When people are sufficiently angry and brave, change can’t be stopped

There is overwhelming evidence that sufficient frustration and anger alone are unlikely to bring about major changes. Frustration and anger must be combined with bravery for change to occur. England’s 1381 peasant revolt, France’s 1789 peasants and Parisian mobs, Tunisian and Egyptian youth uprisings were successful because frustration and anger were combined with bravery.

When vans and fire trucks ran over some demonstrators and men on horses charged into other peaceful demonstrators there were fatalities and injuries. But the Egyptians who survived did not run away. Instead they gathered courage, picked up stones and fought back. Their bravery encouraged other compatriots to join them while others at home and abroad cheered them to continue until their goal was realized. Hosni Mubarak saw the writing on the wall when demonstrated defied security forces and peacefully camped outside the presidential palace. He stepped down, packed his bags and left the presidential palace.

When Tutsi youth assaulted a Hutu local administrative chief in 1959, the Hutu population concluded that they had had enough. Spontaneously, they gathered courage and decided to defend themselves against well armed Batutsi. And the result was the social revolution that chased away Tutsi, abolished the monarchy and achieved independence in 1962. Hutus had all along been considered passive and docile who would never have the courage to even chase away a ‘fly’! They are now down, not out.

Starting in the 1940s, educated Bairu of southwest Uganda began to get good jobs, good incomes and to begin to live normal lives. In the 1950s they entered politics as Uganda prepared for independence and did well because of their numerical superiority over Bahororo and Bahima. The social programs launched by Obote in the 1960s pushed Bairu closer to the standard of living enjoyed by Bahororo and Bahima who had controlled the politics of the area and benefited economically.

Museveni and his friends gathered together in 1965 and began to prepare for war against Obote who had helped Bairu to make such fast progress. The idea was that once Obote was removed Bairu would revert to poverty and marginalization as they had lived since pre-colonial times. So, Museveni’s war was primarily aimed at Bairu. He succeeded because frustration and anger at Obote were combined with bravery to wage a guerrilla war. In March 1992 Bahororo from Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts met in Museveni’s house at Rwakitura to plot how to keep Bairu down permanently, among other things. The point being made here is that Museveni succeeded because he combined anger with bravery.

On the advice of the World Bank and IMF, the government of Bolivia privatized water promising consumers that services and prices would be better than before. What they ended up with were un-payable water bills and water was cut off. Frustration and anger combined with bravery Bolivian consumers organized for action. An unprecedented alliance among factory workers, farmers using water for irrigation, coca growers and marginalized urban population of Villa Pagado launched protests in the streets of Cochabamba against the terms of the social and economic relationship between people and water contract with Aguas del Tunari.

The protestors blocked roads. The army stepped in and some people were killed, serving only to increase resistance. The water battles led to intensification of other grievances. In October 2003, a popular revolt led by Indians brought down the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. Two years later Evo Morales, leader of the coca growers union, won presidential elections. It was deep-seated and long-held grievances combined with bravery that removed a government from power.

Museveni has angered Ugandans more than enough. He has deprived them of much of their natural rights such as education, food, jobs, health care and most recently the right to choose their own leaders. This was the worst election fraud in Uganda’s history and Ugandans are bitter. All the ingredients for a revolt and removal of Museveni from power are in place except one. Are Ugandans brave enough to mount peaceful demonstrations consistently until Museveni steps down? The world is watching. If we don’t act, Museveni will be proved right – Ugandans are indeed cowards.

There is good news! Museveni has been warned by major western powers that he cannot use force against peaceful demonstrators. That is why there was no bloodshed during the elections that have just ended because Museveni was warned not to use force. So Ugandans should not use the pretext of being killed by Museveni forces to avoid peaceful demonstrations. Failure to do so will be for other reasons including cowardice.

Museveni and his chiefs of police and army have also been reminded that if they do not control their staff and hurt citizen of Uganda during peaceful demonstrations the bosses will be individually responsible and liable for punishment by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Any soldier or police that commits a crime will also be individually responsible and liable for punishment. Pleading that you were ordered to kill or injure a fellow Ugandan will not get you off the hook! We urge all Uganda security forces to read the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to understand their responsibility and accountability.

We appeal to Ugandans to take pictures and get names of any officer anywhere in the country that violates the rights of Ugandans as well as the picture, name and location of the person assaulted. Send all that information to us. We shall use it to bring charges against the officers involved at an appropriate time. We must put an end to police and military brutality in Uganda. Security forces are hired and paid for by Uganda tax payers to protect and not kill Uganda citizens or anyone else.