By Kalungi Kabuye
I have a friend and colleague who loves cakes, and will have at least a slice once a day. She normally buys them from different places, but one day she went to one near her office and bought two slices. When she got back to her office and unwrapped them, she found they were too hard to eat, and so took them back.
But at the bakery she was told that they could not be exchanged, and that anyway the cakes were only hard because they were kept in the fridge overnight. The bakery refused to take them back, so my friend was stuck with hard cake she could not eat. Understandably she was mad as hell, and told everyone who could listen about it. But up to this day, for reasons only known to herself, she has not told us where exactly she bought those cakes.
Another social media friend told the story of a young Ugandan man who is stuck in a foreign country, and needs help to get out and come back home. She asked her friends to pray for him, but no, she would not reveal the names of the guy who needed help, or what country he was in.
There are posts everyday on social media about loved ones that pass away. A typical one will be like: “…I will miss him, may his soul rest in peace.” The next 100 or so comments will be asking, "who died?" When? What happened? But there will be no further comment from the one who put up the status.
Then there are the politicians (of course) and public officials that rail against all kinds of evils in our society, claim to know the wrongdoers, and threaten to name them if they don’t stop doing what they are doing. But none of them ever actually come out and name these wrong fellows.
But the most famous one was Paul Ssemogerere’s ‘Black Book’. During the war in the early 1980s, lots of people were killed. Pogroms, known locally as ‘panda gari’, would be carried out in various places and people taken away, never to be seen again.
So the long-serving Democratic Party leader claimed he had the names of all of those involved in the ‘panda gari’ written down in his Black Book, and threatened to reveal their identities. To this day, almost 30 years later, those names still remain a mystery.
What is it with Ugandans? What is it in our character that refuses us to ‘name and shame’ the bad characters in our midst? Is it some mistaken sense of privacy? Or is it a hangover from those dark days? Or is it because, like somebody said, we are all thieves and don’t want to snitch on other thieves?
To that friend of mine who bought a hard cake she could not eat, I bet the bakery is still selling people cakes they cannot eat. Doesn’t she think if she revealed the bakery, it will be forced to change its evil ways and we will all get good eatable cakes?
And colleague of mine trying to help a young Ugandan guy get home, how are we supposed to help when we don’t know who he is or where he is? Like they say, I don’t think prayers will be enough, if we are going to sign any cheques more information is needed.
And those fellows on social media posting about those that have died, we can only mourn with you if we know who has died. Even if they owed everybody money, it is too late to arrest them anyway.
Politicians will never sell out their fellow politicians, so we shall give those a miss. But Dr Ssemogerere, when will it be the right time to reveal who is in your Black Book?