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Not Just a Number

In Uganda 16 women die giving birth every day

Why all this hubbub, the minister asks

About the killing of 10 people in an accident

On our potholed roads

Or the death of 16 women daily in labour

Or 20 murders in a city

Or 20 rapes in the suburb

Or 30 defilements in Katanga Slum

Or 30,000 school dropouts

When we are a country of 45 million people?

Aren’t those just a drop in the ocean?

Dear honourable, yes they are if:

The bullet- riddled corpse isn’t your father’s

And the blood-letting rape victim not your wife

Or the unconscious defiled toddler isn’t your daughter

And the woman that bled to death not your cousin

Or the dropout is not your son-turned-lunatic

And the car-shattered head not your uncle’s.

But for those who’ve buried the victims of bloody roads

And murders

And foetuses

And their mothers who breathed their

Last while bringing forth life

And nursed rape and defilement victims

For those, dear honourable,

Death is not just a number

Rape victims aren’t just statistics

But an indelible mark of

Horror and with this they

Everyday walk: hearts paining.

About the Poet

Samuel Kamugisha is a Ugandan journalist, poet and fiction writer. A Journalism and Communication graduate, his poetry and short stories are inspired by his work as a journalist and as an observer of events in his country.

Kamugisha’s poem, ‘The Honourable Weevil,’ was published in Wondering and Wondering of Hearts: A Collection of Poems from Uganda, while his two poems, ‘Flying Papers’ and ‘Priorities’ were long listed for the 2016 Babishai Niwe Poetry Award.

His other prose and poetry have been published by Brittle Paper, Parousia Magazine, DwartOnline, Praxis Magazine, and Africa Crayons, among other places.  You can read more of Samuel Kamugisha’s journalism, prose and poetry work on

You can also read Painting Soulless Kampala, Priorities and The Stream Here, There, and Over There.

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