“The Debase” by Rogers Atukunda

The Debase

Remind me, grandson, what was the day? A Friday, grandpa, January 15, 2016 And you say it was a tea story? No grandpa, I said it was on TV Ooh, but did you say it was a primary debase? Grandpa, a presidential debate I see. And the old man who spoke big words, was who? The judge, Justice James Ogoola, grandpa Eeh, that one, did he really say the “debase” was the “sin”? No, he said the debate was the thing Did I also hear Mbirizi? No, not Mbirizi grandpa, the name is Joseph Mabirizi Ooh that one, okay, but did he really say he was “adapted”? Mnh! That is what I heard, grandpa! You are sure he didn’t say abducted? For sure grandpa, he said “adapted” two times And what did the lady Kyanwa say about women leaders? Kyalya grandpa, Maureen Kyalya Aah, never mind, but did she call them dummies? [Our hardworking mothers are like the display dummies!] Hnh! That is what I heard grandpa And that Amani (Amani?), what did he say about his stomach and God? Grandpa! It is For God and My country! And the name is Amama Mbabazi, But wait…grandpa, are you trying to mock him? Ooh, him? Tell me, what was that he said about “erections”? That he has never witnessed a stolen election since independence! Hahaha, hihihi, hehehe, my ribs, my ribs What grandpa? Never mind…but tell me, what did he say about serve houses? Not serve, grandpa, he was talking about safe houses And he wants to serve our goats macron and chips? Microchips, grandpa, that was Abed Bwanika And he also wants to empower them down there? No, now that was Mabirizi. He was talking about women And all the debasers don’t know oil papers? Indeed grandpa, they don’t! But one wants to take the oil to Kenya… I see, but, why was one chair empty? You mean the one for Museveni, grandpa? Yes, he was my hero president when I was a young man He is still the president, grandpa No wonder he missed the debase! The debate grandpa, DE-BA-TE. But why miss the debase? He said it was childish grandpa, Did he mean childish or challenging? I don’t know grandpa but he said it was for kids Kids? You mean a young one of a goat? Children grandpa Did I also hear him mention peace or pieces? He was talking about peaceful elections, grandpa Waw! I love fairy tales What grandpa? Ignore me…and what is this man of eyes bringing Ooh, you mean Kizza Besigye, grandpa? Mmh, he means to bring us new walking sticks? No grandpa, he talked about walking with swagger Hmh! What is it grandpa? My friend, these eyes have seen, these ears have heard, these hands have touched…enough, enough! Are you okay grandpa? My grandson, you are yet to see!

Rogers Atukunda is Ugandan writer. He is a published poet and short story writer. His poem “Delilah” appeared in A Thousand Voices Rising: An Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry. His short story “Daniela” was published in An Anthology of contemporary short stories and poems from East Africa. He has also written a critical paper titled: “Swallowing a bitter pill; the subtext in Kihura Nkuba’s When the African Wakes” (still unpublished).

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