Land grabbing has contributed to revolutions and decolonization wars

NRM leaders and those hiding behind them while invoking colonial agreements in independent times to grab land because peasants are currently powerless and voiceless or ignorant of their rights must realize that land grabbing has from time immemorial contributed to revolutions, revolts, rebellions and bloody decolonization wars. Take France before the revolution as a case in point.

France on the eve of the revolution had 26 million people, 98 per cent of them commoners. But see how land was distributed.

The clergy that numbered 130,000 owned 10 per cent of the land. The highest officials of the Church: archbishops, bishops and abbots benefitted enormously from the land while parish priests were as poor as their peasant parishioners.

The nobility that numbered some 300,000 owned up to 30 percent of the land while 98 percent of French who were commoners owned about 60 percent and many of them were landless or had land that was not enough to give them subsistence life. Land shortage combined with rising prices, unemployment and food shortages in 1788 and 1789 contributed to the French Revolution and regaining of land by peasants.

In Russia the serfs were set free in 1861 but were not given land from where to earn their livelihood. In February 1917 landlessness, food and energy shortages, unemployment and unpopular WWI sparked the revolution that swept the Romanovs out of power. Lenin using the motto of ‘bread, land and peace’ wrestled power from the provisional government and turned Russia into a communist state.

The decolonization of Africa was bloody where the whites had grabbed land from Africans such as in Algeria, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Uganda escaped because land grabbing in Buganda went to Buganda king and his relatives; regents; 4000 chiefs and a few notables that turned previous users (the Bakopi) into serfs or tenants.

The current grabbing of land in Uganda largely by foreigners is being watched with different lenses from those of the 1900 Uganda Agreement that dispossessed Bakopi. Ugandans now know better and won’t keep silent for long.

Eric

Conflict resolution is a prerequisite to development and poverty eradication

From time immemorial there is ample evidence that countries and societies in conflict situation where human rights and fundamental freedoms are abused experience great difficulties in designing and implementing programs to reduce poverty and inequality. By contrast in stable societies where rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law are respected, poverty has declined much faster. Unstable societies perform poorly in poverty eradication in large part because they don’t have capable institutions and checks and balances due to discrimination, brain drain and corruption.

It has been demonstrated that in fragile or unstable countries, the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 has lagged far behind.

There is also evidence that in societies such as those in the Great Lakes region of Africa that have experienced endemic instability increasing financial assistance is unhelpful in addressing inequality and poverty challenges and their offshoots of hunger, disease and illiteracy because these societies don’t have sufficient absorptive capacity. Ipso facto, availability of large financial donations could promote corruption, waste and mismanagement of foreign aid.

In recognition that instability and fragility undermine development and poverty eradication efforts, African leaders stressed in the Constitutive Act adopted in 2000 that created the African Union the need to promote peace, security and stability on the continent; promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance; and promote and protect human and peoples’ rights.

In its 2005 report titled “Our Common Interest” the Commission on Africa stressed the importance of constructing the capacity of African states and societies in order to prevent and/or manage conflicts that have constrained development and poverty reduction endeavors. At its Summit in May 2013, African leaders underscored that conflict resolution is a prerequisite for development and poverty eradication in Africa.

In their Common African Position (CAP) for the preparation of post-2015 development agenda, African heads of state and government have stressed the need to address the root causes of conflict and strengthen good and inclusive governance, fight against all forms discrimination and forge unity in diversity. They have also agreed to strengthen cross-border cooperation to prevent the outbreak of armed conflict and implement comprehensive, post-conflict reconstruction programs.

This is a welcome development that should be favorably supported by Africa’s development partners during the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda scheduled to run from 2016 through 2030.

Eric Kashambuzi is international consultant in development issues

Educating girls will empower women; reduce poverty and fertility in Africa

There is consensus at national and international levels that educating girls will reduce child marriage and fertility complemented by the provision of safe, accessible and affordable contraception; empower women and reduce extreme poverty in the long term in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It has been recognized that educating girls and lowering fertility in Africa have been constrained by school drop out for failure to raise tuition and provide school lunch. In many cases, household poverty forces parents to arrange early marriage for their daughters. Cultural factors including against pregnancy out of wedlock have a similar effect. Early marriage results in high birthrates and rapid population growth especially in poor rural communities where the needs for voluntary, safe and affordable contraception are not met, calling for improved physical and human infrastructure and supplies subsidized by government as appropriate.

