What has bred these heartless, merciless Ugandans?
On Wednesday last week, a 28-year-old housewife, Fazira Nake of Tororo, was finally arrested by police for child abuse.
She had been filmed in March torturing her four-year-old step-grandchild and the video clip was released on social media last week. Thousands have probably seen the video and the outcry that followed led to the identification and arrest of Nake.
You have to feel for this poor child because it is June now; how much pain has she had to endure? The New Vision reported that the neighbour who recorded the video was forced to release it online, feeling that it was too much. Nake used to beat up the child regularly!
Just months ago, another woman, Jolly Tumuhiire, was sentenced to four years in jail for assaulting a child left in her care. That particular video was horrendous and deserves a classification rating. I certainly regret watching it.
Now this latest episode in the ugly series of child torture got to me via Facebook when a friend shared a link. Understandably, all the comments and responses were angry, with some folks recommending the death sentence for the child torturer. What caught my attention was a comment from a Tanzanian: “You cannot do that in Tanzania while people are watching. Men will slap you and your fellow women will deal with you but I have seen a lot of scenes in Uganda where Ugandans themselves are merciless. You find someone being beaten and tortured in front of the public yet people are watching and others taking pictures and videos! The problem is not that woman; the problem is those people who lack that sense of humanity and mercy sitting there like they don’t care. In the whole of East Africa, I have never seen such cold-hearted people like the Ugandan people! Imagine a Ugandan is like an animal that can find you getting killed and he just passes by! A Ugandan can find a young girl being raped and he passes by! A Ugandan can find a woman being beaten to pulp by men and just passes by without even a single word!”
Damning assessment but however patriotic I may feel, it is difficult to dismiss this Tanzanian’s opinion on the readiness of Ugandans to inflict pain and misery on fellow citizenry. The annual Uganda Police Force (UPF) crime reports for the last three years show that death by mob justice is one of the leading crimes in the country. Assaults and threats are also quite high.
The UPF, whose primary role is to protect Ugandans, is equally culpable. There are plenty of incidents of police brutality caught on camera over the last five years.
Police has mostly clobbered members of opposition parties and journalists covering opposition events and demonstrations against government action. Recently, NRM members of the Mbabazi wing also experienced the UPF’s mean side!
What is unforgettable is when police officers were seen hitting terror suspects with rocks and clubs in Kyenjojo last year. These were Ugandan youths from Kasese who had foolishly attacked an army barracks in broad daylight. Even after their arrest, when it was evident that they no longer posed any risk, rogue officers attacked them with rocks and kicked them when they were down on the ground.
There were reports that some of the marauding youths were buried in mass, unmarked graves that day. An investigation was instituted but it is unclear whether there have been any findings yet.
This lack of concern or empathy for fellow citizens is saddening. And there is something deeper – traditionally, it is the Ugandan woman who is most caring. What has happened to turn a few of them into beastly conduct?
Recently I watched a report on NTV Akawungeezi news in which a man had been denied space to bury his son at his own family’s burial grounds in Mityana! He was informed that there were paternity issues regarding his birth; so, it was unacceptable to bury his son at the family grounds.
The man rightly argued that this could not have been the best time to bring this up especially because they had known him since childhood. So, even in the villages where Uganda’s poor are known for their generosity, despite their difficult circumstances, things have changed.
There are many other examples of heartlessness in Uganda, including abductions and child sacrifice.
Question is: what do we need to do to find our humanity?