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BBC Africa Eye reminds us documenting crimes is only weapon

Police truck 17, Reg No UP 5564 was documented as the killer truck during the November 18, 19 shootings

Police truck 17, Reg No UP 5564 was documented as the killer truck during the November 18, 19 shootings

On the night of 26 June 1979, Madiya Nantende was executed in the most gruesome of murders.

Nantende was seven months pregnant and her murderers chose to target her pregnancy. Her stomach was ripped open with a panga and the feotus crudely torn out.

The butcherer, holding the foetus upwards to a watchful and bloodthirsty audience, proclaimed in jubilation, “here is Idi Amin, we have him.”

It is needless to add, Nantende died soon after. But even more excruciating, Nantende’s mother watched all this horror and would retell this story to the end of her earthly days. Also queued up for execution in this well-documented blood-bath against Muslims — in a clear case of ethnic cleansing — Nantende’s mother, instinctively jumped into River Rwizi before her turn would come.

Even with her hands tied to her back, she somehow swam and survived. [Maybe fair to say, the waves rolled her to safety].

Two months earlier, the government of Idi Amin had collapsed. But with its end predictable, a bunch of persons mobilising under the guise of Christianity vowed to teach Muslims a lesson for “being favoured” by President Amin.

It is difficult to tell how they turned their hate for Amin against all Muslims – especially against vulnerable folks in the Ugandan countryside. [It would have been understandable for Muslims in government maybe]. It is only fair to add that while the murderers mobilised under claims of Christianity, there was nothing Christian about their ethnic cleansing. But politics.

Because, around the same time, the government in Kampala – the Military Commission -- was wantonly rounding up random Muslims and jailing them. Indeed, more than 400 persons were thrown in jail simply for being Muslims.

Emboldened by the arrests explicitly targeting Muslims in Kampala [as continues to happen nowadays], vigilantes in Bushenyi took matters in their han Edward Rurangaranga, the chief mobiliser of the blood-bath would encourage locals to “cut the branches,” since the “stem had been cut.”

The stem was President Amin. To underscore the non-religious but outright political nature of these murders, Rurangaranga would mobilise, claiming that they had the backing of the then minister of Defence. At the end of the day, 64 Muslims [documented with names and executioners] had been murdered in ways as gruesome as Nantende.

The crimes above were carefully documented by scholars and researchers, most notably, folklorist Abasi Kiyimba, anthropologist, Imam Idi Kasozi, and researcher, Idris Semakula.

The information is contained in a small pamphlet titled, “Is the 1979 Muslim Blood–Bath in Bushenyi History?” There is a PDF online and parts appear in several online outlets. Documentation.

About a month ago, Prof. Kiyimba gave a talk titled “State-inflicted wounds against Muslims in Uganda” where he spent a bit more time on the 1979 massacres in southwestern Uganda. A day after I had listened to the Abasi Kiyimba talk, BBC Africa Eye released its epic documentary, “Three Killings in Kampala.”

Like the 1979 killings, 18-19 Nov. 2020 will remain permanently etched in our history as two gruesome days. I am convinced BBC Africa Eye had problems fitting all the horror and gore in just 30 minutes.

While I watched the story of Shamim Nabirye, whose womb carried three foetuses and UPDF/Uganda Police bullets ripped it apart ending to loss of all of them, I recalled Madiya Nantende whose only foetus was ripped out by a machete.

Nabirye is still alive, but she is partially dead. Most likely will never conceive again. It might come as some sheer coincidence but these murderers have to be by the same people.

See, watching Kamuyat Nangobi, who met her death trying to eke a livelihood for her four children waiting at home, I could not hold my tears seeing her mother resign to grief: “If I ever meet the person who shot Kamuyat, I will ask them to shoot me too.”

Just like Madiya’s mother, Kamuyat’s mother watched the gruesome execution of her daughter. Should it not be instructive that our president, comrade brother Yoweri Museveni was minister of Defence in 1979 under the Military Commission?

I am connecting the 1979 murders to the 2020 murders not as an effort to seek justice under the current government, but rather to emphasise a point that Prof. Kiyimba stressed during his talk.

The same point is made by Kamuyat’s grandfather, Muslimu Musimami when talking about the image of her lifeless granddaughter stretched out on the tarmac.