To overcome the school dropout and family planning constraints discussions are underway including in the preparation for post-2015 development agenda that governments with support from the international community provide free and compulsory primary and secondary education for children whose parents can’t afford.

The discussions on free and compulsory education are in line with various United Nations resolutions, declarations and conventions including the 1960 Convention against Discrimination in Education which was adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It called inter alia for making primary education free and compulsory; making secondary education available and accessible to all; and making higher education equally accessible to all on the basis of individual capacity and assuring compliance by all with the obligation to attend school prescribed by law.

As a complement to free and compulsory education it has been confirmed that provision of school lunch improves attendance and performance especially of girls. The World Food Program (WFP) which has been active in school lunch programs has demonstrated that hunger affects children access to school, attention span and class behavior. This phenomenon makes it difficult for children to concentrate and perform complex tasks. Consequently many children drop out of school at an early age, get married or have children out of wedlock, resulting in a high fertility level. Early marriage also results in high infant, child and maternal mortality because teenage mothers are not biologically and economically capable.

The issues of ending hunger and malnutrition generally and providing school meals in particular are receiving increasing attention. There is agreement that everyone has an inalienable right to be free from hunger in order to develop and maintain physical and mental fitness.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) which is an organ of the African Union (AU) has adopted a resolution calling on all African governments and relevant development partners and financial institutions to support school lunch programs using as much as possible food produced in African countries that would put cash into the pockets of farmers. Due to financial constraints, few countries have implemented the program.

It has also been recognized that education for girls is one of the prerequisites for fighting poverty and empowering women in the long term. WFP has demonstrated that countries most committed to educating girls – and boys – are among the most successful in reducing poverty. Empowered women through remunerative jobs and good incomes lead more fulfilling lives and exercise their sexual and reproductive rights including in determining how many children to have, when and how to space them with assistance of accessible, affordable and safe contraception.

The funding constraint is being discussed at various national and international levels. One of the ways could be to allocate more Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds to primary and secondary education. The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have suggested at one of the meetings of the post-2015 development agenda that ODA funds should be allocated to priority areas and programs. Hopefully, African governments will comply if there is sufficient political will to educate African girls and empower African women.

Eric Kashambuzi is an international consultant in development issues. He resides in New York, USA.

The consequences of the triumph of religion over tradition in Buganda

The people of Buganda were under the control of clan heads (Bataka). The Kabaka was little more than primus inter pares – senior member among clan heads. However, by the 19th century, most of clan heads had lost their powers to the Kabaka who established supremacy beyond the original three counties (Busiro, Mawokota and Kyadondo) largely through the use of force. The Kabaka who became head of all clan heads exercised absolute rule.

However, no individual owned land. An individual could use land, pass it on to relatives but he could not separate his part from the kin system. Thus, the kin owned the land and the people used it. The 1900 Buganda Agreement changed all that tradition and replaced it with the landed gentry dominated by Christians that have controlled the political economy of Buganda – and of Uganda – since then.

The passing of Mutesa I in 1884 was accompanied by the struggle for power among Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and traditional chiefs. In the end the traditional chiefs and Kabaka Mwanga who opposed religious influence in his kingdom lost. Mwanga fled, was captured and died in exile. He was succeeded by an infant King Daudi Chwa. Power was exercised by three religious regents led by Katikkiro Apolo Kagwa of the Anglican Church. To consolidate their position, the regents collaborated with Sir Harry Johnston who drew up the 1900 Uganda Agreement that revolutionized Buganda politics, economy and society.

