Prince or prisoner, the pain of death is the same

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Prince or prisoner, the pain of death is the same
Prince or prisoner, the pain of death is the same

Africa-PressUganda. The tragic news of the attempted assassination of Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, which left his lovely daughter Brenda Nantongo and loyal driver Haruna Kayondo, dead is significant in as far as soul searching is concerned.

Gen Katumba is generally perceived as a genuinely humble and wonderful human being. The shock and out-pouring of grief was palpable and is still gripping the nation.

So moved were many that they commenced the discussion about Uganda starting on a path of lawlessness and insecurity.

President Museveni in his address to the nation downplayed this as fear-mongering. He blamed laxity and carelessness as the factor that facilitated the incident and promised to crash the terrorists whom he dismissed as ‘pigs.’

Like the President, I must say Uganda is the way it has been. It is only that there is a trend where especially the elite and the ‘apolitical’ only wake up when disaster strikes in the neighbourhood.

For a long time now there have been several killings especially in the run up to the January 14 General Election. Most of these deaths were of youthful supporters of the Opposition National Unity Platform party who were abducted in omnibuses called ‘drones’ by armed men. Several have died and their tortured bodies discovered in swamps and other places.

In other cases, you have had security agents running over people in situations of political contestation or shot them in broad daylight.

Rita Nabukenya was allegedly run over by a police truck at Nakawa on February 24, 2020. Then Frank Senteza was also run over by a military truck. Others like Yassin Kawuma, who was Robert Kayagulanyi’s driver, and Batio Sofi of Obongi were shot dead.

Added to these and very important as well you have heard reports of people in Yellow t-shirts being beaten up and reportedly killed because they support the ruling NRM party. Even some police officers and security agents have not been spared in this madness.

These incidents rarely provoke the anger of the public because the victims are relatively unknown, little people of low profile and status.

They just pass as statistics. You will not see high powered delegations visiting them in hospitals or attending their funerals. You will not hear the creation of a security committee tasked with investigating such cases.

They have become a small, detailed, sad part of our life as a nation that is moving on with its business.

But we have to take them seriously because as my president alluded, we all have blood and are, therefore, at risk of being attacked.

It was heart rending but a humble reminder to see a whole army looking vulnerable and as ordinary as anyone of us. When boda boda riders insisted on taking him to a clinic the point wenthome when he asked with visible trepidation, ‘where are you taking me?’

Where are you taking me is the question many people first ask when ambushed and abducted by armed men in drones. ‘Where have they taken my son or daughter?’ is the question many a parent, brother and kinsman asks, when news breaks of the disappearance of their loved ones.

The site and demeanor of Gen Katumba reminded us of the late powerful Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi moments before he was killed by a misguided blood thirst mob who pulled him out of a trench by the roadside before murdering him in cold blood.

Life, power, security and status is an illusion that can vanish in no time leaving all of us at the same level in the realm of the mighty equaliser, that is death.

It is high time we made it extremely risky for anyone to have the thought let alone embark on a project to kill a Ugandan.

We must all get angry at the death of any Ugandan irrespective of tribe, creed or political persuasion. We must make it clear that when you kill a Ugandan you have killed one of us. Collectively, killers are our enemies and the killed are our kinsmen.

This is because everyone means something to someone. Be it the prince, potter, pastor, prisoner, peasant, paraplegic, porter or prostitute, the pain of death is the same.

For as Shylock said in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice Act III scene 1, ‘Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with thesame food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that…’

We pray for a quick recovery for Gen Wamala and may all Ugandans who have been maliciously killed rest in peace.

Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues

Twitter: @nsengoba

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