Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine: Speech at the Launch of the People Power Movement Structure (24.07.2019)
Fellow countrymen, countrywomen, ladies and gentlemen!
I recognise you all, in your respective capacities and greet you all in the name of the Almighty God, who has given us the gift of life, despite the numerous challenges in our country.
I also appreciate you all, people of Uganda, for your labors and sacrifices- for your hard work and resilience, in all corners of our country.
Despite the high taxes, unfair economic policies and massive corruption, you have continued to work hard, day and night to build yourselves, your communities and ultimately our country Uganda.
Let me also take this opportunity to appreciate the nation for the massive reception of our message of People Power for the past two years. I want to thank you all – dear compatriots, in all parts of our country for the positive reception you gave to our message from the time we set out. There are a few times in political history anywhere in the world, where movements such as ours gained ground in a society such as ours in a very short time. Indeed, when you go to any part of this country, whether urban or rural, you will find young men and young women asserting that people power is our power. You will find those who are educated and those who are not well educated rejecting intimidation and lies, and holding onto this timeless truth- that returning power back to the people of Uganda is the way forward for our country.
If you go to the North, South, East and the Central part of this country, you will find old men and old women in their houses and work places singing ‘olutalo nga luwedde, tuliyambala engule.’ From Karamoja to Kisoro, from Arua to Kapchorwa- the citizens are ready to work for and build a new Uganda.
As you all know, we did not set out as experts or even as experienced politicians. No! We set out as ordinary citizens, driven by deep love for our country. As men and women, not motivated by material gain but by a deep conviction that our country deserves better. We set out to tell the nation that people power is stronger than the people in power even when the people in power are determined to bring out gun power. And yes, we set out to make it clear that we were determined to not just be spectators as President Museveni and his cronies continue to loot our country- but to also make our contribution in redeeming our nation from the deep mayhem they have sunk it in.
And so country-men and women, you received our message and made it your own message. From the boda boda stages and taxi parks, to salons and markets, to schools and hospitals, churches and mosques- the People Power message has permeated our country in ways we had not anticipated. Yes we did not anticipate the quick reception, but we were never surprised because friends, what we say is the truth and the truth cannot be suppressed. Our message has been consistent – a message our bleeding nation needed to hear!
Well, at the onset, some people were skeptical. They thought it was an excitement bound to vanish in thin air- but you, the people of Uganda dismissed those who tried to dismiss our message. President Museveni and his praise singers dismissed us as inconsequential! But the people of Uganda have been there to prove them wrong!
And so when opportunity availed itself in Jinja, and Rukungiri, and Bugiri, and Arua, the people spoke in ways that neither bullets nor money could silence. President Museveni and his spin masters were utterly exposed and indeed naked. Neither bribes nor bullets could silence a people yearning for change. They spoke resoundingly and told President Museveni in bold letters that this is their time to decide the destiny of their country.
It was not surprising that like a leopard when surrounded and in great danger, President Museveni resorted to extreme levels of violence by which he clearly intended to wipe us off the face of the earth! It was under this context that Yasin Kawuma took a bullet for me and many of our brothers and sisters were tortured to near death. But we serve a living God. The God of ages enabled some of us to live to tell the story.
Filled with embarrassment and fear, unable to contain the crusading change, the regime decided to illegally stop by-elections across the country. They decided to murder, maim and arrest countless People Power supporters countrywide. But the people have pressed on! I salute the countless young women and men who despite the regime criminalising the red beret have continued to wear it- boldly pushing back against intimidation and in that way saying that this is our country!
And so, afraid of the influence of our message of redemption, the regime blocked our music shows and made it illegal for us to even attend church services across the country. The reason why we gather here at my home today in Magere, and not at one of the numerous hotels in Kampala, is because each of the hotels we booked for this event was ordered not to host us. Even when we booked and made payments, they were told that they could not host a People Power event!
Comrades, should this make us sad? Yes and no! Yes, because the moral fibre of our nation has been killed. How can we explain to our children, that a hotel in a country can be stopped from hosting an event of a political opponent? That President Museveni can go around the country campaigning, dishing out the tax payers money in bribes, hiring people to attend his rallies, and yet we cannot even be allowed to assemble in a private hotel? This is why we should be sad because of what has befallen our beloved country.
