, I concluded that the news was real. Now, what’s the big and real deal? The first answer revolves around pandemic politics. Call it COVID-19 politics wherein rich and Western countries have monopolised everything from amassing the stuff to just hurriedly and solely certifying the vaccine even without following habitual scientific procedures. Jokes aside, the West and the East (China and Russia) have invented their new world order vis-a-vis drug certification.
Up until now, we don’t know which vaccine is fit for curing or preventing COVID-19. Is this the leeway Museveni and “Uganda” have taken advantage of knowing that, even if things go aslant, they will say they are enjoying their freedom of certifying what they think is good for their people they can cheat or use as guinea pigs?
Remember Madagascar and its concoction that is no longer heard of. Where is President Andry Rajoelina in the defence of his “invention“? Let us query even more. Remember the presidents who became fake inventors of treatments? As of recent, former US contentious president Donald Trump tried what Museveni is trying. He propounded a COVID-19-thwarting theory saying antiseptics can be used to thwart the virus. He is quoted saying: “So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Hogwash. Science is not politics. Science latches on facts not on fibs.
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Trump’s gullibility reminds us of what transpired in Kenya in the 1990s when former President Daniel arap Moi astounded the world by announcing that Kenya had discovered Kemron as a cure for HIV/Aids after doctors Davy Koech and Arthur Obel assured him that the cure was real while it was fake. It seems surprise is the ambit of autocrats. Museveni is not the first and not the last to come up with such assertions. In 1987, Andre Zirimwabagabo Lurhuma, in conjunction with an Egyptian counterpart, Daniel Zagury Shawfiq, hoodwinked the then Zairean illiterate tinpot dictator Joseph-Desire Mobutu and his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak that they had discovered an HIV/Aids cure. To make their bosses blissful, they named their fiction MM1 or Mobutu-Mubarak1.
Thanks to the despondency of the world, mainly Africa — that many quacks effortlessly take for a ride, at the time, initially listened to these scientific shams. This was not the end of the story of such hanky-panky-cum-hoo-ha.
The last buffoon in power to try a hand on the “breakthrough” of discovering HIV/Aids miracle cure was the former Gambian clown Yahya Jammeh whose education, up until now, has never been made public. Instead of allowing doctors to get away with the credit of the craziness-cum-con, this powerful laughing stock took it upon himself by administering his dangerous concoction of herbs hinged on spiritual healing techniques to vulnerable poor HIV/Aids patients in his country who later died because of megalomaniac tendency entrenched in undreamed-of tomfoolery. Now that we know the equivocation of allegations of cure discovery, we need to warn Museveni to brace himself for the challenges that come with such a stance. How seriously close is Uganda to discovering a COVID-19 vaccine? If Museveni finds out that the aha moment was a sham, he still can recant his statement and move on.
Will Uganda become the first African country to beat others by discovering a true COVID-19 cure? I can’t truly tell. What I can tell is: This thing is hard to actualise and substantiate amid the COVID-19 or vaccine politics wherein the colossi of the world seek to get credit and make dosh out of their hastened inventions of cures.
In summation, I must warn Museveni and the like to be wary of the disgrace that comes with the failure to make good on his promise. It is sad that those who once stood where he stands vis-à-vis the discoveries of cure are all dead. Had they been alive, I would have asked him to consult with them to see what they suffered thereof. Again, being an African politician, Museveni has undivided right to say whatever he deems fit despite what.
Nkwazi Mhango is a member of the Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador. He writes here in his personal capacity.