Last week, I found myself listening to Prince Paul Job Kafeero after a YouTube suggestion popped up under the video I was viewing. I must confess that I, like many other Ugandans online that day, was watching the arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi, a musician turned politician who has earned himself infamy in the political arena of our country.
The song suggestion was a little-known ballad from Kafeero titled ‘Ebizibu Byensi’ -a song that chronicles the problems of the world. Kafeero’s major worry in the song is the legacy he will leave behind.
It truly goes without saying that Kafeero’s legacy has lived on beyond his time, despite being a chronic alcoholic.
In the last stanza, he tells a story of the man who prospered in the village he resided in. The main character in this story had bought himself a radio or cassette player. The radio was a luxury and having it in his possession earned him both fame and means. He used the fame to philander and the means to subjugate the rest of the village.
On one of the drunken nights, a drunk lady knocked over the radio and the owner’s access to both fame and means ended abruptly. The story ends with him as a follower of fishermen and a chronic drunkard, far from what he enjoyed in his heyday.
It wouldn’t be a farfetched to interpret the radio as a metaphor for power, and neither would it stretch the imagination to envision our police force commanders of today as the man who owns the cassette.
Many commanders assigned to the handling of opposition politicians’ events and processions make a near unquestioned abuse of the freedoms of expression and rights of association. They determine, by their whim, whether these politicians leave their homes, what routes they use, who they move with and lately, very embarrassingly too, who visits the politicians in their homes.
This unquestioned and unthoughtful use of power, it has long been thought, benefits the status quo – which is an oxymoron. What, for example, would be the benefit to the regime, to have Bobi Wine stopped from recording a statement at CID, as we saw last week?
In his letter, the principle embodiment and beneficiary of state functionality, Museveni, also criticized the manner of arrest conducted but fell short of criticizing in totality the blocking of opposition politicians.
In that letter, also ironically, the President discourages rallies in markets, something he is fond of doing in Kampala.
If the Police, a state organ and the NRM, the party that currently runs the state should learn anything from Kafeero’s ‘Ebizibu Byensi’ it is that, the respect of human rights should not be determined by their economic, political, social or religious affiliations. Even the people that are believed to be ‘spreading lies and propaganda’ are better countered by a force of argument and not the argument of force.
Keeping up the criminal acts of blocking concerts, shooting demonstrators, rioting on the part of rioters and intolerance are the drunken lady who just might tip over the radio.
The unconventional thought for this week is; let’s try a force of argument. Win people over to our point without using the argument of force.