Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Job To Die For - A Saudi Hangman?

I am not an educationalist, but I think that as a nation, we Ugandans are smart people who have been called upon to serve on the global arena. Louis Kasekkende, Deputy Governor at Bank of Uganda and Richard Kaijuka once served at the World Bank while today we have Winnie Byanyima at Oxfam, Alan Kassujja at the BBC and Sam Kutesa at the UN.

My understanding of a ‘pre-university’ education is to enable us to evolve with the world and do the basics - write, maths and most importantly, think. Others go on to university to get a degree and specialize in a skill like law, medicine, engineering and mass communication. It’s that university degree that sets you up in a chosen profession.

However, there is a ‘but’ – and I guess you didn’t see it coming this early into the column did you? Imagine the pain and anguish of having spent years at Makerere then going abroad to read yet more sophisticated books to get that PhD qualification only to come back to find you can’t get a job. Ouch!

Worse, if the PhD does get you a job, it’s worth a partly salary of sh1.5m a month, and capping it all, there is somebody behind the scenes who is out to kulemesa (frustrate) you.    

Luzira Hangman is once such person with job frustrations. The expertise of hanging people is not taught at Makerere, so it was to China that he went to learn the trade. In an interview last year with a colleague - Petride Mudoola, he said: “There is no room for error in my job. The person I hang never kicks around while dying. He dies immediately with almost no discomfort. The art lies in how you tie the knot that crushes the neck. If that does not kill him, I hit him hard at the back of the head with a hammer or a crow-bar.”

Returning from China, he got a job at Luzira Prison and for a while everything worked out. He had registered over 100 hangs, maintained neat gallows of an office, was always in time for work and when he got appraised, I guess he scored A’s because as he said – “I have mastered the art of killing without causing pain.”  

But without warning, his career came crashing down because State House sought to ‘kulemesa (frustrate)’ him. In order for Hangman to do his job, the occupant of State House - M7 that is, has to sign the execution warrants – something that he last did in 1999 that, there are now 393 prisoners’ on death row.

After 16-years of being on katebe, why not follow Kassujja and Byanyima abroad for that lucrative US$ paying job because, having a back log of 393 prisoners to hang does not good on his CV and affects his promotion chances.

Hangman needs to head to the Middle East because last month, Saudi Arabia, advertised for eight new executioners to carry out the increasing number of death sentences – not by hanging but public beheading.

No special qualifications are needed for the job, whose main role is ‘executing a judgement of death’. However, before he leaves for Saudi, he might want to take a short course at Mulago Hospital - in the amputations department or with stone throwing rioters because according to the advert, ‘other duties involve performing amputations, stoning to death adulterers and surgically paralyzing offenders under the strict eye-for-an-eye legal policy.

Hangman, the downloadable pdf job application form is available on the Saudi civil service website and if successful, they offer an attractive benefits package including a housing allowance and six months’ sick leave on full pay.

It’s an inhumane and barbaric job to do, but if M7 has put you on katebe, do you have a choice?