When Cameras Lied to the Country

April 29 was way past fool’s day but according to the Ugandan government, media houses decided to cordon off that day to ‘lie’ to their country about the brutal arrest of opposition leader, Kizza Besigye.

It’s coming to a month since I witnessed that event but the images just cannot part ways. The country was in shock and silence. The others who watched the televisions replays have not yet come to terms with the brutality that was involved.

I took this hazy picture of the hooded hammer man in Kubiri where Besigye was first stopped from driving to the bank. Here, Police thought he was just an ordinary curious man and tried to send him away from the scene.

I took this hazy picture of the hooded hammer man in Kubiri where Besigye was first stopped from driving to the bank. Here, Police thought he was just an ordinary curious man and tried to send him away from the scene.

The most dramatic though was the denial of the hooded man breaking into Besigye’s car with a hammer before dropping it inside the car and fleeing. He was caught on camera by both print and electronic media but government is hell-bent on calling a media fabrication, to tarnish its ‘good name.’

Topping the ‘liars’ list was NTV, WBS and Daily Monitor all local television stations and newspaper respectively whom government said are going to be investigated for ‘manipulating’ pictures of the arrest of Besigye.

When police realised he was one of their own, they toned down on him. Suspiciously, he followed the events. Unfortunately, Kubiri is not where his life was going to turn around

When police realised he was one of their own, they toned down on him. Suspiciously, he followed the events. Unfortunately, Kubiri is not where his life was going to turn around

Daily Monitor’s Managing Editor Daniel Kalinaki who is still answering charges of doctoring a letter by President Yoweri Museveni, published on August 2, 2009 (Monitor editors charged with forgery), still has to answer for the pictures that were published of the hooded man.

“Minister Matia Kasaija, (the ka-man) says we should be investigated for the hammer pictures. I shall be waiting for him or his delegates in my office on Monday morning (May 9). Please note, though, that firearms, hammers and pepper spray not allowed inside our premises,” read Kalinaki’s facebook status that day.

Kizza Besigye at Kubiri. On the left are the specifications of the picture. You can compare with those of the hooded man to prove that he was actually watching long before his dramatic act at Mulago round-about

Kizza Besigye at Kubiri. On the left are the specifications of the picture. You can compare with those of the hooded man to prove that he was actually watching long before his dramatic act at Mulago round-about

However none of the above mentioned media houses have ever since been summoned for investigation.

It’s the first time in my spell as a photojournalist that I’ve witnessed all  media organizations in the country, both public and private,  local and international  jointly ‘lie’ to the country. And this open denial by government does not end with me.

“My pictures are not manipulated at all. They are a reflection of what happened on the ground. It’s unfortunate that government can come up and deny. It’s probably the first country in the world to have a government openly come and discredited credible work done by journalists in the presence of the public too.

Of course there is a group of government apologists who argue that the pictures could have been manipulated. Nevertheless, with the current level of hi-tech DSLR cameras (Digital Single Reflex), commonly used by photographers today, just one press of a button records every single detail of every picture taken; from time, date, camera type, mode, copyright, ISO, shutter speed. These are in built and can’t be altered however much a picture is manipulated.(The pictures published herein will try to show you what I am talking about. The original on the left and its information on the left-whether edited or not)

Besigye now at Mulago after driving off from Kubiri, about 4-5 minutes away. Look at the time difference and other information

Besigye now at Mulago after driving off from Kubiri, about 4-5 minutes away. Look at the time difference and other information

Though machines can’t be trusted they never lie, none of our cameras did.

“I work for the worlds’ largest multimedia and picture organization (Thompson Reuters) and our practice and ethics never bend. I am ready to defend my pictures. i feel very sorry for how unserious our government is; the very government supposed to protect us and be accountable to every Ugandan,” says James Akena a correspondent photographer with Reuters.

Isaac Kasamani, a photojournalist with Daily Monitor coffers with Akena “All the pictures that I took were never concocted. They showed what took place on the ground and it’s annoying for government to come up with such claims”.

And now Gilbert Arinaitwe pounces on Kizza Besigye’s car with a butt of a pistol. I decided to include the photographer on the right frame of the picture just to show you that if he dared to manipulate the picture, then I will have to manipulate it too.And again, look at the time and other info on the right.

And now Gilbert Arinaitwe pounces on Kizza Besigye’s car with a butt of a pistol. I decided to include the photographer on the right frame of the picture just to show you that if he dared to manipulate the picture, then I will have to manipulate it too.And again, look at the time and other info on the right.

As such the media has slapped a black out on all government activities until a formal apology is issued out to the journalist fraternity.

As photojournalists, we dare the government to come with all the proof they have that we actually manipulated pictures to suit our interests. It really hurts to tell the truth only for it to be turned against you. Let government come clean.

7 thoughts on “When Cameras Lied to the Country

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