Iwaya says it better than anyone:
W-2-W is not about Dr. Besigye though the government propaganda machine has worked its damn hardest to try and reduce it to the person of Besigye. It is about the appalling economic situation Ugandans find themselves in today led by an unresponsive government that folds its hands and declares, “There’s nothing we can do,” to alleviate your suffering, but you have got to keep paying those taxes on time. W-2-W is about many Ugandans finding, those who have jobs, that pretty soon those jobs will have no meaning because they can barely afford the transport costs from home to the place of work, fuel prices so high, to work will be like earning money that never settles in your wallet, you are working for your transport costs, your food costs, rent—and you have nothing left for yourself. W-2-W demonstrations are all about the things that have been going wrong with Uganda since Ugandans first had self rule, decided to keep the faith in leader after leader because each leader promised there would be a change and now we find ourselves in worse straits than we were 50 years ago and suddenly we are all realising an important truth, “Politics is too important to be left to the politicians.” We have all got to get involved and struggle for a change towards where we wish Uganda to be headed.
You should read his entire post: The Walk to Work demonstrations, to me
I posted about this yesterday, but I just put together a longer piece for Global Voices in which I’ve tried to give a bit more context for the protests:
As opposition politicians and others angry over rising fuel and food prices in Uganda continue to stage walk to work protests against the current regime, the government is asking Internet service providers (ISPs) to shut down access to Facebook and Twitter.
According to the World Bank, a lengthy drought and a spike in fuel prices are wreaking havoc across East Africa. In Uganda, Timothy Hatcher at aaralinuga describes the situation:
Inflation has pretty much doubled over the past month to 11.1 percent, and fuel prices have risen by over 50 percent; prices are approaching $7.00 per gallon. Major impact: prices of some staple foods have tripled since December.
Angela Kintu explains how higher prices are affecting families:
…this protest is about reality, frustration and desperate times. I am buying a litre of Ugandan made and grown cooking oil for sh6,500 [$2.73]. I am paying sh3,600 [$1.51] for a litre of fuel. A tomato has gone up to sh300 [$0.12] at the very least. I don’t know about you, but that is breaking my budget. No one is paying me any more money for my work – in fact, I am chasing debtors left, right and centre. In one short week, Easter and school holidays will be upon me. Three short weeks after that, I must rustle up school fees and requirements.
These economic issues have provided a foothold for opposition leaders who have struggled to garner support since losing the February 2011 presidential election to long-time incumbent Yoweri Museveni.
Read the full post: Uganda: Government Attempts to Block Facebook, Twitter as Protests Continue
Cross-posted on the OpenNet Initiative
A copy of the blocking request letter, via @kasujja on Twitter
With the exception of Ethiopia, which blocks a number of political and security-related websites, and a few cases of isolated Internet censorship related to political events, most of sub-Saharan Africa has historically been free of technical filtering. This week, however, the government of Uganda wrote to the heads of three of the country’s major ISPs asking them to block Facebook and “Tweeter” [sic] “to eliminate the connection and sharing of information that incites the public.”
The request comes on the heels of a week of opposition protests over rising fuel and food prices. The protests have been widely advertised on Twitter using the hashtag #walk2work, and opposition leaders Kizza Besigye and Norbert Mao, among others, have been repeatedly arrested.
Several contacts in Uganda are reporting that, as of Monday, the sites are accessible, though one contact reports that both Facebook and Twitter were temporarily inaccessible through Uganda Telecom on Friday. Uganda’s Observer newspaper is reporting that access has been suspended.
Last week, Uganda’s Commissioner of Police called for the government to “guard against misuse of communication networks to protect social values and national identity,” pointing to the Ugandans at Heart blog, which covers political and social issues in the country, and associated Google Group as examples of sites that “pose a serious national security threat if their net publications are not regulated.”
Twitter’s abuzz with news of the #walk2work protests staged by Ugandan opposition leaders Kizza Besigye and Norbert Mao on Monday. Ndesanjo Macha’s round up of tweets provides an excellent overview; my latest Global Voices post continues the story:
Rather than backing down after the arrest of two Ugandan opposition leaders for staging a “Walk to Work” protest against high fuel and food prices on Monday, Ugandan activists have responded by announcing a hunger strike and planning more demonstrations.
Read the full post: Uganda: #walk2work Arrests Spur Hunger Strike, Future Protests
From David Weinberger’s “Copyright’s Creative Disincentive”:
It takes culture. It takes culture to build culture.
Whether it’s Walt Disney recycling the Brothers Grimm, Stephen King doing variations on a theme of Bram Stoker, or James Joyce mashing Homer up with, well, everything, there’s no innovation that isn’t a reworking of what’s already there. An innovative work without cultural roots would be literally unintelligible. So, incentives that require overly-strict restrictions on our use of cultural works directly diminish the innovativeness of that culture.
The facts are in front of us, in overwhelming abundance. The signature works of our new age are direct slaps in the face of our old assumptions about incentives. Wikipedia was created by unpaid volunteers, some of whom put in so much time that their marriages suffer. Flickr has more beautiful photos than you could look at it in a lifetime. Every sixty seconds, people upload twenty hours (72,000 seconds) of video to YouTube — the equivalent of 86,000 full-length Hollywood movies being released every week. For free. The entire Bible has been translated into LOLcat (“Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.”) by anonymous, unpaid contributors, and while that might not be your cup of tea — it is mine — it is without dispute a remarkably creative undertaking.
From Amanda French’s “Imagine a National Digital Library: I Wonder If We Can”:
…the Korean dibrary [digital library] is not just about fancy physical spaces or symbolic cartoon characters: it’s very much about providing a whole set of national library services for Korea. In September 2009, just a few months after the dibrary first opened, Korean law was altered in order to give Korean dibrarians the authority to collect and indeed responsibility for collecting Korean data from the open web. Certain kinds of data were legally required to be deposited in the national digital library so as to enable not only preservation but also “the production and distribution of alternative materials for the disabled.” Now centrally coordinated by the National Digital Library of Korea are all kinds of digital services, from training programs to inter-library loan. The dibrary is even charged with creating a “one card system that gives access to 699 public libraries nationwide,” a system scheduled to go live in 2012. And once Korea has fully nationalized as many library materials and services as it can, it’s apparently not going to stop there: last summer a meeting was held to plan a China-Japan-Korea Digital Library, an Asian digital library or portal modeled after The European Library project. To me it sounds like the second step toward the single digital library filed contentedly away in the humming systems of the starship Enterprise, waiting to be addressed with a question: “Computer . . .”
From Joachim Buwembo’s editorial in The East African, “Uganda’s runaway vote price inflation has economists baffled”:
In 2001, instead of paying heavily for votes, you could reduce the votes of your candidate’s opponent by killing off some of his voters.
The more subtle methods used could include driving an army truck through a crowd of his supporters.
In 2006, things could get a bit more direct and you could fire a sub-machinegun into a crowd of the supporters of your candidate’s rival in broad daylight in the capital city.
But come 2011, things have become more humane and it is market forces that are determining the direction of flow of votes.