But in this is something to celebrate. This kind of persecution shows how much a regime which has been in power for 33 years fears a movement that has grown from the grassroots over only two years. It shows how much afraid of the people the regime is, and in that shows us how powerful we are as a people!
Therefore, despite all the challenges we have encountered ever since we started, there have been countless things to celebrate, key of which is a politically conscious population ready to kick Museveni and his cronies out of power come 2021. I have over the past year received countless people- men and women of all ages showing off their National IDs as the weapon they will use to change their destiny forever in a few months. Countless others have gone to the different points, endured long queues and a corrupt system, to be able to get their ID. We have made it fashionable to have a National ID. Above all, building on the effort of those we found in the struggle, we have exposed President Museveni to the core. His true colors as an intolerant power hungry dangerous despot have never been made clearer.
Therefore friends, all these are achievements to celebrate.
I must at this point acknowledge that we could never have achieved this alone. I must salute our brothers and sisters who came before us and started this cause. We owe a lot to people such as our elder Dr. Paulo Kawanga Ssemwogerere who recognised the monster in its infancy when everyone else was singing its praises. We owe a lot of gratitude to Dr. Kizza Besigye whose sacrifice and resilience emboldened a nation to rise up and stand. And of course senior comrades like Gen. Muntu, Miria Matembe, Nobert Mao, Yona Kanyomozi, Amanya Mushega and many others who have risen to the occasion to oppose the dictatorship. Ordinary activists such as Sam Mugumya who is still imprisoned in the DRC deserve to be mentioned and acknowledged. Dr. Stella Nyanzi, a highly accomplished academic has spent months in jail- because she dared to speak up in prose and poem! Nalongo Nana, disgusted by injustice decided to camp at the police headquarters. The gross violations meted out on her, leading to losing her uterus, have not killed her desire and courage. I could go on and on!
Their boldness in face of so much force is paving way for other activists. A courageous nation is being born- ready to reject injustice forthwith!
I have labored to remind us of where we have come from so that we understand the sacrifices made, the challenges ahead, but most importantly the opportunity we have.
As we gather here today, People Power has never been as strong. We have moved from when this was a mere idea to a powerful movement recognised everywhere in the world.
And so today, we choose to take one more step. Across the country, we have so many coordinators- men and women who have volunteered. There is no single day that you will tune in to a radio station and not hear someone calling in and introducing herself or himself as a People Power coordinator. Today we are taking the first step in crystalizing this effort. The men and women who we have introduced to you are people, devoted to our country’s redemption. These are people who have been doing work for many months now and will continue doing this work. Their first duty will be to coordinate all the other coordinators who we have across the country. Please remember that People Power is a common man, common woman’s front. We do not care how qualified those people are, the only qualification is patriotism and a deep belief in justice, fairness and equal opportunity in our country. As I did mention yesterday, God has never called the qualified. He qualifies the called.
Today as we leave this place, we shall be getting to work. When we set out we knew that this mission would involve three stages- awakening our people, awakening the leaders, and finally giving this a final push. I am happy to announce that the first phase was accomplished very fast. We are laboring to complete the second phase and certainly victory will be guaranteed.
Finally, let me remind all of us that People Power is a platform for change. We are not a political party- we are a revolutionary movement whose agenda is to end oppression in our country and establish a society which works for everyone. A country in which the citizen will be proud to be called Ugandan, a nation where you get a job because of merit and not because of who you know or where you come from. A country which works for all citizens and not a few people at the top. A country where a president does not shield the corrupt. A country where our men and women in uniform are not ordered to violate rights of citizens. A country where policemen and soldiers are paid well so that they can look after their families. A country where doctors and teachers do not go about begging because of low wages! Friends, a country which truly belongs to its people. The country that our grand parents dreamt of when they sang ‘oh Uganda the land of freedom, our love and labor we give.’
And so we are a platform that brings together patriotic citizens of all religions and all political affiliations. Citizens from all tribes- who speak different languages. We do not care which political party you belong to- we have a mission at hand to defeat a dictator. After that comrades, we can go back to our political parties and practice true democracy.
We have been speaking with all forces of change in this country. Because we deeply believe that we are stronger when we unite. A people united can never be defeated. We have made good progress, and we shall continue that effort right from here.
And countrymen and countrywomen, I will personally once again tell you of my willingness and readiness to lead you in that effort- the effort to usher our country into a new era of freedom and justice.
I thank you all for listening to me. God bless you. God bless Uganda.