What do you want to do?
Phil and members of Solidarity Uganda's chapters will share performance art with communities fighting land and resource theft, police brutality, forced evictions, climate change, femicide, and human rights abuses.
Storytellers from Ugandan cultural collective KQ Hub will document these gatherings and also share stories of resistance and power that we encounter, as well as artistic productions by rural East Africans who rarely have a platform to perform beyond their immediate geography.
Those involved will maintain a blog narrating the journey, and linking to the resources mentioned above. We will join comrades throughout all the regions of Uganda, as well as some neighboring countries.
What kinds of communities will you visit?
Within Uganda, we will visit communities in Western, Northern, Central, and Eastern Uganda. We will visit a songwriting team of rural women elders who have used the powers of their intricate songwriting (an historical organizing tool across much of Africa) to defend their community's land from well-connected, wealthy businessmen. We will visit indigenous groups reclaiming access to their highlands from pseudo-conservationist armed government forces raping and killing them. We will visit residents of slums protecting themselves against extrajudicial killings and police brutality. We will perform for political prisoners freshly released. We will sing with women and youth recapturing their power after devastating mass shootings and violence. We will kick up dust with friends whose soils are becoming dry, with famine right around the corner, and we will trek through flooded fields to share life with those who refuse to lose theirs.
In neighboring countries, we will visit communities organizing creatively across class, gender, religion, age, and ethnicity. We will trek to islands where generations of residents are subverting the imperialism of foreign companies. We will break bread and sip wine with workers whose back pains — like my own — need a little something extra after hours.
The tour will crescendo into a peak artistic action that will directly and deliberately violate the fascist legislation before Uganda's Parliament (which the dictator's henchmen have already begun implementing) that regulates the arts, especially performing arts that are directly critical of those in power.
Who is Phil, anyway?
As a teenager, I carved my own path instead of following all that was handed to me. Like many who grew up in small white communities of the U.S. East Coast, I sought my awakening through alternative music, the arts, and emotive experiences that exposed me to that which dominant ideologies and experiences sought to conceal. When I was 15, I learned how to organize shows and festivals, and eventually tours, to share my music with friends, fellow artists, and strangers.
But to what end? The dominant ideology still informed my approach. Sights were set on "making it big" or building a musical career. But when that was handed to me as an option, it did not have the same gravity of meaning that creating and sharing art and stories once held for me.
This led me to grapple with issues of hunger and homelessness in Pennsylvania — issues of inequalities of power. In a quest to understand my purpose, I found myself between Harrisburg's neighborhoods and Uganda's cities and villages, sharing in the experiences of neighbors fighting for their lives.
The route toward solidarity I took was a more pragmatic one. I committed myself toward intensive study of civil resistance and community organizing. I offered myself as a resource to those building movements against dictators and foreign companies pillaging their lands and people. But the powers that be weren't so happy about this, and for several years, experiences with arrests, threats, espionage, and attacks have begun to feel normal. Needless to say, I became traumatized.
A supportive therapist explained to me that my left and right brains were no longer communicating to one another. She took me through some tests and was baffled that I scored strongly in seemingly polar opposite personality types — one a very melancholic, artistic, and emotive variety, and the other a strategic, problem-solving, perhaps annoyingly efficacious type. It didn't take long in my experience with the struggle against authoritarianism in East Africa for the corporate robot Phil to all but annihilate the deep, pensive, expressive Phil.
Eventually I came back to myself, and when the PTSD was drained from my already-dysthymic body, I found myself returning to songwriting, now more eager to connect with fellow humans in a personal and emotional way, not only a strategic and efficacious way.
Through this entire experience, I had founded an organization focused on building collective power for justice and liberation. We began with grassroots contributions from other poor folks and our pocket money. Now Solidarity Uganda has 35 staff and 20 member-based chapters throughout Uganda. It has supported movements, unions, and progressive allies across Africa, with a global reach of over 70 countries.
So things got pretty impersonal pretty fast, and not without good reason. But it's time to return to my fullest self. I haven't organized a music tour for the past decade, and have barely performed publicly. Lately I've felt myself full of poetry and song, and it has nurtured in me an immense hope for the future, despite all of the signs prophesying doom. I want to put the paperwork and bureaucracy and administrative demands aside now and open my heart to sharing presence and life with comrades new and old — both physically and virtually. I want to give and receive, offer and evolve.
How will my contribution support this tour?
This tour is a grandiose idea, culminating after a decade of community organizing and nonviolent struggle with communities in East Africa. Already opponents of justice and truth are reading carefully through this page to counter our movements. The magnitude and risk of this undertaking offer an opportunity to invite new and old friends far and wide to join us in solidarity. We will bring your message of goodwill and friendship to all those we meet along the way.
In most areas, friends will offer us a place to lay our heads, but we need a means of getting around and some equipment. We will also need a small contingency fund. Even with non-political music tours, there are bound to be emergencies! With this particular tour, we can hardly predict the obstacles we will face trying to organize arts exchanges in areas where social and political arts are censored and suppressed by alarming impunity that allows for police brutality and outright militarism. Finally, we want to offer small contributions to rural artists who showcase their work, and we will also need an internet connection to share our progress with all of you.
Your donation goes through the nonprofit organization Solidarity Uganda. Contributors from countries where online donations are suppressed can reach us personally and securely through phil[at]wagingnonviolence[dot]org.
Please stay tuned, as we will be sharing more information on how to follow along shortly!
Apart from a sense of solidarity, what does my contribution get me?
All who contribute can receive regular updates from us, including photos, videos, and blogs.
Those who contribute $200 or more will receive exclusive content, including live recordings, songs, and videos.
I live in Uganda and want to contribute, but the fascist Bank of Uganda doesn't allow me to do it online. How can I support?
You can reach ann[at]solidarityuganda[dot]com or annroseajok[at]gmail[dot]com to make a contribution to Solidarity Uganda. Please specify that it is for Phil's tour project. Deposits to Solidarity Uganda's account or contributions via MobileMoney can be used.
You can also send MobileMoney contributions to N. Praise at +256 705 679 324.
What happens if you don't reach your fundraising goal?
We will still visit as many communities as we can with the contributions we receive.
I think I know others who can contribute. How can I join the crowdfunding team?
Click here to join the Raconteurs and Allied Fundraisers Union (RAFU) :-)
I want to host an event for Phil & KQhub in my community, or host them at my home / buy them a beer / take them for a midnight rave / join them in civil disobedience to overthrow fascism. How do I reach them?
phil[at]wagingnonviolence[dot]org and wabwirewaheirire[at]gmail[dot]com
- Micalagh Moritz
- Robyn Wampler
- Caroline Hoffman
- Richard Okiria