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Beware of Covid-19’s darkness and those moving in it

In my earlier articles, I indicated that this pandemic has allowed us so much to see about our societies by casting a bright torch into our strong and weak points.

But in the fear and panic that it has brought forth, together with our exaggerations, a sort of darkness has been caused where a lot goes in the name of Covid-19 without being noticed or without the possibility of sounding an alarm.

Even when sounded, there might be no one to listen as many are in fear of being accused of encouraging the spread of the disease. Oversight international bodies and civil society organisations that are ordinarily feared a bit in their demands for accountability are mostly silent and immobile.

That is the darkness. British historian Richard Evans says that it is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars. And we have seen some of those. But we also know that it is in the dark that night dancers, thieves, and all sorts of evildoers come out.

Of course, some bold thieves won’t wait for the dark, they might find darkness in other kinds of covers that they utilise to outsmart their victims. It is easier for a thief to invade when they can take control of the light in the house, determining who sees or not.

In the darkness, they tend to keep lights off and carry torches which they only cast where they want to see or in the eyes of their victim to blind them. Under Covid-19, torches have been taken away from us by government.

This is in the sense that they have seized more control of what we can do or not; whether we can move or not; whether we can ask for accountability or not; whether we can protest or not.

This is supposed to be for everyone’s good, and that is how it is presented. But it is the kind of power that British philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ absolute Sovereign wielded as people were desperate to run from the ‘state of nature’ and its risks.

Too much freedom can be dangerous, just as unchecked power is prone to abuse. Through what political scientists call the ‘rally around the flag effect’, the pandemic has afforded governments too much power that they can use for the prevention of Covid-19, but also for smuggling in their other political and financial interests.

This is bound to be worse in societies that were already sick with greed, corruption and weak institutions. Where there were tendencies towards presidentialism, there is now opportunity for entrenching it deeper with less public questioning. All in the Covid-19 darkness.

Sometime in our childhood, we used to play a naughty game at home when our parents would not be watching. Whenever there was a sudden power blackout at night (and it was common), one would target someone they had an issue with and pinch or knock their head.

The victim would then scream, ‘Ayayaaa, who has hit me?’ And everyone would deny, as if there was a ghost in the room! Because the act was done in the dark, even if the culprit could be seen by the look on their face when lights went on, it was hard to pin them. Isn’t this how MP Francis Zaake tortured himself in the Covid-19 darkness?

Isn’t it how Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, author of The Greedy Barbarian’, was beaten for the book but later accused of acts that could lead to the spread of Covid-19?

So, whenever there was a blackout, some of us that had either reported someone or angered them in some way would simply hide. Some opposition politicians have gone silent, not only because the already limited stage was usurped by the state in the fight against Covid-19, but also because they are aware of the possibility of being hit without protection in this darkness, for ‘spreading Covid-19’.

Our childhood game of darkness came to its worst when it came at meal time, especially if meat was on the menu. You had to immediately cover your plate; or else, by the time light returned, all the meat would be gone!

Even the one that had more pieces on their plate than had been served would boldly defend them as their legitimate share! Sometimes, when you covered your plate in the dark, some aggressive ones would try to pull your hands off with untold entitlement. All you did was shout, ‘leave my meat’.

Similarly, under the Covid-19 darkness, all we can do is scream in our houses as the Executive and Parliament dip their hands into our national plate.

At this rate, I don’t know how much we will be left with by the time normalcy returns. With the current appetite for borrowing in the confusion, how much weight will our already obese national debt have added? Now that this darkness has become attractive to some of the powerful, shall we see normalcy any time soon?

If our childhood game had not been banned by our parents when they got to know, perhaps the next step would have been turning off the main switch for more darkness.

Now that ‘aid’ for it has started flowing in, shall Covid-19 end? Will the issue of truck drivers accept a solution? I am no military strategist, but wasn’t this partly the reason why the horrible war in Northern Uganda lasted so long?

It is said that when there is a dead body in the lake, fish catches increase around its site. Hence, it is not in the fishermen’s interest to immediately retrieve the body.

They will thus go searching it everywhere apart from where they suspect it to be. Meanwhile, the bereaved are at mourning longer. May this night get more stars! May the moon shine over parliament and the executive! May we not emerge from our hiding places to find an empty house!


The author is a teacher of philosophy.


+4 #1 Wooden K. 2020-05-20 16:48
The Baganda have even a more appropriate metaphor:
"ENZIKIZA EYAMBA MUMIZI " ( darkness benifits those whith horrible table-manners..)

