Every murder is an outrage against the unique human being who is its victim. Every murder is a tragedy for that individual victim’s loved ones. In those unalterable senses, the murder of Arua Municipality Member of Parliament, Col Ibrahim Abiriga, was no different from any other that have happened in the recent past.
Abriga, too, was a child, a parent a partner as well as a friend, whose life was cut off with brutal finality. What marks Abiriga’s murder out is that it was an outrage against and a tragedy for, an entire society, the Ugandan society.
Nevertheless, Abiriga’s murder was unprecedented. In every modern case, each of those high profile victims was targeted for what they were deemed to represent. But Abiriga could have been murdered not just for what he was held to represent, but specifically for who he was, a public person or a man of the people.
He was smart, open, generous and optimistic. His killing could not have been a random event. It was perhaps premeditated by elusive and trigger-happy, motorcycle-riding assassins.
Killing the MP on the street embodied decency and commitment to all that humanity has in common. What a contrast with so much that is rotten in politics?
The slide from civilisation to barbarism is shorter than we might like to imagine. Every violent crime taints the ideal of an orderly society. Worse still, when that crime is committed against the people who are peacefully selected to write the rules, then no doubt, the affront is much more profound. The killing by repeated shooting in the street of Abiriga is, in the first instance, an exceptionally heinous act.
The slain MP was a father of nine very young children, who will now have to grow without him. It is also, however, in a very real sense, an attack on our fragile democracy.
Whatever the cause, an attack on any legislator should be seen as an attack on Parliament as well. Our country today requires to think about why this happened and to take every practicable step to ensure nothing like or similar to Abiriga’s killing happens again.
The idealism of Abiriga was the very antithesis of such brutal killing. Honour his memory because the values and the commitment that he embodied are all that we need to keep barbarism at bay