Thursday morning I woke up late. I had some pain in my knee. However I had woken up hopeful, today was election day and I would exercise my right as a Ugandan to elect my leader of choice.
For many of us, the day starts the same, open your eyes and check your phone. It was interesting to see fewer comms than usual but I figured either people had left their phones behind to go vote or they just didn’t feel like talking. Then I began seeing tweets claiming how Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook were not working. At first, it seemed like an MTN affair until even Orange was mentioned. I was celebrating that Vodafone was untouched until it went off. It went off three times that day and if I had not got other means, I probably would be off too.
I stood quite long on Thursday, so long that by the time I voted, I was falling sick. Many of us had woken up early to be in the queue by 7am. However, the “competent” Electoral Commission had not yet delivered by that time. They did not deliver until 1:30pm. What was a beautiful sight was that people were not giving up. People intended to cast their vote even though it seemed the EC did not want them to. I left when the numbers were long. People had insisted on voting because somehow we thought our vote counted.
As we waited, some irritated youth had thrown a fit and started piling stones in the road! You’d be surprised how quick the tear gas brigade arrived! I thought to myself, you know those relationships where one side communicates only when they want to see the other for food or money or sex? This felt like it. When threatened, the leaders are quick to respond however, when their citizens are discontented, the leaders could care less.
I have a few questions to ask our so called leaders. We thought this was a democracy. We thought this was a government of the people, by the people, for the people. We thought one did not wake up one morning and make directives on things affecting us as citizens without our consent. It wasn’t enough to switch off social media because even access to money was hindered. Is this still a democracy or should we just take off the masks and allow it is what it is – a dictatorship?
Dear Telecoms. Will you repay me my lost time and money since I spend most of my data on social? Are you now firmly in the pockets of the dictatorship that what they ask, you do?
Dear Banks. I can assume that one day I will wake up and be told my money has been withdrawn by the government because of a security threat. There will be no prior notice, just me learning I am broke and the government made me broke and I can’t do anything about it.