“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me. These word of Martin Niemöller have always shaped how I do my things.
As I write this, Makerere University students are being incarcerated and no one seem bothered. Human rights abuses are being orchestrated by people who are paid to serve and protect us. Our country can’t differentiate between the mode of work and roles of different security forces. Those meant to protect the citizens have turned into political gospels and protector of the tormentors. Many citizens are saying this is a Makerere or a Bobi Wine or Besigye or politician or Civil rights activist things. Just wait. You are the most vulnerable and indeed you need to address your fear and silence. I have been so humble here not to call you sinners. For I know that to sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men. I recall reading a book 10 years ago that sited Mahatma Gandhi saying that, “silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” I fear calling you cowards.
We now live in country where everyone has resigned and whoever is talking is to appear on the ballot tomorrow. Every citizen has been fed on the menu of “never miss a good chance to shut up”. We don’t have anyone telling us that, “the shut mouth will smell.” Let me tell you. You can turn out to be a slave if you ever accept to be silent or be silenced. Should you see the truth and the truth not attended to, then you will kill the future. Likewise, as our country slides into authoritarian rule, we need actors able to vibrate our population. We can do this if we predict that the future is in our hands if we shape it. My current government can assassinate the country if its occupants keep quiet. Today, I told my students that to research about power and authority. If power holders keep silent, the authority will misuse both their power and authority. I fear they may even have turned authoritarian. Please note that nothing strengthens authority so much as silence of the led. The led must never keep quiet. They risk being fed on lies and turned into slaves. Leaders have the science of mastering lies and make communities led to believe that no one can tell the truth. Please note that when truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie. For this reason, I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity. Every silent leader and citizen must be silenced permanently. Those who don’t talk have a better place called “REST IN PEACE”. However, I have of late developed rare skills. For instance, I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension of its own.
If we all kept quiet, all our human rights it be political, civil, environmental or even life would be eroded. I chose to defend human rights because I cannot maintain my silence in the face of injustice. As I write this, some people are saying we have always done this. We have always kept quiet. Ohhhh the spirit of Kabalega and the other Pan Africanists must rise up again. I must remind you that “the most dangerous phrase in our different languages is “WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY.” Who is anyway supposed to help us talk for us or challenge these injustices we face as a country”? It is you and me. If not us no one else. Not even any foreign force must be thought about. I have always told my students and mentees that, “IT IS BY CHOICE & NOT BY CHANCES THAT WE CHANGE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES”. As citizens, its time we digested all our fears. Time has come to move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. I must say that “your silence will not protect you”.
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any think they can do. They even chose to keep quiet. Reading from the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, he emphasizes that “IN THE END, WE WILL REMEMBER NOT THE WORDS OF OUR ENEMIES, BUT THE SILENCE OF OUR FRIENDS.” As citizens, we can chose to become slaves. The best way of doing this is to keep quiet or be silent.
I can tell you that you are dying in silence. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.
Stand up for something.
Disclaimer: We as Bunyoro Sqoop we welcome any opinion by any one if it’s of a constructive use to the Development of Bunyoro and Uganda at large. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not of Bunyoro Sqoop but for the author of the article.