Asked what weather-beaten Ugandans should do in the face of all these crimes, perpetrated by those who are supposed to protect them [or simply committed in their names], Kiyimba stressed the power of documentation: Looking to the future, Kiyimba argued that a good government will come, and in the face of overwhelming evidence, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

And the victims/ their children stand a chance of finding justice and being compensated. I want to add that since today’s perpetrators of violence also have children and grandchildren, documenting their crimes will (a) deny their children chance to benefit from criminally acquired wealth and power.

(b) criminal parents have to beware that their children and grandchildren will pay for their crimes under a different government.

Documenting then become a potent weapon of an emasculated populace. To rephrase an old Igbo proverb, once the hunters exit the stage where they have been exhibiting power-blessed lies about their crimes on the animals, the animals have to be ready for the platform — exhibit the truth.


The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.


0 #1 Wooden K. 2021-06-09 16:08
This would definately have been an excellent article if Yusuf had not " Islamized" it.

Of course it is easy for a muslim to wonder how some people " turned thier hate for Amin against (all) muslims"

But if you asked th people from Masaka ( Buddu) they will tell you how 15 most prominent catholic men were murdered within a few days- by a gang of Idd Amin`s armed muslims headed by a notorious man called Al Haji Kaloddo , Al Haji Mbuga ( a rally driver) Haji Kateregga and others.

The only survivor was the late Bernard Kakinda , the proprietor of St. Bernard`s Collega Kiswera where late Kaweesi and others studied.

Kakinda was saved by students 8 of whom were blasted to death by a hand grenade that was thrown in by Haji Kaloddo`s attackers.

There are many of such stories.
I do not think it is such a great idea to simply reduce the deaths that occured last November to mere " hatred of muslims" . The majority of Museveni`s brutality are not muslims.
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+11 #2 Lysol 2021-06-09 22:20
The BBC of today is quite different from the BBC back in the day when my dad used to listen to it 24/7 for world news.

It has became biased and opinionated. The BBC has always given Museveni's regime a pass until now.

If it had been relentless against Museveni like it did with many past leaders, Museveni would not be in power today. That is why it has the regime's supporters working for it. Too late too little.
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0 #3 M!K! 2021-06-10 01:53
There were also massacres at City Square during the 1979 Twagala Lule protests. The perpetrators, estimated to have been a dozen or so ferried in the infamous 'kazinga' Land Rover jeeps mounted with machineguns and recoilless rifles were led by none other than the then powerful Major General Oyite Ojok himself driving in a Fiat 127 belonging to the then Coffee Marketing Board which Oyite Ojok
had taken over before officially becoming its chairman in later years.

In the front passenger seat
was an AK47 brandishing big man from the then Military Commission.

Survivors say the killer volleys were from Oyite Ojok's front seat passenger, a big man in the then ruling Military Commission, and the machine gunners on the jeeps.

Survivors say the convoy stopped in the middle of the road before the gunmen trained their weapons in the crowd and mowed down their targets before driving off. Oyite Ojok is dead. But his front seat passenger is still alive.
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+1 #4 Moses O 2021-06-11 11:46
Interesting read, but to zero down only muslims and leaving out the others who lost their lives in the Nov 18 riots,makes the article rather wanting in context.

Yusuf you can do better than this
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+1 #5 sula 2021-06-12 10:35
M !K , please check your facts, some testimonies claim that the No Lule no work was battered by soldiers under the command of Mr Museveni who refereed to Baganda as being 'parochial' in their actions.
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0 #6 sula 2021-06-12 10:42
Yes Yusuf the blood letting has not stopped.
Just like Macbeth (shakespeare ) museveni is at the point where going ahead with the killing is the only option. .He has killed so many stopping wont make him a good man.

- The next head of army is likely to be family either Sabiti or Kainerugaba , then Ugandans will get another heightened dose of brutality. ( Sabiti's men attacked Makerere University, battered students and Sabiti was smiling over it. - Like father those boys are brutal. TRUE they need to be documented.
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+1 #7 M!K! 2021-06-12 23:43
Sula, I am not absolving anybody. Who do you think was the front seat passenger riding with David Ojok and was a powerful member of the then Military Commission?
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