Friday September 5 2014

How about we steal back some humanity?

By Joseph Lagen

We Ugandans have yet again seized that enviable spot on the walls of infamy. As a child, I had fancied a couple of heist movies, a hobby that somewhat stuck on. So be it Italian Job, Oceans 11, The Taking of Pelham 123, name it, I liked. That was until I realised that thieves had no qualms robbing a not so plush house like ours clean.
So here we are today, watching another heist script roll within our boundaries. First money meant for a road to be constructed, and faster than Usain can “bolt” past his previous record, more than half of it goes missing. Now FBI is upon us, following a ghostly trail… and I wish them luck.
Another scene has it that the President of Obama’s grannies lost his luxury car to thieves. And short of a week later, the bullet proof BMW was found within Ugandan borders! And you thought the Oceans Trilogy had a script!
So where am I going with this, you ask? I am not thumping my chest to the vile machismo Ugandans have, nor am I flaunting our goody two boots over Nairobi (work with me). I’m just saying we could just about steal anything; money, valley dams, votes and the cars of the presidents.
So how about we put that thievery to some good use. Away from the braggadocios theft of telephone digit amounts or highly prized articles, is that theft that makes one cringe. In the same week when the presidential BMW was mugged, Shs6m meant for the procurement of 46 hospital beds in Lyantonde district went missing, yet, news wise, that was not much of a deal.
But let us consider, what degree of callousness does it take to rob the sick? Hypothetically, times like these would make me rob a president on any given day, but to take away from ailing villagers takes a special lack of nerve! A Tv show informed me that our middle class, though still immature, is perpetuated by households that hold “mad money” so to speak; monies that for some reason cannot be legally explained.
Our system may have taught us that one can only steal one’s way to wellbeing and that long serving civil servants can only arrive to the absurdities of a stolen pension. That way, most have gained awe-inspiring meticulousness at theft. As I said, because it is Uganda, anything can be stolen.
So how about we steal back some sense of humanity? Humanity that can remind us that hey, it is not just 46 expectant mothers that may die for lack of needed comfort, but thousands others, who will lack the stolen beds eight months later. Or how about we blackmail that humanity back into the left side chests of the appointed and or elected long hands?
We could hold their chance at the 2016 term at the ransom of all monies being accounted for. If they threaten to steal their way through the ballot, we just promise them long treks to work as we show their cars “Kampala”. And if they promise to steal… stop them in their tracks and have them sent to prison for conspiring to rob public assets, besides as one Acholi proverb goes “that you are a popular thief is proof you are not a good one”.