Kampala Tatler #30: What Would Marx Do (WWMD)?

Dear Evelina, Roxana And Tuxedo:

Your letter was well received and hopefully you find more enthusiasm in sharing the volumes widely. It is motivating to see you read them as a team.

The main reason for coming up with Kampala Tatler was to provide a literal drop-in space to contemplate the nature of life and the universal needs that if left unmet or neglected are a blow to all achievements. This is a space making it possible to craft narratives describing experiences of life in Kampala. The thrust of Kampala Tatler is buoyed on experience arising between 1999-2019 in which is a movement following the desire for self determination by those who felt they needed to claim "we are here, we exist and do not shut us out!"

Unfortunately, among those who made the claim, some gained fame but then shut out others! Activism was supposed to address the needs of those long neglected by the sweep of citizenship. However, it has bequeathed an unfortunate and undeserved sense of entitlement to some who were identified as poster child campaigners! They concentrated all the power in few hands! The ability for emancipation and self determination has been hijacked. These people have put in place the very structures of nuanced patriarchy they were supposed to escape! This is othering of the highest order. It places the needs of the majority at the peripheral and dismisses the people making the demands. So, on top of othering there is peripheralization. When people are dismissed their needs are made into a joke. A diminution of issues occurs. This is abuse that must be checked. Those who have received money and used it selfishly to invest in real estate and buy expensive cars are the bourgeoisie who have established new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. 

They have used their position, historicity, leadership, economical status and international exposure to oppress others. They have engaged in all forms of pedagogies of oppression! Their actions have made standing firm on the irregularly set ground possible only for them and not others. They stand in contrapposto, well dressed and have all the best photo opportunities. They are the New York Times or Time Magazine symbols of status. They have become important to themselves and these recognitions have made them distant. This distance is dangerous to the movement!

Asymmetrical nature of activism has set in with two sides now. 

There are those who are showing that there are pains and needs which need to be met. They are incessantly calling for support but are neglected.  These are the proletariat! 

Then there are those who have gained skills in incessantly attracting funding for support but in the process do not address the real pains in the community. They are blind and numb to these pains and needs. They believe in incessant aggrandizement. These ones were formerly the bourgeoisie who advanced so fast when they received funding. Lately, they have become the arm-chairist-jetsetter-league. Who appear at all conferences, seminars and workshops at national and international fora.

They have used money to divert sources of opportunities away from others and pointed them to themselves. At one point there was an opportunity to provide collective upliftment for all, but this was frowned upon when money was made available. 

Instead, when money was sent, it was used to construct large houses under private ownership real estate. Some of these leaders used this money to buy back their families' acknowledgement. They have supplied financial support to their relatives and extended families in order to regain a spot of authority. They diverted the money they collected on behalf of those they claimed to be fighting for. They have built premium with the families that first denounced and dejected them. This is done at the expense of the ones they  have to account to for all the large sums of money they were given! 

You see them, you cheer them on in public but then you turn around in private and jeer at them. You are giving them go ahead. You are, to use a very Kampalan turn of phrase: rubber stamping their lifestyles.

But in not calling out their recklessness you are destroying your own opportunities as well. The collective opportunities. You leave them to become the Glamour Activists whose capitalist trends are extracting your plight, turning it into foil for their daily food.

They are the exploiters who need to be held accountable. They are using your collective plight as raw material, your continued destitution is the proverbial Marxian labour they need to inventory and show to funders as needs to be funded. 

You are the beggared and beleaguered class they need to survive.  You have allowed your needs and pains to be subsumed above the beer, sodas and refreshments you get at those parties and non-stop workshops you attend! When they invite you for beer parties they continue inebriating, intoxicating and opiating you. Those beer parties are the opium that make you perpetually a sleepy mass. 

Come on wake up!

Those un ending Beer Parties are the opium getting your lot to sleep. Resist those parties. Roll your sleeves and let us fight HIV. Wake up!

Let us ask what would Marx do (WWMD)?
Then go ahead to show What Marx Would Do (WMWD):

Karl Marx, would show how you could claim your own freedom from being looked down upon.
Stop being used as fodder for those leaders' capitalist ends, make them accountable for all the funds and demand for a culture of accountability of time, money and material.
Engage in developing yourselves and the community. Make avenues for food, education, skills development and contribute to the entire community.

There is nothing wrong with people earning salaries for the work they put in. But, let all those earning do it in a transparent manner. Avoid intrigue, insider trading and abusive inner circles of the select few conniving to destroy others. Beware. Fight back!

Unless all are benefitting from a collective self help effort, those who are well off now and are selfish will remain mediocre. Those who have the cake and bread today should share them widely because in feeding others they are actually answering the call of activism. Selfishness is a bummer, it ruins its own food pantry. 

PEPFAR funds are going to be shared by more organizations in order to reverse the ravages of AIDS. This is about Public Health not Litigation Strategies. Litigation had its time and we thank all who made that phase of activism worthwhile. Now, please step aside! This is the time for Public Health Strategic Planning. We have seen what the era of Litigation Strategies led to. We now hope to see a revitalization of plans to build complete lives. A resurgence of the compassionate activism that lifts up all and makes them skilled enough to engage in quality health seeking practices. All must enjoy the opportunities to pursue happiness and not a select few. This is about: getting more HIV testing events; getting those who test positive on ARV therapy; ensuring those taking ARV adhere in order to suppress the virus; and nutrition, housing and livelihood support. If many will have the power to own HIV Prevention-Informed knowledge, skills, practices and an attitude to boot. This will be the beginning of the battle against HIV. Watch out for these numbers from now on!


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