This below is a Facebook post I saw on Thursday, May 24th, 2018:
T he recent kidnaps and rapes seem distant or just social media talk until they happen to someone you know. Someone I know was gang-raped last Thursday by three men. A young lady with an equally young family; started on PEP and now doesn’t have the slightest idea on how to go about life after that one traumatic night that tore the very fabric of her being. Now I, like many ladies, find myself using public means at around 10pm every working day. But you can smell fear from most of the ladies seated in these taxis. They hope that they just didn’t get into one with kidnappers or rapists.
Last night, I noticed that I and another lady constantly darted and turned to scrutinise the other passengers for any suspicious behaviour. We are living in fear! As if in response to the above post, another person, also a lady wrote this: Yes! We are living in fear for our lives. This is too much. Enough already. ENOUGH!!! How much more pain shall we go through? Who will call this country back to sanity? Women are dying like chicken, as if there’s nothing that can be done to stop this. Really? Kidnap here; kidnap there! And someone is supposed to call this peace?
While we wait for the government to move a muscle on this, let’s be more alert, fellow women, parents and whoever else cares about their loved ones. Make random calls to the people you live with and just ask how they are, if you are away from each other for hours. Don’t feel hounded women; accept to be taken care of. Walk holding your children’s hands even if immediately out of the car or restaurant. Maids are using this opportunity to run away with our children. Let’s keep them in day-care centres and pick them up on our way back home. Be very careful where you pick a taxi. And if you realize there are a few passengers left, get out and get another taxi. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have a family or trusted friend who owns a car, please ask to be picked up from places you know could be dangerous to get back home alone because you can’t trust much a boda guy you just bumped into.
Tell your friends where you are and if you have other plans, just mention you won’t return, to avoid them thinking you have been kidnapped, only to appear after a few days. Just be responsible. Pepper spray! We all need this. Please share places where this can be got and name the prices. Be part of the solution. (We don’t care if this is illegal; the killings are not any legal too.) Call your kids’ school and be very strict so that nobody who is not assigned to pick up your children does so for anything. Wait for them at bus stops or wherever those shuttles drop them off. Girls! You can stop going out unceremoniously. If you don’t know a guy, say you met on Facebook, please don’t meet at night or in places he chooses. Stay home and sleep. Don’t die because of common chicken and chips. Please! Do not switch off your phone.
And to you who have decided to kidnap yourselves, what shall I say about you? This is not a joking matter. Stop the stupidity and I hope you get arrested for acting like this when everyone is in fear. May God hold us in the palm of His hands. We shall overcome! It’s all in there. The dread. The insecurity. The suspicion. The angst. The many questions, to which this nation needs answers. But, there’s also the resilience; the determination to make it to tomorrow; to be the ones who will recount the horror of these days, when they have been added to the annals of what makes Uganda. This horror of kidnaps and [resultant] murders has reached unprecedented levels. The country is on tension. Parents stop breathing properly (especially female) the moment their children step out of the house. Husbands wonder what time their wives will be back home, and not because they’re jealous or suspicious of the wives’ actions. Something is grossly wrong, and something needs to be done. Urgently.
Not too long ago, the entire nation was held to ransom when a young woman, Suzan Magara, was kidnapped and, 21 days later, killed by her captors, even after the family had paid them huge amounts of cash. Some who rush into speculation rubbished it as a case of bad/illegal deals gone bad, and we should move on as a country. But, this was not to be. Hot on the heels of this incident, we began to hear, read about and actually witness more such cases, some so close they made you want to shut yourself up in your house all day, all week.
One thing, in all this, has been missing: An authoritative voice that tells the nation, “We are on this. We appreciate the magnitude of the problem; we join the bereaved families in their grief, but we are on it.” Just that; we have known cases where similar situations persisted, but when the nation is made to believe that someone is in charge; that something is being done about it, the tension sort of reduces. This is why citizens like the lady in that second social media post have come up to fill that gap. That counsel is essential to guide the nation on how to stay safe and, should they [God forbid] be kidnapped, what they should do. Social media cannot and should not lead a community. A lot goes on there, that sometimes people do not give it the attention certain issues demand. Besides, not everybody is active on social media.
So, even though we have seen some write-ups which some have attributed to the Police and other such organs, giving direction on what should be done in certain circumstances, we find it difficult to believe them, because we have previously seen documents that look authentic, signed with names of people in high places, but in the end, the people in those high places deny them, saying that the documents are forgeries. It’s a conundrum of sorts.
When the Wakiso/Entebbe murders were happening, it was women who were being targeted. Unfortunately, again, the country never got to know exactly who was behind those murders [and each woman who was killed was first molested]; though the government needed to clear its image, because social media again carried voices that said some top guns in the army and police were using those murders to discredit each other.
When you let people carry the day with such rumours, you risk having the populace think that indeed the State has turned its preying teeth against its own citizenry. Nothing is more deplorable than this. Fear is a bad environment to operate in, both at individual and communal levels. Fear curtails development, because people don’t focus on their work; they expend all their energies and resources on being and staying safe. We need to change this state of affairs. An environment of fear creates mutual suspicion among the people, which is bad for social, economic and spiritual wellbeing.
Some have attributed these kidnaps to poverty, because of the astronomical amounts of money the kidnappers ask for; but hasn’t poverty been around prior to this wave? Some say it’s people with grudges sorting each other out, but again this cannot hold, because of the random nature of some of the kidnaps. Bottom line is that something definitely needs to be done.
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