As a researcher and civic educator to all Ugandans I have a responsibility to contribute to the debate among Baganda that tends to emphasis external factors for their suffering.
There is a time when one of our colleagues at the organization where I worked was experiencing serious problems but blaming others for his mistakes. We got concerned and we felt that someone should tell him. It was decided that the closest to him should be the one to tell him the truth.
When you examine the record shortly before independence and since then, you realize that Baganda also made errors that must be recognized and corrected.
I listen to the Luganda program of radio munansi. What you hear for most of the time is that Baganda are suffering because of others, previously Northerners but since Museveni came to power blame has increasingly shifted to westerners especially Banyankole who must pay for the suffering they have caused to Baganda including chasing them away from Buganda soil. This is scary.
Banyankole in particular must be having sleepless nights wondering what will happen should NRM be overthrown by Baganda military forces commanded by Duncan Kafero with Banyarwanda mercenaries as he admitted last Sunday on radio munansi. This is not a secret. Every time there is a problem Baganda want either to go their way or chase non-Baganda out of Buganda. If they stay in Buganda they must be under the Kabaka of Buganda. This is still the chorus today. On three occasions, Baganda have acted.
1. In December 1960 Buganda declared independence but had no means of implementing the decision.
2. When campaign for the post of president heated up and Baganda felt they may not get it, they threatened to chase the central government out of Buganda. In 1963 the Uganda constitution was amended to create the post of president. As the bill was being debated in parliament … “Busoga District Council passed a resolution that their Kyabazinga … should be made the president. … Not to be undone, the Lukiiko passed a resolution that the Kabaka should be made the president, failing which the Uganda government should remove itself from Buganda soil”(Samwiri Karugire 1988).
3. The loss of the lost counties to Bunyoro and other developments upset Baganda and decided to act. In May 1966 the Lukiiko influenced by three radical Ssaza chiefs passed a hurriedly drafted resolution calling on the central government to leave Buganda soil by the end of that month (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).
4. The chorus regarding non-Baganda leaving Buganda soil has picked up momentum including on Radio Munansi that has been taken over by extremists and secessionists. Non-Ugandans living in Buganda are listening and hearing the warning. They need to figure out in time what to do to avoid a catastrophe because this is serious business.
When Uganda National Congress (UNC) was formed in the early 1950s it had a national character and had branches outside Buganda. As the struggle for independence heated up some senior Baganda officials of UNC turned parochial, forcing the party to split. At the same time non-Baganda in LEGCO formed a party Uganda Peoples Union (UPU) for the sole purpose of opposing Buganda separatist tendency. UNC branches outside Buganda joined with UPU and formed UPC.
Baganda have insisted to this day that they must stay on top of everyone in Uganda, with the Kabaka above all of us or they will secede. To create a pretext, they are insisting they were a state before independence when we know the 1900 Uganda Agreement which remained in force until independence designated Buganda a province on par with other provinces. They are restoring Buganda traditional ideology in preparedness for a new state of Buganda. As part of this new direction, some have changed their mind about a federal system of government and now demand secession which as I have advised could be a double-edged sword because it is people who demand self-determination. The various communities of Buganda given the circumstances under which Buganda was carved into a kingdom could decide to link up with other groups or go separate ways.
DP lost its political advantages over UPC because Buganda could not tolerate a Muganda commoner and Catholic becoming head of Uganda above a Protestant Kabaka. Obote a northern commoner but Protestant was invited by Baganda to become prime minister instead of Kiwanuka.
While the Kabaka was happy with what Buganda got at the Lancaster Conference before independence Michael Kintu, then Katikiro and the Kabaka Yekka were not happy because the constitution failed to make the Kabaka above everyone in Uganda.
