Behold the TikTok resistance; humor and ridicule as a political weapon

Raymond Mujuni

What you need to know:

  • So, Uganda’s TikTok revolution which has been built on ridicule, plunder of copyright and political resistance is now becoming a voice for many.
  • For where people cannot find words, or where those words would be accompanied by a drone pick up, a TikTok video serves the purpose, perfectly well.
  • Where state agents crack down on political assembly and lock up opponents, TikTok offers a community of challenges that can be shared amongst community and humor generated.

If you have a day’s work ahead of you, it’s advisable – in really good measure – that you do not open your TikTok; the Ugandan TikTok to be exact.

Of all social networks, TikTok is the one that allows the creative plunder in its processes. It pays little regard to copyright which allows for creatives to borrow from different sets of content to make their own.

Being the Wild west or Kisekka market of social media, anything goes!

There’s a lot of public affairs TV commentary that is carefully edited, scripted and presented in circumstances that make it funny. There are clips, tens of them, of the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, plundered from their more serious context there were uttered and presented in the meme culture to further a joke or to enhance some form of ridicule.   Then there’s an account on there; ‘meme.junkies’ which rescripts key national moments and apportions them for use as meme videos for both humor and ridicule. To an outsider, it’s all to further the ends of humor. You can often catch a Kenyan or Tanzanian using the same for their own circumstances but underneath this culture that’s been bred on TikTok is an actual organized ridicule of public affairs.

TikTok itself, is most prominent in countries with heavily divisive politics, the kind where, participation in political affairs comes with picking a side and batting for them until the last wicket is down.

In Uganda, TikTok has prospered as a banal resistance to the political establishment. It hasn’t spared the enablers of the political establishment; churches, Saccos etc. It has targeted the mannerisms of these institutions – the ones that are held most dear and subjected them to ridicule. You can find, on Ugandan TikTok, a church hymn sized down to ‘Binyanyanya’ with people dancing to it funnily.

There’s also no limit on the expletives that are blurted out on there. They come in hot, fast, hard and concrete.

In a country where young people barely have platform to speak back to the establishment, TikTok’s duet feature allows for immediate response.  It also allows for humor and comedy as a coping mechanism to the general helplessness that many young people find themselves in.

So, Uganda’s TikTok revolution which has been built on ridicule, plunder of copyright and political resistance is now becoming a voice for many. For where people cannot find words, or where those words would be accompanied by a drone pick up, a TikTok video serves the purpose, perfectly well. Where state agents crack down on political assembly and lock up opponents, TikTok offers a community of challenges that can be shared amongst community and humor generated.

It’s a form of resistance guns and money can’t beat back – and that’s what’s lovely about it. That it is a resistance that will require real political work to undo – if it must be undone anyway.

Carry a good set of ribs to Uganda’s TikTok but if you must, carry some good pair of political lenses too. 


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