Kazini Death; media drops the ball, again!

This was weighing so much on me I had to get it off to get on with my day, so…

Just read the Daily Press Review of The Uganda Record and the way our so-called mainstream media has dropped the ball – again! – in their coverage of the gory death of late army commander Maj. Gen. James Kazini is depressing at the very least. They dashed for the most obvious (The Uganda Record has put it more eloquently: the familiar hyperbole, the overstating of praises and achievements of the dead that is typical of Ugandan society), as they did in the coverage of Brian Bukenya’s death,  sacrificing critical analysis in that sprint.

I’ll leave bigger minds to crack through the motives of the killer and all the surrounding conspiracies, but here is what I’d have loved to read in the coverage: although as an individual Kazini might have been a nice man and good soldier, his career as a military man was anything but illustrious. Stirring storm after another everywhere he found himself in charge, the height of which being in 1999-2000 in Kisangani in the DRC, the one thing he seemed to have mastered so well was living to die another day.

At the height of his career he would find himself battling perhaps what every soldier (and much more so one of a higher rank as his) dreads: being dismissed with disgrace from the profession he’d entirely committed his whole life, all because of a shameful crime of creating ghost soldiers on the payroll to fleece the government, and another; allegedly plotting a coup. The astute soldier that he is, the Maj. Gen fought these charges, albeit with pens, books and learned minds, like his life depended on them and at the time of this death his punch was still strong.

But another, more personal, more inner, battle raged within. It was a battle with his manly desires. Even when parts of that skeleton in his closet popped out, in his public fights over his junior wife and related physical abuse towards her, the public was drawn more to the hilarity of it all – an army general fighting for a woman! –  and missed the more sobering issues it spoke to: a man deeply conflicted in his beliefs and watching helplessly as his world increasingly opened from under his feet.

To understand those beliefs we go back to the first days and later entrenchment of Christianity in Uganda, which was been explored here (or check Daily Monitor March 4, 2008 if the link doesn’t work). Simply, when we decided on Christianity because of all the goodies it dangled before us, we realised everything else we loved (read many spouses) had to be closed out. It worked both for those who wanted to actively practice the faith or to just be associated with it.

That was hard. So we decided to sneak them under the cover of darkness into our closets (the Namuwongo slums of this world where nobody ever thinks your class can even sustain the mere thought of the place). And for as long as everything went well, everyone was happy. Until jitters set it and as William Butler Yeats long saw, the centre starts losing its hold and things begin to fall apart.

In the days ahead, we’ll know more about Kazini’s death particularly if there were more than two hands and an iron bar involved. Already fire-spitting Kahinda Otafiire has already suggested an investigation of who else might have been involved. For now though, the man who successfully held off all external battles against him would come to fall under one from within him.

And of all places his death found fit to take him out of action was in his slummy ‘closet’ rather than a place worthy of his position and wealth, like in his grand hotel in Kasese or nice house in Nyabushozi, or those in and around Kampala. And rather than an AK 47, a bomb, a missile from a fighter plane, or even a paragraph from the law of the land, of all things his death found fit to take him out of action with was a hitherto unknown mistress now turned infamous bludgeoner.

One then wonders why, whenever the mighty ones fall it’s often in the most debasing of ways.

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4 thoughts on “Kazini Death; media drops the ball, again!

  1. The paradox of life is that it is loved for its mysteries. Hitler would have been shot by an enemy even Saddam Hussein or our own Amin Big Dad.
    If it had happened this way, the world would not have a room for your kind.
    Kazini’s death is as much an example of ‘flawed genius’ as Saddam hiding with stash of dollars in a trench. Mysterious people are created to exit with no grandeur, no epic end to their lives. Because they live their lives as eternal epics. Everything around them becomes extraordinary, they ravel in suspense and we love em for it.
    The morality of their actions, their wisdoms or lack or lack of it, their corruptible power, their judgments are stuff of legends that make philosophers and writers exist.
    There’s another way to put it also, a soldier of Kazini’s rank, age, profile must be engaged in his profession, if he is redundant that is a loss to the country, to other soldiers below his rank and to his profession. When you have no active routine for 6 years and are a General fighting with mid life crisis there’s so much that can consume your mind. It can be a desire to cheat the mid life crisis, to show your relevance or even to just have something to think about as a challenge.
    I say, I don’t agree with the analysis that man has ultimate freedoms in choosing what they do with their lives and so Kazini was an excellent soldier, one that was betrayed or in one calculation was made irrelevant to the army, his death was a failure of management in this army not personal irresponsibility as you write here.

  2. GK, this is a very well written and thoughtful piece.
    I will react to “Appearances” charge with a brief personal case.
    My young brother Jackson served in the UPDF since 1985 and died in 2007 a poor and disappointed man. He served in the Congo under the fallen General and never got paid his full dues like so many others with him. This was in addition to the underfed and demotivated UPDF losing so many young soldiers to the well fed RPF in Kisangani. The issue of all the Generals (Tumukunde, Kazini etc…) who have fleeced our country and are rightly put on katebe is one of heroism; one area where M7 has tried to do the right thing. We all know these “Heroes” are not meant to stay on katebe for ever and in case they have so many businesses around to keep them so busy. Kazini himself has a string of businesses all over the place and he surely did not need an army job anymore.

  3. True , the media has its own issues , BUT TK’s Record Paper not helping the situation !!!
    I would encourage you ( if you have not read it ) Andrew Mwenda’s article ” Who killed General Kazini & Why ) , it makes more sense than any other article i have read abt the General’s death . I think the biggest challenge for the media is to be objective- get facts right! Instead the media decides to take sides ….. no double checks or verification of “the lugambo” around town …. Most media reports are blown out of proprotion basically because the writers tend to ignore the ” so what” part when it comes to writing !!!!

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