For the first time in Buganda history, land was transferred from the peasants (Bakopi) who used it under communal system to individual freehold without consultation or compensation. Half of the kingdom’s land that was unoccupied became Crown Land divided between the government and churches. The other half which was occupied was divided among the Kabaka, his relatives and some 4000 chiefs. Harry Johnston had wanted to allocate land to a few chiefs and leave sufficient land for peasants under the statutory Board of Trustees. This proposal was rejected by the new chiefs to maintain control over peasants.

Buganda was divided into 20 counties. Ten counties were allocated to Protestant chiefs; eight to Catholic chiefs and two to Muslim chiefs.

From the beginning of the Agreement the Bataka and Bakopi who lost their land complained all the way to the Colonial office in London. In his ruling the colonial Secretary L. S. Amery rebuked the three regents in very strong terms for misusing their powers in allocating land to the new owners. However, he noted that practical considerations made it impossible to reverse the decision. Compensation was denied not because there was no genuine case for it but because the sums involved were prohibitive, implying that should the financial situation improve clan chiefs and peasants should be compensated commensurately. Ipso facto, the matter was left open.

Although the Kabaka would continue to rule over his people, real power shifted to the cabinet of three ministers – Katikkiro (Prime Minister), Chief Justice and Treasurer – and Lukiko (Legislative Council) made up of Christian and Muslim members. The pagans were not represented. In the 1995 Namirembe Agreement, the Kabaka was reduced to a constitutional head and Kabaka Mutebi II was restored as a cultural head. Thus, although the institution has remained, the power of the Kabaka has been drastically reduced.

Besides religion triumphing over tradition, the 1900 Agreement introduced serious distortions and inequalities. The peasants who lost use of the land for their livelihood were also forced to pay taxes to the government and to the new landlords. This combination of deprivation impoverished peasants and increased inequality between them and landlords.

The Uganda Agreement gave Buganda a special status in Uganda. Buganda was designated a province whereas other kingdoms had a district status. The Kabaka was given the title of His Highness that gave him a special status vis-à-vis other kings.

The independence constitution merely transferred power from British officials to Uganda officials. Virtually everything else remained the same. The post-NRM federal system should correct all the distortions and inequalities not only in Buganda but also in the rest of the country to lay a solid foundation for unity, stability, justice and dignity for all Ugandans.

Eric Kashambuzi

The future Uganda deserves

Uganda must embrace the politics of ideas, not of money;

Uganda must embrace constructive engagement, not destructive monologue;

Uganda must seek leadership with impeccable record and vast experience in domestic and external affairs, not novices with tarnished image;

Uganda must demand patriotic leadership that puts the country first, not itself, its relatives and handpicked individuals;

Uganda must demand leadership that addresses the people directly, not through agents and/or press releases;

Uganda must demand leadership with a clear historical background and record, not one shrouded in secrecy including changing of names;

Uganda must embrace the Wilsonian doctrine of self-determination for all peoples enshrined in UN, regional and national instruments, not suppression of voiceless, powerless and/or conquered communities;

Uganda must demand a foreign policy of non-alignment, not jumping from one position to another for regime survival;

Uganda must demand an economy that is equitable and protects the environment, not one based on economic growth and per capita income alone;

Uganda must demand economic integration that accords real net benefits to citizens, not one that disadvantages it through unsustainable migrations, asset and job grabbing from Ugandans;

Uganda must demand leadership that gives our children good, relevant and quality education, keeps them in school through providing school lunch, not one based on completing schooling without learning anything or dropping out early and engaging in child marriage with all serious health and demographic offshoots;

Uganda must demand health facilities where people go to be cured, not to die;

Uganda must demand manifestos or development plans that spell out what the leadership plans to do, not one based on mobilizing or appeasing sections of society.

More to follow in due course

Eric

The morality of post-colonial Uganda needs to be examined

The idea of the right to self-determination that was promoted by President Woodrow Wilson is about improving material, social and moral well being of people under colonial rule or dictatorship.

In point V of his fourteen Points program Wilson underscored the need for “A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined”. Point XIV stressed “A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small nations”. This principle was incorporated into the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The peace settlement of WWI emphasized the principle of self-determination, meaning the right of each nation to choose its form of government, causing the flame of nationalism to burn even brighter than before. In Kenya and South Africa, for example, the spirit of nationalism focused on the return of land to indigenous peoples.

