Loyalty is a word we throw around, know what it means, but don’t always stop to reflect on its deeper meanings. We have recently had to reflect deeply in our family on what it means to be loyal.
Loyalty means: allegiance, faithfulness, fidelity, obedience, fealty, adherence, homage, devotion, bond, trueness, steadfastness, etc.
Tomorrow, Nakabugu or Naks. as my sisters fondly call our village, is saying good-bye to Febiano Lutabaalo, efficaciously Catholic, and an incredibly loyal man. A man that has been part of our family for the last forty-three (43) years. A Munyarwanda turned Musoga, and more Soga than the native Sogas.
Febiano befits every interpretation of the word loyal. He was highly conscientious, honest, and pedantic – so much so that he rubbed some Nakabugu citizens, including our biological family, the wrong way. Whether you liked him or not – he never sacrificed his values and principles.
To put all this in perspective: Febiano came to our home as a young man when the writer of this blog, fifty-two (52) years today, was only eight (8) years old. He stayed and stayed this long. He became one of us. Frail for the last five years, he died on the 16th February, 2022 at Kamuli Mission Hospital and is being laid to rest tomorrow 12th March, 2022 at Nakabugu, Luuka district, his adopted home in Uganda.
Born Rwandese in Rwanda, we suspect, seventy-five (75) years plus ago, Febiano was amongst the thousands of Rwandans that migrated to Uganda as refugees and turned Uganda home. Even with the heavy Kinyarwanda accent – he spoke fluent Lusoga, was everything Ugandan, and a true Nakabugunite. Truth be told, we didn’t wish for Febiano to return to Rwanda – a place he left as a child. He became family and too profoundly, for either party to let go of the other.
We give blessings to the God Almighty for Fabiano’s life and his outstanding deeds on earth. We can write on this blog that Fabiano was out of the top drawer, amongst Ugandans ranked as both honest and loyal. Simply too white, if we considered black for evil and non-angely. He was our irreplaceable white and angel. [No racism meant!]
As we usually do at the Effectiveness lab, we want to learn from Febiano’s life on earth. It’s befitting to celebrate Fabiano’s life with a quick reflection on true-loyalty, its drivers, and why it’s so rare these days, especially amongst the millennials and generations after:
Where should one find true-loyalty?
Well, it’s not at the professional workplace for you white-collar workers, not in company brands, even not that abundant amongst the married, it has generally become scarce in society and increasingly elusive even amongst the faithful.
The young aren’t obligated to be loyal – it’s their life and they will live it as they choose.
What drove the true-loyalty of Febiano’s generation?
- A closed world (no internet or Google, etc.) where we had to depend on others for information on means to survive. Knowledge was privy to a few lucky souls, and the few with knowledge intentionally or not used it as a tool to control others. Knowledge equalled power and resources. And power and resources combined, brought about allegiance.
- We all accepted control as a fact of life; the latter acceptance fathered an exclusive club of masters; the masters had the key to accessing information about resources or gave out handouts to those in need; the payment for access to resources was loyalty to the master; the demand and normalization of loyalty by the subjugated, meant that loyalty to the master was an important social norm. To Febiano’s generation, the life they lived, strange and oppressive as it may seem to the young, was normal. As a matter of fact, Febiano despised those that weren’t loyal to the master.
- Of course, other people may present Febiano’s loyalty as a genes thing. That loyalty is a blood/DNA factor. But, if that were the case, did the current ‘disloyal’ generation get a new set of parents? It’s a fact that the young and disloyal are offspring of a generation that is/was highly loyal. So, where and when did they lose the loyalty-DNA?
Why has loyalty become ever so elusive?
- The above information hoarding culture has been disrupted. We no longer have or need information-custodians in society. Today, information of any type is a standard, free and available commodity thanks to the internet and powerful search engines, social media, affordable mobile phones, liberalization of the media industry, and cheap TV and radio. A powerful tool for control and loyalty guarantees, i.e. information, is commoditized. The latter has led to the disarming/disempowerment of the information Lords. The subjugated have attained freedom.
- Free of any loyalty diktats, loyalty has been weakened as a tool for control, accessing resources and survival. You can be the most disloyal person and still do well. Indeed, risk junkies aren’t known for their loyalty but are doing pretty well in society.
- Disloyalty is the new tag for greatness, especially amongst the Z and Millennial generations. Disloyalty is a competence for wealth creation – you have to throw the ‘status-quo’ in the bin to become successful. Apparently, the wizkids that immensely value individual interest and happiness don’t need loyalty to make it in life; sadly, not even to their Gods. Febiano needed loyalty to make it in life; loyalty got ingrained in him early and became habit and nature.
What can we do to restore authentic loyalty?
Wait for the disloyalty-driven generations to become of age, die, and the generational-clock shall return the age of authentic loyalty ‘a la’ Febiano Lutabalo.
The above state maybe some good years away. For now – authentic and non-coerced loyalty is a scarce commodity that will cost you more-than money to have.
It’s also true that today, loyalty is not always a required competence for success, happiness and satisfaction. To the contrary, we sometimes need rebels and the disloyal to move things.
We, therefore, opine that loyalty is a generational affair, driven mainly by the times we live in. It’s an environment/earthly and not blood/DNA thing. What we have or not at a point in time, and the influence on power, shapes loyalty-orientation.