A fading pearl

When I was in my A’ Level, my literature teacher once took us through a strange lesson where he asked us to describe the country that we all know is Uganda. The exercise involved us describing Uganda as a human being, animal, inanimate object, celestial being or whatever our imagination conjured. After aggregating all our descriptions, it became apparent that we had discovered what Uganda looked like.

Uganda was described as a gorgeous female goddess with curvy posterior, full breasts, short hair, long searching legs and large round shy eyes. She’d look at you and instantly look away; afraid to pierce into your soul with her gaze. She was kind but stern, warm, charming and very friendly. She wore the simplest outfits but always looked the finest in the lot. Her singing was described as angelic and she had a well constructed form of speech.

african_girl_by_otunga-d4lx3st

African girl by Otunga

Sadly, over time, this woman has lost many of these attributes. Her breasts seem to have ‘fallen’into a sag and for her age there seem to be a few more wrinkles than expected. Her legs are still as long but she is not so keen to show them anymore, they carry a little too many scars from the various times she’s tripped and fallen. Her posterior has since turned from her greatest asset to her worst liability because the doctors say she needs to have it reduced; it’s too big for her frail body. Her eyes are more sunken than ever and her originally full lips are shrinking. Her hairline is strangely receding and she’s increasingly becoming agitated, distressed and moody.

With all this outward transformation going on, Uganda still has an inner beauty and splendour because goddesses never lose that.

Bringing the point home

Over the past few years, Uganda has burned hot and cold in her attempt to impress not just her own kinfolk but the entire world. For every good deed she registers, she seems to silently suffer a dozen setbacks. Without necessarily breaking down the insufficiencies that we as a nation are grappling with, any sane human being will admit that we are nowhere near we ought to be a country.

Not in the education sector, not in the health sector and certainly not in the transport sector. The tourism area isn’t any place we can say we have scored many points and neither can we claim to have a sizeable trophy cabinet in the sports department. Our economy is barely anything to write home about and our security, well, that is simply not anything to boast about.

Basically we are doomed, right?

Not quite. Strangely, with all these troubles eating at us from every direction, we continue to soldier on, mostly because the only other alternative is disappearing into oblivion – something I am sure we are not too keen to embrace. While all these unfortunate things happening around us, there are instances that put a smile on anyone’s face; a selfless and charitable act by a couple of youths here, a whistle blower shaming corrupt people there, a seemingly pointless sports victory in Nigeria, a growing telecommunication industry the other side – basically, our story is not all doom.

Lake Bunyonyi

We still have our natural appeal (www.roughguides.com)

Sadly, every day that passes, noble and well intentioned Ugandans lose their lives in circumstances that leave one wondering whether we are truly looking after each other well. Contrary to the insecurity song everyone might be singing right now, I would like to think that the recent wave of events (crimes) that occurred are a reflection of the kind of society we have become.

Breaking it down

Phionah Atukiriza, a resident of Bunamwaya in Wakiso District was on Monday night attacked by armed men who opened fire after she had tried to hold onto the bag they wanted to snatch from her. Phionah currently lies in Lubaga Hospital, bed-ridden and unable to carry on with her usual life anymore.

On the same day, Joan Kagezi, the top Ugandan state prosecutor in the trial of suspects of the 2010 Kampala suicide bombing which killed 76 people, was shot and killed a few meters from my doorstep in Kiwatule, a Kampala Suburb. She was with her family in the car.

A few hours later, gunmen showed up outside the residence of a wealthy businessman Steven Yiga somewhere in Mbuubi Zone, Lungujja, Lubaga municipality in Kampala. After a bout of heavy gunfire, three bodies were found in a pool of blood.

Without even being alarmist, any sane person will right away ask the question, “What the hell is going on?” And while it may be unfair to expect answers right away, seeing as investigations are going on with the different incidences, no one can claim to be unbothered by what is happening.

I am no security expert and I cannot begin to advance any theory to explain these events but I know enough to conclude that the gorgeous belle Uganda is twisting and writhing in untold pain – the Pearl of Africa is fading. She is becoming frail by the hour and her ability to hit high notes is waning.

Something ought to be done.

The tough questions

It is high time we as Ugandans started asking the vital questions about not just the security of our country but our entire well being as a nation.

Gone are the days when assailants carried sticks, toy guns or pangas. Nowadays they move around with guns. – Where are people getting all these guns?

People no longer steal and make away with only property, they want to take people’s lives as well.- Is this a reflection of what our society has become? Heartless, unbothered by murder and generally ready to end a life without much thought?

So many robberies (both armed and otherwise) are taking place in several neighbourhoods. – Have resources become so scarce, so much that we have taken it upon ourselves to enforce the ‘survival for the fittest’ theory?

Whenever a high profile murder occurs, we beef up security.- Do we always have to get hit first before we can be security conscious in our homes, workplaces and everywhere else?

ak-47.si

Where are all the guns coming from?

There are several questions that we ought to ask ourselves but the most important question of all is – are we going to simply look on as Uganda loses her ability to turn heads with her poise, glamour and beauty?

I’ll tell you what I’d like.

