Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has been Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for over two decades. That is enough time for an old man to forget a lot of things, and so when he recently had to (or chose to, if you would rather take his spokesperson’s word for it) fly back from Washington DC in the economy class section of a commercial airplane, I am sure there were a few things that he had to re-familiarise himself with.
I myself have flown economy class before, you know… I will pause now to look closely into your face to see what your reaction to that will be. I am wondering if you read that and take it to mean that I usually fly first class but once decided to slum it and see how the po’ folk fly. No? You know me and my Akamba ways? Well. Let us proceed then. Sorry for the detour.
As a person with more recent experience flying economy class I can only imagine his discomfort when he discovered that he had to deal with:
The Safety Drill: Before the flight the flight attendants stand in front of the class and explain/ demonstrate what to do in case of emergency. This has the unnerving effect of reminding passengers even before they leave that YOU MIGHT NOT REACH.
Elbow Rasslin’: Economy class on planes is like First Class on buses — the seats that are next to each other come with only one arm-rest that the passengers on either side have to compete like gladiators for. Only the quick and the strong and the brave survive. You snooze and you lose. Having survived as an African president for over twenty years, though, I am not worried that Museveni conquered the armrest. Owned that bitch like he did the Congo.
Baby meals: They serve food on the plane. Wait, don’t get excited. They don’t serve that much food. They give you tiny little portions and the last time I had a runty meat pie and a can of coke that was half the size of a normal can of coke. That can looked underdeveloped. Immature. Unripe. I thought I was defiling it by drinking it. I wanted to send it back while singing that Maurice Hasa song, Kaleke Kasome.
Now, the president, being president and having been so for over twenty years, might not be accustomed to being starved like this. I imagine a scene when he demands that they “more him on” and the attendants have to execute maneuver 24d for Code Blue. That is, when a passenger asks for more food, they are required and trained to A. Keep smiling B. Tase the fool.
Other passengers: He travels fastest who travels alone, they say. He also travels wide open and vulnerable to all sorts of attacks from annoying Other Passengers. I was going to write here about the sorts of irritants the President would find himself having to deal with but I was reminded of what Samali, my friend, said to me the other day while I was musing about this flight. I said, “I wonder if the guy next to Sevo looked at him and said, “No offense, but you look kind of like Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. No offense.”
Samali said, “No sooner would Sevo begin his ‘The banyankole have a saying…’ than the other guy would realise his mistake, put on his headphones and pretend to hum a song.”
In short, Mr Museveni needn’t have worried about other passengers annoying him.