Activism: Many of you have seen a good number of activists go about their business – be it political or rights activists – those people come with quite the energy. Are you aspiring to walk in the footsteps of Ingrid Turinawe or Ssegirinya, then boy you gotta bring your game on!
Although the ease of entry into some industries is not smooth, for others, the entry is wide and welcoming. Activism is one of those trades that make it appear hard on paper. But what does it take to delve into the world of activism? How does one become an activist? It is time to sit back, let’s travel this career path together.
Choose your activism niche
Beyond everything, you need to pick your area of focus. As an activist, you do not want to spread yourself too thin trying to be everywhere. For in trying to be everywhere, you end up being nowhere. You ought to read the global agenda and know what’s trending in the moment. You will not go wrong branding yourself as an environmental activist. Better still, you can enter the trenches of political activism, a little teargas will not hurt.
Fence off your niche, if you choose to be an environmental activist, then you must befriend and follow fellow activists. At this point, it does not hurt building an echo chamber. You need to wake up, eat and sleep environmental activism. Remind people that the world will soon end if we do nothing about our greenhouse emissions. Remind them to abandon their cars and ride bicycles to work. It is your niche.
Public relations is your friend
Now that you know your area of specialty, it is time to court the fourth estate. You will need the journalists. If it means harassing them on WhatsApp, then do that. Allow no post on your social media timeline if it is not related to your niche. You are not here to be distracted. For the start, you will have to invite yourself to all conferences related to your niche. The number one rule is to always ask questions or give a remark at the conference. This is going to be your job all week. Once that is done, it is time to show up at all media panels relating to your niche.
Do not worry about making it to the big stations, start with the simple media stations and slowly build up. It does not hurt to pen a letter or two every week to different editors and online blogs ranting about an environmental issue. In the end, you want your name and your niche to be inseparable.
Court police, organise a demo
Now that you are in the media circles, you are a regular on social media, you have attended some conferences, it is time to get to the grassroots. At this point, you want to organise a demonstration. It ought to be one that will invite the police’s attention. For being able to face off with Uganda’s riot police is the final stamp of an activist. Above all, during the demonstration or protest, you ought to make sure you are arrested in the roughest of manners. Make sure the cameras are capturing the moment. Shout out as loud as you can. You can reference the ‘wuwiwuwi’ tune. It is all to your advantage. Whenever you see a camera, shout out in pain. Scream out: “We are not fighting you police, we are fighting for our environment, for our future.”
It’s time to go international
Once you have done more than three protests, spend a good number of nights in police cells, it is now time to cross borders. You need to give your first interview to one of the international TV channels. It could be a simple commentary on the political situation in Uganda. Do not worry so much about your performance, just make sure your name is appearing on that screen.
It is also time to meet some of the bigwigs on the international scene. You need to keep taking photos with these bigwigs. It is how you rubberstamp your greatness back home. Speaking of photos, you need to make a big deal out of them. Write paragraphs on social media of how your hero could not stop speaking good of your works back home. Sit back and read comments of people saying you have made them proud. Jump on the next flight back home and reflect on your last trip. It is time to jump onto your next protest.
Avoid the world of comedy
You do not want to be relegated to the world of Ssegirinya. You need to have some seriousness to your craft. Avoid smiling while talking to the public. Remember, it is all about the level of anger. As an activist, you are not here to joke, you are here to be annoyed and angered. If you are a political activist, there is no point being impressed by the government no matter what. If you cannot be angry, fake it until you make it. Be angry to the point of violence. It helps to add some drama to the anger, rolling on the ground, a little undressing may not hurt, above all, always shout as loud as you can.
Pull a stunt
When all is said and done, it is time to go missing. You ought to disappear and friends announce you missing on social media. It will not hurt to have photos of you with all hands tied up, claiming to have been kidnapped and tortured by police. Make it so hard not to be believed. It is stunt after stunt. Learn to provoke your opponents, they will help you in creating those stunts.
Well done, you can now graduate from the school of activism.