From misery and desperation of searching for missing loved ones to ululations of having them back, the community has learnt one lesson: keep your mouth shut on politics. That is the response Uganda Radio Network got from interviews conducted.
Crowds formed at one of the homes whose member had returned after 73 days of abduction. Thrilled to see community members back, crowds
gathered in small groups as they chatted or listened to stories of the
Everyone who turned up was curious to glance at the returnees,
greet and tell them: “We are happy to see you back, we prayed for you every day.” A man in his sixties went on his knees, clasped his rosary and prayed after
greeting two of the returnees.
This was the scene in Kisamula village in Kasaali town council, Kyotera District on
the morning of Tuesday 23rd 2021 as they woke to the news that 18 people
who had been kidnapped from the community earlier in January had returned home.
From misery and
despair, searching and finally ululations of having the loved ones back, the community learnt a
serious lesson: to keep quiet politically.That is the response Uganda Radio Network got
from interviewees conducted in the village.
happened to them is because they showed their sides,” Nampija Maureen said
after a long moment reflection. “I will not show again that I am for this or that
Though Nampija had led women dancing and jubilating minutes earlier
before being approached, her face turned visibly depressed as returnees started telling their horror stories.
they endured, she argues, wasn’t proportional to the sin of supporting Robert
Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential
candidate in the January 14th.
She adds that even supporting the opponent of State Minister for Microfinance
and Small Enterprises Haruna Kasolo, for area Member of Parliament, did not warrant the torture and torment inflicted on the abduction victims.
//Cue in: “nze ngomuntu kyezizemu
Cue out:…byaffe mukasilise.”//
It’s the same point that Mutesasira Gerald makes - that
the crime the abductees committed was openly showing the side they support.He says
during the dreadful detention days, some of the abductees were told they had bombs
and guns which is a blatant lie. “We work with these people every day, we know them, we
have lived with them for years, none of them even knows how to fire a gun,” he
Most of the abductees were unwilling to freely chat with people and journalists who
flocked to their homes on Tuesday morning to glance at them and listen to their
stories.It was Lukyamuzi Kiwanuka Yuda, a rice trader, who agreed
to tell a bit of the story how he was arrested and some of the questions
he was being asked. Kiwanuka said he was accused of being a terrorist and soldiers
asked him to avail names of terrorists he was training.
told them that I have never been a terrorist or trained rebels,” he responded
to the soldiers. Kiwanuka said he was also asked if he supports Bobi Wine which he
admitted. Other abductees were also asked whether they supported Bobi Wine. Some
said yes while other said no. But even for those who said no, it did not save
them from the same treatment as those who admitted to the 'crime' of supporting the opposition.
When dealing with politics, especially supporting opposition
candidates, Mutesasira says, it’s important to keep quiet.
//Cue in: “kyenjizemu kabanga abasinga…
Cue out:…sikyilungi kulaga side.”//
John Mugambi says the abduction taught him that the rights of an
ordinary Ugandan can be abused by security agencies any time. He says security
agencies should always control their tempers especially during politically charged
seasons. Mugambi says he has learnt that it is important to first study any
political environment before making a decision for instance about how to
express political support.
//Cue in: “nze nga nze…
Cue out:…abamany na abatamanyi.”//
Ssemakula Henry, a lawyer born in the area says the community went
through a lot of pain in the 73 days of abduction. “People have hated this
government more because of misery they have gone through,” he says.
A Eucharistic thanksgiving Mass was hastily
Fr Vincent Kiggundu who led the Mass urged returnees and their
families to forgive. “If you’re to heal both physically and mentally, you
should forgive. You will not recover from trauma unless you forgive. That is
what psychology tells us,” he told them.
“What you went through, you will tell it for the rest of your
life, forgive even when those who tortured you don’t care,” he said.
But Ssemakula says it will be hard to forgive quickly because
of pain the community went through.