Keeping up with the Ugandans: Morbid jokes, serial murders and bizarre stories

Tuesday January 2 2018

When the imaginary conversations between the

When the imaginary conversations between the dead became tiring, Ugandans started posting conversations between the dead and the living. When the social media script writers got tired of those, they started serving up lies by announcing deaths of people who are still alive and well. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH | NMG 

By JOACHIM BUWEMBO
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Thank God 2017 is done. It has certainly brought out the nastiest side of us Ugandans.

In 2018, we must behave better, otherwise if the 2017 trend continues, we will be in real trouble. Any position of leadership in the country wouldn’t even be worth contesting anymore. Maybe that would be a nice thing, as the survivors would be spared the nastiness of political contests.

One of the nastiest developments in 2017 was how people shared and laughed at morbid jokes. It so happened that several prominent people died in the country, and the social media went into overdrive with lurid jokes about their deaths. It became customary to expect imaginary conversations to be posted on social media between the dead person and those who died earlier as they meet in hell.

When the imaginary conversations between the dead became tiring, they started posting conversations between the dead and the living. When the social media script writers got tired of those, they started serving up lies by announcing deaths of people who are still alive and well.

Living people pronounced dead included a prominent retired clergyman and a young woman married to a top musician. Then there was a prominent educationist who died after he built several quality high schools and several dozen children were presented as his biological products at the funeral. The jokes about how he managed this and what he proceeded to do in hell almost choked the Internet.

Why this bizarre behaviour became popular is unclear. Is it due to economic frustration or increasing alcoholism?

At the high leadership levels, the country trended in world media when our national parliament in September became an arena of a brawl between unidentified security men and dozens of MPs, whom the former were trying to evict after the Speaker suspended them.

This was over a Bill to remove the age limits on the presidency, which has since been passed. The men conducting the arrests were not parliamentary police, and it is still unclear how they gained access to the chamber.

The Speaker has written to the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief, demanding an explanation. She is yet to get one as far as the public knows. Several expelled MPs suffered serious injuries and were hospitalised.

Then for several months, dozens of young women were raped, tortured and brutally murdered in two locations close to the capital. Then a few senior security officers were arrested by the army for allegedly selling off refugees back to the very foreign powers they had fled from. The case is till ongoing in the court martial.

The year closed on another bizarre note, when a gang of notorious killers and robbers appeared on national television announcing that they had denounced crime and were instead now co-operating with authorities to fight it.

Then they confused the public by saying their problem was that senior security officials are still trying to deploy them on robbery missions. One fellow ,who had been trying to literally buy his way to fame, has ushered in the new year in prison, charged with shooting his neighbour.

The man suddenly appeared on the scene and started donating money to people who were lining up with petitions to have their financial problems solved. Then, without warning, he picked up a gun, shot and seriously wounded his neighbour. Keeping up with the happenings in Uganda can be dizzying.

Joachim Buwembo is a social and political commentator based in Kampala.