The unsponsored Ugandan Twitter-TikTok army

By Lukanga Samuel

At a moment when populist and anti-elite sentiments are flourishing on both sides of the political spectrum, it is no surprise that Uganda’s political leaders are beginning to explore new ways to harness both Twitter & TikTok’s political power to their own ends. Yet for the young activists who nurtured political Twitter-TikTok into existence, this opportunity also presents a challenge: to maximize Twitter & TikTok’s power as a tool for progressive change without sacrificing its transformative and transgressive potential.

Away from our Ugandan Spire the cartoonist, Aidan Kohn-Murphy, a floppy-haired high school senior from Washington is an unlikely leader of America’s largest and fastest-growing progressive media empire. Yet that is, in effect, what Kohn-Murphy has become and he’s only 18 years old.

Outside calculus class, Kohn-Murphy is the founder and executive director of Gen-Z for Change, a coalition of about 500 progressive social media influencers spanning all of the internet’s most trafficked social media platforms. The coalition’s primary digital stomping ground is TikTok, where Gen-Z for Change’s influencer network collectively boasts upward of 500 million followers — a figure that far exceeds the average monthly viewerships of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC combined, which tops out at about 5 million viewers.

Gen-Z for Change has already mobilized its followers to carry out a handful of unorthodox online actions including crashing an anti-abortion whistleblower line in Texas with raunchy memes. But Kohn-Murphy just like Spire’s led Twitter Ugandan exhibitions, has higher ambitions: As more politicians in Washington begin using TikTok to reach young voters, his organization is building closer ties with Democrats in Washington in the hopes of not only commenting on policy but actually influencing it. Yet in making inroads into the political mainstream, do Gen Z’s digital warriors risk sacrificing the transgressiveness that makes them a distinctive voice of their generation?

In Uganda via Twitter exhibitions, We have witnessed the public reaction—want to be able to advocate and to push for the policies that the citizens themselves believe in. Not to be revolutionary, but there’s a lot wrong with the world, and if they can use their platforms to make positive change and leave the world better than we found it, then they’ll have done our job.

Via the Ugandan public-owned Twitter exhibitions, influencers hail from various subregions of the Twitter-TikTok universe — including fashion, cooking, comedy, self-help and, of course, dancing — but they all share an interest in using their platforms to support progressive causes. This online army itself, led by Spire among other volunteers, serves as the nerve center of this effort, coordinating between influencers, distributing video scripts and talking points, and providing research and editorial support for the coalition’s campaigns.

Kohn-Murphy — who, in typical influencer style, captured his real-time reaction to the sketch in a TikTok on his personal account — was flattered by the parody. But for the most part, Kohn-Murphy says, the sketch confirmed his suspicion that even as the White House and members of Congress ramp up their outreach efforts to progressive content creators, the country still hasn’t grasped TikTok’s power as a political tool.

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It remains to be seen, however, exactly what sort of tool TikTok will become in the hands of this generation of young progressive activists. In some respects, Kohn-Murphy and his merry band of influencers have turned TikTok into a highly unorthodox and cheekily transgressive vehicle of digital protest.

This sort of crowd-sourced digital protest has become a favorite weapon among the Twitter-Tiktok online army.

At the same time, like Gen-Z for Change’s collaboration with the White House is raising questions among both its critics and its supporters about the coalition’s true objectives. To the Uganda’s skeptics, its ties with the sitting government are proof that it has become an out-and-out propaganda organ for the Museveni administration.

To some of its would-be allies on the left, the activism’s liaisons with those in government are evidence that the coalition is more interested in cozying up to Uganda’s power centers than in pushing for transformational political change.

For now, the Ugandan Twitter-Tiktok army is keeping its options open for the most part ahead of 2026 general elections. Whether it’s shaping policy, whether it’s educating our collective platform and followers, whether it’s taking down tip lines, whether it’s supporting unions — just any progressive change, by any means, is our goal.

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These initiatives have raised suspicions that this online army and its public coalition of influencers are, in effect, unpaid propagandists from the Ugandan Opposition using their platforms to uncritically parrot the administration’s messaging.

Even with these free Twitter-TikTok army, the people in Uganda never seem to come to the conclusion that their political class is just rotten and probably will always be like that, and that they can either emigrate or put up with it. They are like children of divorced parents whose only obsession is for their parents to get together again.

But as children of divorced parents can overcome the trauma and thrive, so can citizens of this country. The joke at the very end is, ‘Don’t underestimate the power of TikTok in making change,’ and right at the end, ‘Influencers get more views than the [nightly] news,’” They’re saying that as a joke, but it’s actually true.

The writer; Lukanga Samuel, is a social development enthusiast, a youth leader and an ambassador of humanity. Tel: 0785717379 Email: lukangasamuel55@gmail.com


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