The 18th century intellectual revolution (enlightenment) in Europe paved the way for revolutions in Europe and America, solving many problems. These intellectuals that included Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Paine disagreed a lot among themselves but the direction and conclusions were clear – absolute rule with divine right, intolerance, abuse of human rights and exploitation were things of the past. Many intellectuals ran into trouble with their governments: were jailed or fled their homeland but never yielded what they stood for.
We had very intense and interactive discussions at the UDU conference in Boston in October 2011. It was realized that there was a severe shortage of information. Our history has distortions, biases, misinformation and misinterpretation of events. It was agreed that civic education should be one of the principal tasks of UDU. It was however stressed that discussions should be civil regardless of the degree of disagreement. None has a right to abuse others with different opinions. I urge that we maintain the spirit of respect for one another especially when discussing controversial topics.
As they say you cannot understand the present without analyzing the past. Similarly you can’t understand Uganda without reading and understanding the history of the Great Lakes region. Unfortunately, the region’s history is distorted. Up to independence, history was written by people led by Speke and Seligman who believed in race theories that the white race was at the top and the black race at the bottom of the racial pyramid. According to these theories, all civilizations were developed by the white race and blacks had none. Ipso facto, the black race lived in darkness and darkness was not a subject of history. Therefore blacks had no civilization; no history.
Beginning in mid-19th century, whites visited the Great Lakes region and found magnificent civilizations especially in Buganda. To explain ownership of these civilizations Speke created the “Hamitic Myth” and concluded that the civilizations were developed by the white race of ‘Nilotic’ Bahima and their Batutsi, Bahororo and Banyamulege cousins whose skin color was darkened by intense tropical sun. Although the Hamitic Myth has long been discredited, the Nilotic Batutsi and cousins have insisted they are a superior race to Bantu people. Museveni brought it up in his interview with John Nagenda just before he became president. He was presumably sending a message that a superior race had come to power to redeem Uganda which Amin and Obote had messed up forgetting or conveniently ignoring that Amin and Obote were Nilotic people like him. Reading stories written since the Rwanda genocide of 1994, you can easily tell that there are still some whites who believe Batutsi are superior and the rest inferior or beasts that don’t have a place except in a jungle where they should be hunted down through war or birth control. The Burundi genocide of 1972 carried out by Batutsi against Bahutu is never talked about presumably because it was an attempt to get rid of dangerous beasts. We shall not solve Uganda and Great Lakes problems without addressing this so-called race issue honestly. Foreign researchers, policy makers, diplomats and other commentators need to pay attention to this advice. There is too much bias in foreign media.
Because of this bias, Museveni and Kagame and their supporters at home and abroad falsely believe that they are a superior race and will keep it that way. That is why you find in places like Rujumbura, educated and experienced Bairu are ignored and Bahororo occupy key and strategic positions in Uganda and embassies abroad. As Catharine Watson (Africa Report 1992) has noted Batutsi (and their cousins) see their privileges as natural (and can’t be shared with others). That is why they boast till today that one Mututsi is worth 1000 non-Batutsi people. A Mwiru is only fit to scratch the soil for a living. Those who want to keep the truth hidden are going to scream that I am sectarian or racist, a divider and not a uniter. Let me be very clear lest I am misunderstood. I am not in this business to purchase popularity by being soft on national issues or pleasing parochial interests. I am in this business purely to join with other Ugandans and friends trying to save our country from foreign ownership. Those who believe in this cause should join with us in this worthwhile struggle. I was raised in a tradition of being fair and honest. Either I will swim or sink but I am not wavering. I have published all information to facilitate informed decision about who I am and stand for. Others should do the same to level the playing field.
Because Batutsi and cousins are numerically inferior they always work with foreigners. Adam Jones (2006) captured this point when he wrote with reference to Batutsi in Rwanda that “In the divide-and-rule tradition, Tutsis became colonial favorites and protégés. In part, this reflected the Tutsi’s minority status – it is often easier for colonizers to secure the allegiance of a minority, which recognizes that its survival may depend on bonds with the imperial authority”. This tradition has continued and Batutsi in Uganda and Rwanda are still used as favorites and protégés in the Great Lakes geopolitics, not because they are the best, but because they are the most reliable agents.
In this regard, it is not clear to this day what Museveni studied and graduated in at Dar es Salaam University. In his biographical sketch Museveni reported that he went to Dar University to study economics and political science (Yoweri Museveni 1986). Did he graduate; if so, in what? In one case it is reported that he studied political science and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts (Yoweri K. Museveni 1990). In yet another case, Museveni himself reported that he studied political economy (Africa Forum 1991). People who know him well say he spent most of his time reading about revolution in Fanon, Lenin and Marx books and running his Revolutionary student organization and fighting guerrilla wars. Should this man have become president of Uganda? It is not surprising that Museveni had to be given tutorials by white advisers on macroeconomics (Sebastian 2004). Uganda deserves better.
