Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Change is Coming to the Law Development Centre
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
I have been a victim of grave lecturer-student personal attacks before, but what I saw yesterday, surpassed anything I have ever witnessed in the past. Early in the morning, I left the comfort of my home to attend my Bar course studies at the Law Development Centre (LDC). Little did I know that I was slated to witness one of the most shameful, simplistic, naive, barbaric, unsophisticated and vindictive personal attacks ever from a professional advisor, against a student, in a class. I choose not to disclose the concerned advisor’s name because he himself tactfully refrained from mentioning mine. It is said that tit for tat is a fair game and for purposes of this opinion, I shall call him, Mr X.
Mr X came to teach a combined class of two firms or classes, if you like – Firms F and G. I am in G. He checked attendance by roll calling and awarding grades, for everyone present. He read out Firm F first, then G. When he came to my name, he paused a bit and looked at me more closely; slightly more than the others. I wondered why he seemed to be studying me. Then he read out all other people’s names. Then he asked, “Can I take two minutes to make a comment before we start?” “Yes,” we, the students, responded. What followed was a whole 15 minutes’ talk of rubbish, in response to my earlier publication about abusive LDC lecturers. I listened calmly and patiently, as he openly lambasted me.
He said that he attended a meeting where a “dossier” written by one student, against some lecturers, was discussed and that he himself read the publication. Mr X accused me of writing without purpose, saying that I am foolish, heartless and a fearful time waster, among other insults. Then he lectured me on the importance of lecturers, saying that they should be handled with care and more or less massaged because they still have what I need, the marks to pass my exams. Further, that even after this course, I shall meet them in different capacities say, as magistrates and it will be impossible for me to get favourable judgments from them, when I appear as counsel, representing clients. He also said that lecturers, just like magistrates, have a network, such that even if one doesn’t victimise you, another one may. In his opinion, I am left without energy anymore and it was wrong for me to put my grievances in writing, as speaking to the affected personalities would have sufficed.
Now, I thank Mr X for his response. He vainly attempted to challenge me and put up a good show, however mischievous, crude, amateurish and miserable, it may have been, in order to be seen. Here are reasons why I say so. First, he should know that my earlier opinion was written for purposes of demystifying the LDC phobia, by exposing the promoters of the culture of fear and also appealing to the student community to develop capacity to overcome that fear. That was my purpose of writing. For me, these objectives were achieved and the meetings he alluded to are evidence of that.
Second, Mr X called me foolish, heartless and a fearful time waster, but I think Mr X is just that too. Otherwise, how do you explain a situation where one takes a whooping 15 minutes of valuable time, to discuss the ideas of a foolish person, unless you personally are as that person and even worse. He said I should have spent that time reading about five cases. I think he should have also spent the 15 minutes teaching the same or probably more number of cases and/or legal principles, to his class. That is his job. Mr. X said that he is a born again Christian, like me. I believe he knows that the Bible, in Proverbs 26:4, states that, “If you answer a silly question, you are just as silly as the person who asked it.”
Third, on the importance of lecturers, whereas this is true, those lecturers should also know that, we, their students, are important too and deserve due respect. We are sides of the same coin. Lecturers are employed here because of us. They are paid salaries and/or allowances out of the tuition and taxes we pay. So, they are not doing us a favour. This is not charity, although charity demands courtesy too. By-the-way, Mr X should know that at one time, t, him and his colleagues may also need us and that’s why respect for one another is very important. In fact, like one philosopher said, it is part and parcel of civilisation. Incessant bullying and intimidation will not take us anywhere useful or meaningful.
Fourth, on the allegation that I won’t get favourable judgments from magistrates, my view is that those magistrates may as well keep their judgments and have them for dinner, if they like. In fact, Mr X reminded us that he is a Chief Magistrate in Soroti. Now, I remember that my wonderful advisor, Mrs Mutabingwa, warned us that in practice, some magistrates take trivial matters, such as appealing against their decisions, personal, so much so that in the future, they deny you favourable judgments whenever appearing before them. Mr X must be one of them, because how do you explain a person who unleashes such a vicious attack against his student, without any provocation whatsoever? He is crying more than the bereaved and it is very unfortunate, unprofessional and quite embarrassing.
Fifth, regarding the assertion that lecturers, just like magistrates, have a network, such that even if one doesn’t victimise you, another may, this serves to confirm, to my audience, my earlier arguments that we are here dealing with a system, not merely individuals. Therefore, any remedial steps taken should be directed towards cleaning up the rot in the system itself. While individuals may come and go, the system will stay and nurture other support structures. As far as I am concerned, key individuals are highlighted because, indeed, there is no other way out, except by singling them out, chiefly for illustration purposes. We are therefore, called upon to form counter networks in order to abate the disastrous effects of the architects of terror and social disharmony. It is stated in the Bible, in Proverbs 24:24, that, “If you are weak in a crisis, you are weak indeed.” So, we cannot succumb to this psychological terrorism; moreover, meted by the hands of identifiable and unarmed sadists.
This struggle is ongoing and your contribution is highly welcome. We are permeating through all places harbouring these agents of social disorientation – the enemies of progress and development – so as to weed them out totally and completely. Our cause is the creation of a truly just society where the virtuous are rewarded and the unethical ones, like Mr X and company, are exposed for all to see, shun and castigate. We know very well that this struggle may come at a cost, but we are willing to pay the price, just for the social good. After all, as Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said, “Freedom is neither free nor cheap.” A just society and its people are blessed by God and live long. Our world is changing and it is changing pretty first. You either change with it or it changes you. Clearly, the likes of Mr X are attempting to ride against the tide. Welcome to the revolution.
Sixth, Mr X stated that I am without energy anymore and that it was wrong for me to express my grievances in writing. According to him, speaking to the affected lecturers would have been enough. Other than the fact that this remark is utterly ignorant, it is dishonest as well. Mr X naively thinks that he can break my spirit and resolve, by making wild allegations, but this is total misfiring. Then, if he feels that talking to those concerned was a better option, how come for him he did not bother to first talk to me in private, at least to find out why I wrote my opinion, before rushing to condemn me unheard. As a senior magistrate, surely he knows that it is improper to condemn people unheard. These are double standards. Mr X purports to defend his disgraced allies, but at least I was decent enough not to stoop to his level, for I only responded to their attacks, in violation of the integrity of my person. Henceforth, Mr X should know that self defence is a duty as much as it is a right.
Finally, let me state that I have never disturbed Mr X’s peace at all. Therefore, he lacked basis on which to attack me. His statements went beyond normal stretches of imagination. Clearly, his intervention was unsolicited and unnecessary. This is strange of a man who has so far only made about three appearances as a professional advisor. How much worse will he be in a year’s time? He will probably be beating up people. If Mr X and his cohorts were Muslims, they would have known that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported, by An-Nasai Kitabul Eman w Sharaiuhu Bab Sifatul Mu’min, to have said that “A Muslim is he who keeps protected people from his tongue and hands.” But they need not be Muslims to know it. I am not one either, yet I know it. I am aware that Sir Winston Churchill said that, “You will never get to your destination if you stop to stone every dog that barks at you.” My desired destination is social liberation. It is my considered opinion that Mr X is not a mere ordinary barking dog here. That’s why he deserves this firm response. He is an embodiment of raw and unmitigated evil and we cannot afford to surrender to the angels of Satan; princes of darkness; prophets of doom. LDC has a heavy burden of sorting out such people, if it is to shed off its ugly, albeit largely misconceived, reputation as a place of untold malice, suffering and mass student failure.