Our ancestors already predicted the scenario that Dr. Ssentongo is here to highlight.

Convic-19 has provided the sort of "blackout" that our vampires needed at this point.

When the light come back on , the ever gullible and cluleless ( abajega) will not be able to tell what hit them.

Question : the ones in Kawempe who got kaunga and 3 kgs of rotten beans two months ago , are they still singing "what a wonderful president " or not ?

My view is that the little they were given on camera was the gimmick that the master conjuror needed before he could blow out the tadooba.

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-9 #2 Remase 2020-05-20 18:47
Jimmy, do me a favor, please stop associating MPs with M7 and most NRMs who are looting our country naked.

Yes they gave themselves 20m. Big deal? How about the 40m? How come you are not writing about that one but keep bashing all the MPs because of the 20m?
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+2 #3 Kelly 2020-05-21 10:47
Quoting Remase:
Jimmy, do me a favor, please stop associating MPs with M7 and most NRMs who are looting our country naked.

Yes they gave themselves 20m. Big deal? How about the 40m? How come you are not writing about that one but keep bashing all the MPs because of the 20m?

Must it be only Jimmy to make "ndulu?". He has done his part. What are you doing as Ramase?

Beside must he write about everythin at ago? You are the people who always speak in passive "let -this,them...let them-that" and you wonder who "Them" is!!!
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0 #4 Remase 2020-05-21 15:25
Kely, I didn't quite get your point, but let me make mine clear.

This space is made for you and I to make comments. We may agree to disagree, that is fair play. So I don't understand why you should ask me what I have done.

We have organised crime in our country, led by M7 and they are looting our country make. IMF gave us, Uganda, over 1 trillion! What has it done and/or what is its accountability?

Ugandans have donated bullions and food. To this date most Ugandans haven't been given anything! The COViD-19 has brought unprecedented economical and unemployment difficulties, but what has the govt done for Ugandans?

We all know that the organized criminals are busy looting our country and we are paying attention to the 20m given to the MPs? Of which they have returned. That is what I mean. Let's pay attention to the money which is given to M7 which is in trillions and unaccounted for.
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0 #5 Akot 2020-05-21 17:12
Wooden K., well reasoned.

While Ugandans wait for Museveni to do this or that, can you imagine if Uganda becomes anotehr Brasil with covid-19 in control while the leader denies it, yet it's the ordinary people dying?

I don't understand how & why Ugandans, after 34 years, still wait for Museveni to give solutions to their problems! Is Museveni imortal & Ugandans won't have to look up to any other?
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0 #6 Akot 2020-05-21 17:35
Kelly, thanks!

It's mps duty/responsibility to debate & pass development programmes & allocating money to finance projects, but Ug. mps only assure their share of the loot!

Uganda is Agricultural country, but mps have not assured parliament upgraded & modernized it!

If mps were fulfilling their promises to electorate, they would have impeached Museveni a long time ago for blocking constituencies development programmes!

Now, it's up to Ugandans to either;

- form Independent Tribal States, or

- bring down the tribalistic system, UNITE to block & show Museveni way out!
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0 #7 Remase 2020-05-22 14:09
Akot, you and I are always reading from the same page.

Unfortunately, in Uganda we don't have the 3 branches of govt. We have a military dictatorship. Yes there is a handful of MPs who are in parliament to serve the people, but 90/100 are there to serve their interests.

Until we realize that we have the power, nothing is going to change. Therefore we can't blame MPs for our collective failures. MPs are just a rubber stamp for the doctor. He just gave those who lifted the age limit 40m!
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0 #8 sula 2020-05-22 15:21
1- IMF /World bank ought to know that the Trillions they are giving is not for Ugandans but for the Emperor Museveni &co.

When his days are over (and very soon), the IMF/World bank should get ready to get their money from Museveni &co.

2- If IMF/World Bank insists that Ugandans have to pay, then Uganda will be left with no option but to try to get the IMF money from Museveni &co.

3- In short Museveni &co can eat the money, forge the accountability but they will pay back the money.
If they fail on earth, still God wont leave them.
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0 #9 Jama 2020-05-24 15:33
This country has been disorganized, politically, economically, socially and militarily by a man who believes he will rule for eternity.
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+1 #10 Remase 2020-05-25 11:19
JAMA, you nailed it on the head. We need and/or should concentrate all our efforts on getting rid of M7, his family and cronies by any means provided by our constitution.

Period. Elections can't and never will ever be the means of getting rid of M7.
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