Saturday, July 31, 2010

In the Name of God, Go!

Oliver Cromwell
When I discovered that I had a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam on my way to Washington, DC last month, I made two great discoveries. One was the Yotel Hotel in Schiphol Airport, which I could access without leaving the terminal and going through another security check. It is a curious little airport hotel designed using amazing technologies to make the most out of the tinniest spaces. Even more exciting was my second discovery, a book entitled ‘Speeches that Changed the World’ with an introduction by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It starts off with the Sermon on the Mount by none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth, followed by verses from the Surah al-Baqarah (Qu’ran) by Prophet Mohammed and then it quickly comes down to earth with heroes and villains like George Washington, Napoloen Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King and even present day Barack Obama.

As soon as I started reading it I knew I would be quoting from it for a long time and my only difficulty was choosing whom to quote first and who would make the most sense in present day Uganda. It was not an easy decision especially since I had to choose between God and man, great men and evil men.

Oliver Cromwell ‘Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland,’ would not be my ideal choice of a leader but the relevance of his speech to an infamous British Parliament on April 20, 1653 was too good to pass. Cromwell had at this time played a leading role in abolishing the House of Lords, abolishing monarchism and executing King Charles I of England.

Legend says that in 1653, after learning that Parliament was attempting to stay in session despite an agreement to dissolve, and having failed to come up with a working constitution, Cromwell attended Parliament on 20 April and after listening to one or two speeches his patience run out. He then stood up and harangued the members. The last sentence of that speech is quoted widely: “In the name of God, Go!” In Uganda we would like to read it to our executive and a significant chunk of the August House:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do; I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! Go! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”

Now you understand why I started with Cromwell’s speech.

1 comment:

  1. i can't stop reading this, its so applicable to this banana republic,i definately believe that the time you spent reading this was worth it, i look forward to reading another one of these!
    thanx, Anne.

    all the best.