“Men with guns are breaking my door. They say they’re policemen but are not in uniform. I’ve locked myself inside.” This was the final Facebook post by Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 2021 winner of the PEN Pinter International Writer of Courage Award, on Dec. 28. Within minutes of his post, Rukirabashaija was abducted by Uganda’s Special Forces Command, a military outfit notorious for torturing nonviolent activists. Rukirabashaija — author of a political allegory novel and an autobiographical book detailing his previous torture — has only surfaced once since his brutal kidnapping. When his lawyer Eron Kiiza summoned Rukirabashaija’s captors to present him in court, they violated the summons and brought their victim to his rural home in Iganga to search his home, much to the terror of his wife and children.
International media are reporting that the Ugandan government has turned over Entebbe airport to a Chinese bank in order to make payment on a loan. “Museveni to surrender Uganda’s only international airport over Chinese loan,” claimed The Guardian . Similar headlines have appeared widely and all repeat as fact an allegation that Uganda will lose its airport to Exim bank. Uganda has not defaulted on the $200 million loan yet the false bad news continues to be reported. Despite denials from China and Uganda the story continues to circulate and is now accepted as being true. The bad journalism resonates despite inaccuracies in these accounts because they repeat a now familiar trope, that China offers “debt traps” to African nations and has become the 21st century colonizer of the continent.
On March 3, 2021, Ugandan pop star turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi (a.k.a. Bobi Wine) tweeted a picture of a Zoom call with himself and Juan Guaido, the US-backed Venezuelan opposition figure. “Very pleased to speak with President @jguaido of Venezuela this evening,” Wine tweeted, “We discussed the way forward for both countries, and the need to build synergies for the defense of democratic principles and human rights across the globe.” The responses were swift. Shocked critics from Uganda and throughout the world denounced Wine’s tweet. Within a day, Wine had deleted the tweet. We should not be shocked. Instead, Wine’s apparent alignment with the U.S. State Department should remind us of a number of critical lessons concerning the struggle against U.S. and European imperialism.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to author Naomi Wolf about the bitter legacy of the British and Western colonialism of rampant homophobia, so virulent that people to this day are murdered for being gay in countries such as Egypt or Uganda. Naomi Wolf in her new book, 'Outrages, Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love', examines through the life of the British poet and gay activist John Addington Symonds how imperial power used, and uses, rigid sexual stereotypes as tools for repression and social control.
The Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya highway connects the Ugandan fishing town of Kaiso to Hoima town, the headquarters of the Bunyoro Kingdom and Hoima District. Kaiso is on the south-eastern edge of Lake Mwitanzige, in a region with an estimated potential three billion barrels of crude oil. The Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya road was built to enable access to the lake for oil prospecting and as an investment for future petroleum production, so the residents call it “Oil Road”. For many, however, the road takes away more than it brings. To carve out space for the road, the Uganda National Roads Authority took land from Kaiso residents. Valuation and compensation, handled by an outside consultant, were arbitrary and low (going by the number of doors on a house for example), without taking full account of past investments and future livelihood losses.
With the recent publication of Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading, the Oakland Institute has brought forward irrefutable evidence that villagers were forcibly evicted to make way for the Norwegian company, Green Resources' tree plantation in Kachung, Uganda.
2019 had her fair share of protests from North, West, East and Southern Africa. The reasons for these protests were largely political, followed by economic and then demand for human rights in some instances not to forget issues of ethnic tensions and insecurity. The protests toppled two long serving presidents, Sudan’s Omar al Bashir and Algeria’s Abdul Aziz Bouteflika. Two dogged movements swept away a combine 50-years of presidential rule. We look back at how these protests were started, what they achieved and their current statuses.
After 37 days of occupying a United Nations office in Gulu, Uganda, 234 farmers, youth, mothers with young babies and elderly men packed their gear into trucks and returned to their homes in Apaa — an area of rich farmland and forest in the north of the country. Far from being a quiet and somber event, their departure was marked by an explosion of song and ululation. It was part collective exhale — following a month of cramped conditions, an overflowing pit latrine and daily hostilities from their reluctant “hosts” — and part cry of triumph and hope. The occupiers from Apaa had uprooted themselves and thrust their community upon the only global stage accessible to them. They strategically chose the only office in the entire country that could be occupied without immediate forceful eviction.
The Congo crisis is now one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the world and the most underreported. An average of 5,500 people a day flee violence and insecurity, even more than in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Unlike Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, however, the Congo wars are undeclared and there’s no front line. There are instead many wars over many concentrations of resource wealth in this immensely resource-rich country, especially in the eastern provinces. For more than 20 years the most rapacious and destabilizing aggressors have been US allies and military partners Uganda and Rwanda. The US is the top bilateral donor to both. Uganda has been led by dictator Yoweri Museveni since 1986, Rwanda by dictator Paul Kagame since 1994.
By Patience Nitumwesiga for Waging Nonviolence - During the early morning hours of September 21, nine young activists — all in their twenties — hauled a coffin toward a police station in the northern city of Lira. The coffin was draped with posters of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and a number of his other allies in government. Written across the coffin on one side were the words “Change the constitution and bury Uganda” — a reference to a proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with the presidential age limit. At 6.30 a.m., when they arrived at a major intersection, they set the coffin down and lit it on fire. By the time the police station came alive to start the day, the protesters had already left. Not knowing who they were looking for, the officers nevertheless set out on a hunt to find them. Over the next 12 hours, the young people invaded street after street in Lira, chanting anti-constitutional change slogans, lifting up placards and even setting some tires on fire. The small group soon grew into large crowds in all corners of Lira. The protesters had allies everywhere, and as soon as the police set out to stop a protest on a given street, someone would call the protesters and inform them. They would quickly disperse and reorganize at a different place, and the police would arrive too late, finding no one to arrest. Eventually, when the police got fed up with the constant evasion, they decided to storm the offices of the nonviolent training organization Solidarity Uganda, claiming that they were hiding the protesters. Police checked behind all doors and in ceiling boards, finding no one.
Keromela Anek tossed her naked body back and forth in the roadway, blocking a government convoy in the remote village of Apaa, Uganda. Lands Minister Daudi Migereko and Minister of Internal Affairs General Nyakairima Aronda had just traveled to the village that day, April 16, with the plan of redistricting it. That would place Apaa in a new region and help facilitate the sale of the peoples’ land to South African investor Bruce Martin, who hoped to use the heavily forested, currently-populated area for sports game hunting. Upon reaching a roadblock and witnessing Anek and some other women naked and in tears, chanting insults toward the ministerial delegation, Migereko began crying, while Aronda tried his best to avoid looking at the women. Local witnesses claim that Aronda then called Ugandan President Yoweri K. Museveni — a dictator who has been in power for three decades — and received instructions to have his security personnel open fire on the women.
Lively, a 56-year-old Massachusetts native, specializes in stirring up anti-gay feeling around the globe. In Uganda, which he first visited in 2002, he has cultivated ties to influential politicians and religious leaders at the forefront of the nation's anti-gay crusade. Just before the first draft of Uganda's anti-gay bill began circulating in April 2009, Lively traveled to Kampala and gave lengthy presentations to members of Uganda's parliament and cabinet, which laid out the argument that the nation's president and lawmakers would later use to justify Uganda's draconian anti-gay crackdown.