Once again, my country serves and this time, the cu-cu-mba tops the weekly. I needn’t recount the facts. You lot know that Uganda has outdone herself yet again. The twitter brawl rages on: Ugandans, Nigerians, artistes, jesters, nudes and banter – blood and feathers everywhere. The dirt and grime of abuse strewn all over the timeline yields a shoot: whether, and if yes, when we can agree that the rules apply.
One does not need a history lecture to recognize that here, the double standards are brazen. As it is the political campaign season, I will not go so far as to mention names but hands up if you know who flouts the COVID-19 guidelines left right and center (with the complicity of arguably all the stakeholders in the process). Keep them up for the painful irony: our banana republic suffers no scarcity of high-handedness and brutality from security agencies, who have so generously meted it in excess against the now wounded, scarred or departed, men, women and children immolated at my country’s altar of political pillage. Until this week, many looked on with bats’ eyes. Until Omah and Tems took center stage. One could argue that it was in bad faith that Johnny Law waited till after the fact to pounce. This fiasco could have been prevented. The concert was no secret. Why bide their time until the deed was done? The answer is of little significance to the scope of this discussion. It is not about the first domino that fell, it is about the last.
Smash-cut back to the question. When? In a country (and a world) where rules do not equally bind every body, is there common ground for their application?
That such ground is undefined and evasive; that the goal posts continue to shift at a time when the mantras “rule of law” and “equality before the law” are the breath and beat of the lauded struggle against impunity is a much more pressing issue. Whatever your view may be about their detention, you cannot deny wrongdoing on every stakeholder’s part in this weekly drama. To spontaneously go irate without acknowledging their culpability is to lend credence to the position that rules should only apply to such people as we are not bothered or concerned to see bear the brunt of sanction: that we can excuse ourselves and favorites from facing consequences even when it is objectively fair that we should.
This is why some get paid while others get shot on for supporting their candidate. The powerful skip no beat in protecting those that facilitate their biding. To tug along the same path, to rabidly point at and indict the unjust lawman, while consciously oblivious of our duty of care and responsibility to adhere (to the maximum degree possible ) to such practice as is necessary for our safety, eerily repeats this pattern – an objectionable pattern.
What our celebrities’ fate will be is well beyond my means to tell. Perhaps it is naïve to suggest, but little good in the way of governance is likely to become of a society where the governor and the governed lay claim to principles which they can tuck away at a whim.
My inquest concerns itself beyond these considerations; with whether the conscious citizen – as an individual and as a collective – should only invoke the rules only when it is expedient or absolving to do so. In the alternative, consider this a query into whether in the context of public debate, we need a conversation about having standards we cannot waive unless such waiver is objectively due; the kind of circumstances that warrant that kind of resolve and if this COVID-19 pandemic does not pass that bar, what will?