It feels more than strange, actually downright scary, when you find yourself to an extent sympathizing with the people who want you dead. When you know that if they had a chance, like they nearly did last week during three of some of the scariest days many of us have experienced in Kampala, they would very well have killed you. They wanted me and other people who look from western Uganda, are brown, long nosed, and look like they make a lot of money dead, and out of what is their ancestral land.
Still even when I was taking round about routes around Kampala where all the deadly tear-gas action was, when I was first speaking to any boda boda man I was going to use in Runyakole or another western Uganda dialect to make sure they would not lead me into the center of the maelstrom where I would meet a bloody end with a car tire secured around my waist, still I felt like I could understand where the mob was coming from. I was in sympathy though my proffered hand would have been broken had I offered it.
I guess I can see why they would hate this President because he is one of the most cynical, duck-and pretend presidents we have ever yet had. I can understand their outrage that he reneged on agreements they were foolish enough to come to as gentlemen and they thought all along they were dealing with a man of his word, a man whose word is his honour. I know too many people who have learned too late after they had made horrendous sacrifices that he was not that sort of man.
Is it my frustration with the weak kneed members of parliament that pass for politicians in this country? I do not call them representatives because I sure know they do not represent me at all! One of my favourite essayists Gore Vidal once said that politics like journalism is not a profession of the truly intelligent and too few of the truly gifted ever go in for politics. In Uganda’s case, it is sadly, glaringly too true. I digress, and you must be weary of all the sudden seriousness up in here, but there are watershed moments that make a man realize he cannot continue to live like he has lived before. Those violent riots surely were not just a watershed moment for me but I’m certain for many thousands out there in Kampala and in Uganda.
We have a crisis on our hands and they ban the only public forum where ideas can be exchanged and mulled over in radio bimeeza?! We talk about freedom of speech and assembly and no one blinks an eye when radios are summarily closed without proper procedure or anything like that? Does no one become alarmed at the gathering of power in the hands of one very fallible human being who we know is too prone to emotional outbursts? People go out with all intentions of murdering people from another tribe and few eye brows are raised. Instead we all check the expiry dates on our passports, wire more money into our foreign bank accounts and apply for a gun license? Getting ready for a bloodier showdown even as we reassure ourselves no such reckoning will ever come because such things just do not happen in Uganda.
The solution is so obvious it will never be taken by the leadership we are saddled with:- Talk. Go back and remake where the founding of this country was warped. Start to care and go out in the street, demonstrate for what is your right and refuse to be bullied or guilted into giving it up. Stop being threatened by the people questioning what is happening to your country. Regard Uganda as your country and care about how it is ruled, the laws that are passed, what happens to your neighbour. Above all things, believe in something! Believe in Uganda! Refuse to give it up.