The Politics of Common Sense; Book Review

Can we have common sense and politics in the same sentence, especially for Uganda whose problems have been due to lack of common sense in conflict management?. The author uses common examples to make us stop and think.With fine imagery,he would use the week’s happening to preach to us the sleeping generation. Like a good physician,he makes a perfect diagnosis and leaves room for reflections. At the end of the read, you notice why and how you are part of the problem and how you can solve it. The chapters are arranged thematically to drive the point home .Bob Marley in Get up stand up song asks us to get up and stand up for our rights.The author takes the good option in the art of reasonable argument, he seems to say that we can’t take the option of quarreling and vulgarization of public discourse.The author reminds us that we can be the change that we desire and it starts with us. One of the takeaways from reading this book is, perhaps that we can be the hummingbirds in our society. The good book in Isaiah 1:18 says,”come and let us reason together”. The author is stressing that we lose so much when we put reason away.

I’m reminded of Chankech ,Chankech was a UYD( Uganda Young Democrats)activist,he liked doing things the other way round, he stood for the position of headgirl at kibuli Secondary school reasoning that he was only heading the girls and didn’t have to be one.He was an anticlockwise thinker.The fact that he thought outside the box is what made him outstanding, naturally we suppose that a head girl is always a girl. When I think about anticlockwise thinkers,a name stands out,Owek. David Frederick Mpanga the author of this book ,on his Twitter bio, describes himself as an anticlockwise thinker. Thinking anticlockwise isn’t easy especially in a society that doesn’t believe in reasonable argument in conflict solving. We can agree to disagree and still remain comrades. The book is a compilation of op-eds written by the author which ran in the daily Monitor from 2012-16. What stands out for me is that conversation between the author and the sister while taking a stroll on kodhek road, Milimani,Nairobi.

I ‘m reminded of the story of the humming bird often times we are overwhelmed at what is going on in the society and look at ourselves as helpless, Once there was a fire in the forest and the animals got out and looked at the raging fire and the humming bird said,”I must do something about the fire” other animals like the elephant and lion laughed off, and the bird went to the stream to collect water to put out the fire, the leopard said,”you are wasting time that water is too insignificant to put out the fire”, the bird answered,”Iam doing the best I can”.

The author uses common scenarios to remind the reader, that we can be the hummingbirds in the society. So for everything you think is wrong with society, there is something you can do about it from corruption, traffic jam, environment degradation and poor urban planning. The author was kind enough to sign on my copy and just like the hummingbird, I will write not to write the wrongs in society but its because,I will be doing the best I can. I write to disturb the comforted and not to comfort the disturbed and the author has achieved that. So if you need sobering up to be of value to our community, this is the book for you.Some books are not meant for reading,they are to be studied.

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