BAD INFLUENCE! Police Brutality Sets Bad Example For Young Generation
By Agaba Ronald Bills
THE MOST obvious narrative is that Uganda has the youngest population in the world. Statistics indicate 48 % to be below 15 years of age. Over the last five years, I have visited a cross-section of schools and universities sharing my book which essentially is filled with my personal experiences to young people to aspiring to be leaders. Many of you might have forgotten a young heroine, the late Yvonne Namaganda, the 10-year-old girl who died while trying to rescue her colleagues from an inferno that gutted Nassolo dormitory of Budo Junior School, on April 2008, killing 19 other girls. A Primary four dormitory captain who chose to risk her life to save others.
I have argued that if she ever survived, and was asked what drove her, most definitely her response would fall within the range of having seen or read about a person of courage, be it her parents fending for others, a neighbor with a kind heart or better still a public figure like Nelson Mandela.
The point I’m laboring to illustrate is that this young population is keenly looking at those outside their age bracket as shapers of their own outlook. We are all under the watch of this demographic, growing in an environment which will make or break them.
Already, voices have cautioned parents with bizarre road behavior. You see them daily overtaking in a corner, forming another traffic lane or insulting other drivers while having children in the car, that these acts will one day come back to haunt them, when these children grow and start from where their parents stopped.
The fundamental question, who is your child imitating? Has eluded us with a back and forth response. Parents push the responsibility to schools, and like your guess, the schools with less skilled and motivated human resource at mentorship also push back the responsibility to the parents. This dilemma places the hope of these kids in other places such as the most fertile ones like the social media and especially Google – the Internet.
So our children have an idea how an election is won, through bribery and forgery. You hardly have a day passing by without hearing courts nullifying an election. We have almost become accustomed to headlines of billions stolen by government officials. In fact, one is insulted for stealing millions because the standard measure of a wise corrupt guy must be in billions.
In the aftermath of what will go in our public order management records by police, the barbaric act of beating of innocent citizens standing by the roadside cheering the former Presidential candidate Kizza Besigye. The Inspector General Of Police, General Kale Kayihura is quoted as having seen nothing to elicit anger from the public on how his boys had handled the situation. Until today, I have refused to admit that Gen. Kale had watched what we watched before speaking to the public during that press briefing.
One must not forget that the conduct of these brutal policemen doesn’t stop today’s demonstrations but rather stockpiles trouble for future chaos. Across the African continent, in the United States of America, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has trails of blood and a cloud of uncertainty hovering over heads of white policemen who fear for their lives after that attack by a tired black shooter with the system that watched on as innocent lives of black people were taken by the very police that is supposed to protect them. Closer home in Kenya, when Congolese musician Kofi Olomide in a moment of madness assaulted one of his dancers at the airport, the Kenyan Police never waited to come up the usual antics of waiting for the victim to report the case, the government immediately deported him.
When public officials choose creative explanations in order to cover up obvious shortcomings, we are sowing seeds of a country that will have less value for distinction of right from wrong. Kids watching Television after the Police assault Dr. Besigye supporters expected to see a remorseful IGP regretting the incident. Until now, I have not heard of a Member of Parliament whose election has been nullified due to forgery coming out to offer an interim apology to his voters on this wrong. Instead, deceitful messages of denial or claims of political witch-hunt are being manufactured even where facts have been adduced before competent courts.
We are all inherently culpable of falling short both in our private and our public lives. But when this happens, we must learn to be positively ashamed by admitting failure. We must go back to our great fathers’ wisdom that a person with a clear destination can’t be let down by tired legs. Whatever happens, you rest and keep going.
We can look at the bad culture of failing to admit failure in this country from places like schools. When you are the last in a class, nobody, neither your teachers, classmates nor parents will remember how talented you are in sports. Nobody wants to remember how you keep time. Nobody wants to appreciate how gracefully you treat your peers with kindness. They all gang and call you a failure. This guilt wears on us even after school, as seen by how many resignations we have registered by public officials under whose watch public money in trillions has gone missing.
Today, you have businessmen who are refusing to admit failure to manage their private enterprises asking our benevolent government to pay for what is supposed to be their private shame. I don’t know who has criminalized admission of failure in this country. I hear people say, “My failed marriage, my failed business, my failed relationship, my failed this. I tried to learn how to cook, but I failed.” Well, if it has helped you develop wisdom, if it has helped you become who you are, if it has given you insight, even if you suffered, your suffering has built your strength. Nietzsche said it well, “Chaos gives birth to dancing stars.”
As the government grapples with how to fix the hardware, say Roads, Electricity, Security, Water and employment for the youthful population, public officials must be preoccupied with the software of conducting themselves in a manner that inspires this youthful population to grow into a patriotic and hardworking citizenry guided by values.
Whereas criminal and disciplinary proceedings have been opened against these brutal police officers, I recommend that they need to be moved from school to school paraded in markets and other public places with one clear message, that Police is a great institution but we fell short as men, so dear children never be discouraged to join this institution. Saying sorry has never been a sign of weakness but strength.
Bills is a Political Commentator and Author of the Book, ‘Secrets of Effective Leadership In Schools.’