KAMPALA AFLAME

KAMPALA AFLAME

Ever read Distant Grief, Amin Target, Uganda Decade of Reforms, and Songs of Lawino and other Songs? On some some scale, Uganda is the issue therein. Along with these works, A Passage to India (1924) depicts colonial India. Yet, you still have a foggy vision of either country. The best way, thereby, to know Uganda is not reading. Just fly and enjoy the live sight of the Republic of Uganda and the kingdom within!

Kingdoms to republics, we record roughly 4 overthrows. It is no surprise since Uganda history has been engraved with military coups; Milton Obote, for example, was overthrown twice. Subsequently, Museveni has got to be unique after 31 years on power. However, Uganda is not Buganda: the latter is an intrusive kingdom within the former. As Museveni has been long on top of Uganda, Buganda kings have coped with colonialism and domestic dictatorship.

Most importantly, Ugandans are industrious and voracious readers—a culture of distinction in East Africa. The land has sense-appealing places and enticing entertainments. There are as many languages as people and everyone has a specific skin colour. However, this is not disclosing as to its political aspirations. It is well-nigh April, 2011; weather is the least of worries. Buganda is not quiet—commotions here and there. Ironically celebration and outrage jointly make up the winter of 2011 in Kampala city—the city within the kingdom. With a delay, the sun has risen to shine; with a delay, the kingdom has risen to shun Nelson Mandela Stadium. Last Presidential election has been won by Museveni, then-president. And Baganda protest against his umpteenth mandate by demonstrating alongside his inauguration within the stadium. Shouts and shy shots are ubiquitous. Teargas, burnt tires, riot police, among others, are the words of the city event. “These students have no conscience,” complained a wise middle-aged man behind my back, “they do not know what happened under Amin”. He meant Makerere massacre as these were Makerere University students. President Amini had supposedly ordered the historical carnage on the “undisciplined” campus nearly 23 years back. Then, no one dies but I witness a violent student’s arrest; Uganda’s police is relatively professional. Now some seasoned voice qualifies the conflict as Baganda-Banyenkole conflict. Baganda are the people of Buganda and Banyenkole—Museveni group—are outside Buganda. In Makerere University Main Library, tens of Burundian students are behind locked doors. Happily none is wounded and they eventually join their hotel. 24 hours past, the lingering sun is up again at last; no more critical riot since Baganda have gone off as fast as the burnt tires.

Past the stadium, some tire ashes are within sight and police patrol is a security necessity. In the streets of Kampala, no roadblocks, but for days, riot police will tighten roundabouts—strategic in countering riots. Above one million heads, the limping sun rises to go down late at 7:00 pm—this is true of Kampala evenings. But Kampala city never sleeps at all! As I happily travel by bus, I must leave Uganda 24 hours before a national strike is ignited on Monday; Mondays are purportedly demonstration days. So, the sooner the better. Do ask before you go to Uganda on Mondays.