OKALYA DDA KADDA DDA, goes an old Luganda saw, which the English (wo)man perfectly translated as ‘what goes around comes around’. Indians call this sort of cycle karma and somehow all societies in the world believe wrong deeds never go unpunished. Jews will openly tell you that their deity visits the inequities of the fathers on the third and fourth generations. Could this be intended to justify terror? Because I have not seen, let alone heard of, a deity who came down and waged war against the enemies of his people or whipped rebellious chaps among his people. Perhaps the deities are too weak to fight their own battles and have to depend on efforts of mortal men. But what is clear, deities involved or not, is that a lot of what we call injustice in our day might be less of misunderstandings and more of vengeance. One person uses their authority to suppress another who they believe once mistreated them (but who also argues they had been mistreated earlier). Whether you pull the tape forward or backward, it’s the same thing. Vengeance.

I am going to cite a few examples, but starting with the one freshest in my mind: In the heat of the recently botched presidential election petition in Uganda that pitted Honourable Robert Kyagulanyi on the one hand against President Yoweri Museveni and the electoral commission on the other, the chief justice was viewed by Kyagulanyi’s supporters as acting with malice toward their man (the petitioner). This opinion was held by one of my acquaintances, Tumusiime James (not real names).

James was so enraged that he developed a very terrible wish. Very terrible? I think so. He said he pictured a great grandchild of the chief justice as petitioner in a blatantly rigged election some ninety years from 2021. The disgruntled fella still pictured a great grandchild of Kyagulanyi as the chief justice then. James’ wish was (or still is) that when that happens, the same treatment accorded to Kyagulanyi would be accorded to the chief justice’s grandchild by Kyagulanyi’s great grandchild, both of whom might be unborn as I write. What do we call that? Vengefulness. But you’d really wish to see how such a scenario might end if it ever occurred.
I read that in one of the beautiful countries of East Africa, a certain tribe once wielded much authority over its ‘rival’ who soon mobilized and sent the mighty fleeing. The defeated clansmen, wherever they fled, planned vengeance and after some decades the world witnessed bloodshed in the shape of a genocide. By now you know which country I am talking about. It is rumoured that the government of President Paul Kagame has for many years been witch hunting opposing voices from the Hutu tribe, killing some and imprisoning others. It’s also said that a group of the Hutu youth—most of them are not youth anymore—called the ‘Interahamwe’ will stop at nothing to fight for a return to Hutu dominance. There is a time bomb ticking there. Leaders in Kigali devised that stopping tribal identification would prevent lifting the lids off quietly boiling tribal tensions, but the efficacy of that is debatable.

We’re currently witnessing the bloody results of cyclic vengeance in the battle between Israel and Palestine. And this is one classical case which shows how a single act of injustice (trust me there is an act of injustice at the bottom of that matter) can lead to chronic enmity. The world is calling upon the two rival countries to cease fire. But who will sit down young Israelites and Palestinians and successfully beseech them to break the cycle so that we don’t witness similar incidents even a hundred years from now? I can’t help sighing.

As individuals, we ought to know that whenever you treat another person badly, they might not forget. Never mind that good deeds are quickly forgotten. It’s therefore important that you do step not on someone’s toe or jab fingers into their ribs with impunity, in case you dread the same thing being done to you (or your descendants) in the future. My friends, the Christians, call it the Golden Rule.

Uganda Christian University (MBChB3)