Kampala — IF a question were put to many a Ugandan as to what four countries one would love to live in, it would not be far-fetched to get an answer saying: (a) USA. (b) USA. (c) USA. (d) USA.
Such a reply would only confirm the zeal with which lots of people all over the world desire to share in the so-called American dream. As US President George. W. Bush, a.k.a. Baby Bush, visits Uganda today only ostriches are not excited.
When world citizens - young and old - crave for things American, from Colas to dollars, some call it cultural imperialism, etc. But because the American magic pleases the body and soul, we swallow it with relish.
Moreover, for Africans calling Americans imperialists is rather ironic. History has it clearly that Americans having suffered the British colonial yoke, were with Africans in kicking out the crown.
Well, someone could be quick to add that it was Americans who enslaved Africans in the first place. Granted. But we should not also forget that it was mainly under American masters that African slaves at least survived and eventually took their place under the sun.
African slaves were equally taken in huge numbers to the Arab world, but where are they today? Wouldn't black people in the Arab world be in millions? Where are the Arab Colin Powells, Condoleezza Rices, Rosa Whitakers, who would be walking the corridors of power? Is it true that male African slaves in the Arab world were castrated to deny them reproduction?
The survival of the African slaves to become part of modern America explains one key aspect in the strength of the United States. Sticking to its roots as a land of immigrants, the United States absorbs people from other parts of the world with ease as its citizens.
Immigrants naturally tend to represent ambition and stronger survival traits.
Even after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, America continues to open its gates to the world, albeit with more caution. Those who get in have only themselves to blame if they fail to join the endless list of rags to riches stories that abound in the land.
Just the other day, your columnist heard someone relate how southern Sudanese young men, who left their homeland only a few years ago, have risen to ranks as high as lieutenant-colonels in the US military! They are even being trusted as Arabic interpreters in Iraq. At US universities, foreign students are almost outnumbering Americans. Of course, after biting the burger bug (no pun meant), a good number scheme for the green card. The rest, even if they go back home, become American in everything but citizenship.
We ape the Americans even when we disagree with them. Our opposition here, for example, claims the Bush visit lends credence to the "Museveni dictatorship".
Yet the same opposition is busy ingratiating themselves with the Americans, through the likes of Reform Agenda's Anne Mugisha in DC, hoping for US help to get to power!
Even the bigger boys of the world are often lost when it comes to dealing with the American bully. With the Americans bashing world terrorists/dictators out of power with abandon, the others in jealousy - the French, et al - cling to impotent arguments about UN resolutions blah, blah.
The smarter ones, like those in the defeated and defunct Warsaw Pact, have in droves flocked to the NATO Alliance - a Cold War relic - but a face-saving way of surrendering to Americanism.
But the lot that really stinks in their purported challenging of the unchallengeable are the hapless terrorists. Having failed to match the overwhelming influence of American doctrines and technology, they have exported their frustration to soft targets.
As a result, Africans too have become innocent and unsuspecting victims. Sometimes, using the oil money, the terrorists have hoodwinked our own people into the so-called religious war against American infidels. The result has been the likes of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF), whose
terrorism Kampalans saw live with blood and tears. That is why when President Bush speaks about terrorism at Entebbe today, we should know it is about our own very survival. If the terrorists want to hurt us for ostensibly embracing American values - as if they offer anything better - it is reason enough to stand with Americans.
The argument that Bush is here to prop Museveni's stay in power does not fly. When President Museveni binds our country to the American fight against terrorism, it is for our common good. The point is, if terrorists blew up an office complex in Kampala - like they did in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam - it is unlikely that Bush or Museveni would be inside.