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Uganda’s younger voters are hungry for change – and for Bobi Wine

To survive as an opposition politician in Uganda, you must hit the marketing campaign path sporting a bulletproof vest and helmet. You should be prepared for struggle. Ugandan musician turned opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also called Bobi Wine, found this when he determined to problem incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s 34-year stranglehold on energy at elections scheduled for 14 January. On the primary day Kyagulanyi stepped out to marketing campaign, he wore his vest over purple overalls that made him appear like a prisoner.

“I don’t costume like this as a result of I need to. I costume like this as a result of there are folks after my life. They suppose that by killing me, they are going to have it higher. They have no idea that if I die, it’ll solely worsen,” he informed the group outdoors his home.

The fervency of his message drowned the awkwardness of his costume as Ugandans realised simply how terrifying the political local weather has grow to be. Solely weeks earlier, quite a lot of folks died throughout Uganda’s worst unrest in years. Many of those have been younger individuals who had come out to protest at one more arrest of their candidate, Kyagulanyi. Others have been roadside distributors reportedly run over by a automobile draped in yellow, the color of the ruling get together. Police sprayed teargas and shot dwell bullets that killed even bystanders.

Kyagulanyi was proper when he informed Christiane Amanpour on CNN final week, when requested why he continues to threat his life for the almost unattainable feat of unseating Museveni, that nobody is secure in Uganda.

Museveni got here into energy after a five-year guerrilla struggle. He launched into financial and political reforms, castigating older regimes for rigging elections and staying too lengthy in energy, and bringing a semblance of stability to the east African nation. He likes to remind us that we will now sleep all evening due to him.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has been in energy for 34 years. {Photograph}: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

I used to be born in 1986, the yr Museveni got here into energy. My mom tells of an extended and troublesome being pregnant through the struggle. She remembers one night when insurgent troopers got here dwelling from combating. Simply after sundown, as my mom and her sisters-in-law have been on the point of serve dinner, they heard gunshots. It was a well-recognized sound, their cue to flee to the bush. My mom, closely pregnant with me, fell quite a few occasions over shrubs and bushes as they bumped into the darkish. Troopers usually raided houses, the place they took meals, grabbed cash, and raped girls.

To my mom and her contemporaries, something is healthier than these outdated days of strife.

Whereas I’m grateful I’ve by no means slept within the bush, apart from by selection once I go tenting, the custom of electoral violence that I’ve seen in each election since I used to be born makes me marvel if my dad and mom can see the very actual new “bushes” sprouting round us – the ghettos that home the brand new era difficult the ability of a malign state.

Do they see the starvation and desperation within the eyes of Kyagulanyi’s supporters? Kyagulanyi grew up in Uganda’s slums, experiencing poverty and deprivation first hand, and used his musical expertise to flee. His most ardent supporters are determined youth from these similar ghettos. They emerge to attend his rallies on empty stomachs, leaping over rivers of sewage to catch a glimpse of the person who’s their solely hope.

Once they lie all the way down to sleep of their one-roomed dwelling after their solely meal of the day, they dream of a Uganda the place they’ve jobs and their youngsters have higher schooling, as a substitute of the half-baked classes they get now from purportedly free authorities faculties the place academics are sometimes absent and lessons are overcrowded. They journey to the longer term Uganda, the place they’ve higher homes, good roads and girls don’t die giving start on the flooring of overcrowded hospitals.

To the individuals who assist Kyagulanyi, Museveni’s marketing campaign chorus, “Securing your future”, sounds empty after so a few years of guarantees of growth which have by no means translated into a greater life. And whereas Museveni’s supporters will shortly level on the spectacular financial development charges through the years, it’s arduous to disregard the gaping inequality.

For Ugandans aged beneath 35 like me, who type over 80% of the inhabitants, the potential for a ghetto president who holds live shows on the lake along with his Rastafarian buddies, performs songs of freedom earlier than each official deal with, and surrounds himself with advisers he brazenly consults and offers area to talk, could be a refreshing departure from the unquestionable “order from above” system and the intimidating political atmosphere that has come to dominate our nation.

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