By Norbert Mao

Those who know Gen. Katumba Wamala watched with disbelief the video clip showing him punch Mityana Municipality MP Zaake. Katumba is an avid gym goer and on that day he proved that he has been getting his money’s worth. The clip I saw shows Zaake being pulled back by Katumba Wamala and put in a most vulnerable position before the General delivers the punch.

The General has denied that he punched the young MP. The MP has insisted that he put his guard down because Katumba Wamala is a “father” to him. The General has been pulverized in the electronic and print media. How can a Minister, who was once Chief of Defence Forces and even Inspector General of Police behave like a common street brawler? Social media has been even more venomous.

The pressure has been too much for the amiable General. Media denials were not working. He addressed a few press conferences and appeared on some TV talk shows to put up a defence and make light of the whole incident. In one interview, he joked that a General does not deliver only one punch! Well, it does not matter whether the punches were one, two or even three. The court of public opinion has already passed a verdict and it will take time for people to forget the charges his “son” Zaake has put out against him. How can the General who put Kony on the run and later put back some shine on the Uganda police degenerate to the level of a gangster aiding and abetting commandos who illegally raided parliament to assault and arrest MPs? Katumba says he was about to punch Zaake but then he was restrained so infact he did not deliver the punch. Zaake begs to differ.

There are two ways of looking at this ignominious incident. There is no question that virtually all top ranking people who surround Museveni idolize him. He is God. They worship him. They obey him without question. And the order to send commandos to parliament was issued by Museveni. So to all who deify Museveni, including the Speaker, it was an order from God. Katumba saw this as a test of his obedience and loyalty. Reading between the lines of his endless but feeble explanations one sees a man who wants to be seen like Abraham who was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. God then says to him, “Abraham” and he answered, here I am.” And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering…”. The story continues thus “Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son.” Then having proved his total loyalty, “Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven: Abraham, Abraham! And he answered, “here I am”. And he said, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from me.” That is perhaps how Katumba may want us to view his action.

But a clearer one is found in the cowardly manner in which the hero of Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” cuts down a captive child who grew up in his care just to prove his manliness. Let Achebe sum it up “One of the men behind him cleared his throat. Ikemefuna looked back, and the man growled at him to go on and not stand looking back. The way he said it sent cold fear down Ikemefuna’s back. His hands trembled vaguely on the pot he carried. Why had Okonkwo withdrawn to the rear? Ikemefuna felt his legs melting under him. And he was afraid to look back.

As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He heard Ikemefuna cry, “My father, they have killed me!” as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak”. General Katumba Wamala is no Abraham. He is more like Okonkwo.