Selective Outrage is a danger to activism in Uganda

About a week ago after that awkward, annoying and humiliating scene on our Televisions and social media Timelines; the story of FDC’s Naigaga Fatuma who was harassed by Uganda police is no longer news to Ugandans. They have now moved on to attacking a couple of artists who dinned with the president and launched the song ‘TubongaNawe’ in support of his 2016 presidential elections.

Regardless of how shameful and humiliating it was to watch Naigaga being undressed, everyone seems to have moved on, save for a few women activists who took to streets to peacefully match to parliament in solidarity with her but got interrupted. Then a couple of social media users who took to twitter and started a hashtag “#EndPoliceBrutalityUG”; tweeted for a couple of hours on 16th Oct and also moved on; I guess until another woman is stripped or embarrassed. Let’s wait for it and see.

Many must now be thinking that I am undermining the efforts of those who took their time to condemn the uncalled for police acts; No, I am not; your gestures are all extremely important in pushing for freedoms. However, often times,activists in Uganda have been more reactive than pro-active. They have waited for events to unfold and be reported by mainstream media before they react to them. No body is setting the agenda and not many campaigns and activism causes have been consistent. And if they have, then the public definitely doesn’t know about their progress.

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A case in point was when FDC’s Ingrid Turinawe was assaulted by the police in 2012 and there was a public outcry; a couple of weeks later, life was back to normal. Then the girl who was continuously raped by 3 Pakistani men in 2013,the outcry was even bigger. Many never heard the last of it; the little baby girl who was abused by a house help, then we had a media personality and musician who were both victims of revenge pornography and cyber bullying and later on blamed. The list is long. What ever happened to all these Ugandans,many don’t seem to know and no body questions until something similar happens again. Many Ugandan suffer injustices and no body talks about them let alone listens to them.

Where is the outrage when people die of hunger in Karamoja? When a sports coach slaps University students in a video recently shared by NBS TV that went  viral online? When every other week, a young Ugandan is either trafficked or is found dead somewhere in the U.A.E? Where is the outrage? Has freedom and activism been reduced to only what we think? ?  How can you advocate for change when you cannot be consistent with activism that can lead to that change?

The fact that our country is full of problems means that there are challenges to be confronted. It is only circumstances of pressure such as battles with police, questioning of politicians and being discriminated against that our hidden potential can be turned into actuality. Like Ghandi who started the Freedom movement in 1920, we need to be consistent with our activism. He experienced discrimination in South Africa in 1893 when he was pushed out of the train because he was non-white and was seated in the first class compartments but that only reinforced his fight for freedom.

If there should be an outcry in Uganda, it should be about all the injustices in society. From poor governance, abuse of office, nepotism, poor health and education services etc. Not out cries based on what we only watch and or read in mainstream media.  Without this consistency, we shall continue to only be up in arms over agendas set by the media.

  • Interesting blog: I do hear you loud and clear, but then again pose the question: Whose responsibility is it to keep the pressure on? In an economy where everyone is fixated on their hustle, running to make the next quick buck, who will hold the pressure down? When the greats, the likes of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, or even the Egyptian revolution happened, there was a great sense of leadership. People were all set on a common cause and they had one mission, – we do not back down until change is effected!

    What we see in the case of Uganda is a situation where a lot is going wrong each day. So many things at the same time. Poor governance, poor education, abuse of human rights, etc who should take up the activism in this case and consistently follow through with it? Dr. Kiiza Besigye has tried, – and we all know how that has consistently ended for him.

    I guess the question for me is: What is each one of our collective role? Once we are all able to be accountable, we can effect change in our own ways!