Bahororo people have led the Uganda government since 1986. When an individual or a group of people emerges from obscurity to prominence – national or international – it is expected that there will be scrutiny sometimes with disquieting revelations. But as they say you cannot have your cake and eat it too! Who are Bahororo and what are their characteristics?
- Bahororo people are Batutsi from Rwanda who entered Uganda in the mid-1600s and founded the short-lived Mpororo kingdom in parts of southwest Uganda and northern Rwanda. The kingdom collapsed within one hundred years because of internal feuds among princes. The northern part was absorbed by Rwanda and the southwest part by Ankole. Some Bahororo returned to Rwanda, others sought refuge in Nyakinengo of Nyakagyeme Sub-county of Rujumbura County in Rukungiri district. The rest remained in Ankole or scattered to other parts of Uganda (Buganda, western, northern and eastern regions where many still live) where they continued their herding culture as cattle owners or herders of others’ cattle. Following their incorporation into the Ankole kingdom, Bahororo became commoners/Bairu (slaves). To avoid this categorization, they adopted the name of Bahima in Ankole and Rujumbura. In other parts of Uganda they adopted local names and local languages. However, wherever they are they have tenaciously clung to their Nilotic/Bahororo identity because their men do not marry from other ethnic groups except their own Nilotic group.
- Bahororo people have a common ancestry of Nilotic Luo-speaking people, which they share with Bahima, Batutsi and Banyamulenge (Batutsi in eastern DRC). Bahororo and Banyamulenge split from Batutsi of Rwanda.
- Contrary to popular belief, Bahororo and their cousins did not enter the great lakes region from Ethiopia but from Bahr el Ghazal in southern Sudan. As noted above their ancestors were Nilotic Luo-speaking people and they have retained that identity.
- Again contrary to popular belief, Bahororo and their Bahima, Batutsi and Banyamulenge cousins are black and not white people as originally reported by John Hanning Speke the British explorer, although many of them have clung to white ancestry.
- Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, Bahororo are not descendants of Bachwezi because Bachwezi were a Bantu/black aristocracy.
- As nomadic herders Bahororo and their cousins lived a precarious existence because their cattle could be wiped out momentarily by epidemics like the 1890s rinderpest, and by drought, theft or bovine diseases. They lived in makeshift fashion in simple grass thatched huts and wore simple clothes including cow hide sandals. They adopted a warrior lifestyle and mentality in order to survive in the nomadic hostile environment.
- They did not have any civilizations when they entered the great lakes region. They were Nilotic herdsmen ((R. Y. Pelton 2003). To disguise this civilization deficit they reported to Speke that by the time they settled in the lakes region they had forgotten their clan names, their language and lost their religion etc. The only thing that they could remember was their ‘white ancestry’ (Speke 1863 & 2006). That is why they adopted Bantu names, religions, languages and even Bahutu king’s title of Mwami in Rwanda.
- It has been scientifically revealed that the earthen works including those at Mansa, Ntusi and Bigo; kingdoms and political institutions were created by Bantu people who entered the lakes region from Cameroon/Nigeria border some 3000 years ago, and not Bahororo and their cousins who entered the region 600 years ago. Nomadic life does not create an environment for the development of material cultures or centralized political systems (B. A. Ogot 1967). In fact records show that nomadic people in time and space mostly destroy more than they build (Basil Davidson 1991 & Eric Kashambuzi 2008). Bahororo-led government in Uganda confirms this lack of governance experience. That they had never governed before on their own is reflected in the regression in Uganda’s economy, society, culture and environment. The failure to negotiate batter trade arrangements is testimony of their lack of experience (George Kanyeihamba 2002). There is consensus that Uganda’s Bahororo-led NMR government has so far destroyed more than it has constructed. Rising practices of witchcraft, human sacrifice, corruption, sectarianism, violence, alcoholism etc that have manifested themselves during the current Bahororo-led NRM government clearly demonstrate a backward movement towards the early days of human existence.
