What you need to know:
‘‘I realised that my views on the First Family were like a noose tightening around my neck"
On June 7, 1893, a 23-year-old Indian lawyer working in Durban, South Africa, boarded a train with a first class ticket.
The lawyer, cripplingly shy, took his seat and breathed in the relaxation that was his due.
However, before he was five minutes-old in his newly found relaxed state; he was forcibly removed from the train!
He had made the mistake of sitting in a Whites-only carriage on a train in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and so was unceremoniously de-boarded for not obeying laws that segregated each carriage according to race.
The lawyer was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or MK Gandhi, later known as “The Mahatma” or “Great Soul”.
As a result of his being kicked off the train, Gandhi joined the running civic battles protesting against policies of segregation in South Africa at the time.
In order to fight the power, as it were, Gandhi implemented strategies of passive resistance as instruments of protest.
These strategies influenced civil rights movements all over the world, especially America.
Martin Luther King Jr, an American civil rights leader, used Gandhian passive resistance during the 1950s and 1960s with the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the March on Washington, among others.
Indeed, Gandhi’s career substantiated the words of the Greek Philosopher Aristotle: “Revolutions are not about unimportant things, but they are produced by unimportant things.”
Accordingly, over a week ago, I was seated with friends at a bar in Ntinda, Kampala. It was passed midnight when our conversation turned to politics.
The name MK came up. No, not MK Gandhi, but Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Arguing my case, I insisted that President Museveni’s mountainous legacy will be cratered to the ruins of failed government if he were to elevate his son to the presidency.
At the tail end of my words, a muscular man answering to the name Nelson suddenly materialised.
He came straight towards me and started buying me alcoholic drinks while speaking a cocktail of dialects. His plan, I could see, was to tease out what region of the country I hail from by the dialect(s) I was familiar with.
Unaware of where he was going with his mixed bag conversation, I volunteered plenty of throwaway information about myself. But then, rather ominously, three things happened to give me pause.
First, Nelson started speaking Swahili; the sort spoken by Ugandan soldiers.
Two, his eyes hardened into tiny orbs which englobed worlds of hate.
Three, a pick-up filled with uniformed security personnel parked outside the bar and its soldiery stiffly saluted Nelson.
“Get out of here quickly!” whispered the bartender to me.
I then realised that my views on the First Family were like a noose tightening around my neck.
The air in the bar thickened to a tension pregnant with dread, but stillborn with the dreadful. For I crept away into the night and was later informed that the soldiers left right afterwards.
Later, I shook with fear. And then, fear gave way to self-loathing as I was disgusted with myself for feeling so afraid.
I then resolved that I would never allow myself to be that afraid again.
This inner conviction, politically, marks a turn in the road for me.
To be sure, Gandhi was awakened, so to speak, when he was thrown off a train; I have been awakened by my freedoms being intruded upon in a bar.
The outcome of Gandhi’s experience is known; the outcome of my experience will be revealed in the fullness of time.
Suffice to say, though, Pietermaritzburg and Ntinda, as with other places deprived of justice, were and are seedbeds of revolution.
Mr Matogo is a professional copywriter