Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh, What's Love [of Sugar] Got To Do With It?

Oh, What's Love [of Sugar] Got To Do With It?

Perhaps it is a little bit tacky to attempt to link the tune and question posed by Ms. Tina Turner in 1984 to the sugar/Mabira Forest controversy of 2011, but that's what's stuck in my head. It's like a far inferior remix. But the other day when I was on one of my marathon-training runs, my training partner kept asking the question: What's sugar got to do with it? Tacky is what tacky does, so there it is; I did it.

From yesterday's headlines: Mabira must go, Museveni tells district officials. (I acknowledge that the Press Secretary has claimed the President was misquoted, but as a commenter on the article put it, "We all know what the president said...") Misquoted or not, Mabira Forest is once again in danger. I knew this was coming. As soon as Museveni rushed to the sugar plantations after the price of sugar went up, I knew that Mabira Forest would soon be on the chopping block again.

(Insert flashback to 2007 here: receiving SMSes advising a boycott of Lugazi sugar; school children writing letters to the editors, local and national leaders, pleading with them to save the forest and giving them reasons to do so; a peaceful protest-turned violent in Kampala which lead to the death of three.)

Museveni's rapid and, in my opinion, extreme response to the sugar price increase leads me to ask, why? Sugar is not necessary for people's survival, and 4 spoons of sugar in a cup of tea should be considered a luxury. In contrast, the response to the rising costs of necessary commodities (staple foods and fuel) was lackadaisical at best. According to past logic regarding food prices ("When the food prices go up, the farmers are very happy. If prices have gone up, this is good."), this increase in sugar prices is a "good" thing and should be making people happy. Right? Why, then, the need for the destruction/giveaway of Mabira Forest?

And to say that the riots of 2007 were "led by Beatrice Anywar" is slanderous.
The case against Beatrice Anywar for her involvement in the terribly, sad and unfortunate 2007 incident was withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecution late last year, and according to a BBC news report, the riots were sparked off a little differently: "People were demonstrating peacefully when there was a misunderstanding with police. All of a sudden they opened fire." "They" being the police, as they are the ones with the guns. Disagreeing with political actions and campaigning to save a forest do not equate to inciting violence. But there is a movement to equate political opposition to terrorism.

The timing of and the events surrounding the Mabira Forest giveaway lead me to believe that someone (or multiple someones) is (are) manipulating the current economic frustrations for personal financial gain. If I were an investigative reporter worth my weight in salt, or sugar, I'd be sniffing out a whistle-blowing story.

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