The ViGIRLantes (Part 1)

By on February 7, 2022

A few years ago, I penned a short story but never really came around to sharing it in full. Now that I’m back to regular blogging on Mondays, I’ve decided to revisit it, polish it up and share it. It is a 4 part Blog series that will run all the way till the end of Feb. I hope you like it. 

Life in Kawempe was becoming an unbearable nightmare. The crime rate had reached unprecedented levels and there seemed to be no end in sight. People mistrusted each other and everyone was wary of the other. There was very low confidence in the authority and people really just survived to see the next day by sheer luck. Many had resigned themselves to a life of apathy and hopelessness and they simply sat and adamantly waited to become victims of the endless crimes that swept through the streets. It was certainly not a good time to be a citizen of Kawempe – the little break-away state right at the heart of Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. 

Sixty-four days had passed since the police pull-out from Kawempe following its secession from the Republic of Uganda. The decision to secede was greatly unpopular in the little Republic but had been forced through nonetheless because the leadership of Kawempe thought they could make it on their own. Many of the elders of Kawempe insisted that they needed to break away and create their own Republic because they were tired of being a part of the larger parasitic Republic of Uganda.

And so a few of the elders gathered and hatched a plan to embark on a  campaign to break away. Everything had started rather sluggishly because most people were disinterested in the move. However, it gained momentum when Paul Qwenga, a former teacher became the Chief elder of Kawempe. His vision for Kawempe was grand and he did a great job selling the dream to his fellow teachers. Within a few weeks, the idea of secession gained momentum among the elders and even though the vast majority of citizens weren’t bothered about it, the elders pushed it through to completion.

The days following the secession were fine. In fact, there was a celebratory atmosphere and everyone seemed to think the decision was not as bad as feared.  Everyone shared the little they had with one another and there was a sense of hope, togetherness and faith in the New Republic of Kawempe. Children were singing songs of praise for Paul Qwenga, homes flew the checkered green flag of Kawempe on their front yards and street vendors smiled at whoever passed by. 

It was rosy for a while – a very short while.

And then a dark cloud appeared over the little Republic. The assassination of Paul Qwenga just days after the secession was the beginning of everything horrible. The most vocal advocate and champion for the secession of Kawempe had promised the New Republic of Kawempe heaven on earth in his dreamy speech just hours after the secession was announced. And for a short while after the secession, his government indeed went ahead to reach out to most citizens to find out how they could be a part of the national cake; there was an actual effort to involve Omuntu Wa Wansi – the everyday person.

Community meetings were held and people were called upon to offer suggestions on how they thought their communities could benefit from the newfound freedom from Uganda. There was the promise of a clean up of corruption, elimination of all pitfalls of development and a general uplifting of the life of Omuntu Wa Wansi.

The sudden and almost unexpected demise of Paul Qwenga was the beginning of all mayhem. First, there was an immediate scramble for wealth and a good number of the top brass ended up with chunks of property snatched from unsuspecting locals, billions of Shillings confiscated from uncooperative businessmen and power usurped from a now non-existent Government.  

All this gave rise to anarchy and the total collapse of the rule of law. Crime became rampant and it was more common for one to bump into a criminal than a policeman or security officer. In fact, within six days of the assassination, most police officers had quit their jobs for fear of being targeted by criminals who were now bold enough to make their threats in broad daylight.

Anything that could go wrong in the New Republic was going wrong, everything bad was happening and it was happening fast. Each day seemed to top the previous day with shocking news from the New Republic. On the day the chaos began, a woman was gang-raped at the Nabweru border, that same evening, a school going child went missing in the Komamboga area, and the day after that, a shop was broken into just outside Kalerwe Market. That same day, an unidentified body was recovered from the bushes up North in Kyanja. 

The New Republic had become an each-person-for-themselves hellhole, and many thieves, robbers and thugs were thriving. They instilled a sense of fear among the people so much that no one was willing to help another person in case they were in trouble, for fear of being targeted by the thugs. The criminals had spread themselves out in the Republic like a bushfire in the Summer. No one could stick out their necks to say a thing or even lift a finger. The thugs operated with so much freedom that they occasionally sent out letters to people alerting them of when they would be collecting their due.

Hannah Apio lay patiently, waiting in the bushes as the three shadows approached. They walked stealthily, but quickly, towards her – unaware of what awaited them. She had mastered the art of silent patience and could easily lay in wait for hours – if she needed to. Once during her childhood, she had been locked in a garage for hours, waiting to be sought out by her mum with whom she thought she was playing hide-and-seek but who had forgotten about the little girl. It was not until nearly an hour later that someone asked about Hannah that she was found ‘still hiding’ inside an abandoned cupboard in the garage. Everyone wore a face of shock but she was excited. She was happy that for nearly an hour no one had been able to find her. She truly was the queen of waiting patiently and so tonight was definitely going to be child’s play.

To Be Continued …

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Beewol - The Talkative Rocker