In the Atlantic Charter of 1941 President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill stated “They respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live, and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them”.

The peoples’ right to self-determination was incorporated into the United Nations Charter adopted in 1945. It states in part “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life-time has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”. Article I (2) of the Charter aims “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace”.

The struggle for Uganda’s independence was to right the wrongs of colonial administration such as the profound misconception that Banyoro and Baganda were identical and the former in the “lost counties” should form an integral part of Buganda kingdom, a decision that was contested by Bunyoro government from the beginning and has not been fully rectified – only two counties were returned to Bunyoro in a referendum..

Another burning issue that needs to be resolved is the Mailo land. Through bribery the Christian regents that gained political ascendancy over traditional chiefs agreed to the 1900 Uganda Agreement that robbed the peasants of their land particularly their ancestral burial sites and forcibly incorporated Bunyoro land and people into Buganda kingdom. The Mailo land was divided among the Kabaka, his family members, regents, chiefs and some Baganda notables without consulting or compensating the people who owned the land and used it as their only source of livelihood. In other places like Ireland and Kenya funds were made available for ex-peasants to purchase their land back from landlords. The time has come to right this wrong in Uganda.

The people of Uganda also demand their right to self-determination in other areas, including regaining their identity and dignity. In the interest of cost effectiveness, the colonial administration lamped people of different clans and ethnicity together under indirect rule and gave them a common “tribal” name without consultation. For example all the clans of Rujumbura county of Rukungiri district are called Bahororo according to the Odoki report of 1992. This was done for colonial convenience and has not been corrected since independence whereas in Bufumbira the people exercised their right and changed their “tribal” designation of Banyarwanda to Bafumbira. The people of Rujumbura will exercise their right in this regard during consideration of a federal system of governance in post-NRM regime.

Eric Kashambuzi

Uganda in the process of understanding itself

Before colonial rule communities were identified by clans each with a totem. With colonialism, new notions of tribe, ethnicity and nations emerged and have submerged clans. Discussions regarding self-determination and good governance, have necessitated we know ourselves better. Some Ugandans prefer to revert to clans, others want tribes, yet others prefer ethnicity or nation. Let us focus on tribe and nation.

Tribe: According to the World Book Encyclopedia (1985), tribe is a term used to describe certain human social groups. It is generally a disliked term because it lacks precise meaning and has been applied to many widely different groups. Many groups consider the term to be offensive or inaccurate and prefer different terms like ethnicity or nation. The term tends to be used arbitrarily. Solon a Greek leader decided to divide the Ionian communities into four tribes according to wealth and landownership. Years later Kleisthenes divided the Ionians into ten tribes in honor of Attic heroes. Although Ionians continued to acknowledge their four tribes they ceased to play an important part in the administrative process (Robert Garland 2008).

Peter Gukiina (1972), a Uganda historian who appears to be uncomfortable with the term ‘tribe’ or ‘tribalism’ refers to Baganda as ethnic groups – not tribes or even clans. He records “Before colonization, the area was occupied by a diversity of ethnic groups, each with its own language, individual culture, political and social styles and traditions.

For at least two centuries most of these groups had existed as independent societies with their own kinds of political organizations”. Gukiina adds “the ‘concept of tribalism’ is often clothed in stereotypes and myths which some of the corrupt minds of nineteenth century imperialists and colonialists invented, exaggerated and sold to their people to justify and generate support for the colonial subjugation and exploitation of the African people”. For example, to subjugate and exploit the Bantu clans of Rujumbura county of Rukungiri district Bantu clans became Bairu (slaves or servants of Tutsi) and later on Bahororo under colonial rule. Within Bahororo the Tutsi group has dominated and exploited the Bantu since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Gukiina advises “In order to have a clear and reliable understanding of Uganda politics one must abandon the use of the term ‘tribe’ and ‘tribalism’ and ‘tribal hatred’. These concepts or terms have been frequently used by colonial officials, former colonial officials, the western press, and, most unfortunately, by many African leaders in their search for power, money and prestige”.

