This Week in Ugandan News
February 09- February 14, 2020
TRIGGER HAPPY IN THE CITY
Quite suddenly, the tenor of my week is changed. Maybe yours too?
Until this morning, I expected to regale you with how Ernest Bazanye in Juma Seiko’s shooting shows Bizeemu spoke for all of us on the Sunday, February 9, 2020.
In a near repeat of the fatal November 2016 Kenneth Watmon Akena -Matthew Kanyamunyu traffic altercation, Seiko claimed in self defense he had to shoot at three people on Mambure road in Kalerwe.
Ali Jjuuko, 45, the driver of the Canter lorry, Reg. No. UAF 293T, allegedly scratched Juma Seiko’s black Toyota Alteza UBD 890H.
A retelling of the event by The Observer from Jjuuko says, “We both stopped our vehicles and a man who was in Seiko’s car got out, came and asked me why I had scratched Afande’s car. I then heard the voice of another man in the car ordering me to step out of my lorry, which I did,” Jjuuko said.
The other man in the car happened to be Juma Seiko and when he pulled down his car window, Jjuuko said, he quickly knelt and begged for forgiveness. He said his remorsefulness didn’t calm down Seiko. Seiko instead got out of the car with a hammer-shaped stick and started hitting Jjuuko on the shoulders, the back and all over his body until he dropped to the ground.
As he was still beating me, people began to gather around and pleaded with him to stop since I was already on the ground but he didn’t listen. That is when I spotted a pistol around his waist. I was beginning to lose consciousness; so, he left me and turned to smashing my vehicle’s windows,” he said.
Jjuuko said his three-year-old son was in the lorry. When he saw Seiko vandalising his lorry, he said, he gathered some strength and got up to save his son. When Seiko saw him walking towards the lorry, he thought Jjuuko wanted to fight. Seiko, Jjuuko said, pulled out his pistol and pointed it at him.
“When he pointed the gun at my chest, I hugged him so he wouldn’t have space to shoot me but out of fear, I suddenly let him go and he fell down. As I was running, he shot me twice in the leg and I fell to the ground. Hadn’t I hugged him, I think he would have shot me right in the chest,” he said.
Jjuuko added that Seiko fired about eight or nine bullets to disperse the crowd, which was charging towards him. He was only saved by a policeman on a bike who quickly whisked him to Kawempe police station. His driver had earlier sped off towards Gayaza road when he saw the crowd charging forward, leaving the colonel to his own devices.”
Ernest Bazanye captured exactly how the public is likely to react to future encounters with our men and women in uniform and in positions of authority with armed escorts.
Bazanye noted, “The opposite of confidence is being engendered simultaneously. A Ugandan soldier is meant to fight for you, to protect your life against danger.
But now we are more likely to fear that the soldier will fight against you to protect his car. I am not so sure I am confident about the army any more.
Some of you will be outraged. You will stamp feet and raise fists and bellow about how you will not be intimidated.
Good luck with that. I’m not joining you. That kind of attitude is how you get capped in the first place. I, for one, am thoroughly intimidated and ready to lie low and cower in submission to the imminent tyranny, lie as low and flat as necessary.”
There is more. You can read the full article here.
I would have told you about the death of one of the Uganda People’s Defence Force generals with a benign public persona on Wednesday, February 12, 2020: General Benon Biraaro. A surprise presidential candidate in 2016 who impressed with his mind and manifesto, if not his poll numbers.
A PRINCE AMONG MEN IS GONE
But instead I want to tell you about Douglas Musunga. I wish you did not have to know him this way: dead. He should not be dead at 39.
His babies Darlene, Destiny, Davin and Daniel, not yet in their teens, deserved the benefit of Musunga’s guidance. A brilliant autodidact who studied Economics at Makerere University but I watched in awe teach himself how to be a radio presenter (Touch FM), deejay, and then his consuming passion: photography.
Before there was there was YouTube for tutorials, photography exhibitions and seminars in Kampala, before digital photography and point and shoot cameras were common, Musunga with a will found a way to learn how to take photographs. Not just take photographs but become an expert in the art of photography so that by the time he was leaving University, he was never going to be a 9-5 office body.
In 2006/7 Kampala, photographers were far from respected. Musunga is one of the new generation of photographers who set out to change that public perception.
A gregarious man with a booming, gentle voice that won him many admiring listeners on Touch FM, Power FM and Kampala FM, Musunga did not abandon every photographer’s trusted apparel: blue denim jeans. With an instinctive fashion sense that was further honed as he obsessed over his craft, he insisted on always being impeccably clean with a dash of African wear and colour flare in his get up, for himself and later for the younger photographers he mentored.
That voice could have won him a test walk into any radio of his choice (and often did) but Musunga continually returned to Power FM with its strong Christian values. They were not lip service values to Musunga. He intended to live them and practice them in the craft he discovered as a bored Economics major at university.
Before Musunga, photographers were not a trusted lot. They wanted a down payment for a job they sometimes knew they would not be able to do because of more appealing commitments. Photographers were often late to functions, keener on the buffet table than the high table guests. A scruffy, impatient lot, photographers hopped between multiple engagements more intent on the highlights than the nuances and memories that made each function a life changing event for the organizers.
The best of Musunga’s photographs catch the quiet looks of pure love between couples in the din of weddings, children’s ebullient play that would remind the stiffly dressed and sometimes unhappy adults at functions that this is what life was about: joy and not missing the moment.
Every subject before Musunga’s lens got a royal treatment and this is perhaps why he called his Ntinda based studio DaPrince Photography.
The prince of photographers is dead. He died quite suddenly on Friday, February 14, 2020 in his studio. He died in the place he probably loved the most in the world on Valentine’s Day.
He leaves behind a wife Carol, who is expecting their fifth child and four children. He is dead but he will live in the hearts and on the frames of walls in homes all over Uganda that had the luck of his majestic touch in their family photographs. He is dead but he is not dead. He was a believer and he created immortality with his lens.
A funeral service has been held for Musunga at Praise Cathedral Kigowa at 11am Saturday 15th Feb 2020. Burial is in Sironko on Sunday 16th Feb 2020.
Every tribe in Uganda has a version of this story that death is an uninvited guest who comes with a stool. We must face it and live with it but it will not always be here. Life returns. We believe in life.