By Rachel Nansikombi
In the heart of Africa, lies a beautiful, most-endowed country, Uganda. Her impressive growth and natural endowments which include the beauty of her diverse people have attracted the attention of many; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In July 2005, a referendum was held where Ugandans voted to adopt the multiparty system, and in 2006, 2011, and 2016 multiparty elections were held with different candidates from different parties running each time against the strong incumbent party.
In 2021, Uganda goes to the polls for another election, a sign of her subscription to democracy and tolerance.
This time however the fight to hijack her narrative in order to sow seeds of division along what is seen as our lines of polarization such as tribe and religion is intense. Our local actors (who include our local media) have taken to the FAKE NEWS modus operandi with the glaring help of some international ‘meddlers’ veiled in CSO work, funding physical anarchy and weaponized information against the Ugandan state. We see the likes of Maria Burnett who formerly did some activism work in Uganda constantly give a skewed account of events from so far away as she no longer lives or works in Uganda. One wonders, is it a bad case of nostalgia or covetousness for all things Ugandan?
Pseudo journalists are being armed with smartphones and cameras to, in real-time, publish and distribute negative images and present a narrative that Uganda is unstable. The pictures, audios, and messages are designed to facilitate hate speech and promote ethnic scapegoating against particular groups.
The architects of this negative and false politics have taken to social media, in a brazen manner, to paint a picture of a hopeless state, a myopic, most unfortunate undertaking. They know their state is not hopeless, their movements aren’t curtailed, they and their families are secured by our law enforcement, they are not harassed by the state for their contravention of the Computer Misuse Act among a host of other laws. Their problem perhaps is that they have become complacent about peace and freedom.
The popular international online content and interactive platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram penalize their users when their posts are seen to incite violence, contain hate speech, impersonate other accounts, send threats and a few others. We have seen a current trend, a host of contraventions in the new National Unity Party camp.
It is indeed absurd that our young people, sections of our local media and a few CSOs (all claiming to fight for the rights of Ugandans while really just selling their souls to feed their stomachs) are being recruited into a selfish exercise by greedy, war-mongering cartels that have made their mark in international meddling to destroy nations for the purposes of looting and enrichment.
To the young people especially, you have only one nation, don’t be lured by trinkets from individuals and organizations that have long suffered from pleonexia (extreme greed for wealth and material possessions).
I leave you also with a Lithuanian proverb: “Don’t spit into a well as one day you may drink from it.”
For God and my Country