Activists Add Sound to their Movement in Uganda

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A new strategy for change.

Anne Mugisha, an Activist for Change also active with the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) says the ongoing walk to work protests in Uganda have become increasingly less inclusive due to the focus on FDC president Kizza Besigye and required a shift in strategy.

“They don’t care if the whole country walks to work, as long as Kizza Besigye doesn’t walk” Mugisha told the Black Star News from her home in Kampala on Monday evening. 

We asked Mugisha about the latest element of the walk to work campaign which will take place everyday at 5pm, with participants collectively blowing horns, whistles and vuvuzelas for five minutes.

Portions of the interview are excerpted below. View video of the first day here.

BSN: How did the first day of Hoot4Change go?

Anne Mugisha: It was low-key, mostly because everyone was in fear of what was going to happen to us. But people took courage and participated in the center of town.

What we’re going to see is if it will get bigger tomorrow. Because it’s safer, obviously much, much safer. And it depends on where the person is honking from.

There were some key markets where I hear it was loud and deafening, but most of it came from the whistles and the vuvuzelas, which means that people were afraid to honk their cars, or they felt safer going to their offices and their homes and blowing into a vuvuzela or a whistle.

BSN: So people felt more comfortable hooting in their homes, offices and on the street?

Anne Mugisha: In their offices, in their homes and outside on the street, because they [police] weren’t really walking up and arresting people. But people who were honking in their cars, police were recording down their numbers.

BSN: What’s going to happen with the original walk to work action?

Anne Mugisha: The walking to work is ongoing, but what happens is that the police are doing what they should have done the first time – they’re ignoring the walkers.

The only time that walk to work gets any news is when Dr. Kizza Besigye walks. They don’t care if the whole country walks to work, as long as Kizza Besigye doesn’t walk. So that’s why we have had to come up with a new activity that can be more inclusive -- because instead of becoming inclusive, it has become a Kizza Besigye thing.

BSN: Is Dr. Besigye at home today, or is the house arrest over with?

Anne Mugisha: He’s at work in his office. Today he was setting up a shadow cabinet and we expect him to announce that tomorrow.

I think that all the pressure that was brought on by the press, especially the international media, was totally embarrassing and they’ve withdrawn. And now they will only arrest him if he walks, but he hasn’t been walking.

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