Iconic moments to remember in the 2021 presidential campaigns

Sunday January 17 2021
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Barefoot revolution. FDC’s Patrick Amuriat did not wear shoes during the campaigns. PHOTO/ ALEX ESAGALA

By Jacobs Odongo Seaman

Elvis Mbonye arrived at the grand stage called the 2021 presidential election with the solemnity of a soul. The invite for the men of God to go and pray for peace, safety and victory for candidate Yoweri Museveni obviously indicated that a mask was a must.

Masks are very effective for concealing identity of “suspicious persons,” and the self-appointed prophet could have taken consolation in cloths covering but he obviously forgot that his peculiar hairstyle can be spotted even at midnight deep in the densest forest.
There are Remnants who will have excuses for the spectacle. Joseph Kabuleta will probably have one himself. But not the people. Yet in an election period full of drama and katogo of events, Mbonye’s act was nothing. Think back to the nomination day itself.

Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Patrick Amuriat’s attempt to go to the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi to pick his documents was thwarted by heavy deployment of security personnel. Amuriat was asked to follow a designated route to Kyambogo, the nomination venue.
What followed next was police manhandling the FDC leader only to give him a totally strange identity. With his shoes taken off, Amuriat was forcibly driven to Kyambogo where on arrival he refused the shoes and trudged barefooted to be nominated.

To complete his iconic arrival, he not only took off his socks but also refused to adjust his jacket, leaving it sagging on his shoulder. The image was classic and will probably last generations.
Amuriat did not wear suits during campaigns but he also did not wear shoes. Barefoot revolution, went the slogan.

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Supporters of NUP candidate Bobi Wine wade through a swamp to catch a glimpse of the pop politician.

The swamp waders
The past elections were defined by the politics of crowds. There was this time when a mammoth crowd of Dr Kizza Besigye largely in blue was effectively turned yellow by some chaps.


Embarrassed, the fellas behind the faux pas decided they would not allow such things this time round. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, their work was made easy.
Security agencies spent some cool trillions of shillings blocking Opposition supporters from appearing at Robert Kyagulanyi’s and Amuriat’s rallies. But in the end they helped supporters of Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, enact one of the most iconic scenes of the presidential election period.

After security operatives blocked the way for hundreds of supporters, they made one in style. Holding their sandals on their heads, the people waded through swamps to elude the heavy deployment of security personnel to go catch a glimpse of the pop politician.
But one candidate who did not need such iconic scenes was Museveni. He avoided rallies most of the time, choosing to meet local leaders and commission even incomplete projects like that bridge in Kamuli.

A bit mundane but certainly the kind we have grown used to. That is why a young man called John Katumba tried to come to spice things up.
From his slogan borrowed from a dingy pup in Wandegeya in Kampala, Katumba started off by arriving for nomination without the fee. Somehow, there was a money lender kind enough to bail him off with Shs20m.

Then his penchant for being bounced took him to Bunyoro Kingdom where askaris reminded him to make appointments first. From there, he ran straight to EC headquarters after reading a tweet from FDC asking for pilau on Christmas.
EC had summoned Amuriat and Bobi Wine over flouting campaign regulations but in a classic response, FDC said they would only be free on Xmas Day, adding that pilau be made available.

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Twenty four-year-old presidential candidate John Katumba canvasses for votes in Gulu City. PHOTO/ POLYCAP KALOKWERA

That was enough for Katumba to come running to EC headquarters weeks before Xmas itself.
At least his name and photo weren’t bounced on the ballot paper.
But Facebook did pick up some tricks on getting people bounced. If bots can be addressed as people. The social media giants deleted hundreds of bot accounts of NRM officials, giving the government a smokescreen excuse for blocking social media before taking down the entire internet in the country.

The economy certainly lost billions of shillings in these shutdowns and whatnot, but Amama Mbabazi won’t care. The former prime minister resurfaced into the election things and admitted he couldn’t go forward and, like Peter Pan, he had to stay in 1986 because that is where he belongs.
Imagine the massive one per cent who voted for Mbabazi in 2016, aren’t they feeling they should have been the one at the receiving end of the insane violence security organs meted out during the campaigns?
There was just too much blood and so many wreaths…