Dreams cut short by bullets

Protesters barricade a road in Kampala during riots that erupted on November 18. About 54 people were killed in the riots. PHOTO | STEPHEN OTAGE

What you need to know:

  • Grieving families and friends share the triumphs, travails and final moments of relatives in a way that offers insights into the lives of victims hitherto treated as statistics.

In the new series, we chronicle how bullets prematurely shattered the blooming dreams of dozens during two days of madness last November. In interviews with our reporter, Gillian Nantume, grieving families and friends share the triumphs, travails and final moments of relatives in a way that offers insights into the lives of victims hitherto treated as statistics.

She died delivering food to  her clients


Her death was the first to be broadcast when the riots broke out. She was the waitress who was shot on Kampala Road, wearing a red skirt and black top.
 Her grandfather, Muslim Musimami, is the Imam of the mosque on one of the buildings near E Tower on Kampala Road. He says the 28-year-old mother of four was renting a room in Wakaliga, Rubaga Division.
 “She had been married in Iganga District, but when she separated with her husband, she left the children with her mother and came to Kampala to work and send money to them for upkeep,” he said.

Ms Zainab Hassan, who owns a shop at the cooking place where Nangobi worked as a waitress, says she had been there for two years. The place where they prepared food can only be accessed through a corridor and a flight of stairs next to Varoon Plaza. The corridor has a metallic door.
Nangobi had been sick and had spent two days without working. When she returned, she was still weak and had almost fallen down the stairs.

 “I jokingly asked her if she wanted to die. She replied that if she died, I should not tell her mother. That morning, I worked with her to unblock one of the drainages. As payment, I gave her Shs10,000 which she used part of it to buy passion fruit juice at my shop. She took two sips, put the kaveera down and went out to get orders. She told me she would get the balance later,” Hassan says.

 Nangobi returned with two orders for pilau. At that time, the rioting had began and police were firing teargas at Kisekka Market.
 “When I heard the noise, I ran down the stairs and locked the entrance. I did not want the rioters to run into our building. I stood at the door and told all the waitress to sit down. I was not going to let anyone in or out.”

 Nangobi went to her boss and asked for two plates of pilau. Her boss refused, arguing that she could not carry food into the riots outside. Nangobi insisted and she got the food.
 She added: “When she came towards me, I refused to open the door. She sat down and looked at the plates for a while. Then she came forcefully towards me and told me to open the door. She said the food was cooling and she had to run out. I was so angry. I opened the door and told her to remain there until the riots end.”

 Five minutes later, people came banging on the door, called Hassan to open because Nangobi had been shot in the head at E-Tower, just a few feet from her workplace. The rice had poured near her head.
 Mr Musimami says: “She was shot by soldiers on a police patrol truck which was driving in a zig-zag way up and down Kampala Road. There were three policemen and three soldiers on the truck.”

 Two people were shot next door, at Little Bee Restaurant, but they survived.
 Nangobi was buried in Kiboyo Village, Bunyama Parish, Nakigo Sub-county in Iganga District. No government official has approached Musimami about the death of his granddaughter.

He was a quiet  family man


The 71-year-old former academic was shot at Mabirizi Complex on Kampala Road. He had retired from Public Service almost a decade earlier and was a commercial farmer in Mushanga, Sheema District. He was a well-off man who lived a comfortable life with is wife. He left six grown children.

Kittobbe was apolitical and having studied at Ntare School, he was an old boy of President Museveni. His wife eulogised him as a quiet, God-fearing and loyal family man, who upheld the values of humanity and hard work.

 On the fateful day, he left his home in Naalya Housing Estate for the city centre. Relatives say he was walking on Kampala Road, when the patrol pick-up truck, with policemen and soldiers, began firing indiscriminately, Kitoobe took refuge in a shop at Mabirizi Complex.

 When the situation seemed to calm down, Kitoobe left the shop  and the bullet got him by the neck as he was walking.
 He was buried in Mushanga, Sheema Municipality, Sheema District.

Hard working, jolly lad gone

The 31-year-old father of two was working in a phone shop near Shell Petrol Station on Kampala Road. His colleagues say although he had been at the shop for a year as a deliveryman, he was hardworking and jolly. He was renting in Nabulagala, Kasubi in Rubaga Division.

 When the rioting began at Kisekka market, Amera helped the shop attendants bring the merchandise inside the shop. They had been having a promotion that day, so he helped the DJs to take their music systems inside the shop.

 Then, they all stood outside, curious to see what was happening at the Equatorial Hotel junction. That is when the patrol car came up the road, with soldiers shooting indiscriminately. People began running to hide inside the shops and restaurants. Amera entered the shop next door, but unfortunately, the bullet penetrated the door, and hit him in the chest.  
Amera was buried in Tororo District.

Nabuuma was preparing for the next business day


The 24-year-old vendor was living in a single room, a few feet away from the railway line, in Nsiika Zone, Ndeeba Town, Kampala City. She lived with her seven-year-old daughter.

