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My salute to the laptop warriors

The fellow who recreated the MTN Bosco advert that features President Museveni stuck to Stone Age in a time of great modernity needs to be understood.

The nameless “laptop warriors” who persistently attack the Uganda Media Centre chief, Ofwono Opondo, for an ugly incident of his that happened in 2005, are not cowardly chaps who cannot engage in hard-boiled politics.

Andrew Mwenda’s “radical extremists,” who spam his social media posts are not idlers either.  Dr Stella Nyanzi’s poetic-abusive tongue has method and meaning. It is not madness.

These things take time to think about and then render them as appealingly as they do. Only the best brains can pull them off.

As opposed to picking the proverbial 27 guns and challenging the governments they disagree with – as some fellows did and are proud of it despite causing enormous deaths – these Ugandans have chosen to make their contribution to the country in a seemingly childish manner. But to call their methods mad or insignificant is confessing a lack of the sophistication to read this form of [bloodless] politics.

Across history, anti-colonial intelligentsia crafted stories about the power of their voodoo; they composed scary stories about vampires and blood sucking spirits; and had exaggerated stories of African/black sexual prowess.

They called their exploiters terrible names such as “ashy buttock” as captured in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. When the coloniser heard these stories, they often quickly dismissed them.

But these dismissals notwithstanding, the confidence of the colonialists was stressed. Hitherto convinced they were doing the colonised a favour, they were jolted to realise that actually the colonised despised them and did not like them.

Cases of the wives of colonisers afraid of travelling at night or fearing for their lives and children to come to the territories, -simply because of the exaggerated stories and insults they received – became common.

Without their wives and children, the emotional serenity the coloniser would enjoy was otherwise denied. Their confidence dented. They thus had to brave unhappy lives in the colonies.

Insults, fabrications, bizarre jokes against the holders of power are historically legitimate forms of protests. They are the ways in which the wretched of the earth respond to excessive power. Colonised farmers told lies about the barrenness of their soil.

They lied about their health so as to act lazy or not go to work at all. They had terrible jokes about their masters. Oftentimes, the colonialist was able to see through these lies and punish them, but this has never deterred others from doing the same. They were protesting the excesses and injustices of their masters.  

It is difficult to tell how much these lies contributed to the collapse of the colonial regime. But that they made a contribution is without doubt.  However, we need to look at this focusing on the protestor.

In a fit of extreme anger, in a context where the government would come down hard in case of organised protest – say armed rebellion – composing an insult or a lie became the safest way to vent one’s anger. 

Thus the oppressed actually felt good – it was cathartic – upon learning that, at least, the ego of the colonised was hurt. Let’s face it: the biggest source of fake news is actually the government.

The biggest source of insults is government. The most immoral source of power is the state, which, endowed with the tools of coercion, and an army of poets and professed propagandists, can actually get away with anything.

In Uganda for example, figures about the prosperity of the country are often manufactured; lies about intelligence and government expenditures are common. It does follow, therefore, that if the state governs through fakery and insults, the people tend to respond with the same force.

To show that the laptop warriors are actually successful in their game, we need to look at the responses they often enlist. The targets of their well-seasoned ire and criticism have actually learned to work themselves tears and blood to respond in the same format.

Otherwise, why would President Museveni spend endless amounts of time writing posts on social media straining to humour young Ugandans as ‘Bazukulu’? That the First Lady actually called NTV for an interview to respond to Dr Nyanzi’s insults is statement of the success of the laptop warriors.

The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.


+2 #1 Jama 2018-09-21 02:28
We are no longer in the 20century,when one could depend mostly on state radio, television or media which always fed the population with regime propaganda.

Things have advanced, whereby even a muZukulu can counter attack the jajja 's propaganda without using the Ak47.

Something which was impossible years ago. This period isn't easy for a dictatorial regime.
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+2 #2 Apollo 2018-09-23 21:14
A masterpiece.
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0 #3 baingana daniel 2018-09-27 07:54
Hahahaaa, this is a nice one BISIKOOOO!
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