It gyrates and summersaults, spins into the tightest of angles high up in the sky, inviting curious viewers who crane their necks to get the best view. They all seemed startled by the sight of a machine making kitten-like rounds in the clouds.
When the PA system is muted, the vibrations can be heard piercing through the silence,like a locust swarm in migration. “What the hell is this machine, the size of a marabou stalk, hovering over us?” spectators hazard guesses as they stake bets.
“It is a spy camera,”a befuddled elderly man opines in Iteso, the local dialect. “No, it is a machine that does reconnaissance before the President comes,” counters another. Welcome to the world of camera drones at President Museveni’s campaigns.
For campaigns, candidates are allowed to pull all the stops to outdo their opponents and candidate Museveni is taking no chances. The camera drone has been a hit for him. For the uninitiated in the backyard of the countryside, it is a show of power, for if a man can pull this off, he surely can’t fail to build hospitals and roads and dams and stuff like that.
“What is that?” John Opit asks and taps me as he points to the sky. “It is a camera,” I say.
When I tell him that, , having travelled from Soroti to Serere, he agrees that he got more than he ever could have bargained for and there is no streak of doubt that this is the man to beat come February 18th.
At that very rally, Museveni, alive to the anxious glances being directed at the drone clears the air. “This is just a camera. This is a modern government and we don’t have to use small cameras,” a beaming Museveni says.
At Bulecheke Trading Centre, deep in the hovels of the Bududa mountains, the crowd is shivery and cold .The rains have been on since the wee hours of the morning and the crowd is stoic as speaker after speaker chant Mzee oyeee.
But when the drone is let loose, the crowd is cranked up. They now make thunderous “Mzee oyee!” chants. For now, the crowd does not care about the drizzle – they are transfixed by the drone.
And the drone handler also has a way of showing drone power. He zooms it from one angle to another-with its curious followers dashing to gaze at it. When all is said and done, this drone has some psychological edge for Museveni.