Frank Gashumba needs no introduction to anyone except those who are not aware there was an attempted coup in Burundi and that Pierre Nkurunziza is now back in Bujumbura after allegedly meeting the omnipotent son of Kaguta. Gashumba is that man who makes more noise than a very old ddeebe (empty tin) and the voices of Burundian coup jokers combined.
The last time The Frying Pun met Gashumba, he was wearing a pair of white gumboots that made him look more like a cadaver handler than those chaps in Basajjabalaba’s meat packers in Industrial Area. The man who boasts of popcorn for a tongue was delivering a goat in a kind gesture to The Kampala Sun team after a story they had covered on how teens get wasted away around Nakumatt.
Meeting him again for this interview, The Frying Pun couldn’t waste time. “What drives you, Frank?” The Pun probed on the dot.
Gashumba merely smiled.
“Frank, I am asking, what drives you? Is that too hard to answer or do you think we are accusing you of living on some strange content from Busabala beach or aviation fuel?” The Pun was hot.
“Well, what do I say? I expected intelligent… you know, mature interview… how old are you, Frying Pun?” he asked.
“Frank, age is just a number,” the Pun went defensive. “Do you think men getting Sheila [his daughter] ask about her age? They just … her. Let’s not go age things because the only man who is interested in the age thing now is Museveni.”
This rubbed him the wrong way. He rubbed his dry scalp as though some pepperspray had been doused on it, dilated his eyes and swore between his breathe. The Pun apologized for the ‘offence’ and Gashumba relaxed a bit.
“You asked what drives me? It is the desire to seek the best for the society. Too many young people in Uganda cannot prosper because they are not doing enough for themselves and no one is telling them that. They think betting is everything, but that is laziness. I, Frank Gashumba, will not stop telling them that.”
The Frying Pun seized this with gusto: “But they obviously don’t want you or what you are intent on telling them. Why do you make it your business then to keep criticizing them? Are you related to Pierre Nkurunziza who, even after Burundians refused him, sticks on them like a fly on a corpse?”
“Not everyone rejects me,” Gashumba said. “When I went to Makerere, there were even those who wanted me to speak to them. And indeed I went back a few days later and addressed an association of students there. Change doesn’t come because everyone seeks it, it comes because a few people make a compelling reason for change.”
“So, Frank, is it true you are nursing presidential ambitions?”
“I also keep hearing that on Facebook, that I am to run against Museveni and such things. Nonsense,” he said. “But you know, sometimes the most sensible things are discernible in a mad man’s raves. If I realize that the only way to make change and prosperity for the people is through the presidency, then I will consider it.”
“Okay, Frank, don’t tell me you also keep hearing this on Facebook: you are a government spy, planted by Museveni to rave and lure unsuspecting persons into coming out so that government knows who is who and where,” the Pun declared.
“Now that is a funny one,” he said. “What I know is that I am Frank Gashumba and I have nothing to do with a corrupt government system that only prides in buying tear gas and stationing mambas at every major road junction in the city when they cannot station a dosage of malaria drug in Mulago. Gashumba cannot identify with such a government.”
“You haven’t said anything new. You are repeating yourself by saying exactly what I said Museveni pays you to do: make noise, accuse him and his government so donors can say Museveni is tolerant, and people opposed to the system can come out to criticize like you, only to be clamped,” the Pun said.
“I won’t stop speaking out my mind just because of what some scrawny young man thinks of my views. If you think what you think of Frank Gashumba will put food on your table, then increase the level of how you think of me so that you start eating money itself,” he said, wiping sweat on his temple and licking his lower lip.
The Frying Pun was about to say something when Gashumba interjected. Clearly, he had been fried. “Your mentality makes it clear to me that Museveni had played every Ugandan around so badly that they can never trust their own pubic hair now. A typical Ugandan will undress and begin to think it is Museveni who has planted hairs on his pubes and that is very bad for this country. When shall we emancipate ourselves? This kind of brain-washing is the reason we can’t defeat Museveni.”
“Frank, it’s easier to trust Sejusa than you,” the Pun said. “This is a fact, not an opinion. You know it too well that you say any crap about this government and no one cares. But if Besigye or Lukwago said half of what you say, they would be accused of being the Gen Godefroid (Niyombare) of Burundi coup joke infamy.”
“You are still going on and on with that nonsense?” he asked sarcastically.
“Okay, to change the subject, most of what you say, the quotable quotes, the punchy lines, are actually lifted from other intellectuals. Given that you were once fined for fraudulent activities and had two or more other cases related to fraud, can I say you are a congenital fraudster?”
“All the cases against me were dropped. I tend to ignore your lot. However much a mad man rants and raves, it will not stop the sane people from tying him to a tree, so beware of what you say, young man.”
“Exactly, you are right,” the Pun cut in sarcastically as well. “Just like we also tend to ignore much of your rant, a more diplomatic way of tying the mad you to a tree. Did you even help Aisha Nabukeera or did you use her for your own gain?”
“Aisha is now an adult. She vividly remembers the tribulations she went through so she can tell you her story. I have spoken for her all these years, but now she can even speak for herself,” Gashumba said. “Go ask her what you want to know.”
“But you could have played the cards so well she sees only the angel in you,” the Pun said. “The public is wont to believe that a man who ignores his other daughter won’t be able to care for a stranger for that matter.”
“You have gone too far, mister. I am sure you also went through Makerere University given this sickening attitude you hold. It disgusts me and I pity you for that though I wouldn’t feel sorry if I found you eating kikomando for dinner.”