Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Men In Uniform

I have a certain admiration for some men who wear uniform and make that uniform look good on them as well as respecting it. I deem Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta to be one of the smartest men in army uniform alongside his colleague Lt. Gen Katumba Wamala. I have met both Wamala and Katumba and in my opinion, they are both honourable men.

You see two years ago, an army Captain decided to ram his pick-up into my car and make a run for it. I in turn followed him all the way to his house. There, Army Captain duly assured me of his status in the army and promptly ordered his bodyguards to give me ‘six of the best’.

Of course I didn’t take it lying down. Well I had to take the canes lying down but the following day, I did report the matter to Koreta who wasted no time in having Army Captain apprehended.

While the top brass of the army – or indeed the police may have their heads firmly screwed on, it is the underlings, their juniors who need to be taught a thing or two on how to respect the uniform that they are wearing.

On New Year’s Eve, I lent a hand in the organising of the street jam at Club Silk. The Street Jam just like any concert in Kampala attracts a whole host of security personnel. They range from LDUs, police, traffic, JATT, anti-terrorism, PGB, Black Mamba’s and so on. Some men even turned up claiming that they have been sent by State House. When I sought to enquire what interest State House would have in The Street Jam, the answer given always goes along the lines of: “orders from above.”

Yeah right! Getting back, I stop this man at one of the entrance and in the most humble of voices I ask him where on earth he thinks he is going. At that he looks at me in disbelief and here is the conversation.

So Called Policeman: “My friend do you think that what you are doing is right? Do you know who I am?”

TB: “That is why I stopped you to find out who you are.”

So-Called Policeman: “I am here on the highest authority, that of Kale Kayahura so don’t disturb or bother me.”

TB: “I do know Affende and I can bet that he does not know you or even seen you before. I am of the opinion that while you may be a police officer, you have not been sent by Kayahura and you have just turned up to enjoy a free show.

So-Called Policeman: “Do you know I can have you arrested for interfering in police work?”

And with that he pushed past me and into the venue. I let him be. Then he turns up. Not So-Called policeman, but the man himself – Affande Kayahura. Of course all the junior ranks who were lounging about suddenly looked busy. Others scattered while So-Called Policeman stood on the fringes. But if Kayahura had sent him, why would he be hanging on the fringes. Should he be not briefing him?

As Kayehura walkined through the venue, he spotted me and came over for a chat and our conversation went along these lines.

TB: “Good evening Affande. I trust you had a good Christmas? Oh, congratulation on being elevated to rank of Lt. Gen.

Kayehura: “Thank you Timothy. I hope the show goes well and without incident tonight.”

TB: “I am sure it will. By the way Affande, that man over there, he says he is here on your authority and that you personally sent him.”

At this point he turns round to look in the direction that i am pointing and just in time to see So-Called Policeman take to his heels up by New Vision before disappearing.

Ha, I was right! An hour or so after Kayehura had left, So-Called Policeman returns, rather humbled and wanting to know what I had told Kayhura. Putting him into his place, I told him that I had asked Kayahura if he had heard of you and if he has sent you too.

With that a worried look came over his face and it was followed by a confession. He did admit that he wanted to watch the show for free and that he was sorry for misleading me. The fact that he apologised was enough for me. Enjoy the show I said as I walked off.

Then there is another. He claimed to be some sort of undercover operative and duly produced an ID card. But there was something suspicious about him, almost as suspicious as So-Called Policeman that necessitated an investigation.

This time Undercover operative claimed to have been sent by John Ngaruye Ndunungutse who is the Director - CT, in the police force. What the Director CT does was not apparent to me. Secondly I had never heard of JNN (I have had to abbreviate his name down from John Ngaruye Ndunungutse for three reasons. 1. It takes me five minutes to type out his name 2. I do have the faintest idea of how to start pronouncing his name and 3. The Kaspersky anti-virus on my computer sprung into action and suggested I power down lest the name was some virus of sorts.

I did power down just to be on the safe side. As I tussled it out with Undercover Operative, So-Called Policeman came out of nowhere and to my aid. Here is the brief conversation.

So-Called Policeman: “You man, you say you have been sent by JNN? To do what?

Undercover Policeman: “Don’t get involved in my duties.”

And with that, a major augment kicks off which ends when Undercover Policeman walks off while hurling threats and abuse. Seeing it is the last day of the year, I don’t have the gas to argue so I let him be and as I do so, sirens start wailing. It is the bomb squad who have turned up in their latest vans and cars that look like something out the movie Die Hard. Men dressed in black and carrying assault rifles and pistols strapped to their hips were all over the place and at the helm was a casually dressed man I had never seen before.

He turns out to be JNN and while I had never met him, he on the other hand does know me and makes a beeline in my direction. Here is the conversation.

JNN: “Mr. Bukumunhe, you are here? I wonder what you are going to write about this time.”

TB: “Funny you should say that JNN, because I already have a few ideas that have come from your men. By any chance did so send that undercover policeman?”

Well before I could finish my sentence, I saw Undercover Policeman making a not so dignified and hurried walk to the exits.

Ha, Just as I thought. Another low ranking policeman claiming to have been sent by his superiors. Alas, they picked the around day and the wrong function because TB was so much around. The real pity about these quack policemen especially those who are undercover, when you challenge them and ask them to produce their Ids – or are they called warrant cards, they believe they are above the law and will not show them to you. And when you persist, they threaten you with arrest. If only there were more people like Koreta in the police force or indeed in the army and the other branches of the security organs it just might be possible to us wanainchi to seek redress.

At the Street Jam I was lucky that I knew Kayhura and JNN otherwise a number of policemen would have walked their families into the show without having paid a dime and they would have been the first people to complain if things had gone wrong.
I may have ruffled a few feathers within the police with this article so to keep them on my side, I have this to say: “Wama Kayhura, once again congratulations on your promotion. Just in case I run into problems with your boys, is there a secure line I can call you on? You can send it by e-mail and my address is listed below. Thanks Affande! Ps. Any chance of an invitation to your being promoted party?”