The elephant

The elephant

To tame an elephant, catch it young or make sure that it is born in captivity, she will never know her power. You will use her in the circus to entertain humans, you will ride her on the safari to see other animals, you can use this elephant as a crane for construction projects, and you can use her in religious festivals like the Asians do.

This elephant will never know the power her African cousin wields.

She will not know that her African cousin is the real king of the jungle. She will not know that her African cousin’s one kick is enough to knock out that preying lion that is trying to eat her calf, She will never know how the matriarch of the savannah gracefully leads the herd.

This story of the elephant reminds me of the free expression story of Uganda.

The suppression is steady but sure. From the banning of the ebimeeza (citizen forums) and the birth of disclaimers on radio stations that the ‘views aired on this radio station are not necessarily those of this radio station.’ I chuckle every time that statement comes through my radio after a heated political debate. Those that make up the largest percentage of Uganda’s population probably scantily remember or not at all the ebimeeza.

This is the same generation that was brought up by a bunch of cautious individuals.

I was watching a Jesus movie with my father recently when he told me that the Kiboko they gave Jesus reminded him of his own by the Obote 11 army at Makekenke barracks in 1980.

“Can I write your story dad?”

“No, please don’t.”

“But it is an amazing story.”

“No.” He sternly said.

The topic closed and our eyes were glued back to the movie we were watching but I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want me to write the story.

So, we were brought up by a generation that didn’t sleep. The trauma of constant coups and conflict lives with them. They will do anything to have that good night’s sleep. A thing that millennials cannot comprehend.

When the Ebimeeza were banned, life moved on like normal.  But After the walk-to-work protests and the Buganda riots, the 9th parliament passed the Public Management Order Act passed with ease in 2013. For public interest was the reason, this law gives power to the Inspector General of Police to use his discretion to allow a public gathering. What if the IGP is in a bad mood?

That meant that Ugandans could no longer access the city square without permission. You know this is the only green area in the Kampala central business district. The city has no parks where lovers hold hands to muse over their new love on a bench in the evening as they gaze at the stunning Kampala sunsets.  When the Kampala afternoon sun is fierce and you want to catch a breath on a park bench, this green area is no place for you. We quickly got used to the fact that the square doesn’t belong to us but rather to the Kalolis and the police guys.

Who needs the green grass and the sunset over Mapeera house when this is the digital age? We can make as much noise as we want on our phones, after all, the digital age had dawned on us. We convinced ourselves that we would tweet, Facebook, WhatsApp all we wanted only to realize that can only happen on other days apart from days like the election day.

Ugandans are dull, Ugandans are terrible at active citizenship, why are Ugandans docile? are some of the harsh indictments that I hear from people of other nationalities and Ugandans alike. Before you judge us, understand us. We are on a leash. Our locks cut like Samson, our fangs removed, our will stripped like the Asian elephant.