A few weeks ago a certain ‘young man’ named Brian Isiko was in the news for all the wrong reasons, but strangely some folks did accept the ‘wrongness’ of what he did. Tabloid sites were all over themselves proclaiming how Isiko had been jailed for love. It probably sounded better than writing what actually happened, that this adult man was sentenced to 2 years in prison for stalking and harassment of Sylvia Rwabwogo, who happens to be a Member of Parliament.
Predictably, social media went to town with it, and there were cries that the punishment was too harsh, that the ‘young man’ was only guilty of falling in love with a beautiful woman and expressing it, and that he should have been treated ‘fairly’; which to me is absolute poppycock.
First of all the naysayers and Isiko apologists refer to him as a young man; poppycock, again. He is 25 years old, by which age Alexander the Great had already conquered half the known world in the 4th century BCE. During the Vietnam War (1955-1975) the average age of the American soldier was 19 years, tens of thousands of whom died before reaching the age of 20, so Isiko would have been a grizzled veteran comparably. I’m not sure what part of Uganda Isiko is from, but just two generations ago at that age he would probably be on his third wife. So scratch that, he is not young by any definition of the word, the fact that at 25 he is still going to school at the YMCA notwithstanding.
Secondly, he did not send love message. ‘Lovely’ is defined as something ‘beautiful or attractive’, or even ‘pleasant or enjoyable’. There was nothing attractive or enjoyable about what Isiko did, when for eight long months he harassed and stalked Ms Rwabwogo, who tried her level best to prevent him from doing so. She blocked his number, but somehow he still managed to get through to her. According to evidence adduced before court, he even sent extremely graphic messages of himself engaged in lewd acts (where’s Father Lukodo when he is needed?).
And the pseudo-media trivialised the whole thing by referring to them as ‘love messages’; I’m not a bad guy, and don’t wish most folks harm; but what if those fellows writing such stories (must be men, I bet) had the same kind of attention? And in this age of liberalism be their luck the stalkers are fellow guys. What, then?
These fellows often tripped all over their UPE English trying to justify what Isiko did, effectively turning into defence counsel for the accused. They wrote how he ‘enticed the legislator and asked for her love’; to ‘entice’ means ‘attract or tempt by offering pleasure or advantage’, implying that Ms Rwabwogo was an active participant. Any different from ‘she wore a mini-skirt so asked to be raped’?
Ms Rwabwogo’s main problem was that she is beautiful (surely, that is not her fault?), and that she is a public figure. So the argument by the apologists would have us believe that any person pleasant to look at, and whose contact is available to the public is fair game for unwanted attention. Hogwash and balderdash!
In this age of start-ups, many people wanting to promote their businesses avail their telephone contacts to the public. And it is a feature of the age we are in that these contacts are almost exclusively mobile phone numbers, so anyone can send you a text message, or even a WhatsApp message. But it is not, and should not be, a license for harassment. And these days of the ‘Inbox’, it has reached epidemic levels. And in a sick twist, it seems in vogue to send pictures of one’s private parts.
Ugandan public figures continually change their numbers to avoid this kind of thing, but I hope they have learnt from the Rwabwogo case – if someone is staking and harassing you, get them arrested.
The Internet is full of stories of ‘admirers’ turned stalkers, and many are frightening. One Madonna stalker was imprisoned for ten years in a mental institution for his unwanted attention, but he escaped, went to her home and was shot by her bodyguards. If Ms Rwabwogo had not had Isiko arrested, who knows to what extent he would have gone to meet his ‘crush’?
Other international celebrities that have suffered from stalkers include actor Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), singer Beyoncé and others. Some that paid the ultimate price include musicians John Lennon and Selena.
Reports from Isiko’s trial indicate that even when arrested, he continued sending Ms Rwaboogo the text messages. And he was reported to have laughed throughout proceedings in the court. I don’t know about you, but that is scary as hell. Anyone remember the film The Silence of the Lambs? The terrifying character of Dr Hannibal Lecter would laugh at his victims before he ate their kidneys.