Nation: According to the World Book Encyclopedia (1985), “Nation is a large group of people that unite for mutual safety and welfare. A common language, origin [ancestry] and culture characterize a nation. Nation is a vague term, and nationhood exists largely because a group considers itself to be a nation”. Herein lies the problem for Uganda where some have decided that there are fifteen nations that should form the basis for a federal system of government.

Gardner Thompson (2003) has written that “If a nation is a group of people who consider themselves alike, bonded, sharing characteristics and interests which, they feel, distinguish them from others, then in 1962, Ugandans were ‘not yet a nation’” . This observation applies equally to the so-called 15 nations.

Timothy H. Parsons (2010) has taken us through the background to ‘tribes’ and ‘nations’ in Africa. He states “In pretending to rule through local sovereigns, the British imported the Indian model of imperial rule to Africa. As in the Raj, British officials claimed to govern through African institutions of authority rather than ruling directly. This made the ‘tribe’ the basis of imperial administration. Confused by the range of fluid and often overlapping ethnicities of pre-conquest Africa, British officials concluded that Africans lived in unchanging tribal societies. In the imperial imagination, a tribe was a lower form of political and social organization that, with proper paternal guidance, might one day evolve into a nation. … Working in the service of colonial governments, anthropologists mapped tribal languages, social institutions, and customary laws to fashion the tools of imperial administration for district officers. The African tribe was thus a useful fiction to update the venerable imperial strategy of co-opting local institutions of authority”.

One can safely conclude that the 15 nations of Uganda came about through this fiction route. Eric

How the 1900 Uganda Agreement created a landed oligarchy in Buganda

We are writing these stories by popular demand and as part of civic education. We call on all Ugandans, friends and well wishers to make their constructive contribution to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

Let us begin by explaining how Buganda and Uganda came about and got mixed up. According to Peter N. Gukiina (1972), “’Uganda” meant Buganda kingdom, ‘Uganda’ being the word for ‘Buganda’ in Kiswahili”. Philip D. Curtin (2000) writes “Present-day Uganda takes its name from a Swahili corruption [irregular alteration from original state or form] of the word Buganda”. Both Swahili and Luganda are Bantu languages.

Through Stanley Kabaka Mutesa I invited Christians to come to Buganda to counter Muslim influence coming from the east and the north of the kingdom. Through an anonymous donor the C.M.S. (Church Missionary Society) received 5,000 British pounds. They arrived in 1877. In 1879 the White Fathers Missionaries arrived. Among other things, the long illness of the Kabaka opened the door for political power struggle. The four-to five hundred young pages of the Kabaka became the target of political maneuvering. Within four years Catholics and Anglicans had baptized many of Kabaka’s pages.

These christened pages provided the leadership of the Christian communities. Under pressure, the White Catholics temporarily left Buganda. Joseph Mukasa, the king’s most trusted page took over the Catholic leadership among the pages and soldiers of the bodyguards. Andrew Kagwa, master-drummer and head of Kabaka’s band joined as well as Mathew Kasule the king’s gunsmith that occupied a position of military significance. Another prominent individual who joined was Matthias Kalemba.

At the same time Baganda leaders of the Anglican Church were emerging. In 1886 12 of them including Nikodemo Sebwato were appointed as a Church council.

Kabaka Mwanga who is believed to have converted to Catholicism appointed Joseph Mukasa to the post of major-domo and Andrew Kagwa became inseparable hunting and travelling companion of Mwanga.

A fierce struggle for power developed between these young Christian pages and the older tribal chiefs led by the Katikkiro. The latter didn’t fare well. When it was learned that the Germans had occupied Tanganyika coastal areas and Buganda would be next, the tribal chiefs advised the Kabaka that the pages represented the spearhead of European intervention in Buganda. In October 1885 Joseph Mukasa was executed for protesting against the murder of the first Anglican bishop Hannington. In 1886 up to one hundred Christians were martyred including Andrea Kagwa and Matthias Kalemba while other leaders including Sebwato and Apolo Kagwa were severely beaten. For three years the religious groups rebelled forcing Mwanga to accept Christians and appointing Apolo Kagwa as the Katikkiro and other Christians that replaced the older chiefs.

