Balaam Barugahara has kick-started something new, currently underrated but very lethal to NRM’s competitors. This is now what we are calling the “Balaam Effect” in this insight contributed by Prosper Belguin Lumu.

Belguin Prosper Lumu is an entrepreneur and market intelligence analyst by profession. His thoughts in here, are not intended to offend any party or anyone’s beliefs, but are rather as a result of his own perspective and analysis about the matters happening in the country.

What Balaam has started, if momentum is maintained and strategy well supported, will re-shape not just politics for celebrities-cum- politicians but the entertainment industry as well especially for those thinking of attacking Balaam or working with him.

Some people believe that being the loudest in the room makes them look strong. It may appear that way to a few uninformed individuals. What they don’t know is that the more they talk, the more information they reveal about themselves (directly and indirectly). They become an easy target, and it makes them very vulnerable to attacks, hence the occurrence of the Balaam Effect within their circles.

Many people, underestimate the power of silence before reaction. Silence gives one time to assess before entering action mode. Balaam’s competitors need to understand this, than just focusing on blaming him for “fishing” people.

Assessing Ashburg Kato’s move and way forward

The move by Ashburg Kato should not cause this wide alarm, and should not tag Balaam as the worst human being. In simple terms, Balaam was simply doing his job and will continue to do so before the people he is loyal to. On the other hand, Ashburg Kato did what any normal human being does – making a decision.

Ashburg Kato, was not just honest by the decision he took, he was also clearly transparent with everyone. Ashburg chose to publicly declare his subscription to NRM. He did not choose to clandestinely stay in People Power as Bobi Wine’s blogger and yet at the same time become an informer to Balaam.

Whether the segment of People Power sympathizers think of him as a traitor, it does not matter. The gentleman simply made a decision. As they judge him, they should remember that he had the decency of publicly declaring his new position, citing reasons why, and actually, even apologizing to those that felt inconvenienced by his actions. He transitioned in a very open and clear way without drama or treachery. He came out and declared his reasons for departure.

Among the outstanding reasons was the fact that he feels his leader is self-centered and plays a “divide and rule” game with his peers than solving issues affecting them internally. Ashburg seemed to be speaking from an informed perspective that should not just be under looked out of emotion, because Ashburg has been hunted before because of Bobi Wine. He has made his own sacrifices and contributions whether People Power wants to accept it or not.

Ashburg also decided to leave and embark on a new journey. It is done and it is over! Simple as that. If People Power together with Bobi Wine, had been the ones to have successfully convinced Catherine Kusasira to defect Balaam’s side and join Bobi Wine, it would certainly have been broadcasted on Al Jazeera.

Bobi Wine sympathizers would want to even breach curfew guidelines all in the name of celebration. On the other hand, Balaam would focus on the few people he has left and focus on closing the turnover rate and its cause. This is exactly what Bobi Wine sympathizers ought to have done than trying to patronize Ashburg by rushing to being too loud compared to being silently critical.

Now that Ashburg has joined Balaam, it is a new era for him having joined Balaam’s side and definitely Balaam’s party – NRM. Ashburg has entered a society with new “lords”, new systems and new faces with different motives. Ashburg is going to have to advance his level of thought and understand his boss’ vision (by his boss we mean NRM’s founder, Balaam’s boss).

Thereafter, Ashburg will need to assess himself and see how best he can contribute to the boss’ vision and also identify who he can work with, on top of knowing his limits. Short of that, Ashburg will become stagnant and his career will die a natural death.

Ashburg needs to know that Balaam, together with his bosses, understand the game of political competition and ideological development and dissemination to masses. Ashburg needs to find ways to fit into that. This is no longer about propaganda but about content that makes the NRM brand thrive, because that is part of Balaam’s priorities.

This is the time for Ashburg to challenge himself above the ordinary and bring something new on the table, that satisfies the boss’ vision too. Just as the boss is dedicated to satisfying Ashburg’s vision, Ashburg should be dedicated towards the boss’ vision. At the cost of Bobi Wine, as a result of the “Balaam effect”, Ashburg needs to conceptualize the new side’s values and ideologies and use his expertise effectively.

Ashburg needs not to underestimate Balaam’s ability to hit targets for his bosses. He needs to understand how to rhyme with Balaam along this journey, because when Balaam starts, he does not stop.

Bobi Wine in the Loophole

Dear Bobi Wine and People power sympathizers, without questioning the ability of Bobi Wine and his vision, the fact is, 99.9% of People Power people know about politics but do not understand it. But they honestly need to learn one thing – politics is not bargained for, it is competed for.

Just like international politics is about national interests, so is national politics. It is about party interests. It is incumbent upon the organization’s leader to invest in his people, then the people focus on the protecting the interests of the party and implementing the vision. If Bobi Wine got that principle in the wrong order and forgot to invest in Ashburg, then he is headed for more trouble in his organization – The “Balaam Effect” is coming for him again.

Just like in Physics and Psychology, in Market Intelligence, we talk about the “Ripple effect” and if you have heard about it and know how it works, then you should all know that what Balaam started, is known as the “Balaam Effect” and it is going to be felt more unless People Power and Bobi Wine learn to focus on the real issues.