Who put Museveni and has sustained him in power? Some Ugandans especially from Buganda have blamed Banyankole for this ‘sin’ and have vowed to deal with them commensurately when time comes. But who are these Baganda? Put another way are these people who complain in Luganda language true Baganda or some other people using Luganda language to prevent Banyankole and Baganda from working together for regime change? We should avoid rushing to conclusions and taking actions we may regret later. I have written at length that there are people in Buganda who are foreigners but have adopted Luganda language and Luganda names and are taking advantage of indigenous Baganda hospitality. On humanitarian grounds, Kabaka Mutesa II (RIP) allowed Batutsi who had fled Rwanda and their cattle to camp on his territory temporarily and return to Rwanda when the political situation improved. This hospitality was abused and Batutsi have settled permanently and taken over the territory.
Writing in 1989, A. R. Zolberg and colleagues has shown that 40 percent of the total population of Buganda is Banyarwanda. That is a large number. If you add other non-Baganda in Buganda who also pose as Baganda you may realize that Baganda could be a minority in their own area. With money and connections these could be the people elected to parliament and district councils etc, wielding enormous power against Baganda interests. This may explain why despite Baganda occupying high political, civil service, ambassadorial and security positions, Baganda seem to be getting impoverished, dispossessed of assets including land and marginalized. Since 1986 Baganda have had (if my counting is correct) three vice presidents, three prime ministers, Speaker of parliament, ministers of finance, attorney general, education, chairman of land board, governors of central bank, inspector general of police, etc, etc. These are important positions but what benefits have they brought to Buganda? Before 1986, Buganda had had four presidents already (Kabaka Mutesa II, Lule, Binaisa and Muwanga). And what makes Baganda believe that if the next president of Uganda is a Muganda, Baganda will become prosperous? These are facts we must face rationally rather than emotionally and throw insults at one another. Ambitious and greedy potential leaders who want Baganda support will never say these things for fear of losing that support. Instead they make empty promises.
Banyankole have been accused of destroying Luwero Triangle. Let us look at the facts. Museveni started his guerrilla war with 27 trusted people most likely Tutsi mercenaries that included Rwigyema and Kagame. During the guerrilla war some 25 percent of Museveni guerrilla fighters were Banyarwanda mercenaries. Many of these were recruited from Luwero where they had worked as cattle herders and shamba boys and had been mistreated and abused by their Baganda masters. They joined Museveni and with guns in their hands turned on their former bosses and settled scores – killing, wounding and stealing property including cattle and coffee and destroying infrastructure. Some Baganda surely know that these atrocities were caused by former Banyarwanda workers who had lived and worked in Luwero for many years. Who has been killing or what are prominent Baganda dying from? Because of these unanswered questions, UDU has proposed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to find out who did what to whom since 1981. Some people who are afraid of being implicated have begun to argue that Ugandans hate telling the truth and it will be a waste of time, effort and resources.
Uganda will be saved by two things. First, choosing the right leaders with dedication, selflessness, patriotism and ready to work with all people without discrimination; one who will not buy support with empty promises; one who will permit sharing responsibility and authority between central and regional and district authorities. It is a mistake to choose a leader who tells you what you want to hear and keeps controversial issues under the carpet until he gets into power. Museveni gave us the ten point program containing everything we wanted to hear but discarded it after he became president before it was even discussed with the public. Second, we need and must know who our present and aspiring leaders are. Every Ugandan has a place where his/her ancestors are resting. Everyone has relatives, neighbors and friends he/she grew up with. We must insist on getting to know this background and family tree or we shall end up homeless in our own country, simply because we are gentle and generous. The multiplication of districts is done by Museveni with a hidden agenda. The rate at which land ownership is changing hands is a cause for great concern. But there are no spokespersons on behalf of indigenous people. This is a matter that needs investigation. Who is the minister in charge of land? Who is the minister in charge of internal affairs who does not keep records of immigrants and refugees?
As I have advised already, Museveni came to power with a hidden agenda to restore Batutsi dominance by impoverishing and marginalizing the rest. He is depriving indigenous Ugandans of land and dishing it out to foreigners. When I wrote my article on how Rujumbura Bairu got impoverished, I was sending a message that the people who impoverished Bairu of Rujumbura had captured power in Uganda and were going to do the same in the rest of the country. I was abused and demonized as a sectarian, bigot and tribal hater intent on inciting genocide. Sadly, everyone now agrees with me that Bahororo government has impoverished Ugandans.
There is one consolation. It is not too late if only we get our act together quickly and reassess our goals and strategies to achieve them. We need to focus at the national level and find the right leaders to champion the national cause. Parochialism will only make matters worse. We also need to separate detractors from patriots.