WHAT’S UP: Kalungi Kabuye
Almost every Ugandan and anybody who has had the opportunity to cross our borders, has a story to tell about boda bodas, those small motorbikes that are all over the place like flies over a cesspit.
Some are fun stories especially those told by visitors, who are enthralled by the sheer illegality of it. Unlike the countries where they come from, these small bikes can go anywhere and everywhere they please and in double time too.
That is why you will often see smiling bazungus seated two on a bike, waltzing through the killer Kampala traffic. It does not matter to them that they are breaking the law, hey this is Uganda and even the policemen just wave at them.
Some stories, though, are not very nice, like a friend of mine who almost lost an arm when the boda she was on tried to change direction in the middle of the road and was knocked by a car coming from behind.
The boda rider jumped off and was not hurt, but the car’s front tire ran over my friend’s arm, breaking it into about three pieces. She is okay now, but it was a long, painful and expensive period of convalescence.
Another got thrown into a trench by a boda trying to avoid getting knocked as a result of an illegal move, and she suffered broken ribs and punctured lungs. She really is very lucky to be alive today.
But those are the lucky ones. Many people who face the wrath of boda bodas
do not live to tell the tale. Like the story a friend told me of one who took a boda in Jinja.
The price was sh5,000, but he had a sh20,000 note, and the boda rider claimed he did not have change and went off on foot to get change, leaving the passenger by the bike.
Moments later the rider came back with a mob of other boda riders, claiming the passenger had tried to steal his bike. The poor guy was beaten to death on the spot, even when people nearby tried to defend him. He died for only sh15,000.
Boda bodas are very quick at the scene of accidents, not to help the victims, but to see what they can take.
A colleague, a former Rotary President found that out the hard way. He was coming from a meeting when somebody rammed into his car from the back.
In the midst of arguing who was in the wrong, boda bodas swarmed all over them, and in the process one of them took off with his chain of office.
He tried to get it back, but they just laughed at him. One wonders, what did that guy do with that chain? Did he give it to his wife as a gift, to show how hard working he was? Did they go to a photo studio and pose for pictures?
These are the people, then, who are insisting they should not be registered and be made to pay taxes. They like their ‘mob justice’ kind of life very much, thank you and their will riot, causing chaos if anybody tries to bring order to their lives.
What do lawyers have to do with boda bodas? You may ask. A few weeks ago, they behaved just like boda bodas behave, and took the law into their own hands.
Why did they do that? Because, they said, they did not like what the AG had said. I am no lawyer, but at its most basic level of description, the role of the Attorney General
is to give legal opinion to both the Government and to the President. That is his job.
But some lawyers did not like the kind of legal opinion he gave on several matters. So they got together under the auspices of the Uganda Law Society and voted to suspend him and issued him with a ‘letter of incompetence’.
The picture that ran in the media, of a group of very happy lawyers raising their hands to vote for the suspension, was a very sad moment in the history of our country. I am no lawyer, like I said, but the sight of a person being condemned for his opinion, even to my ‘unlearned’ mind, was scandalous.
The reason they gave was that the advice the AG gave Government was not constitutional. Again, I am no lawyer, but I thought it was the Constitutional Court that decides what is or against the Constitution, not the Uganda Law Society.
In a letter to the press, a Kampala lawyer put it succinctly: ‘… the fact that any lawyer or group of lawyers hold a legal opinion(s) different from that given by the AG does not make his opinion wrong or unconstitutional until the Constitutional Court has pronounced itself on the same.’
In effect, what those lawyers did was to take the law into their own hands. They effectively did what boda boda guys do every day to otherwise innocent Ugandans – they did mob justice on the Attorney General
So that is what we have in Uganda today, boda boda guys who want chaos and mob justice to rule the day, and lawyers too willing to do the same.
Catch KK on twitter (@KalungiKabuye)