Interestingly, some people think I joined the People Power movement two days ago. No. On the contrary, I was privileged to be one of the founding leaders of the movement and therefore have been on its leadership right from the start. God willing, we shall one time have books written about the foundations of this movement.
That said, our approach has always been that not all of us must be on the frontline at the same time. But many other people have always worked behind the scenes to grow the movement and give it direction. In any case, many of our comrades are professionals working in positions which would not let them openly identify with People Power for fear of victimisation. I have also had to resign from three well-paying jobs to be able to openly associate with People Power, which has always been in my blood. Simply because of this conviction! As time goes by, you will see many other people – doctors, lawyers, engineers, civil servants, professors, and many other ordinary Ugandans from across the country, come out and get to the frontline.
The other misnomer that keeps coming up is that I still belong to the NRM. It is true that for the longest time I belonged to NRM. I have written here and elsewhere before that my support for NRM was never premised on anything else except conviction. Like Malcolm X said, you would be rather wrong in sincerity than be right in hypocrisy. Like several Ugandans, I supported NRM genuinely when I did. Firstly, this was before I fully understood the extent to which its leaders long abandoned its professed values and principles. Secondly, I thought perhaps they would realise the importance of having a transition in its rank and file and have an opportunity to find themselves. Very unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, they veered off course even further!
In 2016 I came to a conclusion that these guys do not care any bit about our country but about what each one is able to grab in the shortest period of time. I penned an article in the New Vision detailing my experience running for EALA under NRM and the corruption, greed, sectarianism, unprincipled leadership, etc that I saw. No leader in the party had the appetite to listen, let alone make any effort to refocus the party on its professed principles! When they mooted the idea to remove age limit, I thought it was a bad joke. Not after President Museveni had openly said that it was a bad idea for someone to lead beyond 75 years of age. When I realised they were serious, I bid them farewell and declared then, that I had moved.
When I find time, I will put down the full thoughts that shaped my radical shift.
The third and final point to make is that my admiration for Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert and my decision to work with him was born out of my encounter with him about four years ago. I wrote about this when he was running for MP in Kyadondo East. I first met him in a classroom in 2016 when he joined law school. I was teaching him constitutional law at the time, and we had very long discussions about this country. He was not yet in elective politics, but in him I saw a man who deeply cared for his country and its people. I also found him to be an extremely intelligent man whose level of analysis was astounding. His ability to simplify otherwise complex concepts for the benefit of his audience was amazing. I was also struck that he had refused to let fame, money and power get to him like has happened to so many people. Even when he was this powerful celebrity, his passion for the common person was uncommon.
When we drove together around town on a few occasions, he did not stop pointing out that our country deserved better.
We debated all manner of things and agreed on some, and disagreed on others. We were however clear that we had a role to play in salvaging the situation in this country. It was not enough for me to teach about constitutionalism and good governance in a class room. It was not enough for him to just sing about the evils that bedevil our country. We had a role to play!
One discussion we had was how our country has been betrayed by so many people who are well educated and highly experienced. Many such people- we agreed, had either sold their conscience or decided to settle for a normal life in a country whose government is corrupt, ineffecient and inept!
Well, in October 2016, I attended his music concert dubbed Aidah at Busabala. I was joined by three other lawyers. We were taken away by the man’s ability to connect with people at all levels of society. Over thirty thousand people attended the concert but what was more interesting was to see many of them who had hired trucks to come from far away places to listen to the man- Gulu, Rukungiri, Mbarara, Iganga, Masaka, Arua, etc. I realised then that there was something about this man. I had always listened to his conscious music- but had not appreciated how deeply he was connected with the people of Uganda. The crowd was a mixture of leaders from all political parties including NRM leaders at different levels. In attendance were wealthy business people, representatives from traditional institutions, professionals and so many people who belong to the informal sector. When I met him in the University corridors the following day, I asked him how he had managed to connect with so many people. His response was a humble one. He did not want to claim so much credit, but only said that those people come to listen to him because he connects with them in spirit.
Fast forward, I am grateful to God that the People Power movement has continued to grow and gain prominence all over the world. Our mission is to return our country to the rule of law and empower the citizens to determine the destiny of Uganda. We may not be perfect- we have never claimed to be so. But our conscience is clear that Uganda deserves better. And we know that we shall succeed. But what if we do not? We have always been clear to ourselves that some efforts are so noble that one does not have to fully succeed in them to actually succeed. An attempt at them is success itself- that is how we view this mission to free our country from bad governance. We know many have tried to portray this idea as a movement for a certain group of people- on the contrary and as everyone can see, People Power is a front for liberation. It is a platform for all pro-democracy Ugandans regardless of their tribe, religion or political affiliation.
We are not naive to the dangers and risks that lie ahead- we have lived them for these past few years. But as Hon. Kyagulanyi has said time and again, this mission far outweighs any dangers that may abound.