For the first time in decades, you did not need a power bank.
Bush tales: For five days there, we were taken back to the period of analog and boy was it a struggle!
Every year will always have its unique selling factor. 2020 had the coronavirus. For 2021, we were left to wonder; what was going to be unique and memorable about it? As things turn out, every year will always show up with a banger. And then, 2021 had the internet blackout. It was swinging high. Never in a million years could we have imagined that we would move so far, only to move so far back. Welcome to 2021.
It is Wednesday 7pm, everyone seems to have figured out a way to be on social media. The VPNs are working like crazy. People keep sharing alternatives. At this point, we have the self-appointed VPN consultants. They can configure them both manually and automatically. We even have the APK professionals. “Don’t worry about the application stores being blocked. There is a way out. I have a folder of APKs,” the pros assure us.
Wait, the internet is not working. What’s happening to the VPN? Everyone seems to wonder. Gosh, the internet is off. It’s confirmed. It’s off. Time to revert to old settings. Time to remember how the world of SMS works. Where does someone find the emojis? Where does someone rant from? When is the last time people even sent a text message? Dialing numbers is a stress of its own. Life sucks. It is the denial phase. Everyone thinks it is not happening. Everyone also thinks it is happening. It is a swing between states.
The acceptance stage
In the morning, many Ugandan souls make up their minds. This has happened. It is time to go through both the grief and acceptance stage. But why? What’s happening to Big Brother? It is time to readjust to just the radio, television and newspapers. For the first time in decades, you do not have to carry a power bank or charge the phone every minute. It is unbelievable how the smartphone batteries are giving the old Nokias a run for their money. It is 10am, and the smartphone is still at a 90 per cent charge. This is a miracle.
Hands occasionally drift off to the social media apps or the browser. As default, the only way to test if the browser is working is to ‘google’ something. Nothing is working. This is worse than lockdown. Whoever controls the flow of information, controls the masses. Big Brother is not just watching, Big Brother is annoyed.
Ugandans get to the polling stations, cast their votes. The photos, the videos, all these things are useless. In an alternative world, we wonder; “what is Fred Lumbuye up to? Is there any ongoing live video?” If yes, who are the viewers? We realise that the internet has become everything. It is our therapy room, it is our library, it is our work, it is our life. Maybe they should leave WhatsApp functional.
All the TVs are relaying information from one source-the official source. The narrative is under lock and key. In the evening, the results will begin to stream through.
The new normal
Is it Friday? Is it Saturday? It is confusing. Kampala is as clear as it gets. It is peaceful, it is calm, or perhaps, it is just an illusion. Everything now compares to a simulation. Wait, are we being controlled? Has every move of ours been programmed? It smells Orwellian. It reminds one of the Miriam Makeba apartheid times. That sometimes for the Black people in Johannesburg, it is better for them to laugh in order to keep from crying. Ugandans have a funny coping mechanism, everything seems to suggest. They are laughing, they are dancing, in order to keep from crying.
It is now down to predictions. Everyone is betting; “I guess the internet will be reconnected a day after elections,” some souls suggest. “Waaaah, it could be after two weeks,” another opines. It is all a gamble.
We now must scroll through our phones and surprise people with calls. People at this rate have developed phone phobia. “Who still makes a call in this day and era?” Perhaps, it’s also time to go full throttle with letter writing. Remember the writing pads? Remember how we carefully crafted the recipient’s name on the envelope?
The confusion about the day of the week will get worse on Saturday. It has now been two days of a blackout. The hands have adapted. We have discovered some games on the phone that we didn’t know existed. Wait, people in Nansana still have Solitaire? We wonder, what people in Najjera must be stressing about. Perhaps they don’t even reali se the internet blacked out. They could have blacked out on a Wednesday. You know Najjera people and ‘parte after parte.’ They have no idea what’s happening in the country.
Big Brother is watching
Big Brother is not about to let go. It is now time to appoint a Minister of Truth. Hen Anger would do this perfectly. We would be forced to attend lectures of double speak. Of how to turn a lie into a truth. We would learn that Big Brother is always right even when he is wrong. And Big Brother loves all of us. That the internet was shut down to save us from ourselves. The times are Orwellian. 2021 has morphed into 1984. Wait, at least Mr Update is now in Parliament!