I’d like for this former beauty queen to regain her form, retake her position at the helm, reignite her passion for glamour and re-emerge as the Pearl of Africa that she truly is.

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. – Frederick Douglass

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter

 I am disappointed in my Country

If you have been to any court of law in Uganda you know by now that even before you open your mouth to defend or attack someone you need to have some kind of substantial backing. The backing is often in the form of well put-together evidence, an array of witnesses and legitimate citing of support by the constitution – among other things. Ideally when all these elements are brought together and they fit perfectly, one can confidently claim to have a legitimate case.

I am fully aware that the justice system in Uganda has its shortcomings and therefore cannot be looked at as the Oracle. However, I have learnt over time that institutions only work if we believe in them – and if we let them carry out their processes with legitimacy, decency and fairness. Recently, I learnt that as much as the justice system is designed or intended to offer justice, a good number of people have actually suffered because of this same justice system and those who work with and in it.

The issue of minorities is an issue that will forever create debate because as long as the human race exists, there will always be minorities in terms of race, age, sex, faith, orientation, physical build and ideology. The manner in which the justice system handles these “minorities” is one that I have come to learn is unfair, extremely prejudiced and abnormally inhumane.

On Friday 27th February, I attended a get-together organised by Chapter Four Uganda under the theme “Justice4All”. The focus of this get-together was to launch a report titled “The Abuse of the Rights of Sexual Minorities in Uganda’s Criminal Justice System”. Now while it may seem like justice is an ideal that many if not most people deserve and rightly should have access to, there are actually a good number of people who have had no sniff of the scent of justice.

A harrowing tale of certain sexual minorities being ‘physically probed’ and constantly dehumanized because the law does not recognise them as ‘legitimate human beings’ almost made me lose my mind. It is one thing to attempt to understand why someone is different from you. It is an entirely different thing when you try so hard to make someone who does not subscribe to your school of thought look like the enemy. On Friday I listened to stories of Ugandans living in fear simply because of the worry that any moment, they might be victims of a justice process that has adjudged them to be guilty in a war started by, and fought solely by nature.

I was shocked that some Ugandans are treated like they do not belong to this country; they are looked at as evil, nefarious, monstrous and extremely repulsive creatures with little or no semblance to proper human beings.

This infuriates me.

I do not condone acts that are against the constitution and I am in no way a campaigner for immorality or wickedness for that matter. However, I am also not a campaigner of inhumanity, barbaric and fiendish behaviour towards certain people simply because they are not like us.

HoraceHorace speaks the the truth!

Ugandans are known to be loving and hospitable individuals. We are known world over as people who love without limits, people who are free-spirited and are always willing to make the strangest of visitors feel at home. Why then do we rise up against our own brothers and sisters? Why do we deny justice to the people who share our cradle land, the people who share our last names, people who we have eaten and drank with since childhood? Why do we suddenly distance ourselves from people simply because they do not look like, think like or act like us? Why do we relegate them to the gates of hell simply because they prefer one thing and not the other? If we are not going to look after our own brothers and sisters, who will? A great many quotes have been directed to teaching people to embrace others no matter the difference that may be present. Why do we suddenly abandon these teachings when our brothers and sisters need us the most? As a policeman / woman, lawmaker, medical practitioner, religious leader, trend setter, celebrity, influential person or just plain human being, is it not my responsibility to treat my fellow man like he deserves the same justice that I think I deserve? Why should I turn round and be callous to someone simply because he does not think like or look like me?

Pope PaulI don’t think I would have put it any better

When 66-year-old Bernard Randall was deported for his involvement in Gay activities, one would have imagined that as a foreigner, Randall probably had it coming. One might also argue that as a foreigner, deportation was as decent an action as could be accorded to him for what the constitution deemed illegal or criminal for that matter. And Randall had / has the backing of his Government, several Civil Rights activists, the International community as well as a bunch of countless Western organisations and individuals.

What about our brothers and sisters who may not have the luxury of an army of supporters or sympathisers? What about our friends who have silently suffered life-long confusion about who they truly are? What about those who have grown up in a society that says any attitudes that are different from the norm are acts of the devil? And what about our sons and daughters, who secretly engage in the most devilish acts but will pretend their whole lives simply because they are afraid of ridiculing, mockery, scorn and a whole lot of derision? What about those people who wake up every morning disoriented and unsure of themselves and go to bed at night even more bewildered and lost? Why are we denying them the chance to be human, the chance to attain their full potential and the chance to be who they truly are meant to me as dictated by nature?

I write this piece after having a sad conversation with someone who has for twenty-six years been unsure of what his identity is. And this is because his family, friends and relations are all vehemently against any notions of straying from the norm. While he is otherwise an imperturbable soul that simply needs talking to, understanding and above all, guidance, he has opted to secretly engage in what I am sure his relatives will excommunicate him for – if they find out anyway. Now, while I have been sworn to secrecy, I will confidently say that on his behalf and on behalf of the several minorities that have been condemned to the gallows of public hell because of their differences; I am disappointed on so many levels. I am disappointed in myself and anyone who has under looked, disregarded, neglected and condemned another person just because they belong to the minority.

I am disappointed in my country.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter