I was going to let the events of earlier today go by with just the tweets shared from my court experience, but then a group of tweeps threw the #UGBloggers7Days challenge my way and the literadrenaline was let loose.
Since I’m deeply involved in the case I can’t speak about the facts surrounding it, but today I was in the witness stand of a courtroom for the first time in my life, thanks to a lawsuit brought against MTN Uganda andSMS Media Uganda by former Mayor and almost-Minister Al-hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala.
Briefly, Sebaggala claims that the two made a ringtone out of his speech and have raked in billions of Uganda shillings, infringing on a copyright that belongs to him.
Legalities aside, why are we NOT spending more time hanging around court rooms for our general entertainment?
The curtain-raiser was seeing this massive maroon Uganda Prisons bus sidle alongside me and try to squeeze into the queue entering the commercial court, the way Kampala drivers tend to do as if the cars are just an extension of their bellies.
After realising that the bus wouldn’t fit, the driver drove on a little bit and parked by the side of the road to let the following alight:
It took me a couple of seconds to understand what I was seeing, and by that time she was walking right past me and all I could snap was:
#BadBlack, I tweeted.
“Maybe #BadBrown!” someone replied.
Everyone at the Commercial Court was a comedian, for some reason – even the askaris who exchanged looks, comments and giggles as she walked past. In fact, #BadB herself was joking with that blouse matching her skin complexion.
The bus driver had started it all, though, having driven an entire damn bus all the way from Luzira just to drop this one prisoner with her guard.
Inside our court room, the opportunities for laughter were countless – even before we saw the playback of Seeya’s famous video recording (find that here or here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmJ7AzBQB7c).
I doffed my hat off to the judge for not guffawing out loud as most other people did throughout the day, even though his face broke up more often than not.
At one point I mentioned that I had offered Sebaggala’s team refreshments when they came to SMS Media offices, to which his lawyer responded, “…you say you gave them groceries…”
“No, my Lord, refreshments. NOT groceries!” I quickly corrected the fellow, lest the court record indicated that I had attempted to bribe Seeya with some shopping items…
Then, at another point the same lawyer asked, at a very unnecessary (to me) point: “The content was the same but the codes were different. By different, what do you mean? What do you mean they were different?”
“Er…they were not the same.”
“They were different?”
“What do you mean?”
I turned to the judge for help, but realised I could try one more time with, “They were not the same.”
He appeared to finally get it.
Drawing to the end of an entertaining cross-examination, the second lawyer said quite distinctly at one point, “You claim you got the recording and created an altercation which you call a CRBT…”
“I did not!”
“Yes, you did. You made an altercation out of the recording!”
“Surely not an altercation, my Lord!” I interjected, again.
The lawyer, however, was off on a tangent and not to be interrupted, so he went on for a bit while the rest of us tried to work out what chaos the ringtone had caused, besides this outburst…
“…an alteration, you mean?”
As did everybody else in the room – including Seeya himself.
Would that all court appearances were this amusing; or that I were being paid to attend them…