I have refused to attribute the death of Juliet to mystic powers.
Distress drove me to inquire rhetorically as the bereaved often do to a friend;
But Why Ruth? Why???
And my friend true to the form of believers gave me the ageless answer,
“Nobody knows Anne, but I guess God had his reasons.”
It was a phone conversation and I had neither the air time nor the energy to drag Ruth into a debate about the physical and metaphysical. I knew Ruth was trying to cope and that was her way of coping. I had to find mine.
I went through it. Cried. Shunned food. Took to social media. Showed Julie’s photos to those who didn’t know her, bringing them in on my grief… followed those going for burial to Ibanda online… anything to numb the pain, to let my frustration out. To send Julie off.
It has been a week now and a dull ache has taken the place of grief, but in all my efforts to cope. For the first time in life, I have refused to sign off this tragic event as an orchestration of a superior power.
The hand of God, the devil, a shortage of Angels in heaven, predestination, Jesus in dire need of company, the completion of her works here on earth, the three fates, Juriee being too good for this world….
And I guess I should turn in my christian card for extracting Jehovah out of this equation of life.
That is a death that should never have happened. It was a reckless way to lose life. It was unnecessary. It was untimely. It could have been prevented.
The blood of our friend Julie is on the heads of every bad driver, motorist,and pedestrian in this country who has perpetuated a culture of road indiscipline over the years to the point of owning their bad driving as a virtue.
It is on the government that refuses to elevate us from the stereotype of an African country with a lamentable public service system and dysfunctional institutions rife with corruption and incompetent humans.
It is on every Ugandan who has opposed measures from the government towards road safety by mocking and rebelling against them until they suffer a premature death.
Did you complain about speed governors? Bribed an officer out of a speeding ticket? Drove when you were high?
Egged on a motorist or driver to go faster, or to wiggle through a place you would get penalized for in a country where things matter? Gone against road regulations?
It doesn’t matter if your bonnet has not been splattered with someones brains yet.
You killed our Julie and you will kill other people’s Julies.
You have been a part of the death and pain of the bereaved.
By ignoring traffic and road regulations you pass on this same disdainful attitude to other new road users and frustrate all efforts towards the cause of road safety.
It is not so much about bad roads or a lackadaisical vampire of a government as it is about our negligence and the failure to be conscious of how our individual actions affect everything else.We do not live in vacuums.
Like many Ugandans, seeing motorists ride their bikes on pavements is not something to write home about.
Motorists, drivers and cyclists drive on public roads without lights.
I have been grazed by a bike on a pedestrian foot path. He had no headlamps, it was pitch dark in the night and the town had no electricity. His bike’s engine was a silent wheeze that you couldn’t distinguish from background noise.
You will know you were going to be run over when they curse at you and tell you to get out of their way.
Ugandan drivers and motorists never ever hold themselves accountable for anything. They just hurl insults at their victims or at each other.
Its only been a week since Juliet passed on and I am suffering from paranoia.
I am afraid that every time I hug someone, it might be the last time.. I am afraid of dying in a second. Of leaving my mother childless. Of getting another bad phone call about someone I know. I am afraid. Afraid of my friends losing body parts.
The girl looking out of that photo is Doreen Tushabe, another 20 something year old graduate who finished her life as a scarlet map on a main road yesterday. It was a motorbike accident.
This is our Juliet. Our Firecracker whom we lost to our recklessness. Our culture that refuses to be progressive. A culture that exonerates itself of all blame and heaps it onto the government, God and Satan.
Look at them and be guilty of the times you have manipulated a system for your own interests. The time you have deliberately broken a law, for whatever excuse.
Suffer from their gaze for every time you clapped and hooted over the fact that Ugandan road safety measures have failed to work, in our country.
Seat belts, helmets, speed governors, Kampala Capital City Authority’s move to reduce the city’s congestion.
We need to end the culture of road indiscipline in Uganda. Our children are watching as we overtake in sharp corners and spew profanities at the other driver when we almost cause a head on collision.
God is not in need of more Angels and neither is Jesus so lonely that he should live us grief stricken to satisfy his needs. We shoved Julie down God’s throat.
I know you are moving on from Juliet but don’t move on.
Rage, rage, rage against her death.
A conversation on road safety in Uganda has already been started by one of Julie’s friends Racheal Bashabe ; https://www.gofundme.com/2a86rsj6 under the name of Juliet Tumwesigye foundation.
There is also #regulatebodabodas is a hash tag on twitter on the theme.
Support this cause financially and intellectually.
Her Julie died and she has been moved to save every one’s Julie.
Rally behind her. It is time for a revolution.