 Nabuuma sold fruit salads in Ndeeba Town for a living. She also made chapattis and doughnuts.
 Her neighbour, Abdul, says she had been living in Nsiika Zone for the last eight years.
 “She went to the market to stock up her supplies each day in the afternoon. She wanted to do the same on the day of rioting. Her neighbours tried to tell her not to go to the main road, but she had nothing to sell the next day,” he says.

 Nabuuma set off with her phone and purse. However, when she got to the road, she could not cross the rail because rioters had set fire.
 “She turned around and began walking home. She was shot in the back of the head,” Mr Abdul says.
 Abdul moved heaven and earth to find Nabuuma’s relatives because no one knew where she came from, yet she had left behind a child.
Eventually, he found them, and she was buried in Kanaana in Nakifuma County, Mukono District.

Kayizzi died making U-turn to safety


According to friends, Kayizzi, a boda boda rider at Kasiwukira Stage, Kizito Zone,  Najjanankumbi, was the only one from his family who had progressed. The 28-year-old had a wife and two children. He had taken the children to the village, but was living with his wife in Kisigula Village, Mutundwe Parish, Saabagabo Sub-county in Wakiso District.
 His mentor and friend, Ms Aisha Bukirwa, says Kayizzi had been riding his own motorbike for eight years.

 “He was an easy-going man, and was not even into politics. I had introduced him and a number of other riders to Saccos so that he could get the capital he needed to follow his dreams,” Ms Bukirwe says.
 “Four days before he died, our Sacco had given him Shs450,000. He had used some of the money to buy spare parts for his motorcycle. He was also a member of CBS PEWOSA Eyeeterekera Cooperative Society,” she says.

 Kayizzi dreamt of building a home on his father’s land in the village in Mityana District. He had so far managed to build one room and had bought sand to begin on the construction of the second room.
 On the fateful day,  Kayizzi and his brother had been helping some friends repair a motorcycle in Kyengera Town on Masaka Road. When the rioting began in Kyengera, the two decided to return to Najjanankumbi.

 “When they returned, Kayizzi sat at the verandah outside my shop and sent for food. He ate matooke, posho, potatoes and beef; he also drank omunanansi (pineapple juice). By that time, people were rioting on Entebbe Road, which is about 200 metres away from my shop,” Ms Bukirwa says.
 When the rioting and shouting intensified, Kayizzi thought the rioters had turned to looting. He helped Ms Bukirwa return her merchandise into the shop.
 “Then, he and other riders walked towards the road, hoping to help other shop keepers and restaurant owners. It was 5pm,” she says.

 However, at one stage, Kayizzi and his friends met one policeman leading a group of armed men in plain clothes and made a U-turn. Kayizzi was shot in the back of the neck.
 “He died the next morning at Mulago hospital. People say the man who shot him sits at Najjanankumbi police post,”  Ms Bukirwa says.
 Kayizzi was buried in Luswa Village in Mityana District.

He was planning to construct his home


The 29-year-old boda boda rider worked at a stage in Kayanja Zone, Ndeeba Town, Rubaga Division in Kampala City. He was married, with three children, the oldest of whom is seven years old. He was renting a room in Kabowa Parish.
His friend Akim Magezi, who works at a garage in Kayanja Zone, says Biguma used to transport them to carry out their assignments in different parts of the city.

 “In the evening, he used to park his motorbike here and walk home. He used to spend a lot of time with us, but he would sit in one place and put on his headsets. He had an expensive smart phone. He was not violent as some of the boys who work in the neighbouring garages. Even when one quarreled with him, he would just wear his earphones and sit in a corner,” Mr magezi says.
Biguma planned to construct a house next year in his village, Kyakatebe. He had already stocked up on sand and bricks.

Mr Magezi says: “On the day of the riots, he had not worked in Ndeeba, but he returned at about 4pm and parked his motorbike. There was fierce rioting in Ndeeba Town and people were burning tyres on the road. Biguma received a phone call at 4.30pm and the person needed a ride home. Biguma told us he was first going to the road to see what the situation was like before he ventured out with the motorcycle.”

 When he reached the road, he was shot in the back of the head. His friends at the garage were called at 5pm to come and pick his body.
 Biguma was buried in Kyakatebe Parish, Mubende District.

The darling of many meets brutal end


He was a shop attendant in an electronics shop in Makindye. The 23-year-old had been working as a salesperson at the shop for four years.
 His cousin, Musa Kajumbi, who also works in the same shop, says Kalule had a girlfriend, but no children.

 “He was hardworking and he was loved because when he died even the men who sell coats on the street and the askaris came to bury him,” he says.
 On Wednesday morning, Kalule’s boss had sent him to deliver laptops around Kampala. On his way back, the riots began.

 “He was just about to cross the road when the soldiers on the pickup truck shot him in the left leg. The bullet shattered his leg. When he fell, the askaris in the nearby shops crossed the road to help him up. Someone mobilised a pickup truck and we took him to Mulago Hospital.”
 The bullet penetrated Kalule’s leg and  shattered his genitals as well.  

Although Kalule received timely treatment, he died on Saturday, three days later. He was buried in Kalagi, Wakiso District. Kajumbi says no government or police official has approached the family to help them find justice for their brother.


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