Mob Justice at a Bar in Nakawa

Hey everybody, how are you? How was your weekend? Comment and let me know.  This weekend was both horrifying and stressful.  Stressful was Sunday… was racing to get articles done that I hadn’t finished the previous week, and had been too exhausted to work on them on Saturday.

On Saturday, I went to a bar with my friends Igor and Ernest.  Two completely different guys utterly united in what I will describe as Pure Bro-mance.   One American, one Ugandan.  One likely to listen to death metal on his ipod while taking a boda-boda ride, the other more likely to groove to 80s soul over a very cold beer. 

Anyway, as I was working on my typically lame Saturday night fare (Fried chicken and french fries! a.k.a. ‘chips chicken’) , people started shouting when someone outside the bar took a stone and broke someone’s car window.  We were at a place called Shell Club, where really corporate guys get together to do business, network, and down beers over pork.  They have massive SUVs worth tens of thousands of dollars in a country where most people make under a $1 a day.  Basically, they’ve made it.

Well, this is what mob justice is like in Uganda.  Common and awful.  They informally organized a search party to find the perpetrator, then these corporate guys brought the suspected man to the bar, took off his clothes, and almost beat him to death right there! He was covered in blood from head to toe, and screaming at the top of his lungs.  I’ve never felt so sick.  You would never imagine actually being happy to see the Ugandan police, but thank God they came and got the mob off the guy.  He was then arrested as a suspect for breaking someone’s window, but oh my God!

I told my friends at work about this, and they shrugged.  “Sorry you had to see that,” one said.  But the general attitude was that if you know the penalty for breaking someone’s window or stealing, why would you do it?

Back at work today.  Where I basically live.  Going home isn’t even that enticing since I can’t feed my gmail addicction in Kitintale.

I pitched a story to the Christian Science Monitor.  Cross  your fingers for me!! I’ve been working on the pitch for probably 2 weeks, rewriting the sentences over and over and over.


3 responses to “Mob Justice at a Bar in Nakawa

  1. Steve Strasser

    Life is experience is life. Absorb it all!

  2. nimusiima sharpe cole

    feel you on this one!!! ugandans have become so accustomed to mob justice! i guess its cos they know that established institutions like the police and judiciary are corrupt at all levels and cant grant them jstice! so, they take into their own hands to punish law breakers! And one more thing i have noticed about our citizens is mos of them are not mentallity upright, they are either so stressed or depressed!lol I mean why would someone break someones window if they knew they would pay heavilly!!! niceone and sorry you had to go threw that! I usually dont even ake a chance to stare at such scenes! nice week and thanx for the good work.

  3. ugandansabroad

    Thank you Steve and Nimusiima for the feedback! Yes, you are right- mob justice is really a result of the public’s lack of faith in the police and judiciary. For only $20, a petty criminal can probably walk away after being arrested. For $40, you can probably have your neighbor locked up for any crime you want to accuse him or her of. If you’re broke and innocent, you might be in jail for many years. It wouldn’t be too hard to make so improvements to the police, but I don’t think the government actually wants them to do the job. Raising their salary from $75 USD a month to $150 a month would probably cut 40% of corruption out of the police force, no joke.
    But mob justice… so common. You always see it in briefs and small stories in the paper. ‘Man lynched in such and such district.’
    And honestly, it’s part of the reason why crime is relatively low in Uganda. If you know you will be stoned to death for stealing, it does become much less likely that you’ll steal. Although crime is there in Uganda, it’s much less than you would expect in a country where millions of people are at risk of starvation, living alongside people who have relatively incredible amounts of wealth.

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