Uganda Walks to Work

Robert P. Baird in n + 1:

ScreenHunter_05 May. 10 13.33 On the day of the royal wedding in Britain, my wife emailed from the other side of Kampala. “At least if I’m stuck at the hospital, I get to stream the royal wedding! Totally surreal to watch this with periodic bullets and tear-gas canisters in the background.” Needless to say, this was not the kind of thing you want to hear from your spouse: it’s always a shock to discover you’re sleeping with a royalist.

The bullets and tear gas were worrying as well. They were the most visible manifestation of the Ugandan government’s crackdown on a series of “walk to work” protests that have taken place twice a week for three weeks now. The demonstrations began as a complaint against a government quick to spend millions on Russian fighter jets and presidential inaugurations but seemingly unconcerned with a 30 percent annual increase in food prices and a headline inflation rate of 14 percent. Demonstrators have joined the millions of Ugandans for whom walking to work is a matter of economic necessity, abstaining from cars, shared taxis, and the motorcycle taxis known as boda-bodas.

The pattern of protest and crackdown settled into a rhythm early on. On Monday and Thursday mornings, Ugandans—opposition politicians, students, and regular citizens—would walk from their homes, and the police—regular, plainclothes, and military—would do their best to stop them.

More here.