When autocrats have total control of a nation: when fear and the dread of dungeons force dissidents to crawl like coward crabs into holes of hopelessness: when journalists stare lies in the face, and report that all is well, truth will always bear fruits to the fearless few who “will” use their pens as conquering weapons. Their pens will pry, prod, poke and push pieces of paper through impenetrable walls to produce stories–most times written on paper dyed red with blood and despair of persons who dared to speak truth to power. Many perished for crimes as simple as looking different from the judge/jury/executioner. Those stories are our only clues sometimes, as to what really transpires behind autocratic and tyrannical fences.
History books and graveyards are decorated with names of fearless fighters—those that fought the demons of injustice, racial prejudice, oppression, subjugation, hypocrisy, rape, and organized fear. It bothers me to observe similarities to pre-Apartheid systems and pre-Nazi conditions cloaked and disguised in such a way that awful situations can slip under the radar of respectable institutions, built to ensure that such past atrocities did not happen again.
Can you imaging the shock millions felt when a British reporter did not even question the veracity of Idi Amin’s assertions that under his 8-year killing machine, people were free to express themselves publicly? It is alleged that after Amin took over the leadership of Uganda, he pulled all military commanders who did not support his coup before a firing squad, and saved their heads by freezing them. Those frozen heads were displayed every so often, to remind all and sundry what would happen if anyone dared to oppose him. That same Idi Amin was quoted in one of Britain’s most respectable newspapers thusly: “In communist countries you are not free to talk: there is one spy for every three persons.” In Uganda under his rule “Not so here.” I wonder why the interviewing journalist did not inquire about the fate of the former fighters, entombed in his freezer– forever frozen in fright.