While regents, it was this new oligarchy (few Baganda) with Anglicans in a better position led by Apolo Kagwa having defeated Catholics and Muslims with Captain Lugard’s help that negotiated the 1900 Uganda Agreement with Sir Harry Johnston. The Lukkiko was packed with Christian and few Muslim representatives – saza chiefs (there were no representatives of pagans or those who followed traditional faiths in the Lukiiko). The power shifted from traditional chiefs and the Kabaka to the three regents and Lukiiko members (the 1955 Agreement reduced the Kabaka to a constitutional head and the new Kabaka has been reduced by NRM government to a mere cultural leader).

The entire land tenure system of Buganda was revolutionized from the peasants (Bakopi) and their clan heads (Bataka) to new owners: the Kabaka and his relatives, regents, chiefs and other few notables that took half of the land and the rest became Crown land. The Lukiiko had responsibility for allocating land to the new landlords. After land had been allocated to them they chose who should settle on their estates. This resulted in unprecedented human resettlement with so many adverse economic, social and cultural outcomes. Bataka protested all the way to the colonial office in London but got nothing even when there was recognition that the idea was a bad one but it was too late to reverse. The Bakopi and Bataka land was not returned and were not compensated.

The new land revolution under the NRM government is even worse. The new land owners are mostly foreigners and tenants are being forced from the land and pushed into urban slums with all the economic, social and cultural suffering. The situation will get worse when land is finally privatized to large scale foreign farmers who will use capital intensive methods to produce for external markets. Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has championed privatization of Uganda land to large-scale mostly foreign farmers after he returned from a mission abroad.

As noted already, the original owners of the land were dispossessed without compensation. Ipso facto, their complaint still stands. The regents were bribed to accept Johnston’s decision to dispossess Baganda, Banyoro and other clans that were incorporated into the 1900 Uganda Agreement. Katikiro Apolo was bribed with 20 extra square miles and 100 head of cattle, Mugwanya with 15 extra square miles and Kangawo with ten (J. V. Wild 1950).

The 1955 Buganda Agreement did not replace the 1900 Agreement and land was not touched. Amin in his 1975 land decree made all land in Uganda public under leasehold occupation which ended Mailo land. NRM restored it to the owners or their descendants.

Resettlement of Luwero Triangle after the guerrilla war favored foreigners as the exercise was undertaken by resistance committees directed by NRM that is directed by foreigners. People are demanding land reform but the elites that are benefitting from the status quo are putting up stiff resistance through their agents.

For Uganda to achieve lasting peace, security and stability this historical injustice needs to be addressed during the negotiations for a federal system of governance. Those who are calling for self-determination in Buganda and elsewhere and demanding that everyone should go to where they belong have a valid point and shouldn’t be ignored.

It must be recognized that revolutions are more often than not anchored on land issues, witness the revolutions in France in 1789, Mexico in 1910, Russia in 1917 and more recently Ethiopia in 1974. Uganda leadership – present and future – can’t afford to ignore this lesson indefinitely.

Eric

Buganda expanded, colonized and consolidated during the colonial rule

For over 200 years Bunyoro had been the most extensive and powerful kingdom. Its kingdom included Buganda. Too many wars and a large empire weakened Bunyoro. Buganda under leaders starting with Mawanda began to expand at the expense of Bunyoro. He invaded Busoga. Junju drove Bunyoro out of Buddu and took over Koki. King Kamanya drove Bunyoro out of Buwekula. By the time Suna came to power, Bunyoro had been reduced to Buruli and north Singo, central Bunyoro itself, Bugangaizi, Buyaga and the eastern counties of the present Toro district (Karugire 1973). Kabula was conquered from Ankole.

Notwithstanding all this, according to Gardner Thompson (2003) Buganda had not yet been able to fully assert pre-eminence over its neighbors independently before the British helped it. Thus, according to Philip Curtin (2000), pre-European Buganda remained small (when Britain took over).“It covered only the area a hundred miles or so inland from the north shore of Lake Victoria, in a half-circle that ran west of the point where the Nile flows out of the lake”. And Bunyoro had regained military strength and was recovering its lost territories.

