A man in chains stands tall and strong, pushing a child up, towards the sky, as symbol of freedom. The man is a concrete monument that stands in the middle of Kampala city; it represents the freedom and independence of Uganda, from colonialism
No one knew, at that time (1962) what Uganda had in its belly. As it turned out, Uganda produced Obote, Amin and Museveni, to name a few who stood most at the helm of things. Between them, they managed to kill millions of Ugandans, buried in unmarked graves, their names forgotten. Misuse of the centralised form of power, as handed down by the colonialist, has been the bedrock of regimes in our new self-ruling republic
And yet before that, by 1908, Uganda had already captured the eyes and minds of visitors, anyone who came and saw it, described it as the pearl of Africa; indeed Ugandans maintain the title as the most welcoming and friendly people the world has ever seen.
A question begins to form in mind – if the people are the most welcoming and friendly, and the country is the jewel of Africa, why do millions of welcoming, friendly people continue to fall on the sword of their supposed-to-be freedom, since 1962?
It is not easy to find words that reconcile the world which those people saw, and the world we actually live in.
The Banyankole have a saying – “Enda ezaara mwiru na muhima”, the Luganda equivalent is “Enda muwogo, y’azaala abalungi n’ababi”. In context, Uganda is like a stomach which produces the welcoming, friendly people the world knows, and the power-hungry despots who chain them.
It is against these thoughts that the fixture of our Independence monument kept lingering in my mind, until a message came through. That child being lifted, as a symbol of freedom, in the independence monument is beginning to look a lot like Kyagulanyi Robert Sentamu. The monument woman is carrying baby Wine!
Unlike the first liberations, the act of taking political power by mere words, had never happened in this republic. It has always been – power belongs to the bloodiest. Unscrupulous people making designs on the welcoming, friendly people, usurping their power, never engaging in their real problems, and turning against them
So you stand out for taking political power by use of mere words. The reason you’re wrestling with military and ex-military men on the chessboard of political power, is that you have an edge over them, a type of power the people naturally prefer; the oppressors don’t have that, therefore they must put you in military chains, so that you can look like you’re tanned with the same brush as them in politics! They must make you look like a military man, a criminal, a usurper, someone who took power by force. Lucky for you, that image cannot stick. Every crime they have committed, they’ll try to pacify their guilt by making innocent people look like they did it too. Hosea Ballou says that “Those who commit injustice bear the greatest burden”
All you have done is stand on the podium and tell the people the truth – and they believed, in Kyadondo, in Buikwe, in Arua
You cracked the pot, Bobby! Neither Obote nor Amin nor Museveni took power by convincing the people. So they must make you like one of them. Being yourself – a fair brained young man with nothing more than a genuine understanding of the problems the people face. They never cared for the real aspirations of the people, because they had their eyes fixed on the seat power.
Right now the whole world has its eyes out, looking for you; they know that you’re hammering at a principle which the criminal leaders of Africa hate the most – “Power to the People”. Only the greats like Mandela have ever trodden this path
It is not easy to understand by the educated, who make their living as the coward fixers within the strongman problem.
But the peasant, the street kid, the beggar, the dirt poor – these people understand your message, because they are tired of having their face crashed under the military boot, every time they raise a point of order to the regime. And the rest of the world which has genuine interest in Africa, and an wish to see democracy take root in Uganda, these people know exactly what you have done – making the case of Power to the People vs. power of despots, seem like a simple task
In many ways, this upgrades political intellectualism in our land, from mere commentary on the status quo, to changing the status quo.
Your detractors are keeping the flip-flops running in the media. They’re saying it’s wrong to compare you to “our leaders”, that you’re from the Ghetto – a Ghetto President? They’re like the Pharisees
They don’t know that they’re in the Ghetto too, the difference is, they don’t know the name of their Ghetto. At-least for you, you know that you’re from the Ghetto of Kyadondo, Kamwokya, Boom!
Ghetto is not a place, it’s a concept. If you live hand-to-mouth, with no guarantee of financial or social security for yourself or your children, are you not in a Ghetto? If you live in a country where the hospitals have no medicine, are you not in a Ghetto? Less than 20% of people in the country access electricity, that’s not a Ghetto? Unemployment at 88.30%, no? GDP share by Manufacturing 0.002%, no? Country economy is 0.04% of World Economy, not a ghetto? There is room for stupidity among the ‘elites’, because how do you be in Ghetto, and not know?
It’s a pretty accurate description of the majority of Ugandans, that word ghetto; 93,065 square miles of Ghetto is the Republic of Uganda! People don’t want to face reality.
Without military backing, taking political power with just talking radically changes the character of the country. Are you not a seed in taking Uganda from military to civilian rule, by winning with words? People are now used to AK47s being ever present in the management of politics and elections, and they have never asked – why?
The folks holding you only know military politics, they don’t believe in “Power to the People”, they believe in “power comes out of the barrel of a gun” – that is the basic Marxist rule
You’re pitching a new political chessboard, and they’re not ready, because they’re holding political power like a thief holding a loot. It is guilt playing on their conscious, to make you look like you’re the one who grabbed power. Winning the population with mere words, living up-to the aspirations of Ugandans as at Independence, breaking away the political chains, winning without shedding blood, this is against the political canvas they have laid.
They must put a gun charge, they must put a treason charge, anything that makes the use of guns in the management of everyday politics seem normal to them and whoever sympathizes with them. So many have been accused of the same; the injustice always resulting in the same: human rights abuses and economic waste
For a long time, the regime had deployed their ideology. For you to unpack the contents of their long held ideology; of fake democracy, fake promises, fake services, you unleashed the young population on them. The days you have been in prison have seen the young generation maturing very fast in politics. Kids previously not participating in politics, who are often talked down to as the young and confused, as the so called leaders of tomorrow – but these names have changed in the last few days. They’re now called Terrorists, Bazzukulu all in the same breath; its a funny mixture of flattery and threats, designed to make the movement of young people interested in “power to the people”, forget what they must do.
I want to thank you for not being just another Kampala MP, who, like Kato Lubwama quips, are there to “Okulya Obulamu”
You have a higher calling, beyond Kyadondo. The Message of power belongs to the people has been heard in other parts of Uganda. It is particularly good at sending regime candidates to the trashcans.
As to the cases brought against you and 33 others, at least the people know better than to “kowtow in their poohoo“, (in the voice of Mbidde). The people know this a malicious political manoeuvre, and have resoundingly pronounced themselves, saying “Free Bobi Wine”, “Free the 33” political prisoners. It only remains to see how the regime fixers will wiggle out of this one (a case against people who have just beat you in an election), without proving that the the whole thing was a circus.
Those who commit injustice bear the greatest burden. Hosea Ballou
A movement is in shifted gears; a political surge is now a matter of when, and anything can trigger it now. The regime will lose the upper hand in its misuse of soldiers to stifle people’s freedoms. Freedom of Association, Freedom of Assembly, Free speech – these are not negotiable. Your assessment was correct – the regime’s greatest fear is: numbers
I wish you a quick recovery
Yours in Struggle,
Frank Birondwa (firstname.lastname@example.org)