“If nature can be so senseless in its experiments upon mankind,” asked Arthur Koestler in the literary classic ‘Darkness at Noon’, decades ago, “why should mankind not have the right to experiment upon itself?”
I ask, if the Uganda government can be so brutal, unfeeling and relentless in its killing of the citizens it is supposed to protect, as we have seen over the years, most recently in November 2020, why shouldn’t citizens have the right to kill each other when they feel like? Can’t I, in a good, old-fashioned rage or revenge, or even ‘just for just’ in my free time, hack away at my neighbor, with a machete and dispatch him, screaming, into eternity?
If government can, so very casually, shoot unarmed people on the streets, well aware that the events are being recorded by cameras and broadcast to the world, what exactly is wrong with a few citizens launching a killing spree of their own volition, in the dead of night?
If the government, through the brutal actions taken against unarmed civilians, has lowered and in fact, completely diminished the value of human life, why is it surprised that there are citizens whose idea of having a good, old-fashioned boys night out is to attack innocent, unarmed residents who are fast asleep in their own compounds?
What is the difference between people who use taxpayers’ money to launch unmitigated attacks again unarmed citizens expressing their dissatisfaction with the excesses of the state; and those who arm themselves with machetes (at their own cost) and attack unsuspecting residents?
Does anyone remember Yasin Kawuma, the driver of Bobi Wine, who, in August 2018, was killed by armed forces, during the by-election in Arua? Did government ever take a step towards prosecuting his killers? Are they not happily attending to their families, as the one of Yasin wastes away in uncertainty and bitterness?
Does anyone remember a certain Ronald Ssebulime, who in early 2019, was on his way to visit his kids at school, only to be followed up by police officers in uniform, then properly handcuffed, in broad daylight, and incredibly shot in cold blood for trying (while armed with nothing more than bread, sugar and cake) to “assassinate” some noisy little vixen in high places? Were his killers not known? And are they not walking freely on the streets of Kampala?
Going back, even further, does anyone remember that bloody, bungled operation against the Rwenzururu Kingdom headquarters and palace in Kasese, November 2016, in which more than a hundred lives were needlessly lost? Did the state ever show any remorse for the blunders that cost so many lives? Was anyone reprimanded for the carnage? Is it not good practice in civilized places, for the commander of such a disastrous operation to be reprimanded and properly held accountable and, at the very least, be demoted or discharged from the army?
But as matter of fact, wasn’t the commander of the operation instead later promoted in rank and office and now occupies the second-highest office in the armed forces?
So, if a man, even after leading a woeful expedition that resulted in the needless decimation of more than one hundred lives in Kasese has since been promoted, thereby suggesting that human lives don’t really matter in this country, why shouldn’t other individuals be inspired to unleash violence on defenseless human beings, asleep in their homes, in the dead of night?
Wasn’t it the then Security Minister in 2020 who assured the public “we shall kill your children!”, “police has a right to kill!” – demonstrating immense disdain for human life, and thereby lowering its value in the eyes of society?
So, in cracking down on the Masaka massacres, what message, exactly, is government trying to send? That nobody but state agents are allowed to kill the citizens?
And going by the state’s habitual recklessness with tactical interventions, are we now going to see people arrested for possession of machetes in their houses or cars, so as to prevent them from any possible interference with the state’s monopoly of violence against the citizens? Shall we now be required to register all machetes and probably even apply for licenses?
If government has made its bed, why is it hesitant to lay on it?
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