*THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY: LESSONS FROM FOOTBALL AND BOXING* I was here reflecting on what I can compare our struggle to.
The struggle for freedom and democracy in Uganda is like a football game or a boxing match.In these games, there are four categories of people. You have the coaches, the spectators, the referees and the players.
The coaches are mostly those who came before us, whether here in Uganda or other places in the world. Some of them are alive, while others are long dead. They used to be good players before, but they are now retired and are cheering us on from the side. They want to see us succeed, and so, they give us guidance and follow us with their blessings. For me, these people include Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Morgan Tsvangrai, Andrew Kayiira, Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemwogerere, etc. Each one of us has his or her own coaches.
The second category are spectators. These are people who simply see things happening. They are as oppressed as everyone else, and sometimes even more oppressed, but they will take no part in trying to change or improve the situation. They wait for the news every evening to see what Bobi Wine or Dr. Besigye has done today. Each day, they pass by the stalls and see headlines of the worst corruption scandals lining the streets of Kampala, but they look the other way. They know how much money is stolen every year and see the poverty all over, but they don’t want to land themselves in any trouble with the regime. At best, they make a short prayer and keep wishing that things will change some day. They are spectators. They know how the election was rigged and how countless innocent Ugandans are in prisons or killed. They feel bad at how terrible their country is being run. But they will not do anything beyond what they feel. They are angry and hungry, but they have chosen to remain complacent. They follow the goings on and talk so much about politics with their friends. But at the end of each day, they return home unbothered or unwilling to get involved.
The third category is that of referees. These people are neither players nor spectators, but they are very busy on the pitch. They spend all their time criticising everyone for not playing right, but they will never set foot into the football pitch or the boxing ring. Their duty is to judge all the people all the time. When there is a protest, they keep home, and in the evening post on Facebook how the protest could have been done better. They will not show up to guard the vote but will ask why you did not do this or that to guard the vote. They know how to give yellow cards and red cards to everyone else except themselves. Their preferred statements are, “You should have done this or done that.” You ask them why they did not come in to do that which they say was right, but well, they are referees! When they appear on television or write articles, they ask why you did not this or that! They never come in when the players need advice; they only come in when the players make mistakes. They rarely notice the achievements- they only notice the faults and sing their voices hoarse. They are experts at pointing out mistakes. If they do not find any mistake, they will try their best to create it!
Finally, the fourth category is that of players. These are comrades who are right into the game. They are sweating all over, fighting very hard to win the prize. When they get knocked down, they rise up again. When the spectators boo them, they strive to better their game. In a struggle like ours, these are men and women who have sacrificed everything in order to be participants in the liberation of their country. They come up with all sorts of ideas and try them out. Some of their ideas may be amateurish or even reckless, but their passion drives them to try out anything to further the cause. Their joy is seeing the struggle advances to the next stage. When they fail today, they return tomorrow. Some of them have injuries, others have scars. Yet, they soldier on. Their glory and joy lies in nothing else, but seeing the struggle succeed or at least move forward each day. Their eyes do not leave the ball. They follow it wherever it goes- their aim is simply scoring goals.
Of course, as in football, some players are often compromised by the opposing camp and deliberately score “own goals”. But these do not go far. They are soon exposed by their actions, because if their actions are to the advantage of the opponent, then you don’t ask who they work for. To you who is reading this, my question is, where do you fall? Comrades who are truly in the struggle for freedom must be players! That is what we are called to do. Leave the referees alone. Their job description is to find fault, even where it is not. BUT NEITHER THE REFEREES NOR THE SPECTATORS EVER GET THE TROPHY. The trophy is won by the players. When they win it, they will often run and hand it over to the coach!
Of course the sad irony is that when victory is eventually won, the referees and spectators will often ask for the best seat at the high table. But the player is not even bothered by this- all he wants is to smell the sweet scent of victory.
Fellow players, let us keep our eyes on the prize. God is with us. Teri kuzikiza.#WeAreRemovingADictator