Let’s talk about Makerere, now that the storm is over, and it will be, I conservatively estimate, at least four weeks before the next one. Let’s lick our wounds.
Now that the riot or strike or sophomoric tantrum or well-organised industrial action (I’m trying to cater for all points of view here) is over, let us do an assessment and see what we can learn from it.
Because what is the point of fighting for education if not to learn lessons?
The main question here was how to find public tertiary education in a poor country in the face of escalating costs without disempowering the same poor students public education is meant to assist.
And the solution is actually quite obvious. You don’t need to throw stones at my car or loot the sneakers I was on my way to Wandegeya to buy to see that all gavumenti needs to do is get some clever, promising, talented kids, give them a quality higher education in fiscal management and budgeting public funds and then hire them to deal with it. Simple.
But that is probably not going to happen because gavumenti prefers teargassing MUK students. And I don’t entirely blame them: some of these kids are annoying. Who among us has not wanted to lob a canister or two of teargas at a twenty-year-old just out of spite?
But as mature grown ups we need to put base instincts aside and think: How can we make sure all parties involved have a better riot next time?
My first proposal is that riot police costumes be made available at the same places the “halloween” outfits are sold. Every student and resident of Wandegeya should have one stashed somewhere. If you have one such outfit on, the cops and army won’t bother you. And if your fellow students think you are a real cop, well, they are throwing stones at a person in bullet proof body armour so…
Second proposal is: Get a job in an inefficient, corrupt, incompetent government agency– take your pick of the wide array of options available– and then embezzle government funds.
When your MUK fees increase, use the money you stole from government to pay back government. After you do that, It’s not a crime any more. Trust me. I know these things. I studied at Makerere. I’m an intellectual.
Next stroke of genius is: Don’t be job seekers, be job creators. It’s been rumoured that when people hold demonstrations they hire random idle vagabonds from around-around to join the fray and pretend to be among the aggrieved and outraged. Not only does this bolster the numbers and make the situation look more urgent, but it gives the actual organisers of the event valuable cover.
There are testimonies that MUK is already some way up the path of doing this– and that before the army barges into hostel rooms to brutalise our children, some rioters have already been there, with barking threats and big sticks, to forcibly conscript their fellow students into the riot.
But you don’t need to do that, rioters. Next time just call Besigye and Bobi. I was told by a very virulent NRM fanatic that those guys know exactly where to find random hooligans to hire for riots.
There is even an app. And you can get discounts if you order in bulk.
Whichever one of these ideas you take up, just remember, one of the most valuable tools of Industrial Action, aka A Strike, is public support. So don’t loot shoes and don’t throw stones and don’t harass civilians. There are two thoughts we taxpayers have: One is that the government is obliged to use my taxes to subsidise the training of innovators and thinkers and creative Ugandans, because our nation cannot achieve its full potential if our youth can’t achieve theirs’.
The other is that my taxes are already being wasted subsidising Roger’s Industrial Psychology degree which he is going to just put on a shelf and go work at a call center and now on top of that I have to buy a new windshield?
Aluta Continua, yes, but also, lute sabiamente.