Opinion | A tale of two women united in grief, in a country torn apart by greed and violence – Daniel Kalinaki

Posted November 27, 2020 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 1,901 views


She sits on the pavement, one hand supporting her spare body, while the other is held close to her chest by that of her attacker. He is crouched over her like a tiger, a hammer raised in his right hand, ready to strike.

She sits in the dusty road, usually busy but momentarily deserted in the madness, legs stretched out. Her hands alternate between supporting her against the tarmac and helping her gesticulate her grief. She sobs uncontrollably, only the way a mother can.

The first woman, Assistant Superintendent of Police Consilata Kasule, was lucky. The blow from the hammer left little permanent physical damage. A colleague police officer arrived just in time to ward off her attacker.

The second woman, Hajarah Nakitto, wasn’t so lucky. Her 15-year-old son, Amos Segawa, was shot in the chest and died on the way to hospital. My colleague Jocelyn Nakibuule, a TV journalist, was on duty and close by when the shooting happened. She found herself with the unenviable task of having to choose between being a detached journalist and a mother.

Humanity won, then lost. Jocelyn tried to save Amos’  life by carrying him on a boda boda to find medical attention, only to watch as he died in her arms. Meanwhile his mother, so near, and yet so far, wailed for a son she couldn’t find, and would never see alive again.

Two binary narratives have emerged to try and explain last week’s violence: We either have to stop police brutality or stop hooliganism. Which side of the argument one falls is increasingly determined by one’s political inclination. 

Those working to remove a dictator are quiet when a female police officer is attacked in the street with a hammer, car windscreens are smashed, and roads destroyed by burning tyres.

Those working to secure the future turn a blind eye to the fact that many of those killed, conveniently ‘othered’ by being described as “hooligans” were innocent bystanders, like Amos, or John Kitobe, a 72-year-old retiree shot dead as he walked on the street. Or, for that matter, that there are less extreme methods to law enforcement.

Three things should trouble us from last week’s violence. The first is that a lot of the footage shows armed men, including some not in uniform, shooting discriminately at people standing by the roadside or even cowering inside buildings and posing no harm. This was hunting disguised as law enforcement.

The second is that we have been desensitised to violence. On the third day, after more than 50 people had been shot dead, life returned to ‘normal’. While the families that had lost dear ones arranged their funerals and dealt with their grief, the rest of us carried on with the banality of traffic, potholes and eking out a living.

We did the same thing when more than 40 people were shot dead during the Kayunga Riots in 2009, and, more recently, when more than 150 people, mostly women and children, were shot dead in Kasese.

There was no emergency session of Parliament. No flags flying at half-mast. No days set aside for national mourning. Religious leaders did not cover themselves with ashes, and there was no collective gnashing of teeth.

We simply accepted and moved on. Until the next ‘rainy season’ and the watering of the earth with the blood of (mostly) innocents.

Thirdly, and emerging out of two above, is the growing radicalisation of young people. There’s a clip of a young teenage boy, whose voice has barely broken, who was shot in the back. The bullet went through the arm, into the back and mercifully exited. He is seen nonchalantly removing his blood-stained shirt and explaining to a terrified young woman nearby that this is a price worth paying, and that even if he is killed, she will live to enjoy the fruits of the struggle.

What exactly are these fruits, and how long will the struggle last? We heard similar words four decades ago when similarly young men were being encouraged to take arms and fight for their freedom. Today those men, now older and worse for wear, send young men to snuff out lives on a whim. Viva l’a revolution!

The soundtrack of our history is stuck on repeat. A nation cannot be forged out of a divided society. Patriotism cannot be commanded, commandeered or conscripted. The choice isn’t binary. To secure the future you must remove dictatorship.

Mr Kalinaki is a journalist and poor man’s freedom fighter. @Kalinaki

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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