The events identified with Tahrir Square have resonated in sub-Saharan Africa, and suggested a new way of doing politics: politics without recourse to arms. This has bewildered officialdom and sometimes sent a chill running down its spine. Uganda is a good example: Tahrir Square has enabled us to understand a new form of protest we call ‘walk to work’. The immediate background to the walk to work campaign was the government’s refusal to allow any form of peaceful assembly in protest at any aspect of its policies. Recently, the Pan African Movement, set up under the auspices of President Museveni of Uganda and Colonel Gaddafi a couple of decades ago, has been the only organisation to receive a permit: it wanted to march in solidarity with Gaddafi and the Libyan people in opposition to the Nato bombardment. The march was to end with a rally, addressed by a senior Ugandan military figure, but the government changed its mind, as the crowds were mustering. It seems to have realised at the last minute that the event could be hijacked by opposition supporters, or for that matter anyone disgruntled with government policy, and so decided to tear gas its own demonstration.
LRB 16 June 2011 | PDF Download