Who Was Museveni Referring To As “Jiggers” ?



On Saturday September 15, while addressing a press conference on the state of affairs in Uganda, he was asked to comment on the allegations that a neighbouring country is involved the insecurity that has engulfed Uganda.

Question: “Some voices are saying that part of what is happening in the country security-wise is connected to a neighboring country and members of the families of the sections of the population are worried about where our relationship is and even fear to host visitors.”

Response: “…about whether these killers that are coming from anywhere in our neighboring country, we shall find out . First, you know us we are very patient, we don’t panic. You don’t remove a jigger by cutting off the toe, no. When the jigger enters the toe, the whole leg itches, but you must be patient and you go for the jigger without damaging the tissue because like these bodabodas (taxi moto), one could panic and say ‘let’s ban all bodabodas, no no no no, we are not going to ban the bodabodas, we are not going to restrict them, we shall work patiently and get the jigger. There is a jigger which has entered the leg. You handle the jigger in two ways. You remove that one which has entered already, patiently without damaging the organ and then you disinfect the whole area so that the jiggers die. So that is what we are doing now in the jigger operation, jigger operation, emvuza, emvuza operation. Remove the one that has entered carefully, carefully without damaging the body. We are going to remove this jigger from the bodaboda because it has entered the bodabodas. They think that we shall panic and round up all the bodabodas and then ban them, no no no, sorry, sorry. We were in the bush for five years, we fought Amin for eight years. Patience is part of our doctrine. We shall get these jiggers, the one in the toe and the one around. You will see! Remove that one, disinfect the others. Okay, you have got the story of the jiggers? Laughs….Because you see, they think that we can panic , no, [people say] roadblocks, what…have you seen any roadblock? No. Because these are nothing, their only thing is concealment. So, I am not going to inconvenience people to go to roadblocks, no. Slowly, we shall get the jiggers. Just be vigilant.”

To understand Museveni’s response, let’s ask ourselves the following questions.

1. What are jiggers?

2. How and where do jiggers survive?

3. What effect do they have on humans?

4. How do you treat jiggers?

5. What does it mean when you are infected by jiggers? Why does someone get infected by jiggers?

6. Now, who are the jiggers?

7. What does it mean to call “a people” of another nation “jiggers”?

8. Why would Museveni call those people ” jiggers”?

Let’s first define jiggers.

Scientists say a jigger is a flea, also known as sand flea, Chigoeor Tunga penetrans, a parasite insect which causes Tungiasis parasitic conditions in humans and animals.

A jigger, mostly a female, thrusts underneath the skin and then burrows and lays eggs in the host’s skin, causing painful sores.

It inflicts very discomforting itches and pain, causing serious difficulty in walking, reducing the infected person’s ability to work normally.

Jiggers affect impoverished populations. Jiggers cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

They happen to live and survive only in unsanitary environment mainly in poor communities. The jigger survives best in sandy and dusty environments.

In some communities, it is said, the prevalence is acute. At least 50% can confirm to have experienced jigger menace at some point in life.

It is a pity and an absurdity for anyone to suffer from jiggers. Any homestead infested with jiggers is regarded as poor and backward. Family members limp with a stout barefoot begging for someone to plug out the pest.

For Museveni to suggest that Uganda is infested with jiggers, does it mean he is admitting that the country is a mess and begs for a fixing?

Is he also admitting that the country is undesirable and unpleasant to live in?

Now, inferring to the people of the purported neighboring country as jiggers, is he aware it is a dehumanising language? Was it intentional?

Does Museveni detest the people of the said country? Does he respect the people?

Does Museveni harbour unpleasant sentiments against these loathing jiggers?

Does hesconsider these people inferior to him?

It is unlikely that President Museveni developed such hatred and disgust overnight.

Who exactly was he talking about? Was it Rwanda or it was Kenya?

Whichever country, why would he call them jiggers?

Museveni plans to re-run for the presidency. Those who were born when he took over power in 1986 are now married with children.

Then, Uganda’s GDP was about US$ 3.9 billion. A Ugandan lived under US$258 per year. He ruled for 20 and saw Uganda raise economically as the country enjoyed stability before the cards began to fall.

Three decades later, Uganda’s GDP is about US$25 billion. On average, a Ugandan does not live above US$700 per year.

A stagnation is painted plain white. Corruption is taking place under his nose.

Public goods and services are dilapidated. If assailants send a death warning, the target dies with over 90% accuracy.

Insecurity is about to cross into the red-line. People get killed so easily. It is a state of anarchy.

That’s not something you can sell to voters. What will Museveni tell the voters this time? What will he promise? Roads? No! Hospitals? No! Better education? No! Nothing new.

There is a plan B.

Blame the insecurity and instability on outsiders; the jiggers, and promise that you are the only one to fix the problem.

The danger with this strategy is; what if the jiggers are actually in the house and not from outside?

Being in power for 32 years is such a long time; it cannot make Museveni any better.

He is isolated from the real issues.