Description versus abuse

Yesterday, as I was pampered by my manicurist-pedicurist, a conversation ensued in the beauty parlour about how abusive Ugandan youth are these days. It was specifically triggered by the trending incident in which the outspoken, controversial, youthful, dreadlocked, city lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde, debated Kampala Central Member of Parliament, Muhammad Nsereko.

During the debate, on live television, lawyer Ssemakadde referred to his fellow lawyer, Hon. Nsereko as a “conman, stupid person, and a dimwit.” Ssemakadde is notorious for his use of language some consider abusive. There was a time, in fact, he was detained for the offence of using vulgar language to insult the Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Jane Francis Abodo and for referring to her as a “rotten tomato.”

While attorney to Dr. Stella Nyanzi, herself a notorious wordsmith, who is revered by many and is feared by those who find themselves the subject of her eloquent prose, Counsel Ssemakade was notorious for his use of pointed sharp words in defence of his client. Not all of his clients, however, have been comfortable with his style, such as one who reportedly described him thus:

“You have abusive communication skills and have been disrespectful to different stakeholders on this matter. As your client, I find myself having to carry the burden and embarrassment of an unethical lawyer.”

Wang Yong

It is interesting that youthful Ugandans – Lawyer Ssemakadde, Dr. Nyanzi, novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who are branded abusive and/or vulgar, assert that far from it, they are simply maximising their use of language to give apt descriptions. They insist it is their right to do so; and the right of others to do so towards them. History, however, shows that those thin-skinned who go up against these notorious wordsmiths, often do so at their own peril.  

President Yoweri Kagutta Tibuhaburwa Museveni and his family, he whose tongue-in-cheek descriptions of past leaders of Uganda were celebrated, ironically, seem most intolerant of the same from the youth nurtured within that culture in his 30+ era at the helm of the administration of the Republic of Uganda.

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