“When the Baganda delegates returned from the constitutional conference and reported their achievements to the Lukiiko, they were strongly criticized by members of the Kabaka Yekka Movement of having failed to secure acceptance and acknowledgement of the superiority of the Kabaka of Buganda over all Ugandans from other members of the delegations at the conference, who were representing the various tribes in Uganda. They particularly wanted the new constitution to spell out clearly that the Kabaka was above the Prime Minister of Uganda”. The Movement issued a statement to the effect that:
“As from March, 1962, the seat of Uganda Prime Minister will be in Buganda at Entebbe, and the National Assembly of Uganda will also be in Buganda in Kampala. We of the Kabaka Yekka cannot hesitate to state that if Uganda is ever to be a prosperous and peaceful country the Prime Minister must always be subordinate to the Kabaka and other hereditary rulers as shown by Kabaka Yekka in the picture opposite”(Onyango Odongo 1993).
From this quotation, it appears that non-Baganda delegates wanted to move the seat of the central government outside Buganda, prompting Kabaka Yekka to act as it did. As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
The issue of the “lost counties” was perhaps unnecessarily complicated by Buganda. Obote had suggested that after independence he would bring Buganda and Bunyoro together to find a mutually acceptable solution but Buganda under the leadership of Michael Kintu totally refused engagement (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986). By the time they realized they could lose the counties it was too late to do anything about it.
As Baganda wanted, the Kabaka became president in 1963 but quickly ran into problems including conflict of interest as Kabaka of Buganda and President of Uganda, resulting in the sad political and constitutional tragedies of 1966 and 1967.
With these few illustrations, the point being made here is that Baganda in a way have – perhaps without realizing it – contributed to the challenges they face. By contributing to the instability in the country to make it difficult for the central government to govern, Baganda opened the door for Amin to shoot to power. External efforts to prevent him from assuming power failed because of the massive support he received in Buganda especially in the capital City of Kampala.
Against advice from wise Ugandans, Buganda invited Museveni to launch a guerrilla war in Buganda that left an estimated half of the population in the Luwero Triangle dead and more damage has been done since then but blame continues to be directed at Obote and Acholi people for atrocities. For the current suffering, Baganda have directed attacks at westerners especially Banyankole in part because they welcomed Obote in Bushenyi when he returned from exile and Museveni has used them to rob Buganda although with Mengo collaboration, witness the MOU which has turned out to be a binding Agreement between Mengo Administration and the central government. Baganda are generally silent about the role Mengo is playing in robbing its people especially the Bakopi.
Concerned citizens are now advising against mercenaries being hired by a group in Buganda as confessed last Sunday on Radio Munansi. Mercenaries may help to get rid of unpopular leader and get their pay but they do more harm in the end. We know what Amin mercenaries did and we are witnessing what mercenaries under Museveni are doing. We really don’t want another set of mercenaries. Baganda should hear our voices and act accordingly and should things go wrong they should not blame anyone else.
As I have been saying Uganda has suffered more than enough. Let us take stock of the root causes of our suffering in order to offer a solution. This will require political will, boldness, risks and sacrifice. I am fully aware that some Ugandans don’t like controversial or confrontational debates but this happens everywhere provided it is done constructively and in a civil manner. Letting sleeping dogs lie as some have suggested could be dangerous should they wake up and realize we messed them up and demand their pound of flesh. When the sleeping dogs woke up in France, Mexico, Russia, Ethiopia and Iran, there were revolutions that swept ancient regimes out of power. Since 1986 sleeping dogs have also woken up in The Philippines, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. More could be on the way to waking up including in Uganda. That is why it is important that to avoid bloodshed, we should form a transitional government of all Ugandans under a presidential team to govern Uganda and prepare the ground for subsequent multi-party elections.
I am writing these stories fully aware of what could be waiting for me. However, with Almighty’s guidance, I sincerely call on Baganda to take a hard look at the challenges being faced from internal and external factors and adjust appropriately. Trying to secede, using mercenaries, or asking non-Ugandans to leave Buganda soil will only complicate matters for Baganda and indeed for other Ugandans. That using mercenaries in order for Buganda to secede has been denied doesn’t mean much. Many things were denied before only later to be confirmed when the job is done. I urge all of you to read what I write with an open mind because I mean well for all the people of Uganda.
This note has been prepared as part of civic education.