By Stephen Twinoburyo
Hey buddy! Any worry about hooting? You don’t have to. I look at hooting as one of the many small measures aimed at expressing defiance at this regime. I look at it as a statement aimed at telling Museveni that people are fed up. Walk to work was a success but I believe it can also not be sustained for ever and it cannot be the only measure. All these small measures aim to undermine the regime, make people more bold in opposing it and any slight thing will simply blow up. I don’t know how frequent the hooting will be but if it’s sustained, it will build its own statements. Already the chaps in police are making it interesting remarks about it, and the panic can only be interesting. Museveni’s regime is definately not weak and nobody expects it to fall anyhow, more especially out of hooting. But it’s an ageing and crubling dictatorship that’s on it’s way and anything that helps it out is good.
Hooting may be an inconvenience to many people but it’s a necessary irritant. I dislike the noise of vuvuzelas but during the the World Cup we all welcomed them because they made a statement and their noise was considered by some of us who disliked the vuvuzela, a necessary and understandable irritant. We cannot expect change out of tyrrany and expect it in a comfortable way. Is war not irritating? Aren’t sanctions not irritating, or even hurting? But sometimes we welcome these discomforts in a quest for future general good. I am so happy with the hooting.
I think people should understand what civil disobedience means – it contains the word ‘disobedience’. The purporse of this disobedience is to undermine and eventually break down the authority of an undesired regime. Some people say hooting in such a manner is illegal. Yes it may be. But they need to realise that ‘legitimate’ and ‘legal’ are two different things. A government can outlaw anything – just like Museveni is doing or the apartheid governmentt outlawed many things including inter-racial intimate relations. That does not make the acts illegitimate. The reactions of government towards W2W, in my opinion, make hooting legitimate. In fact if Museveni and his goons had not been stupid and clamped down on W2W, it would have in most likelihood attracted fewer people than hooting. In a struggle, people have to be creative and design all ways that will undermine the undesired authority. Museveni did a lot of this in his war against Obote. He made some places unreacheable to Ugandans and we all got frustrated and angry with the Obote government. His ‘bandits’ then, blew up structures and made some roads no-go areas due to land mines. All this frustrated the economy and made us edgy. He very well knows the value of this and that may be reason he has put ‘economic sabotage’ in his sights of no-bail.
Another thing that needs to be noted is that many of such struggles are also about frustrating the enemy and forcing the enemy into mistakes. Museveni’s clampdown on W2W was such a mistake and it had done him irreparable damage. Hooting is all about frustrating him. I doesn’t need the entire population, just like not everybody, not even a quarter of the normally non-walkers, were going to walk to work anyway. Rememeber this was something that didn’t attract much attention until police picked interest in it. I remember that article from either TIME or CNN that said nobody took notice when Besigye decided to walk. Nobody except Uganda’s security forces. So this hooting, to me, is a necessary nuisance. Some of these things are just about getting at the enemy and emboldening the people – making people lose fear. If you read the hsitory of the struggle against apartheid, you will get amazed at how the ANC and other opposition groups did this part very well. These acts also help to put the international spot light on the prevailing problems and preferably isolate the regime. Walk 2 work played a very huge role in this. There is now no shortage of literature, graphics or data to show the world about the regime. Museveni’s statements also do not help his situation. And remember too that a struggle is also about politics – this should not be forgotten and it’s absolutely unnecessary to run away from this fact. In fact my bush war – on a laptop and phone – is all about politics, even though I am not looking at any personal gain out of this. My gain is a good Uganda for our children. Many Ugandans have showed remarkable selflessness and their desire is the same – a better Uganda that has respectable and respecting institutions, that offers them freedom and pride, and is not run as a personal bedroom. All these are small pieces of the big picture.
Some of the methods employed in a struggle will be successful while others will not, but nevertheless all possible avenues must be tried. Sometimes things will even appear like they are not moving. There were moments when Muibbarak looked like he had regained full control of the situation but a day or two later, something out of his own making would drive him further down. Museveni is never short of such. Museveni has reached a point where he is his own enemy. Soon either him or his idiots will make a statement or do something that will push him further down. I am particularly not worried. If I think of a person who in 1980 was fighting the apartheid government, then I know that there is hope. If at the begining of this year anybody would tell me that Gaddafi would at this time be living most of his life hiding away from his own people, I would tell them that they were mad. Whatever happens in Libya, it’s a one way process though there may be moments when the push becomes agonisingly stand-still or even reverses. Even Museveni himself during his push for Kampala faced numerous huddles. Towards the end, they had a big push to the capital city but unexpectedly got held up at Katonga for months when the match to Kampala had looked so easy. So not all days can be shiny. All sides are palnning. Some strategies work and others don’t. There are days that will be slow and even others where gains will appear to have been erased. What matters is the ultimate goal, and the focus on that. What has started in Uganda is a one-way process. The only question is how long it will take and how nasty it will be. Unfortunately, the longer it takes, the higher the price, but it’s a price that Ugandsans now have no choice but to pay and will ultimately pay. I am never under any illusion that when standing up against a dictatorship anybody, including myself, can pay this price but a struggle is more about the spirit than individuals. As long as the spirit lives, there will be people to carry it. Interestingly, many hanging around Museveni and purporting to live in him name, are doing so to get the little they can out of him before his fall. I have heard some people who are doing their best to meet him so that they can get their bit before he hits the sink. Don’t be surprised eventually to find many ‘NRM’ people that ‘never liked’ Museveni. At least some of us are forthwith.
Did I hear a one out-of-touch Nageda say the people who express their discomfort at the behaviour of our current leaders are the “great unwashed of the slums”? Then so much the better. Let them join the struggle. They should have been employed, earning a good income and living good deserving lives, not idling in the slums. Museveni rode on the so many failings of the previous government to swell his ranks – and some of these failings he was really part of. We should not expect that we are going to smile Museveni out of his intolerance and greed for power. Nor should we expect that we are going to raise the Poland or Egyptian kind of demonstrations. We are not that sophisicated. Somebody remind me, was it Brazil or Algentina where women banged saucepans until the governmentt fell? Now that was irritation.
Measures like hooting don’t necessarily topple a dictatorship, but they chissel away at it’s once feared might. They are all part of the small processes that eventually bring down the portentous monolith. Hooting is a very welcome irritant! After all the basic purpose of hooting is to help people out of danger.