- Bahororo people brought with them into Uganda from Rwanda a feudal system of lords and serfs and a warrior mentality. The feudal system was displayed in Rujumbura where they stripped Bairu of their grazing land and forced them to grow foodstuffs and labor for them for free. As in Rwanda, in order to keep Bairu of Rujumbura down without leaders, Bahororo have made sure that educated Bairu are given Bahororo wives (there is an invisible hand that Bairu men do not detect). Bairu men then become ‘tutsified’ and abandon their kin and kith. That is why leaderless and politically voiceless Bairu in Rujumbura are losing their property and most recently their cultivation land (besides the grazing land they lost to Bahororo earlier on) that has been incorporated into the municipality that has become the new land owner. Tutsified Bairu and Bairu surrogates of Bahororo who have been enticed with Bahororo wives and low level jobs in politics and administration have become instruments for implementing Bahororo designed policies and strategies of marginalizing, impoverishing and slowly cleansing Bairu peasants out of Rujumbura County. This is a continuation of a political process (Banyama versus Baboga) that began in the 1960s when weak and greedy Bairu with inferiority complex (joining Bahororo social club though as junior partners with dubious status was highly appreciated), though well educated, were used to hunt down, assault, humiliate and chase away fellow Bairu who were not willing to support Bahororo politicians. The way Rukungiri municipality boundaries have been demarcated taking all the land where most Bairu peasants live like Kagunga sub-county leaves no doubt about Bahororo motive: to cleanse Bairu out of the county. Those in doubt are challenged to visit the area and see for themselves. You will not fail to appreciate the potential for ethnic cleansing and possible genocide. Those Bairu leaders in Rukungiri district council who took part in this municipality decision should realize that they have condemned their kin and kith to pauperism, early death and possible extinction (do you see what is happening to Batwa people who had more land and food than they needed?) if corrective measures are not taken.
- Land dispossession by Bahororo and their cousins is also taking place in other parts of Uganda. Bahororo know that land is life and a basic asset for the majority of Ugandan peasants. Once you take away their land, deny them quality education and health care, food security and jobs except in the armed forces, then that is a society that can be ruled easily or by force of arms if necessary.
- The only sector in Uganda that did not suffer the pains of structural adjustment since 1987 is the armed forces. More money has been pumped into it directly or indirectly to silence dissent.
- Bahororo like their Batutsi cousins in the lakes region are good at collaborating with foreigners. In Rujumbura, Makobore a Muhororo worked closely with Arab slave hunters and traders and used them and the Europeans weapons they brought with them to defeat his enemies in Rujumbura and Kinkiizi. Those defeated were sold as slaves. Nuwa Mbaguta in Ankole, also a Muhororo/commoner, worked closely with British colonialists and was made Enganzi (prime minister). Igumira a Muhinda prince who was considered un-collaborative was sent into exile in Kenya. Likewise for the whole of Uganda Museveni, a Muhororo who is collaborative has received strong foreign support (Peter Phillips 2006). Obote who was not trusted (Das Gupta 1983) had been removed with foreign connivance.
- Under the above conditions of Bahororo leadership Ugandans should begin to see – if hey have not done so already – why poverty, diseases, malnutrition, unemployment, human sacrifice, witchcraft, sectarianism, violence, alcoholism, poor quality education, refusal to provide school lunches etc, are happening to the majority of Ugandans while Bahororo, and their Bahima, Batutsi cousins or those who have married their women are swimming in wealth without shame. Impoverishing and marginalizing the majority of Ugandans is a calculated strategy to control Ugandans using among others, instruments like kiboko, police and military force. If NRM is returned to power next year under Bahororo-led government the trajectory sketched above will definitely continue and intensify.
This analysis concludes the first phase of the history and characteristics of Bahororo and their cousins who have ruled Uganda since 1986 with strong foreign backing. Rosy foreign comments about the NRM regime, hosting international conferences and pumping ‘development’ money into the country particularly during campaign time which disappears into a bottomless pit, conveys an unambiguous message of foreign support for Bahororo-led government.