Bantleman’s nightmare, the Brownshirts, and Jesus for president

February 25, 2016

I woke up this morning and, as I often do, told my wife what I dreamed. Just a dream. Then I read the morning news. That was the nightmare. Trump continues to … you know.

Then another story, another nightmare. Burlington’s Neil Bantleman is going back to jail, for 11 years apparently, this because Indonesia’s Supreme Court has ruled in what has to be most discouraging and outrageous miscarriage of justice to any Canadian school teacher working abroad, ever.

I happen to have a friend from Canada who is a teacher who has taught in that part of the world, not that far away, in Malaysia.

Over the years, our own kids here in Kampala have also been taught and mentored by several Canadians, the sort of teachers who help ensure the standards at these international schools are nothing like those that have to be endured by the local children.

I can’t say enough about the trust factor of these Canadian teachers who choose to work in the developing world. Sure, like me and my entire family, they gain a lot from this sort of experience. But they give up certain things too, not the least of which is any amount of backstop if something goes wrong in what can be the Bizarro World of developing country practices.

You can get framed and falsely accused in any country, of course. This is the evil that can settle in the human heart: it doesn’t know geographic borders. But even when the imperfect wheels of justice grind in a place like Canada, you have a reasonable level of confidence that the evidence, or lack of, will lead court to a reasonable verdict.

Instead, Bantleman has been only left with a knife in the gut (all the more bloody with today’s painful and pathetic Supreme Court twist) that he will rot in some Jakarta prison without hope in a legal system that, as so often the case in the developing world, is surely rotten with corruption of one sort or another.

Bantleman’s family back in Burlington is also surely suffering beyond belief in this nightmare, the sort that even if the rest of think we might sense a shadow of, we wake from in the morning when the alarm goes off.

Our prayers go out for justice.


Another international headline of late is the recent Ugandan election. More will be coming on this, but for moment I can say two things.

One is that you can’t help but wonder if a government of kids couldn’t do a better job at running a whole lot of African nations.

“If you can’t use the money properly, you should give the job up,” is how Liz, all of 12, puts it.

“Go to different countries around the world, like Europe, and get ideas on how they do it.” That’s Jon, age 10.

Good point. And good point.


The second note of interest is that the day after Uganda’s recent vote, police officers in brown shirts patrolling the area visited to stand on my roof – a half-dozen of them – to scan the scene while we (my Ugandan friends and I, along with Jon) were playing our weekly Saturday night hockey.

They were patrolling to keep the peace for the Old Man, that is Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda for so long now (hard to believe I wrote this Ugandan election piece 10 years ago) that The Old Man is the only suitable title left for him.

Museveni actually refers himself to Old Man because in Africa this, to be a “Mzee,” (pronounced moo-zay) is an honourable thing.

(Of course I tell my kids this all the time. Honour the Old Man!)

In either case, Jon, right when a ball was flying somewhere near my right ear, said to me “Uh, Dad, you better look up,” which is when I looked up to the garage roof to see, and then greet, above-noted Brownshirts. One had a semi-automatic, another a pistol.

I asked them if they were around to keep the peace for the Mzee, and they said ‘yes,’ and I said ‘welcome,’ and they wanted to know why I wasn’t’ scoring more goals, why, in fact, my little boy was doing better at the game than I was.

“I’ve been playing for three hours!” I said. “I’m a Mzee!”


It all makes you wonder what sort of politician Jesus might have been.

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February 25, 2016 • Posted in
Contact Thomas at [email protected]


1 thought on “Bantleman’s nightmare, the Brownshirts, and Jesus for president”

  1. Thank you for your article, sir. As a Hamiltonian following Neil Bantleman’s case and praying for him and his family, I could not help but be touched and in whole-hearted agreement with your post; this is truly a nightmare for their family. Your words are very powerful. May the Lord continue to use your voice and words through your column. God bless,

    Mrs. Karen Celeste

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