Who cares about beauty con­tests and pol­i­tics in Uganda?.

The East African - - NEWS -

Idon't know many Ugan­dans who take beauty pageants se­ri­ously ex­cept, maybe, some of the con­tes­tants. In the past, these things were big, be­cause there was only one reign­ing beauty queen ev­ery year – Miss Uganda.

Then di­lu­tion set in and they started hav­ing Miss this and Miss that un­til ev­ery vil­lage, ev­ery school and ev­ery chronic dis­ease as­so­ci­a­tion got its own beauty con­test. And at all lev­els, murky sto­ries of how the win­ners ac­tu­ally got se­lected ac­com­pa­nied ev­ery beauty con­test, and merit was not al­ways in the pic­ture. Or­gan­is­ers' rep­u­ta­tions went down the drain un­til ev­ery­body seemed to lose in­ter­est in the beauty con­test thing.

An­other con­test that ap­pears set to lose cred­i­bil­ity the way the beauty con­tests did is the one on the po­lit­i­cal stage. In the past, peo­ple found it mean­ing­ful to elect a cer­tain in­di­vid­ual to rep­re­sent them, say, in the na­tional par­lia­ment. Ac­tu­ally in the 1960s, con­stituents would raise money to en­able their can­di­date to con­test.

To­day, it is the re­v­erse as the con­tes­tant has to pay the vot­ers, who don't care what the fel­low does upon win­ning. And like the beauty pageants, po­lit­i­cal con­tests are mul­ti­ply­ing. Gen­eral elec­tions have some two mil­lion can­di­dates from a pop­u­la­tion of 40 mil­lion, and then in the en­tire fiveyear cy­cle there are by-elec­tions and vi­cious cam­paigns for them.

Be­fore all that, par­ties hold pri­maries for the nu­mer­ous con­tests, and these can get even more vi­cious.

So like the beauty queens, politi­cians too ceased to hold the pub­lic's at­ten­tion. Yes, they are there, you can't ig­nore them, but they don't re­ally mat­ter much to you.

Last week, one Ugan­dan called Brenda at­tracted more than per­func­tory at­ten­tion by her com­pa­tri­ots be­cause she seemed to be do­ing promis­ingly well at the world level con­test. But it was just that, per­func­tory, then peo­ple got back to their life strug­gles.

The same hap­pens with politi­cians: They stage their con­tests, the masses get in­volved, all the while know­ing very well that once elected, the win­ners will cease be­ing part of them. That is why they charge them in­creas­ingly stiffly for the votes.

But while they aren't ter­ri­bly rel­e­vant to a Ugan­dan's life, beauty queens and politi­cians can­not be ig­nored. The most beau­ti­ful girl in any gath­er­ing will be no­ticed and ac­corded recog­ni­tion for her beauty, how­ever ir­rel­e­vant that beauty is to so­ci­ety's as­pi­ra­tions. Sim­i­larly, how­ever aw­fully the politi­cians be­have, the Ugan­dans will turn out to vote for them for yet an­other five years, and not even bother to hold them ac­count­able. In fact, the peo­ple who ask ques­tions about the politi­cians' per­for­mance are ac­cused of rock­ing the boat by the peo­ple on whose be­half they are ask­ing. Fi­nal sim­i­lar­ity: The beauty queens, like the politi­cians, have made their con­tests a pro­fes­sion. The as­pir­ing beauty queens are now called slay queens. They ac­tu­ally go out and claim the prize ev­ery day from the men they tar­get. So do the politi­cians who, af­ter get­ting the po­si­tion from the vot­ers, start call­ing them­selves lead­ers and milk­ing the tax­pay­ers. You don't want to know the de­mands of the politi­cians on the tax­payer. They in­clude the se­ri­ous and the ridicu­lous: They ex­pect to be fed, clothed, given per­sonal ipads, cars and oc­ca­sional emol­u­ments and even re­funds for in­fla­tion by the tax­payer.

A sore loser in the Grand Slam of Darts, Dutch­man Wes­ley Harms, claimed that he lost to Scots­man Gary An­der­son be­cause he was af­fected by the “fra­grant smell” of the wind An­der­son passed as they played. Twice world cham­pion An­der­son, 47, won the match 10-2 to reach the quar­ter-fi­nals. “Ev­ery time I walked past there was a waft of rot­ten eggs so that's why I was think­ing it was him. It was bad. It was a stink, then he started to play bet­ter and I thought he must have needed to get some wind out,” said Harms, 34, af­ter the match played in the English Mid­lands town of Wolver­hamp­ton. How­ever, An­der­son said the smell had come “from the ta­ble side,” sug­gest­ing it was from the crowd. “If the boy thinks I've farted he's 1,010 per cent wrong. I had a bad stom­ach once on stage be­fore and ad­mit­ted it. So I'm not go­ing to lie about fart­ing on stage,” he was quoted as say­ing by the BBC.

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