BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
MY recent trip to Lome, the capital of the West African country, Togo, was memorable for my encounter with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in the bog.
The smell of the fresh waters from the South Atlantic Ocean and the serene surroundings of dancing palm trees were nothing short of breath taking.
I made sure to take in everything I was seeing during my stay at the Sarakawa Hotel where I would be lodged for four nights from January 16 to 20.
I had gone to Togo for the landmark two-day summit on counterfeit drugs set for January 17 and 18, which saw seven western African nations sign an agreement to combat the sale of fake medicines in their respective countries. These were Niger, Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, Congo-Brazzaville, and the host nation of Togo.
So big was the initiative that Museveni, President Macky Sall (Senegal) and Faure Gnassingbé (Togo) were in attendance.
Such high level presidential presence attracts tight security. So much such that a radius of about a kilometre around the hotel where the summit was taking place was cordoned off. Inside the hotel, it was no different as it was bustling with security.
Arriving for the signing of the agreement, I had to disembark from the bus I was on and get another some few hundred metres away from the hotel. From there, we stopped at the gate of the hotel and walked the rest of the way through vigorous security checks.
Following these checks, we entered the hotel were the ushers and security quickly showed us into the main conference room where we sat and waited for the arrival of the heads of State. It was only after an hour that they arrived and the summit officially kicked off.
Some time into the summit, a few minutes after Gnassingbé gave his opening remarks, I left the conference room to use ablution facilities. The gentlemen’s rest room was about 20 metres away. Upon entering it, I headed for one of the urinals to relieve myself.
But, moments later, three burly security agents burst into the facility, quickly checked all the cubicles before one of them rushed back outside and later returned with more security aides accompanying President Museveni.
At that point, while I was watching all the drama unfold with fascination, a towering, dark figure with the build of a wrestler tore off from the group and walked briskly towards me.
The security agent told me to leave, pee or no pee. His terrifying appearance brooked no nonsense.
I could not protest although I was not done with my business yet. So, I quickly complied, zipped my trousers and rushed out of the facility. On my way out, I noticed Museveni entering one of the cubicles, seemingly pressed as well, while the rest of the security team remained outside, alert and ready.
The ushers directed me to another facility up a flight of stairs to finish off my business.
As soon as I sat down, Museveni zoomed by heading back to the high table. In my mind I thought “so this is what power feels like”, no wonder he has a tight grip on it.