The action taken by Ashburg Kato, should become an eye opener to all current and future “revolutionaries” that are so fixated on the need of change of guards in Uganda. Ashburg’s actions should not be perceived as the problem, but they should rather be perceived as sign and symptom to a bigger problem within the People Power fraternity. Maybe the problem is not yet visible to many, but it sure does exist, if Balaam was able to exploit it and cause a drastic change in the People Power structure of top 8 or top 6 (Ashburg revealed he was in same WhatsApp group with top People Power administrators). If the Balaam Effect was able to infiltrate the top ranks, imagine what it would do to the lower ranks.

It is okay that Bobi Wine is focused on issues affecting Ugandans, but he should not try to act like he is okay with what is happening within his own house. When he sees people within his organization fighting and having issues disturbing them to the extent of leaving for a competitor, then he surely has a big problem and he should focus on solving those internal issues than acting like he does not see, hoping to play a “divide-and-rule” game as a control mechanism that he actually knows nothing about as yet, or further still just waiting for public sympathy than focusing on the issue’s cause.

The same effort he puts in trying to air Uganda’s issues is what he need to put in solving his internal problems that have taken him by
storm. If he can’t control his household at this early stage, his critics will hint that he won’t control Uganda.

Bobi Wine has had a very successful music career, but he should tread this new journey with total clarity and caution especially if Balaam is at the forefront of it all. The Balaam effect will sweep through Bobi Wine so fast and so hard, unless he gets more careful.

The departure by Ashburg has left a huge gap in People Power and has created a much bigger loophole. In foresight, more members could be on their way out unless Bobi Wine develops a better crisis contingency strategy than showing an “I do not care” attitude” or waiting for public sympathy.

For now, he should focus on realigning his internal systems and understand that his members need direction not just a cause. Without a direction, more are bound to leave. Bobi Wine and People Power might be creative, but NRM (Balaam’s team) is highly strategic and surgically observant. On top of that, very generous to its cadres, especially the newly recruited ones like Ashburg Kato.

Balaam and the Balaam Effect

Balaam is a business man. But a business man who chose and easily belonged to and important side of his life, and that is, NRM. It is where his loyalty stands. The relationship between him and the Founder of NRM has grown from just being political to being friends. He has built a relationship over time with NRM and the first family. His actions speak for him. The whole world knows where he pledges his allegiance. So, why then should his actions be seen as an evil and selfish act, yet he is doing what he should be doing? Helping his party (his friends’ party) develop?

Balaam is not about to stop “cold calling” people from the public. That is what party politics is about. Getting people to join you. The educated, the uneducated, the influential, the intelligent, the strategists among all those and several more. At the end of the day, politics is about numbers, long as those numbers lead to the number one objective of being elected into power again and again.

Balaam’s actions have proven effective, not once not twice. Much as many youths out there are seeming angry at him publicly, many are silently hoping he picks up on them. Do not be surprised by their numbers being big but them not wanting to disclose themselves publicly (hypocrisy). Even within Bobi Wine circles. At the end of the day, everyone has to come to a decision on which side to associate with, either Bobi Wine’s side or Balaam’s.

The side with the most relevance to an individual, is the one that they will choose. If the Balaam Effect is strong because of generosity as a tangible pull factor, what is Bobi Wine’s pull factor? Or does he still want to continue playing the card of “volunteers”?

Balaam has started an effect (The “Balaam Effect”), which himself has not yet even realized. His actions taken upon everyone that is recruited into his side, will soon start making joining NRM Balaam’s side seem so prestigious and that is what it is about – Brand building.

Balaam, through his actions, is going to continue causing a fever within his competitors and help acquire himself the brand ambassadors he has always needed. The difference is that, this time he is getting ambassadors from his own competitors. This is a step higher than usual. It is “target recruiting” and very effective when one looks at it from a marketing and team building perspective.

However, the major downside is that, while Balaam is doing all that, he is putting himself in a more fragile position and seemingly losing popularity among influential musicians and entertainers who are the backbone of his career too. This is where he has to make a call on how to balance between politics and entertainment.

Right now, Balaam is strategically recruiting members but it is going to take him loyalty building, to turn those members into a team that is loyal to his cause and not just with him for the generosity.

The Balaam effect has started, sweeping through. It has begun with Bobi Wine’s circles. Where will it go next? Will it be to another celebrity-turned-politic-an like Jose Chameleone? And will Balaam reclaim the glory he is allegedly losing among the influential entertainers due to his effect?

The Balaam Effect has affected many people both negatively and positively, his effect has made him new friends and made him lose many. He is applying the same effect to penetrate Bobi Wine’s circles. Just like Suspekt Leizor said, “enyumba ojiwulila?”, I ask the same thing, “Balaam mumuwulira?” Let us watch the waves as his effect “Balaam Effect” ripples amongst the celebrities who turned to politics.


Story compiled with help from Belguin Prosper Lumu – a market intelligence analyst and also an expert in Public Relations crisis strategy planning. He is the CEO and founder of Young & Free International Limited, a youth supporting, market intelligence and lobbying company.

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Josh Ruby is an Editor with high interest and knowledge in the Ugandan entertainment space, an industry he has been actively part of since 2010. Leads to breaking stories are welcome!

Belguin Prosper

Prosper is a market intelligence analyst and an expert in Public Relations crisis strategy planning. He is the CEO and founder of Young & Free International Limited - a youth support, market intelligence,...

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