So last night facebook (ug) was of fire. Apparently some not too intelligent MP suggested that that women who are raped and were dressed ‘indecently’ should be prosecuted instead for ‘inciting’ the rapist to rape them; the rationale of his logic being that they brought this on themselves by not wearing busuuti.
The feminists understandably went livid. I have not seen a hate campaign this intensive since that video showing Arinaitwe’s infamous arrest of Besigye gave Kampala folk a rude awakening about the true nature of their government.
For avoidance of doubt, I find MP Kisule’s comments laughable because only an invalid mind can reason in this way and not see the problem with it. That said, I have a statement of my own. And it goes out to every single Ugandan felt who offended enough to spend their day spuing fury on the web. IF YOU DIDN’T VOTE SHUT UP.
Here’s the thing. politics in this country (and I venture to envelop the continent) are a mess because of people like you- the ones who don’t vote- and we are frankly fed up of your whining so this is my reaction to the reaction against Kibule.
Leaders like Kibule are not our problem. You are. You are our problem because you are the ones who put them in office by not voting. They know this and that is why they do whatever they like. They know they will get away with it because the people impoverished by their impunity are the majority and they are desperate enough to trade their vote for a kilo sugar.
And don’t you dare accuse the poor peasant of selling their vote. They don’t know any better but you do. They are poor, and perhaps your obnoxious ‘middle-class’ or ‘corporate’ mind can’t wrap itself around what poverty really feels like since it means something else in your book…but in their world it means something else.
In their world it means living in want every day. It means sugar and soap are a treat for a rainy day or a courtesy for visitors from Kampala, and if you have to do to get a free kilo and two bars of soap is simply queing and placing a tick or thumbprint against your benefactor’s name, it’s a bargain. These might seem like petty items to you, but in their world it’s an easy bargain.
If you voted, you are entirely justified and I hope you do something more concrete than spuing fury into keypads. But if you know you stayed at home when the barely over 40% voters who turned up had nothing better to do, here’s what I, an ordinary citizen and a nobody, have to say to you. SHUT UP AND GET IN LINE. YOU ARE GETTING WHAT YOU DESERVE.
Let me make this straight. We don’t like it when elected officials make ridiculously foolish statements. And we’re even more offended when they misappropriate billions of shillings that could have given a little human dignity to millions of Ugandans without the privilege of sharing insignificant details of their private lives on facebook and twitter. But we like it much less when those who frustrate our efforts to keep such people away from power complain when they get what they bargained.
I am not asking anyone to demonstrate or pick up a gun or anything that is remotely identifiable as protest. If that’s your thing, power to you. But there is one thing we all can do, and which costs you absolutely nothing (if you live near your polling station), and that is to vote.
This is not one-size-fits-all solution. It’s an appeal to conscience. That is if your conscience is not yet entirely calcified.
It is obvious that voting alone is not enough and can’t solve everything, so will skip the merits debate and get right down to why you shut up if you live in an elective state and choose not take part in its elective process.
Here’s what happens when you vote. It sends a message and if you don’t think that’s important, try living without being able to communicate when something makes you uncomfortable.
It sends a message to leaders when 99% of the electorate turns up and says these are the kind of leaders we want. It sends a message.
It sends a message to people who care that things function correctly (and are actually competent enough to make them function) that if they offered their services to correct things, the people would accept them. It sends a message.
It sends a message to people who treat public office like personal property that certain classes of excess will not fly and, as the culture deepens, gradually refines these classifications until the situation of governance is more tenable and an MP actually represents the opinions of his constituents. It sends a message. And sending a message is an important first step in dealing with impunity.
I understand that this sounds simplistic to you, perhaps even idealistic. But mark my words, it is the only way all this stops.
There maybe some weight in the counter argument that this approach is long and painful and does not guarantee results. But when has giving birth to a child and raising it ever been easy.
Building a nation is labour. You are bringing into being something that isn’t so naturally it will take more than a hump in the sack to birth a healthy nation. You would think the parents and children amongst us would appreciate the analogy. Voting is just the sex part and you won’t do it yet you want children. (I hear some cheeky devil’s advocate hissing artificial insemination but I won’t bother preempting such stupidity. this is serious business.)
You, educated fools (yes I said it) are precisely the problem we have in this country because election upon election you won’t stoop to do the bare minimum to make some change. You complain and complain and look for the first opportunity to jump ship and leave this suffering country so you can go Europe and America and complain about how this country kills potential. This country does not kill potential. You do.
Voting is a process, not an end, which goes beyond ticking a ballot. It begins with people like YOU who have the privilege of access to the web, books, news, libraries, etc bracing yourselves with information about what it going.
And by this I don’t mean watching bbc to regurgitate what the ‘experts’ say about Africa. I mean doing the tiny little exercise of using your brain to question why there is a world of difference from government reports and the reports of your eyes. This is just step 1 of the process and it ends when you die. There’s no end to learning.
The second step is verifying what you learn against what you know. Knowing begins in perception and perception in the senses. You can only know what your senses perceive so yes, it doesn’t matter how many books and reports you have read, if you have not ‘seen’ with your own eyes you don’t know anything at all.
(I admit this seems simplistic. Technology can of course enable you ‘see’ without being there but this is beside the point. I could try explaining it but you can’t understand if you don’t. You have to verify it for yourself)
Step 2 would be to get what you know and what you have learnt, put them through a series of tests that can be done by any person (in other words logic), share your conclusions with people you respect and help the uneducated peasant understand what is going on so that they can make an informed choice.
This all requires a few minutes of brainwork, a thing most Ugandans hate, but it could be the difference understanding and misunderstanding what is going on around you. When the smart people on television talk about understanding the issues, voting on the issues…this is what they mean. Being a citizen is an active process. SHUT UP AND GET IN LINE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DO THE WORK.
I could go on about what else you could but then I would be doing your thinking for you. I only wanted to illustrate a point. And the point is that people like Kisule keeping getting parliament because people like YOU prefer making noise on facebook to doing the bare minimum so if you if you didn’t vote, SHUT UP AND GET IN LINE. YOU ARE GETTING THE LEADERS YOU DESERVE.
There is an election coming up soon and we all know the outcome is already decided. It is not decided by those whom we think it will benefit. It is decided by you who does not vote. Who leaves the uneducated peasant at the mercy of the opportunistic politician then cries foul when the politician says something you don’t like, so SHUT UP AND ROLL OVER IF YOU HAVE NO INTENTIONS OF PLACING YOUR VOTE IN THE NEXT ELECTION.
I know this letter is not going to change your mind. In fact the only people who will read it to this point will be those who agree with it…the barely above 40% who vote. But if it manages to slip through the cracks and into the hands of just one person who did not vote but was angered enough to spend an entire day spuing hate speech against MP Kisule, then you reader dear are the one to whom I write this letter. This is my humble message to you:
Whatever your reasons for not voting, no person should ever be forced to do anything they do not believe in so I won’t ask you to change your beliefs….but I will ask you to consider the barely over 40% of us who care enough to make an effort and spare us your sanctimony.
SHUT THE HELL UP…because every time we try to prevent leaders like Kisule from getting into power, you frustrate our efforts through you inaction. YOU ARE OUR PROBLEM AND YOUR SANCTIMONY OFFENDS US SO DO US A FAVOUR AND SHUT UP. But when you have gotten angry enough to get off your assess and do something concrete, however little….we will join in your fists of fury, but only when you stand up to be counted.