“I was born here/I will live here/And I will die here.”
– G.N.L Zamba, Uganda Yaffe (Uganda Belongs to Us)
You must have heard the leopard say that he works for himself, his children and grandchildren when a cheeky Kenyan journalist asked him about retirement from the presidency.
Here is Liz Abwooli, a young Ugandan calling on fellow Ugandans to organise nonviolent campaigns until the leopard’s dictatorship falls. Young Ugandans are knocking on the leopard’s door. They want their country back. They no longer care about which part of the leopard they are touching, they want their country back.
Have you seen these children pelting the leopard’s campaign poster with rocks and stones because they are tired of being tear gassed? Uganda is theirs, too. Uganda is ours. It is not the personal property of the leopard.
The Ugandans may not put their bodies on the streets to be shot by the leopard’s armed gangs. It does not stop their hearts from bleeding from inside. They do not stay away from public protests because they love a 71-year old, who has been in power for 30 years, has cheated elections since 2001, shot his way around opponents and bombed neighbouring and far off countries into supporting him.
The Ugandans have not given the country to the leopard. Even when he continues to treat it as his personal property. Even when he talks of its resources as though they were his personal resources. He even says that he owns the country’s currency. The people went to the ballot, aware that the leopard would steal it. But they went. They told him that they are tired. They told him that this is their country. This is our country.
Who are the people?
Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald. Young man. In his 20s. Born when the leopard had already taken power. Forget what they say about young people. Ronald is building the country. He is committed. He is training young people in debate. Running activities through an organisation he started with age mates. The leopard’s government does not even think it is their responsibility to do what Ronald is doing. But he is doing it. Building the country. His country. Their country. Our country.
Ronald and his friends have created a platform to mould young people into good citizens. It is Ugandan. It has branches into Rwanda. And Kenya. It is East African. Uganda is his. He has travelled the world, Germany, the United States. He is Uganda. This is his country. His colleagues, Wamala Emmanuel Ssonzi and others own Uganda. This is their country. They are calling. They want their country back. They may not be on the streets carrying branches, it does not mean that they do not want their country back.
Go home, old man. Stop blabbering about your opponents. Slandering them. Your robots may insult Besigye, your armed gangs may humiliate him, the PR company you hired may send automated social media accounts to troll his wife, but hey, the people are saying that they want him for President. Uganda is not your personal property. It is for all Ugandans and they are telling you that the office of the President is Besigye’s. They have appointed him. Go home. Stop threatening to burn everyone. Keep quiet and go home.
Uganda is King Godiva‘s. Fiery feminist, academic, lawyer, consultant. She is in her 20s. Building Uganda. Educated in Uganda and in the United States at top universities, she wants you, Mr. Leopard to go home. She voted. She stood under the sun for hours. Waited. Your man Kiggundu’s plans to disenfranchise her failed. You blocked social media. She bypassed your blockade. She tweeted throughout the day, shared videos with us, updates about everything. Even told us the results. You lost at her polling station. As you did at thousands other polling stations. Uganda is hers. Respect her. She has built Uganda. She is building Uganda. Go home. She wants her country back. She has chosen to hand the job of President to someone else. Go home. Respect her. Uganda is not your personal property.
Young people are putting work into this country. They are building this country. They are not hooligans. They are not idlers on social media. They are building this country. Respect their labour. Respect them. Go home. Uganda is not your personal property. Uganda is ours.
No bullet can paint love in the hearts of Ugandans. You disgust some Ugandans who feel that they can’t tolerate you anymore. They have been patient enough. Some stopped recognising you as their president in 2001, others in 2006, others in 2011, and now many more are saying that you are not their president. Despite our non-recognition of your presidency, we continued to build our country. Respect our labour. Respect us. Our humanity. Our dignity. There is a difference between love for country and support for your illegitimate rule.
We want you gone. Even if Stella Nyanzi prepares to take her children to school a day after the sham electoral result is announced, you are not her president. Her President is Kizza Besigye. You can’t shoot yourself into her heart. Go home, old man. Uganda is not your personal property. Uganda is ours. We have built this country. We build this country daily.
You are an old man. Go home and maybe we will even want to hear your stories. Write books. Develop your pseudo theories about African languages. Leave Uganda’s state properties. Get a life! You will be fine.
We have been building this country despite your corruption, nepotism, greed, name it and you have it. Your unquenchable thirst for blood has not stopped us from building this country. Your war mongering has not stopped us from connecting with people whose countries you have destabilized. We have ignored you for long. We are saying that enough is enough. Go home, old man. Uganda is ours. It is not your personal property.
Young women, professionals, men, Ugandans, unemployed, self employed, business people, the middle class, the lower classes, people in urban areas, people in rural areas, Facebook and Twitter masses, we, the people, ordinary soldiers in the national army, we have chosen Besigye as the President of our country. Of Uganda. Legally. We are telling you old man, that you should go home.
Our hearts have no space for your lies. Your guns will not win our hearts. You have already killed some of us, including a twelve year old! Shameless man! You want to stay in power at all costs. No single life is worth your greed and megalomania. We may stay indoors because your ego and greed blinds you. It is not worth our lives. We are not giving this country to you. We are disgusted. Our President is Besigye. Go. Home. Old. Man. This is our country. We will continue to build it.
We are not grateful to you for anything. We build this country ourselves. Do not tell us no nonsense about things you have brought. We have paid for them. We have contributed. In fact, you have underperformed as president. We are firing you. Go home. Uganda is not your personal property. It is ours.
We are young, we are women, men, from rural areas, urban areas, on Twitter, on Facebook, some of us do not even know about social media. We all are saying, go home old man. This is our country. We may not put our lives on the street for you to shoot. But you know that we want you gone. We shall not cooperate with your regime. We shall continue to build our country while defying your dictatorship. Millions of Ugandans call Besigye the people’s President. Why don’t you go? Go.
This is our country. Leave. Even if you leave tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or even in ten years’ time, you can’t be the people’s President in 2011. GO! Leave. This is our country.