First, allow me congratulate you upon your victory in a few hours from now. As a resident in your country, I have been impressed with how the electioneering was conducted. Never in my dreams would I have fathomed that an African city could do without campaign posters pasted on everything and anything from walls to trees and even sign posts.
Bruno Rangira, the communications and public relations director at the City of Kigali, told me that they don’t allow the hanging of posters on walls, streetlights or any other infrastructure because it’s untidy. Untidy? I prayed that Rangira was misusing words like Abiriga, but he emphasised it. I understand the city authorities told you and the other two boys to use other channels such billboards and banners.
Rangira told me that those who wished to use posters were free to hang them on public noticeboards like at supermarkets. He said that posters were not allowed even on the walls of public washrooms. Just to be sure, I made a dash around the city last weekend and true to his words, the place looked as pristine as a newborn’s palm.
I used to think Rangira has been to Kampala and mopped the streets for how things are done in a conventional banana republic milieu, but now I am having my misgivings. How on earth can a city do without campaign posters during elections in the name of keeping tidy? Of course, some Rwandans say that is the way it is supposed to be. They don’t know nothing. They haven’t been to Kampala, the capital of kavuyo.
To the Nasser Road fraternity, this business of banning posters on walls and polls and all that hurts. Hurts so much that where a political candidate would need to print 10 million posters to paste in sequence from Wandegeya to Nakawa without leaving a single space empty, your people in Rwanda just printed like one or two for those who wanted to hang on their car windshields. Very unfair to the printery fraternity, Paul.
Paul, I also understand you didn’t compel your citizens to resort to VPN after blocking internet and social media during the electioneering or voting day. As I write this, many of us in Kigali are following the tallying process through social media without any farce. Are you an African, Paul? Didn’t you grow up in Uganda and even help our own visionary leader to ascend to power? Weren’t you alive last year when your former boss did us in with mobile money, internet and social media blockade?
In Africa, internet and social media blockade is the new norm. Just last year, my man in Kampala made everyone wish they had gone to ICT school and learnt to use VPN and other ways of bypassing blockade. People downloaded Telegram Messenger app faster than Usain Bolt will sprint tonight. You, Paul, heard of the news and knew that it was the modern way of running elections in Africa. Isn’t it happening in many other places in West Africa too? But for some strange reason, you decided to act like those forever whining Western people by allowing social media and internet to stay in business.
Paul, we Ugandans consider you and your people as siblings. In fact, we are twins. We need to do the same things. If you buy one sibling clothes from Mr Price and then go to Owino Market for ‘mama njagala kupama’ nylon pants for your other kid, you know how it can cause bad mood in the family? And yet you still go ahead and do something totally unAfrican. This is like rubbing pepper and salt in our teary eyes.
As if that was not bad enough, you had your people living here making a total buffoonery of our government and mockery of our people by organising one hell of an enviable Diaspora poll. I am told there were up to 98 polling stations across the world where your Rwandan people abroad voted from.
In Kampala, they thronged the high commission like voting was a retro fad being promoted by Beyonce and Kardashian in a campaign. I had to confirm with scores that they were not being paid equivalent of month’s salary to go vote… To be sincere, I looked at things and concluded that the Rwandans in Uganda were just flaunting what they got like Jenny Musisi of KCCA. That was like rubbing salt in our wounds.
How can a tiny Rwanda have the capacity to organise polls in the Diaspora when it doesn’t even have oil? Uganda is this big and has more gold in Karamoja than Special Forces Group soldiers can ever guard, we have more oil than you have ever imagined… there are even talks that it is because of mineral resources deposits that the Land law is being amended to allow grabbing of mineral-rich land. And yet we still couldn’t organise polls in the Diaspora.
I am told your people only needed their national IDs to vote. Many who had travelled across the borders did not need to clamour around to vote. But then where I come from, one can only get the national ID from the country. There are one too many Ugandans abroad without national IDs just because our government is the true definition of an African government from its leopard’s nini to the bald pate.
Congratulations again, Paul, but please be fair to us. Ask your people not to flaunt their development progress like they did in Kampala on Thursday. The next time they want to vote from Kampala, they should first find out from our government the progress of Ugandan Diaspora voting too. We need to be in tandem on these things.