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Besigye has a brilliant explanation for rise of ‘bora uhai’ mania

In their usual creative element, Kenyans in social media have in recent weeks popularised a new phrase: Bora Uhai.

The Swahili phrase, which translates to ‘nothing else matters so long as there is life’, has been used by many netizens to express their comfort even in times of turbulence.

Although its use is treated lightly as just another joke doing rounds in social media, this is not so to Uganda’s opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

The Forum for Democratic Change party leader who was in Kenya for a book launch on Monday said the expression highlights a situation in which citizens have given up hope in demanding better leadership and governance to improve their livelihood.

“Many years of domination (by elites) is now a cultural matter (as reflected by) some of the sayings that are within our languages,” he said, mentioning ‘Bora Uhai’ as one of the sayings.


In his speech at the Intercontinental Hotel about democracy and justice, the politician who has been in President Yoweri Museveni’s black book for decades, said citizens have been held captive by a few elites who control all resources, hence they feel powerless.

“After agitation for independence, our people were simply too weak to have power to influence things in the country. Now we have elites who inherited the instruments of coercion and people have no influence at all,” he said.

Dr Besigye called on civil society leaders to take up the mantle of sensitizing citizens so that they appreciate their status of “being held in captivity”.

“A citizen is someone who has power. At best we are subjects. We have to focus on reorienting our people’s minds. Most of them do not know that they are in captive,” he said, while encouraging efforts for strengthening electoral laws to enhance democracy.