Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Uganda to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Entebbe Operation took a bizarre turn when the Ugandan president’s address to Netanyahu mentioned “linking Palestine to Africa”.
Uganda’s 71-year-old president, Yoweri Museveni, gave a speech that could only be described as bizarre. It began badly, as Museven welcomed Netanyahu.
“I want to thank him for turning this sad story 40 years ago into yet another instrument of bonding the holy land of Israel-Palestine, with the heartland Uganda in particular, and Africa in general.”
After that, it only got worse, as the Ugandan president waxed on about the origins of religion in “Palestine”, with “Joseph and Moses, between 1886 BC and 1446 BC”. His accuracy in Biblical events began to lag as he related the story of “Baby Jesus” being hidden in Egypt from King Herod, who was “a bad gentleman or something like that”. “I don’t know which year”, Museveni admitted. “My people wrote 4 AD, but I am reluctant to read it. How could it be when he was just born?” He described this event proudly as “another bond between Africa and Palestine”.
His historical acuity returned as he described events in 632 AD, when Mohammed fled from Arabia to Ethiopia, “again bonding between Palestine and Africa under sad circumstances”.
All the while, the Israeli delegation headed by Netanyahu smiled diplomatically, clapping at what seemed to be the most appropriate places.
Museveni’s Biblical meanderings led to the story of “Shara and Hagara”, at which time he gleefully informed Netanyahu, “You Israelis need to know, the Ugandans assume you are Christians. They don’t know. ” He did give his Jewish guests credit for avoiding, “British nonsense” when they wanted to bring the Jews to Uganda, an idea fostered by, “a character called Ball-four, or something like that”.
Museveni offered to mediate for peace between the Palestinians and Israel. “I have never mediated in the issue of Palestine, but if you invited me I would give very clear ideas in a very short time,” he announced. Netanyahu has not announced plans to take the Ugandan president up on his magnanimous offer.
Ofwono Opondo, a spokesperson for the Ugandan government, later defended the speech in a Tweet.
— Ofwono Opondo P’Odel (@OfwonoOpondo) July 4, 2016
Museveni has been president of Uganda for 30 years. He will not be eligible for reelection in 2021 when the next elections are slated to be held since the Ugandan constitution stipulates the president must be under 75. That is, unless Ann Maria Nankabirwa, an MP from the National Resistance Movement, has her way. She recently told Reuters that she wants to pass legislation that will remove the age limit. Hopefully, Museveni will have time to hire another speechwriter in the interim.