Robert P. Baird in n + 1:
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.