"I don't believe in painted roses/Or bleeding hearts /While bullets rape the night of the merciful/I'll see you again/When the stars fall from the sky/And the moon has turned red/Over One Tree Hill" - U2
I'd never met him, and all along I had felt strangely relieved by this fact. Something in me always told me that there would be a lot of pretending to do if I ever did meet him. He struck me as somebody to steer clear from, especially since I was the type of person who interacted quite often with one of his daughters in a way that was not likely to please him. When it came to his daughters there was no room of joking around. Three daughters he had… and he raised these beautiful girls in a way that showed he was quite satisfied with the uniformity of his offspring. No extra expectations. To a certain extent, I think he raised them like boys, more than boys actually... He raised them to be inheritors of the wealth of his property and all the life lessons that he had learnt along the way.
His second born daughter came to be a testament to how well he had brought them up. Independent and with a radically different mindset than the average girl who expected a certain degree of mush from the menfolk (she abhors that) and has her wedding all planned out decades in advance (she never understands that) or expected not to pay on first dates (she always insists on chipping in if not paying half), she became my "boy", my 'nigga" or something of that sort from the day we met. She always approached all the crazy things we were up to with a sense of gung ho that was rare to find in females. Heck, she'd even help me check out girls every once in a while!
Still, I always felt his latent omnipresence around his daughter even though I never got to meet him until that day. Right there, in the extra portions of vodka I put in her glass was the recollection of him warning his kids of unimaginable consequences if he ever caught them drinking. I felt the same pressure as I wrote down white lies for her to try on her dad when we'd sneak hundreds of miles away from town. The closest I came to contact with him was when I went through his CD collection - a man of diverse and good taste. I even found a copy of Joshua Tree in there:
So the day of reckoning had finally come. Me, him and her in one setting, barely a few feet from each other. Him, completely silent in a coffin... she in full black, completely un-G'ed and broken beyond description but still strong and resplendent through the stream of tears that never seemed to end. Me? Well, there I was unnerved and completely short circuited. Clueless... Without the chance to at least pretend that I was to some degree a decent enough kind of guy to be one of his daughter's closest friends. There was nothing to be said, nothing to pretend about like I'd planned all along...nothing. Nothing.
R.I.P. Prof. Duncan Ngare
It has been 368 days since you had your last earthly breath right before my very own brother, a frightened nurse still trying for the next 20 minutes to perform CPR and a bunch of equally bewildered relations too scared to admit that the world had just lost a unique and great legend. The nation and the world proceeded to swiftly mourn. I, however, began to recall how I'd mourned your death eight years too early in a case of mistaken identity. The genuine sorrow of a child is nearly impossible to surpass in quality so I dared not attempt to go one better.
Instead, the night before the funeral, I sat among hundreds of others from far and wide right under the tree you loved to shelter under yourself and listened as stories about you were revived. Everyone was eager to share - no matter the age, tribe, gender or status - showing how broadly you interacted with your world and tried to understand each and everyone from their point of view. Boardroom anecdotes from CEOs, political speeches and songs, and even that boy (now a teacher) who you saw walking on the road alone deep in Central Province having been chased from school and returned with the child to pay his fees.
The next day, two presidents and a prime minister each fired on with the story telling and laughter as if they were in the privacy of their living rooms with trusted friends - your interpretation of the Migingo issue where you claimed Kenyan fishermen were allowed by international law the right of hot pursuit of fish escaping into the Ugandan side of the lake, when you joked that a pothole was hole big enough to put a hole in it etc etc. Everyone was simply intoxicated by warmth and nostalgia, it hardly felt like a period of mourning.
As part of the second generation of your descendants, it may take me a lifetime to even get to hear half of your stories but that will be more than enough. It is the fireside-like warmth of it that I want to bask in still. And a piece of you always comes out so perfectly in some of us - a funny one here, a fearless crusader there, a big hearted one all over, an eloquent orator, a determined farmer and of course a number of us with more than one of your qualities. We are part of the unfinished story, a story that is bound to go on for a very very long time. The pressure is on me sometimes, given that I inherited your name, but I look at your shoes and immediately understand - those shoes cannot be filled, only shined...shined to perfection so that we can see our own reflection on them, hoping we will see somebody who at least resembles you...
Ten years. They'd been trying to get him for nearly ten years. then all of a sudden, they cornered him in his own fortress and gave him the lead-to-head treatment. Yes, a bunch of commandos obliterated the pesky Arab who had been image of unrestrained terror and death for the past decade and a half. Finally, the world could breath a collective sigh of relief. Thousands of miles away, a President watched his approval ratings soar and crowds gathered by their hundreds to celebrate this long overdue event.
I am also curious about the way the world has been kept at arm's length when it came to authenticating the identity of this man who was shot in the head along with that suspicious burial which has now turned to be a spit in the face of Islamic practices...who thought of that, really? Who?
R.I.P. Osama Bin Laden
All of the sentiments I have expressed can apply to the three men interchangeably, depending on the context. For each of these men, there is at least someone out there who was overjoyed or greatly saddened or inspired by their deaths. That is how Death works, I guess...