Potential of campfire theater
Usually dictatorships nurture fear in those they oppress. Instead of facing a united and awakened people, they put a lot of effort in keeping the people atomized (isolated) and ignorant.
When somebody speaks out, or goes to the street, they use violence force to scare them. By this bloodshed on the street combined with arrests by secret intelligence, a lot of people become fearful of the regime. They become unable to show their dissatisfaction and are not able to discuss it with people they do not fully trust. They remain inactive out of fear for the security of their families. Yet they start to suffer without purpose. This can change.
In order to awaken and unite the people, it is helpful to initiative campfire theater (Ekyoto) campaigns all over the country. Ekyoto is the African tradition of coming together at a fire, to dine and share stories. Because it is at night, they are often free from police interference. This will be especially effective in rural areas, where there is no electricity to convey messages of freedom, hope and unity.
Ekyoto is now often used to tell traditional stories about African folklore, old legends and traditional kings. What if you replace these stories that nurture bravery, freedom and working together? Since most of Uganda is Christian, you could use stories such as Moses that led his people out of Egypt, David that faced the mighty Goliath, or Jesus that stood up against greed. Adapt the stories to the local conditions. These sort of stories can convey powerful and hopeful messages to the scared people.
Yet these stories could be greatly enhanced by the energies and talents of the youth. Think about dance and music, give talented youth a role in the play. Transform it into open theaters, to awaken mind, spirit and body. This will greatly help in allowing the youth to develop their talents and become more confident. First organize Ekyoto yourself in your own region, but as an example. People should be triggered to start their own campfires even without your organization. If thousands of fires will be lit per evening, initiated by the people themselves, Uganda will become enlightened very fast.
Even more important than these enlightening stories, is the sense of brotherhood that will be created. It will create a space where people come together and dialogue in freedom with each other. People from different tribes, religions and different political colours could reason together. Now people are either at home, or at the street protesting, thus by creating a middle layer (Ekyoto festivals) you build up their confidence of being together outside, sharing critiques on power abuse, corruption and police intimidation.
From social media to physical resistance
One of the major analysis often made of the Ugandan people is that they are fierce dogs on social media, yet on the streets, they act like shy puppies. They will need both training and organization to overcome this, and the ekyoto campaigns might play a crucial role in achieving this.
As Mohamed Bouazizi lit a wildfire of hope in Tunisia, now lets light up wildfires of hope in Uganda.
Erik van der Zanden
Picture origin unknown