Human folly. Human greed. Combine the two and you have a human tragedy that is as predictable as death. Yes, you read me right. Death is easy to predict. Nobody has ever survived life, that uniformly fatal condition that the fool takes for granted.
How we live with hate and intolerance as though immortal! How we terrorize others as though we alone have a right to life and freedom! And how we sell our souls without the slightest regard for posterity and the judgement that is ours when we meet our Creator!
One day, one year, ten years, a hundred years. Different lifespans. But we all must die. The pauper in an African slum will be as dead as the life president in an African palace. It is a simple fact that has escaped many in the past, and escapes many today.
The policeman with a gun will not be saved by his killing machine. The grim reaper lies in wait, ready to claim him as surely as it claimed the life of his victim. The wise thinks twice before hurting others. The fool wields a gun and discharges its contents as though they are drops of harmless spit. He only craves the approbation of his commanders and their political masters who are terrified of their own shadows.
Never mind that the man with the gun lives a pitiful existence at the edge of power. This morning he emerged from his tiny house, if we can call it that, dressed in a uniform that was meant to symbolise service and protection to the citizens. He carries a gun that has long displaced the vote as the source of political power.
His wife and children, left behind in their dark and waterless dwelling, are as hungry as those of his innocent victims on the streets. They have no hope of getting basic services they deserve, a fate they share with the innocent citizens that he will beat, teargas and shoot just because they are demanding change in his wretched circumstances.
The gun gives a false sense of power to the powerless and a false sense of security to the terminally insecure. Peaceful opposition creates intense terror in his darkened heart.
The rule of law and human rights are threatening phrases that are considered treasonable. A gathering of opposition politicians doing their normal thing is dispersed as though it was a mosquito annoyingly hovering over one’s ear. Worse is a gathering of the masses chanting slogans that express their deep feelings about a matter that will negatively affect the lives of all, including the lives of the policemen. Such gatherings must not be allowed for they confirm our worst fears. We already know that our legitimacy passed its expiry date many years ago.
It is like a ruthless man living in a loveless marriage with a woman who has long lost all hope of ever rekindling the romance. He has beaten her, starved her, ridiculed her and deceived her in almost everything imaginable in their 32-year-long marriage. Now she has found love elsewhere, and tells him so. He responds by beating her.
“Tell me you love me!” he yells at her, his neck veins and froth at the mouth enhancing the viciousness of his popping eyes and shaking fists. “No, I don’t love you,” she replies in a soft voice. “I am in love with Kirinzi Beatty who has…..” He slaps her so hard that she drops to the ground and begins to shake as though with fits.
“I don’t want to hear it!”, he shouts as he kicks her like a ball before storming out of the house to seek comfort from his concubine. He still cannot understand why his wife does not love him.
He returns in the evening, still seething and ready to resume the torture. He demands that she declares her love for him. She responds with the silent stare of one whose next move is a frightening mystery.
The anticipation of losing his wife to Kirinzi, his worst enemy of all people, tips him into livid irrationality. He orders his house servants to cane her on his behalf. They set upon her with an anger that exceeds their master’s. They hammer her everywhere, until her lifeless body stops protesting. They are charged with murder.
With the help of the finest lawyers, the master is acquitted. The servants are sentenced to death. Their master does not care to know which prison has become their home for the rest of their natural lives.
After many years in prison, one servant whispers to his fellow murderers: “Our fate reminds me of the men and women who terrorised innocent citizens on behalf of the former ruler of the Kingdom of Karanda. Their power with guns ended years ago. They were disposable objects. Many are now in prison.”
“Others are living in constant fear of retribution by those that they tortured,” he continues. “Many live in poverty and look like survivors of a grand famine. I hear that the former King of Karanda is now very frail, his swagger gone, his voice a desperate whisper between bouts of coughing, awaiting the end of a life whose limit cannot be lifted. His grandson often reads to him from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes. It is all rather depressing.”