I’m scared of Big Daddy watching me all the time

The government, starting with President Yoweri Museveni, has always wanted the media to cover its works and do so favourably

Bernard Tabaire  

BY Bernard Tabaire

IN SUMMARY

  • Cold comfort. Are we safe from this sort of brave new world of Mr Museveni? Big Brother is seriously transforming himself into Big Daddy.
  • Some cynics have suggested that this being Uganda, hot with corruption and cronyism, this technology-based approach will not work.

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Cameras and tracking devices everywhere. Big Brother, in this case Big Daddy, truly wants to watch you.
The government is coming down in full force to roam about in our lives, to control them ultimately. This intent has been clear and present for a while.

The government, starting with President Yoweri Museveni, has always wanted the media to cover its works and do so favourably. Don’t report governmental corruption, don’t report politics especially if it is opposition politics.
Then there has been talk that Uganda is a Christian country, a dubious claim. And that it is an African country full of special African values, a not-so-dubious claim. Both the Christian country and African culture claims have nonetheless been harnessed to police Ugandans or sections of them.

In 2013 Parliament passed a law against sexual minorities. If the courts had not struck it down, it is unclear what the already dicey state of sexual minorities would be in Uganda today. Then came the anti-pornography law, complete with an utterly redundant anti-pornography committee. It is short order from these acts to policing what we think.
Social media has allowed us to put all our thoughts, beautiful and ugly, out there. This is proving to be a boon to the government to tighten the screws of control. On top of occasionally shutting down social media sites, we are now on to paying tax to use the different platforms.

The government is not done. Recent spates of what appear to be contract killings have come as a wonderful gift as well. It has allowed the government feed its keen appetite for snooping.
It will now require tracking devices fitted in all cars, on all boda bikes, and CCTV cameras will adorn streets and highways and business and residential premises. Already, the government can look into your phone if it so pleases.

Are we safe from this sort of brave new world of Mr Museveni? Big Brother is seriously transforming himself into Big Daddy. Some cynics have suggested that this being Uganda, hot with corruption and cronyism, this technology-based approach will not work. Don’t bank on that cold comfort. If the new snooping system helps President Museveni stay in power, it will work. That is called selective efficiency — the X-ray machines may not work in various hospitals, but the peeping gadgets will work. Remember the police have never run out of riot gear to suppress NRM government’s political opponents.

***
When I heard the crisp and soulful tune Land of Anaka for the first time I bowed for Geoffrey Oryema. It must have resonated with my early youthful longing for a rooted belonging.
I quickly found out a little about the man. One of the things, and I don’t know if true, was that Oryema had vowed never to return to the land that killed his father, Erinayo. Yet I had never had chance to see him perform anywhere in the world.
I was, therefore, nicely surprised when Bayimba Foundation’s chief, Mr Faisal Kiwewa, informed me on a chance encounter in Kampala that Geoffrey Oryema would be performing in town. If Mr Kiwewa were not a man of substance when it comes to these musical things, I would never have believed him.

On Saturday, December 17, 2016, Oryema took to the stage at Lohana Academy, guitar in hand. Great voice. He closed out night with Land of Anaka, if I remember well.
I promptly queued up amongst other excited fans and had one of his albums, From the Heart, autographed. I felt good to have been in the presence of this gifted musician. The album has never left my car, ready to play as and when.
Hamba kahle, Geoffrey Oryema.

Bernard Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala.
bernard.tabaire@gmail.com
Twitter:@btabaire

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