On the night of Sunday, 21st February 2016, I read with absolute disbelief a tweet that was credited to the United States Government Mission in Kampala declaring: “Ugandan people deserved better.” I presume better than the current President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kagutta Museveni.
Which Ugandans, all Ugandans, really? And what constitutes better for Ugandans – the opinion of the US government over that of Ugandans? These are the questions that I posed on Twitter in reaction to the US Government’s tweet.
Ralph Broonland, @Broonland, I presume a US citizen, responded on twitter: “It’s opinion as a US … a democratic state which respects Human Rights and Freedmom.” To which I responded: “Am a black African and I feel safer in Uganda than I do if I were in USA #BlackLivesMatter.” My insinuation that the human rights record of the US is not all that when it comes to black people, such as I am, was lost on Ralph who responded: “Well your opinion, their opinion. Win win right?”
How can it be a win win for a black African woman when leaders of a nation in which black people, some of African descent, are lynched further insult her ability to determine for herself what is good for her. Got me thinking of all those Ugandans who support and voted for President Museveni, they are Ugandans too.
Be that as it may, what I found the more horrifying was the abusive discourse on social media by a few Ugandans and a few other East Africans as they discussed the results of the Uganda Presidential Elections 2016. A leader for whom I hold in high esteem, and I believe she once served as a Member of Parliament of the East African Community (EAC) Assembly, for example, was among those who angrily reacted to His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta’s congratulatory message. On social media she posted (reproduced verbatim):
I’m very disappointed by your uncalled for message Mr. President. My advise to you is mind Kenya’s business and leave Ugandan affairs to Ugandans. If Moi had not been removed would you be President? Stop ruining the EAC fraternity with your selfish desire for cheap popularity.
Yes, my jaw dropped. What? Once I recovered temporarily, I quickly replied to her post and I wrote: Am disappointed that your anger has gotten the better of you. Praying for you to overcome and not get too muddied.
Then I went to bed, but then on Monday morning I woke up and thought, as an active citizen of Uganda, I need to raise my voice right away and share my immediate thoughts about the ‘protests’ against the presidential election results. So I posted my thoughts on my face book page, The Humanist View. Here is the text below:
Reading from posts on face book and tweets on twitter, one gets an impression from Uganda’s urbanites that President Museveni’s victory has not been well received by all Ugandans and that if at all there are only a few isolated cases in which his supporters are celebrating his victory.
The urbanites, especially those in Kampala, then use what they have judged a lack of celebration of President Museveni’s victory as evidence that the results that have been announced by the Electoral Commission are false.
I am hesitant to accept the premise and the thesis of the urbanites who undoubtedly remain in shock. It cannot be the case that there are only isolated areas in which President Museveni’s victory has been received well. After all, for example, there were nine constituencies in which NRM members of parliament were unopposed.
All that I am cautioning is that we need to be really careful with generalizations. We are not fully acquainted with the full picture. At the moment one can only comment with authority on the basis of the polling station in which they voted and or observed voting. That is to say, once we get the final tally sheets, we can check to see if the results that were announced at our polling station were the correct ones tallied or not.
If the results announced are not the correct ones, who appended their signatures on the false declaration forms? Or were the results declared minus signed declaration forms; or worse still with no declaration forms at all.
My observation, as a self-appointed polling observer of three polling stations in Pallisa County – one located in our village and two that were located in the neighbouring villages – was that casting of the ballots went on without a hitch.
Then the following day, at the Pallisa District Headquarters, I am not sure who was doing it, but there were voices blaring through loud speakers, announcing the results – I think by polling station, then by sub-county and then eventually by county.
I keenly, therefore, look forward to when FDC will hold its press conference that was interrupted by the State. I expect that when it does, it will with proof demonstrate to us the gross discrepancy they allege between the presidential elections results that the EC has released and what FDC knows to be correct.
Short of that it would be dishonest of me if I did not wait a while before I jump onto the band wagon of full condemnation and rejection of the results.
Put another way, I still have doubts. If the EC has announced grossly fabricated results, why haven’t Ugandans throughout the country – in urban and rural areas – gone on the streets to protest – Arab spring like or the Orange revolution like uprisings? There is still more than meets the eye with everything Presidential Election Results 2016.
In the meantime, greetings from Lira where a truck loaded with loud speakers keeps driving past our offices that are located on Makerere Road in Lira Municipality, campaigning in Lango traditional style, urging voters to vote for Candidate Awich Paula for LC V Chairman for Lira Municipality.
Seemingly, up here, we have moved on – the ‘right’ candidates for presidential and parliamentary elections were announced and we have moved on to the Local Council Elections.
The post generated very interesting debate. I encourage you to access it and read the comments. The link to the post is https://web.facebook.com/TheHumanistView/posts/1033326530057561:
As I conclude, I quote the thoughts of a fellow East African, a Kenyan, James Shikwati, a world renowned libertarian, who in an interview published in 2007 assessed as follows the precarious relationship between African leaders and the leaders of the so-called developed countries of the global west:
Right from the 1960s, whenever there has been an African leader who propagates strong Pan-African sentiments and values, they were either demonized or gotten rid of. If the leader only nods to foreigners, he is good. Most African leaders nod initially but slowly, they start realizing that they are supposed to serve their country. Suddenly, everybody starts questioning what is up. The once popular leader is turned into a villain… They expect you to think like them but get surprised when you tell them: “No, I don’t agree with you.”… If you really want to help, why should you disorganize governments? Why should you kick out some leaders for disagreeing with your philosophy and value systems? Source: “Africa – Africans see Poverty: Foreigners See Resources and Wealth”, Occasional Paper 1, The Inter Region Economic Network (IREN).
Shikwati’s assessment remains relevant and provides food for thought for East Africans. Particularly thinking of the manner in which the US government reacted to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win – you know the International Criminal Court thing; and the way in which it is now reacting to President Museveni’s win. I am still thinking… but still it is the opinions of all Ugandans that should count; certainly not that of the US.