Photo Credit : Nicolas Bamulenzaki
Uganda has been through a rough couple of weeks. Violence erupted on August 11 2018 in a by election in Arua, which is in the north western part of the country. It is also the day, I got a motorbike accident. I remember being in hospital getting stitched as videos and pictures started coming through of what had occurred in Arua, on the even of by election.
The ruling NRM party had a representative, the main FDC party had a representative and then the red brigade, People Power movement too had a representative. Being the last day of campaigns – the final rallies were held that afternoon, 3 main rallies happening in a very small town. After that, what happened that evening I have not been able to comprehend – but, part of the President’s convoy was stoned (some say this was staged – I honestly don’t know), all if not most of the members of opposition especially those that were part of the Red Brigade led by artiste Bobi Wine now also Member of Parliament were arrested; some were thrown in jail, some were taken into military custody and some were tortured almost to death.
The later days saw the birth of hash tags that shook the world: #FreeBobiWine #Arua33. Bobi Wine became the face of the struggle much more than the rest of the 33 people that had been arrested alongside him. We saw a nation come together and rally for justice. Vigils and Masses were held, press conferences and tweet chats on torture, state of national affairs and the future of the country among other topics were done by so many people, Young and Old. There was such a fear looming around that the only way we could comfort each other was being together.
For a man that probably doesn’t know much about social media, in a space of 10 or so days – The President of Uganda had written about 5 statements to Ugandans or young people of Uganda who he called – Bazukulu (Grand children)
There was a lot of online propaganda from both the government and non government sides on what was going on. For a moment, it felt like everything was about to explode. Like there was chaos just about to ensue. WhatsApp groups were on fire. One had to really be careful not to be a victim of fake news. Because it all seemed timely and true. It was depressing. It was frightening, it was disgusting, it was so many things to just think what could happen and what actually did happen.
Do we have a government that really doesn’t care about it’s people?
Are we at the verge of the verge of tipping over?
Have Ugandans finally found their voice? We have always been referred to as so meek and lacking in determination & action.
Can we use this momentum to bring us the change we crave for? Are we organised enough? Are we ready for change? Do we know what change is – what it takes to achieve it?
So many questions.So many emotions. Very few answers. Very little understanding.
Tomorrow Bobi Wine will come into the country back from seeking treatment for the torture that he suffered while in police custody. One Facebook post I saw was urging everyone to be clad in red. Another post was allegedly quoting the spokesperson of the police Force –
Emilian Kayima: We don’t expect anyone to lean, or stand near Entebbe road on Thursday when Bobiwine is coming back to Uganda.
Ugandans like to lean by the road side. Very laughable. I burst out laughing on reading this.
Another post was a long one cautioning Bobi Wine and his tactics. “As we challenge Gerontocracy and everything it represents, nonviolent discipline should be maintained in the face of the extreme violence that those in power will generously mete out.”
The other post was someone asking Bobi Wine to stay as far away as possible from the city center :
“….. This man Bobi Wine should return home on Thursday as humble a patient as when he went to America. He should not disrupt the main highway to entebbe international airport and inadvertently causing unnecessary violence.”
And all I can pray for is for Peace to prevail.