Why Didn’t Ugandan Bloggers Write About the Nation’s Biggest Story?

My latest Global Voices post, published here.

The Ugandan blogosphere was silent on the country’s biggest story over the last few weeks. On March 5th, the Ugandan judges and lawyers went on strike after presidential security agents raided the High Court to re-arrest six treason suspects who had been granted bail. The suspects were accused of representing the People’s Redemption Army (PRA), a shadowy rebel group that opposition candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye has been associated with.

On March 14th, several of the suspects were released after allegedly being beaten, and with the striking judiciary, marched around the High Court to cleanse it of the incident. President Museveni sent a letter to the judiciary and apologized for the incident. Why didn’t the blogosphere comment on this major story? Reasons could range from fear of reprisal from the government to this simply being business as usual for the Museveni regime.

In other news, The Diocese of northern Uganda shares the lesson he learned from noticing an early morning cock fight:

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5 Comments:

  • I discovered your blog recently through Africa Path. Thank you very much for your hard work and great writing.

    Your question: "Why Didn't Ugandan Bloggers Write About the Nation's Biggest Story?" interested me in several ways.

    I'm an an American who has never been to Africa, but because of online correspondence with Ugandans have a great interest in what happens there.

    One of the difficulties with American foreign policy in Africa is that much of it is secret. Most of the USA's public policies for Africa are ones that I can agree. But quite explicitly much of American policy in the region is secret under the The Global War on Terror.

    I am very uncomfortable with secrecy because too often secrecy is used to cover theft and deception. Reading even a little about the bribery by Haliburton of Nigerian officials in the building of a gas liquification factory there uncovers political favors in here in the US by suppliers in order to get contracts. Why didn't American bloggers write about this?

    Ugandans went to the streets to protest the siege of the high court. Thousands were arrested and detained briefly because of the Judge's strike protesting the interference. But many were held and at least four beaten to death in captivity (from a witness I trust). Ugandans know there are real risks in writing.

    Mahmood Mamdani's piece earlier this month in The London Review of Books The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency reminded me how little Americans actually know about America's real policies in the region.

    Sorry to blog on your blog. The reason I do is because you have so much visibility and so much to say. I commend you for encouraging Ugandan bloggers. But I also believe your expertise is needed so much to help Americans understand policies under our flag in the region.

    The reasons behind the court siege are in some ways connected to American policy in the region going back to the Clinton administration and the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, and extend into the present administration policies.

    How many Americans know that Ugandan forces are in Somalia at the behest of US interests?

    By all means the Ugandan blogosphere deserves attention and support. But we Americans owe or fellow countrymen a view of American actions and policies in the region.

    By Blogger Kaunda, at 2:13 PM  

  • Almost everything I have written in the past month has been about the situation in Uganda. Go to my blog at http://ilto.wordpress.com/

    By Blogger James, at 6:01 PM  

  • Well, I beg to differ slightly with these here guys. Sure, they are right: American bloggers should do the blogging, since it is their evil country that is creating all these things that are obviously bad. I mean, America and Britain invented Idi Amin. And then we have to tell reporters from America and Britain about Amin. Like I said, if you want to make the world a better place, kill all the Americans and Brits. Hehehe. Okay, a little extreme, but you get the drift. And if the helplessness (to change the situation) makes you angry, read The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, then shoot all Americans and Brits. Okay, you are an American, so you can't do that. I'll hand the job over to our friends who have the means and the will.

    That paragraph was designed to shock you into understanding that I am pissed, but not about what happened at the court. I don't get pissed about falling. I get pissed about tripping. So I am pissed at America, not the results of America's continued existence. I should blog about the siege, but you'd not notice it is about the siege, since it will be a call for a massive genocide of all Americans.

    Okay. Enough of that stuff. As always, you would be spared. :-D Actually, I'll give America a century to reform. More importantly, I think the court siege is just one of the many insignificant things that happen all over the world. No worse than the twenty American teenagers who are going to die of drug overdoses before I am through with this.
    The BHH is more important, because it is more of the future than the present or the past. We are leaving that clamour behind - it would be stupid to dwell on it. That's why I don't blog as you expect.

    P.S.: Can you drop in on the next BHH? Your seat is (sadly) empty!

    By Blogger The 27th Comrade, at 4:51 AM  

  • There is an interesting blogging going on here. I have chanced on your via jackfruity's link. So there lies my dilemma, the inability to link any blogs to my site.

    This particular blog is disturbing. Not really in the apathy of the blogrens suggested inherently, but in the apathy, the general mindset, a one of resignation the people have had to endure.

    Yes, it is true many people took to the streets to protest the high court siege, but then it was really a half hearted attempt at voicing resentment at government highhandedness.

    Too many people don't care anymore, they are intent on self preservation, especially the elites. Well, the politicians can work up some people onto the streets, but these are people on fringes of urban or peri-urban existence, youthful and daring.

    Any large scale demonstration always results in deaths. Really all recent demonstrations other than status quo demonstrations have been severely delt with.

    So the credentials of our government to respect freedoms of association to that extent has not been a good one. Especially that the police chooses to append certain sections of the constitution to defeat that freedom (say: freedom not absolute.....).

    You have to question this audacity and impunity by government. On close scrutiny, you find it is closely knitted with the foreign policy of American and other Great powers. No Great power condemned this development in Uganda. Well, some aspects of global concern was voiced in the British House of Commons, no concerted noise to steer the regime back to the respect of those freedoms.

    I now ask, what should blogrens do now. Remember at the foreground, at the horizon, we have a bill that will sail through parliament. A bill that authorizes government to eavesdrop on the people. That can only exasebate the fears in many circles, and Ugandan bloggers are in my opinion may be on the radar for the simple reason that they possess a vital tool.

    Nevertheless, Ibelieve many bloggers have been active ly involved in dicussing these developments in other foras. It occurs to me that they are exercising a vital journalist principle of self-censorship.

    By Anonymous ARIAKA, at 5:15 AM  

  • Am compelled to comment again on account of fill in by the 27th comrade. To mention the teenage drug challenges to the affront on freedoms guaranteed by the Uganda constitution is at best diversonary.

    America and most countries in the world including Uganda have teenage drug problems. In fact I will tell you drug problems are growing every day in our schools. These problems are not helped by the new culture of hiphop. These artist adore the weed. Once I was in club, and a song on the weed was played by the DJ. All the people lept to the floor to enjoy themselves. Now imagine what that does the to the minds of young people.

    Forgive me for the diversion, but I wanted to illuminate the point. That drugs are a universal problem, not limited to America. Th thrust of my disagreement lies sqaurely on the attempt to shift blame elsewhere as regards our political nurturing.

    Our government has chosen to trample on our freedom of association. That the public can not express displeasure at government failures because "anyone who sets foot at City square will find themselves six feet deep" not my words mark you, but a very prominent public figure sometime in the 90s.

    In America you'll be aware that there is a deliberate government effort to contain and stamp out the vice of Drugs, with comprehensive legislation, institutions and resources to help victims and reform them into useful people.

    In Uganda, if you demonstrate, that might as well be a licence to hell.

    Admitted ours is a young democracy, emerging from tumultous bouts of government breakdown and absence of state.

    But after restoring order and re-establishing the state, surely time is high for government to forge forward on democratic credentials. Especially by respecting basic human rights. The high court siege does not help that cause at comrade.

    Otherwise, what we see is the reversal of the minimum recovery effort that has taken our lifetime to establish

    By Anonymous ARIAKA, at 5:47 AM  

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