By Haggai Matsiko
A book by university students that questions Museveni’s promises of fundamental change earns the ire of the police
Musolini must go, I let him into my house. I will personally see him out, even with his own appointed guards at the door. I celebrate my 50th birthday with a new manager”. “Can you do it Pearl?” her neighbor Kenyo asks. “I will. I have done it several times before, alone. I cannot let myself rot away this way. Enough is enough.”
These are the concluding lines to the prologue of Is It The Fundamental Change? Unveiling The Hidden Truth, the latest book attacking President Museveni’s 26-year rule.
Pearl (from Pearl of Africa), a gifted female model with a long line of poor managers, is excited about Musolini [read Museveni] her newest smooth-talking manager with many promises. 26 years into their arrangement, Pearl realizes that Musolini is worse than all her previous managers and tells neighbour Kenyo [read Kenya] that she will get rid of him before she makes 50years. In six and a half pages, the prologue captures 137 pages of revolutionary activism.
This is the fifth book in two years attacking Museveni’s rule, after Olive Kobusingye’s The Correct Line, Charles OChen Okwir’s Portrait of a Despot, Vincent Nzaramba’s People Power, Battle the Mighty General, He is Finished, among others.
The authors of Is It The Fundamental Change?, Makerere University students, Ibrahim Bagaya and Doreen Nyanjura, have three things in common with Nzaramba. They have drawn heavily from other people’s works, they want President Yoweri Museveni ousted, and they have celebrated their book releases from the inside of police cells. That final factor has earned their books a notoriety they probably would not earn on their own.
Are Bagaya and Nyanjura are just proxies, with peripheral roles in the book’s writing? Some people think so. The book itself is nothing an average Makerere University student wouldn’t put together.
But in the screaming title one can almost hear in FDC President Kizza Besigye’s hoarse voice call for “fundamental change. The choice of cover colours (light blue and red), the tone and timing of launch, suggest party leanings that have many believe it is an FDC project.
FDC’s Anne Mugisha, an envoy in Besigye’s office and Dr. Frank Nabwiso, former head of the Inter-Party Cooperation Secretariat, edited the book. Nathan Nandala Mafabi, leader of opposition in Parliament and one of FDC’s potential presidential candidates, wrote the foreward.
It is dedicated to the three FDC party officials Sam Mugumya, Francis Mwijukye and Ingrid Turinawe, detained for months last year over treason charges.
The book was to be launched on the now banned Activists for Change’s first anniversary, April 11 in Constitutional Square, the heart of the capital of Kampala, a move that provoked police to arrest the authors on that morning. A4C could not have planned it better.
Police’s move reinforced the book’s opposition message that the government is suppressive, denying students a chance to launch a book.
In view of Attorney General Peter Nyombi’s ban of A4C, invoking the Penal Code Act, it emphasized the message that the government is indeed paranoid.
“We will be arrested or beaten but whether it takes three months or a year, we will launch the book,” Bagaya told The Independent, when asked why they insisted on launching it at Constitutional Square, a city centre location police has blocked them from.
Bagaya has threatened a hunger strike if his co-author, Nyanjura is not released to do her exams for a Bachelor of Arts in Tourism.
Bagaya, who was released a day after the arrest, told The Independent that police may have kept Nyanjura in order to squeeze more information out of her, since she was the one who travelled to Nairobi to oversee the printing of an extra batch of 5,000 copies.
Asked how two students met the cost of the book – more than Shs 20 million in printing fees alone – Bagaya told The Independent that “someone must have touched his pocket”.
Beside its opposition leanings, the book is just a collection of material juxtaposing Museveni’s promises and speeches with Uganda’s present realities, questioning the fundamental change promised by Museveni, proposing to get rid of him before “the Pearl” makes 50.
Beyond its pages, the fact of its authors is a score by the opposition that young people have also joined the struggle for change.