von Donnas Ojok

A Spoken Word Poem on Peaceful Elections in Uganda

Between 1990 and 2015, more than half of the over 300 elections held in Africa were characterized as violent. In this spoken word piece Donnas Ojok explores the context of electoral violence and implores every rightful thinking Africa not to be naïve about the dangers electoral violence pose.
On top of that mountain lies a priceless pearl

To me, it’s not just priceless, but hey it’s the best pearl in Africa

Inside this pearl lies a checkered pattern of political history

Where - colonial distortion of socio-economic and political way of life left indelible scars

Where - the euphoric independence trumpet ushered in only but short-lived celebrations

And long term poverty and violence

In the 1966 Lubiri attack, Kampala blacked out

And in 1971, just in a twinkle of an eye, Amin reigned

Nani wuyu, simama, Panda gari were all you could hear

From then on, your gun was your voice

Then in the midst of these gunshots and bombshells, coup d’états and espionage

Came the unbridled struggles by the upright thinking men and women

A concept regarded by Abraham Lincoln as the government of the people, for the people and by the people

Democracy is the brightest light in our dimly lit room and by voting, we choose our democratic light bearers

But the rocky road to elections shouldn’t be forgotten

With protruding fangs, elections can bite like a venomous cobra

Do you remember the post-election violence in Kenya?

The turmoil in Bagbo’s Ivory Coast? Charles Taylor’s troubled Liberia? Mugabe’s Zimbabwe?

These are, but painful realities of how politicians’ blows became painful blood clots of the citizens

Of how countries that resisted colonial exploitation succumbed to selfish political pleas

Of how millions of innocent lives perished in hot and cold blood

Of how billions of properties vanished just like that

Of how children became orphans, women widows and men widowers

These are, but true stories of how our rich cultural diversity are crushed

Of how our dazzling cities and tranquil villages are crippled

Of how our dreams, courage and hard-work are undermined

Of how short sighted and stupid we can be

Just like Konrad Adenauer, I keep wondering why God limited the intelligence of man

But did not limit his stupidity to be violent

Don’t be stupid and naïve about the dangers of violence

Cut it out and think for just one second

If you are uncertain, let the recent history of peaceful elections in Nigeria,

Senegal and Burkina Faso be your guide

Electoral violence is only but a can of worms

With each worm craving to come out to take the first bite

Each worm struggling to take the sharpest nibble

Once opened, everything and everyone is in danger

This danger transcends tribe, race, sex, age and even more interestingly political affiliation

Elections in Uganda are a significant political achievement

So let it not swing us like a pendulum bob

Or else, decades of state building will be switch off just in one click

And our hopes will once again be hanged on the weak ropes

And suddenly, the sweet dreams will turn into nightmares

All rendering centuries of hard work a trivial effort.

Let elections cast the light of non-violence

And a shadow of peace

Let it build new clouds of certainty

And generate thundering threads of jubilation

Let it ignite a shining flame of love

And spark a spontaneous feeling of patriotism

Voices are silent

Ears on the ground

Eyes on a gaze and hearts patiently pounding

All believing that today’s peaceful election is the Launchpad for tomorrow’s unstoppable progress

We are one