In tears and tatters but we are still unbroken

Sunday November 29 2020

Angella Nampewo

By Angella Nampewo

As the week came to an end, a sort of calm had begun to settle over the country. Although our tendency is to move on and try to live a normal life after major scandals and tragic events, it has not been so easy to put away the images from the protests which broke out on November 18 and 19 following the arrest of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu.

The fires were put out, broken property may have been repaired or replaced but families are still grieving and questions are being asked and answered in some quarters. 
Action has been swift in following up certain leads to the violence but in the ways that matter, information has not been forthcoming. 

Questions linger such as, who shot all those people? And not just the ones who died but the ones who have been languishing in hospitals in different districts? 
And yet in spite of it all, the resilience of the people shows in the middle of the suffering. With up to 50 people dead and many more in various states of injury, the nation carries on. 

Businesses reopen and people return to their hustle. We rub shoulders with the police and army patrols on our streets as they go about their work with guns slung over their shoulders, but we do not cringe. For this is our new reality. 
Forget Covid-19, curfew and the lockdown hardships. Political campaigns, teargas and live bullets are the real new normal. 
As various players try to secure the forthcoming election, a few other things are coming undone. The voices calling for caution and control over the Covid-19 pandemic are growing hoarse from repeating themselves. 
Few still pay attention to the daily updates on Covid-19 cases although the ministry continues to keep tabs diligently. 
This week, the ministry also noted with concern on its Twitter handle that a high level of complacency had settled among the population and gross lack of discipline with regard to the SOPs. 

The thing about our Ugandan ability to bounce back from nasty events is that it is a double-edged sword. 
It is the very thing that keeps us from collapsing under the weight of grief, anger and sorrow but it is also what makes us reckless and forgetful, landing us again and again in a hot pot of soup, from which we emerge scathed but unrepentant and not altogether sure that we will never do it again.

So far, we are a people that can be stretched but are yet to be broken. Our spines and backsides are subjected to rough and slippery roads but we always get home, get to the market or school and still return home, mostly unbroken. 
The state of some of our health facilities makes us weep but we dry our tears and keep showing up there for treatment, hoping for a miracle. 


The security agents shoot at the people but the next time there is a political rally in town, there is no love lost between the people and the armed forces. 
The people go on rampage, tear gas is fired and the people go home that day, only to return the next day full of hope that something will be different this time.

Looking back, the people of this beautiful nation have seen their fair share of horror but our ability to absorb the shock and move on seems to be elastic at the moment but even the most hardened crack eventually, given the right amount of pressure. 
We are still holding together uneasily, aggressors side by side with the aggrieved, willing to soldier on.

Ms Nampewo is a writer, editor and communications consultant