We are on the cusp of something great and I am inviting you to be a part of it. We do not often get to experience historic opportunities and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that tomorrow will be such a moment. The stage has been set not underneath some shadowy tree in the Luwero bush but in broad daylight on the open streets of towns from Arua to Bushenyi, Mbarara to Busia, Tororo to Mbale, Kampala to Masaka. Ordinary Ugandans holding nothing in their hands except maybe a bottle of water and a hanky to wipe their teary eyes when the inevitable tear-gas stings them; will walk to work. In ordinary circumstances, walking to work is not a historic event, but this is Uganda where the government fears its shadow and where the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
In the last few days high level security officials have sat in meetings scratching their heads over how to deal with ordinary people walking to work. Tomorrow, they will come out armed to the teeth to stop activists, especially political activists, from taking a step on the streets. They will display the most expensive anti-riot gear and heavy armored vehicles will roam the street to intimidate unarmed civilians who are walking to work.
What makes the event historic is not the walkers but ironically it is those who try to stop them from engaging in the perfectly normal activity of walking!
And listen to the excuses they give to stop us from participating in history! They say wait on Parliament to address corruption in the oil industry. Yeah right! But how does my walking to work interfere with that process I ask? And how will that process put food on the table of a working class family? Have they forgotten why are walking? We are joining millions of Ugandans who walk to work every day to demonstrate solidarity with them in these difficult economic times so that policy makers may look into alleviating their strife. Government is in denial. They say there is no economic crisis and if it is there then it is a global crisis. When a crisis is global, does that exonerate a government from looking for local solutions? I hear they spent billions on jet fighters that are still looking for a war to fight. They say the jets are a deterrent measure against those that might dare invade us! Do you think perhaps they might have built silos as a deterrent measure against food insecurity? Or perhaps they might have held fuel reserves to help manage through periods of high global demand and low supply?
But those are old arguments from Walk to Work Phase I. Now the government has devised a new reason to stop us from exercising our natural freedom to move around on foot! Our O-Level students are sitting their exams next week so we cannot walk to work. Really? Yes, a ‘Parent’s Brigade’ has been formed to ensure that we do not walk at all! What do you think this parent’s brigade is going to be doing starting tomorrow? Don’t you think that the ‘Kiboko squad’ has been redeployed? Should we expect to see angry ‘parents’ flaying activists with big sticks to ensure that ‘their children’ sit exams? Do you think that if we promised to be extra quiet as we walk past schools, they will let us walk?
I shake my head in awe of my power as an activist. By putting a foot in front of another and forging ahead in motion, I am able to bring out the police, the military, the military police and shadowy brigades just so that they can stop me from speaking truth to power.
Get up brother, wake up sister, pick up your school bag kid, move along everyone. Walk, walk, walk and walk with your head held high. Do not fear anything, not even death! It will be your epitaph! Here lies a woman or man, boy or girl, who walked their way into history!’
Activist for Change