When white people came and grabbed our land and self-appointed themselves our leaders of this “Protectorate,” it was a nightmare. And that the Union Jack came down for a Ugandan’s piece of art to go up must have been, I imagine, a very exhilarating moment. That said, we cannot keep burying our heads in the sand, claiming this “independence” idea when:

We’re knee-deep in debt that your children’s children will have to pay the Chinese because they built the roads that regime apologists use as a badge of honour do claim that you’re just ungrateful because indeed, “some things are going right. Look at our good roads!”

The economy is largely dependent on foreign aid; whether it is provision of medicines, or sustaining of the ideas and pursuance of justice and development (ref: the NGO and donor economy). Multinational corporations and private businesses under Ugandan names don’t make them Ugandan. All profits from your labor and sweat are repatriated. Medical care which really matters is expensive as hell because when corruption meets low revenue, the citizenry suffers. The corruption whose effects prompts the same culprits to tax the wananchi to death in order to put back from where they stole.

Artists are forbidden to perform because it threatens power. And policemen and womxn living waaay under the poverty line are employed to do the dirty work of fighting anyone who speaks truth to power. Remember how the British had Buganda fight Kabalega for resisting their rule? Yup. Nothing has changed and we’re back to square one.

These ethnic fights that never seem to end stem from the colonial construction of pitting one tribe/ region against the other (refer again to Buganda – Bunyoro) by offering breadcrumbs to those who graciously accepted to be ruled. Except our unsuspecting dear presidents (sigh, men) took the remnants of that toxicity and turned it into the tribalism we grapple with. So we fight and fight and shoot each other in parking lots – and sometimes the perpetrator is the upper class (Forest Mall) and other times he is of the low class (Quality Mall) (what is it with malls anyway?!) and demean each other and play favouritism and guess what that means, our minds are still in bondage.

Now, I know, ‘us’ of the pseudo middle-class who have some social capital, eat at Javas and manage to pay a monthly $200 rent (did I mention how we still count everything in dollars cause the shilling value is shit?) like to think, “…arghhh. It’s not THAT bad Edna naawe. Don’t take things so seriously, be positive, only our Lord knows, etc etc.” And you know what, I’d like to be positive. Yet…”parte after parte,” “it’s not that serious,” prayer mountain trips and other kumbaya practices we come up with to cope are indeed just that. Coping mechanisms. Which we deserve btw. We have to cope somehow. But we can’t cope ourselves out of the fact this state that was handed back to us by the scramble and partitioners has major problems that make us anything but independent. I have heard that in rehab they say that you can only deal with a problem after you acknowledge its existence; maybe if more of us acknowledge this, just maybe, then we can all start to deal with the problem. Otherwise our “happy independence” posts are only band-aids on a deep, infected 57 year old wound.

So congratulations to our friends on the 9 – 5 train, on this day of rest from 40 hours a week capitalism. Because that’s all it is – this day. A public holiday.

Img Src: New Vision

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Written by Ninsiima Edna (0)

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