When I learnt about Kakwenza Rukirabashaija’s abduction, I shared with some people that abducting and torturing an author for writing a book criticising the establishment in societies with people of low intellectual curiosity such as Uganda is analogous to giving your enemy more lethal ammunition.
In a society with very few people interested in reading non-academic literature, promoting and selling a book is an uphill task — regardless of the book’s genre.
But when the State abducts and tortures the author, to wreck vengeance and with intention to conceal the book’s message, it renders the book free and wide promotion which compels some irregular readers to find out why the State is aggrieved.
If the leadership has lost much popularity and credibility, curiosity of more literate folks who are against the status quo gets whetted to read the book. Such wide promotion would be expensive for any author in Uganda.
Kakwenza’s The Greedy Barbarian and Banana Republic could by far be more popular with more copies sold than books such as John Kazoora’s Betrayed by My Leader and Miria Matembe’s The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Betrayed.
In the two books, Kazoora and Matembe too, were very stinging. They quoted Museveni and other important government officials saying things Ugandans would find very illuminating and of course annoying. But because none of the authors was arrested and tortured for the books, probably exceedingly fewer Ugandans have read them.
As you read this article, The Greedy Barbarian and Banana Republic are out of stock even after more than one print run. If they were in stock, a good mumber of sales, I think, would be made in this week following the author’s Literature Prize.
It’s noteworthy that the prize is in recognition of the author’s ordeal in the CMI dungeons and his courage to carry on with the pen after his inhuman and degrading treatment at CMI.
If Kakwenza was spared the CMI cruelty, this week’s prize, The Guardian article and numerous stories about the same topic wouldn’t run on multiple Ugandan news websites. The books are now more popular, more copies of The Greedy Barbarian and Banana Republic are going to be sold and many people are going to learn about what the State wanted to conceal.
It seems, the pain Kakwenza went through at CMI was as necessary as the pain associated with loss of a woman’s virginity. His was the pain that ushers one into towering achievements.
Indeed, If Kakwenza’s tormentors were a bit rational, they would be remorseful for their actions. I believe that his tormentors are irrational because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t abduct and torture him in the first place.
The best way to fight an author in Uganda is to ignore them with their books. Ugandans are intellectually lazy people who can’t bother finding out what is written in books. The few who read already know the rot of their government and nothing much surprises them anymore.
Kakwenza has really walked through the path of great men such as Socrates, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Galileo Galilee et cetera who were persecuted because of their works.