Uganda: Happy birthday, Mr (almost) President Muhoozi

By Damien Glez
Posted on Thursday, 21 April 2022 12:55

By Damien Gletz

Under the hashtag #MKAt48, the upcoming birthday party of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba on 24 April, looks set to be 'the place to be.'

How do you measure a politician’s strength and the bankability of his or her future career? Perhaps by the size of his birthday celebrations rather than the diplomatic markings of purely political events.

With a birthday banner already flying at Kampala’s Lugogo Stadium, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s only male heir is taking the opportunity to count the number of aficionados he has, especially on his Twitter feed.

Muhoozi Kainerugaba will turn 48 on 24 April. Although his 77 year-old father has been the head of state for 36 years, his “son of” status – which has followed him from Gabon to Chad and via Togo – is not the only asset he has to accessing the throne occupied by his father.

The Ugandan’s top brass’ birthday has become an unavoidable event that is being used to take the temperature of the political world. Furthermore, Muhoozi has certainly made an effort to ensure that many VIP guests will be in attendance: artists Chameleon, Bebecool and Massamba Intore for entertainment between 23 and 24 April, the former Miss Rwanda Jolly Mutetsi for glamour, socialite Shanita Namuyimbwa for buzz, journalist Alan Kasujja for intellectual endorsement and any politician who counts in the Ugandan landscape.

Muhoozi even tweeted that his “…uncle, the very great Commander, President and Leader of Rwanda will be attending the anniversary celebration.” Some mention the possible presence of Kenya’s “Pres Uhuru.” Will Papa Yoweri surprise people by bringing back Kanye West, who he met in 2018?

 

On the fringes of this glittery crowd, ordinary internet users are trying to make their presence felt with more or less kitschy works of art that bear the effigy of Museveni’s son. These objects look like commercial merchandising.

Although the poster that advertises the public festivities taking place on the eve of the anniversary – organised by the ‘Friends of MK’ – mentions a sponsor, will anyone dare ask what is the budget for this event?

Even outside of anniversary periods, Muhoozi’sTwitter account has become a place of continuous hagiography. Enamoured twitterers relay their “outpourings of love and support” for “Africa’s youngest generational leader.”

As head of the powerful Ugandan special forces, then commander of the army and “senior presidential adviser on special operations”, “Muhoozia” has always denied any intention of succeeding his father. However, he does like to distil his geopolitical analyses, as observed recently: “The majority of humanity (which is not white) supports Russia’s position in Ukraine. Putin is absolutely right!”

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