My wish had been to write about the forthcoming elections in Kenya, where I have been for the last week and the manner in which they are evolving.
That was until I was assaulted by a barrage of sms and telephone calls about the insults that were flung at me by the South African High commissioner to Uganda, His Excellency Jon Qwelane.
At first I thought of ignoring the good ambassador, well aware that he had a track record of hate speech back home. Your Excellency High Commissioner, this I did not know until someone back in your country read your reaction to me and the sheer anger exhibited.
I am not a hate-speech writer and have never been fined for hate-speech. I am sure you know about the R100, 000 that someone had to pay to the South African Human Rights Commission for a column in The Sunday Sun.
If our government systems worked well, you certainly would have by now received a call from the ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain such a diatribe and language coming from the highest official in Uganda from the Great Rainbow country. But that will not happen.
I am not an expert in anything; not in anger, not in undiplomatic writing. But I am just wondering: is exerting my rights tantamount to being rude? If you have evidence of my rudeness, then I will apologise to whomever I was rude to. What I needed from your good office was a simple explanation of your treatment of Ugandans. I thought in diplomacy there is the concept of "treat us the way we treat you."
I had thought your response would say how you wanted to improve the process of visa application at the High Commission, not just to insult the "self-appointed spokesman for visa applicants."
And I agree with you, we should stop whining about how we helped South Africa to be liberated! South Africans liberated themselves; no one helped them!
Now, if the head of the embassy, H. E. Jon Qwelane, can be so native, what should we expect from the rest of the staff who have to deal with the people seeking for visas daily? Is it any wonder that there is so much to learn from the response of the good High Commissioner?
Your Excellency, it is not only the South African High Commission I have been to in pursuit of a visa. I am sure you know H. E. Dumisane Khumalo, the former South African High Commissioner to the United Nations. He had a policy in place of a person to be attended to in the first ten minutes of getting to the consular section. A simple lesson to learn from!
Now that we have known the anger that is housed at your High Commission, we will come there with a clear mindset, well aware that your staff certainly needs prayers. I don't want to cause a diplomatic problem between the mighty South Africa and the simple Uganda by prolonging this matter, but through your well-written rebuttal, we have learnt a lesson.
Yes indeed, South Africa will continue with its visa policy whether it is inconvenient to Ugandans or not. I am sure Mr High Commissioner, you know the old saying that we reap what we sow. We will remain in the old nostalgic thinking about those songs we sang as primary school children like "Free Nelson Mandela" or indeed fondly reminisce of the villages that housed the many African National Congress (ANC) fighters, for at least we wanted blacks in your beloved South Africa to be liberated and take charge.
We also learn from your missive that we actually learnt nothing; maybe we should have known that the many years of being under white rule had turned many people in South Africa to becoming eternally angry. If that is the case, then I rest my case about some of your staff's behaviour. That said, I would like to end this matter on a positive note.
That is, in future, maybe we should talk on phone to avoid exposing yourself in the media; for that may smack in the face of mighty South Africa. But please call during the day, for if you called at night I might hallucinate till dawn. I am now beginning to wonder whether I should go to Shoprite to buy my usual groceries, or fuel at Engen or indeed whether I should switch off my MTN line or miss my favourite Club beer made by SAB Miller, all in the show of anger.
But take heart, Your Excellency; I will not. We were brought up never to insult elders. Even at this age, my mother would pull my ears on learning that I caused a whole South African High Commissioner to Uganda all this anger. And please don't get angry as to refuse all Ugandans applying for visas; I would hate myself eternally!
The author is a human rights expert and specialist on refugee issues.