Buganda was in decline due to a combination of crises including acute food shortages or even full-blown famines that inter alia weakened the military; religious wars; diseases including bubonic plague and cattle (the rinderpest of 1889-90), the massive killing of elephants for their ivory deprived the area of a host on which the tetse fly fed and invaded cattle and humans transmitting animal trypanosomiasis and human sleeping sickness. Furthermore, the passing of Mutesa I (RIP) in 1884 who had been bedridden since 1876 weaken the kingdom and opened the door for power that Mwanga could not handle. Thus, “Ganda entered the colonial period struggling not only to come to terms with this catastrophe, but to assert themselves in a new and potentially hostile political environment”(Richard Reid 2002).

It is therefore fair to conclude that what Buganda gained and consolidated was colonial territories handed over to it during the scramble and colonization of Uganda as a reward for Buganda’s support in Britain’s colonization of Uganda. Thus, the conquered and colonized territories and peoples that were not set free at the time of independence (except Buyaga and Bugangaizi in 1964) are still colonized territories and peoples. In some cases the colonized peoples like Banyoro are still speaking their indigenous languages.

We need to recognize with regard to Bunyoro that “British policy of assimilation of the Banyoro in the ‘Lost Counties’ was based on the profound misconception that the Banyoro and the Baganda were culturally and socially similar, if not identical, to each other. In fact the social and cultural differences between the two peoples were far more important than their apparent similarities”(T. V. Sathyamurthy1986).

This therefore raises the legitimate issue of self-determination that should be taken up during discussions on federalism so that Ugandans decide how they want to be governed in the broadest sense while retaining Uganda as is.

Eric

Land ownership in Buganda has entered a dangerous phase

Before the 1900 Uganda Agreement land in Buganda was owned by the people under the supervision of their clan heads (Bataka). The Agreement changed all that. Half of the land that was uncultivated, covered under forests and swamps was taken over by the colonial administration as Crown Land. The other half that was occupied by indigenous peasants was taken over by the Kabaka and his family members, regents, chiefs and a few notables as mailo land. The owners were neither consulted nor compensated for the transformation.

The allocation of land among the new owners was done by the Lukiiko comprising the regents and chiefs. The allocation was not only done so fast, it also resulted in massive resettlement as chiefs moved with their followers to their new land. For example, a Protestant chief evicted from his areas Catholics, Muslims and pagans. A Catholic chief evicted Protestants, Muslims and pagans and a Muslim chief evicted Protestants, Catholics and pagans. The pagans were not represented in the Lukiiko.

This was truly a social revolution that created many problems in the countryside. People lost their ancestral areas including burial sites. Bataka complained all the way to the colonial office but the transformation had gone too far to be reversed and so they lost the case. It was agreed, however, that tenants on mailo land would not be evicted provided they paid a fixed fee. The colonial office also decided that this model of land distribution was so bad that it should not be applied to other regions.

Baganda have suffered another massive human reorganization since 1981. During the guerrilla war residents of the Luwero Triangle were moved to forested areas apparently for security reasons. At the end of the war it was difficult to determine who lived where and land allocation was done by resistance council members, with all implications.

NRM has also turned land into a commodity for sale like chicken to the highest bidder under the so-called notion of willing seller and willing buyer. Consequently, many Baganda (and to a certain extent other Ugandans outside of Buganda) have lost their land. Unlike under the Uganda Agreement, there is no provision for keeping tenants on the land. Consequently there has been massive rural-urban migration that has resulted in sprawling slums especially in Kampala and the mushrooming of economic, social, political and cultural problems.

This situation must be addressed without delay if Uganda is to avoid a revolution. Land has always been a major issue in revolutions including in France, Mexico, Russia and Ethiopia. The post-NRM government should place the land issue on the list of priority areas for immediate attention.

The purpose of writing this article is to begin discussing how land tenure and land use should be addressed in a politically, economically and socially acceptable manner for all concerned.

Eric