May God Uphold Thee for real
Yesterday, I watched a very graphic video of a woman sitting on the side of the street, begging people to help her because she was losing a lot of blood after the police shot her in the arm. No one moved. Someone was filming her pain, a man who was rubbing her back to comfort her, others were saying, "there is a car coming." Lots of passersby were walking past her like her arm wasn't blown open. I have seen so many videos of the unrest currently in Uganda and it really pains me. These videos and this situation make me so angry but they also make me gravely aware of my privilege. Numerous people have no choice but to be in the line of fire because that's where they work. They have to work every day to survive. Not to mention, we're in the middle of a pandemic, for which the government received millions of dollars for pandemic relief that yet again found its way only in the pockets of a few greedy disgraced men. Abhorrent but I'll stick to today's topic: Police/army brutality and a terrorist regime.
At the heart of terrorism is the motive to instill fear within the people. To restrain their freedom. Terrorists attack governments and people whom they believe threaten their power and agenda. A famous and close example of Al Shabaab in 2011 who attacked Ugandans due to our military presence in Somalia.
The FBI's Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce... the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R.)
This is exactly what the khaki regime is doing. Using unlawful force and violence against its own people to intimidate and coerce them, to advance its political term in power. This regime is like the partner who does the bare minimum to keep you around but always claims you for your success. The parent who doesn't pay your tuition but is quick to punish you for a bad report card to assert their authority. The partner who threatens to hurt you or kill you if you leave them but they don't put in any work to actually get better and be a better partner. They do one good thing in three years (which benefits them more than it does you) and then remind you of that thing at every corner you turn (ex. that stupid Jinja bridge).
To the people who support the current administration:
I need you to open your eyes but before you even do, I need you to sink into a place of contemplation. Really think about your ideal country. What does it look like? Is it where you pass a slew of hungry street children in your police-escorted motorcade before you retire in your state-enabled mansion? Is it where you have to fly out every time you need to get surgery? Is it your ideal country where you oppress people just to gain wealth and power? To stunt on the graves of innocent civilians killed by government operatives? Is it where every time you want to speak up, you have to wonder if your family will be safe or pay for your freedom of speech with their lives? Is your ideal country where people have to stay at home in order to safe? Where certain people, like the media, cannot do their job? Where citizens pay 100% in taxes but noncitizens pay nothing? Censorship, impunity, corruption, elitism, poor education, neo-colonialism, severe wealth disparity, tax inflation, extractive institutions, police brutality—are these your ideals? Is this what you want to leave for your children?
To those spewing the same old, "he brought peace" propaganda:
What peace when so many people still don't have access to healthcare? When the woman in the first paragraph couldn't even call an ambulance? She had to watch herself get closer and closer to her grave. I hope she got the help she needed but think of how fearful that must have been for her. What peace when we're living in a pseudo-democracy where people lose their lives for exercising their fundamental rights? What peace when the president asks people to have more children but does nothing to ensure that those children will have food, clean water, education, and security? Where your freedom is tied to your apathy and advancement of absolute power. Don't tell me about peace when the army officer can look me dead in the eye, me, whose taxes feed him and his family, and attempt to run a bullet through my head. And besides, if all you can show me after 34 years is "peace", then you sure need to get the hell up out of here because you're not doing a good enough job. But you already knew that.
To those who are feeling this—physically, in your soul, in your livelihood, etc:
I feel like the most pain is coming from having no hope. Not knowing what to do. Having no end in sight. We've been driving for a really long time with no intersection that you doubt we'll ever make a turn. We shall. I promise you. I believe it will be sooner rather than later and I believe that you and I will play a part in causing the change we want to see. My heart goes out to all the opposition leaders, to all the leaders in the struggle, who are putting their bodies, their lives, and their families in the sight of darkness so they can bring light to this country. Mr. Besigye, Mr. Kyagulanyi, and all the others, who are in the arena, fighting for our freedom and amplifying our voices and the cries of so many. I pray and believe that your work will not be in vain.
For us who cannot be in the fighting ring, let us show up in other profound ways. Let us be the supporting cast. Let's do things that shake the status quo and help to shift the culture. Have conversations with our parents, neighbors, friends, house help, co-workers, Boda guy, etc., that will pull the blinders off those who are too immersed in privilege to acknowledge the brokenness around us but also offer hope and encouragement to those who are weary.
And to our government: STOP KILLING US. The power is for the people and by the people. The people gave you this power that you now use to abuse them. The people will also take it away. It is only a matter of time.
May God Uphold Thee for real but take these tyrants' asses out. I pray they'll have endless diarrhea and their bums and back will itch persistently in a place they cannot reach for putting us through this fiery ringer for 30+ years.