Uganda is inching closer to the February 18 election, there’s more than just a heightened interest among Ugandans. There’s fear. Conspiracies are running wild and the recent pictures tweeted by NTV Kenya of “election materials” have not made things better.
The said “materials” were what appeared to be new armored vehicles with ‘Uganda Police’ proudly painted on the sides.
It is not clear if this is the most important election ever as has been said by a number of talking heads. What’s certain is that this is urgent; here and now. Friends I have been chatting with seem to be genuinely worried. There have been talks of people leaving the country or, for those with less means, escaping to the countryside to hide in hovels.
The fear was brought to the fore when a collective wail rose up on the social networks after news broke that the government will not be printing new passports for at least two weeks. Of course this was immediately liked to the election even though there’s no evidence of any connection. And there was talk about Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, a progressive who brought swift changes to the passport office before dying on an official trip.
Gen. Nyakairima (RIP). Respectfully taken from watchdog.co.ug
For Ugandans abroad, the whole thing is just confusing. Many have been in the exact position urban dwellers are in right now. Normally referred to with a broad brush as “those elites,” people in cities are being bombarded with criticisms about their laziness. For years, every aspect of the broken system of Uganda has been tied to the oft-brought-up issue of elites not voting.
Maybe it is true many people with soft hands and fair complexions to protect from the scorching sun, who would not want to go out in the election queues, have not done their civic duty and therefore have left the decision over who should govern in the hands of the peasants. Maybe not.
The criticism is harsher for Ugandans in the Diaspora. Many times the accusation will come up that such people are not being truthful; that they are saying what they are saying about the government because they will not be directly had an impact on when the shit hits the fan. That they are living the dream in an advanced society where the government will not hesitate to shoot its own people.
This usually pushes Uganda’s Diaspora away. But there are those who stubbornly stay the course.
Living away from home and watching up-close how societies can benefit from a system that works, they start having illusions of grandeur. They start thinking, imagining what it could be like if things actually worked back home.
Living away from home makes one think more seriously about their country.
The heightened interest right now is being fanned by the social media in Uganda but some of it is being pushed by the Diaspora. This should not be a bad thing entirely. Most of the fear is being manufactured by those who hold power because history has shown that many of them think Machiavelli-style. Ugandans should bust the myths.