Some Ugandans mostly from southwest Uganda know why Museveni took to the bush at an early stage in his life and why he is not bothered by rampant poverty and the associated ills but are afraid to speak up lest they lose their cushy jobs or worse. The late Ondoga Ori Amaza shed some light on Museveni’s early engagement in military activities in his book (1998) titled “Museveni’s Long March: from Guerrilla to Statesman”. He recorded that “… the 1980 elections constituted the provocation for the outbreak of the war, rather than its cause.
“The NRM-NRA documents from the early days of the bush war indeed leave one in no doubt that the aims of the war far transcended the mere attenuation of the electoral grievances that arose in the wake of the 1980 general election. In a 1981 article that sought to provide a ‘theoretical justification of the NRA struggle’, Museveni referred to the 1980 election simply as ‘what sparked off the rebellion’ and looked as far back as 1964 in his search for the origins of the ills the war he had launched aimed to cure. Later publications extended the frontiers for the search further back into Uganda’s colonial and even pre-colonial past”. It is true that Museveni’s motive is rooted in pre-colonial history based on the discredited Hamitic Theory and Rwabugiri’s military adventurism in the great lakes region.
There are some readers like Muwanda Charles who will dismiss the content of this article out of hand because it is written by a Ugandan living abroad for various reasons including selfish and personal motivation and geographical location. Muwanda Charles and others like him are advised to read the article with an open mind and if not satisfied to write a factual rebuttal on the points they disagree with rather than make written reckless statements. Let us return to our story.
Museveni was driven into the bush by the desire to restore the discredited and abandoned Hamitic Myth created by John Hanning Speke (1863, 2006) that Bahororo/Bahima/Batutsi/Banyamulenge (hereafter Bahororo and their cousins) are white people, more intelligent, physically gorgeous and born to rule Bantu (Negro) peasants. He was also motivated by Rwanda’s feudal system of lords and serfs and king Rwabugiri’s territorial expansionism (hence Museveni’s fervent support for East African political federation with him as head) and capital accumulation by dispossessing neighbors of their cattle. Rwabugiri also introduced a forced labor system on Bahutu people of Rwanda that, in part, forced many Bahutu migrations to Uganda to escape brutality of Batutsi kings that continued under the colonial indirect rule system (there was no symbiotic relationship between Batutsi and Bahutu in pre-colonial days in Rwanda as some would want us to believe).
Similarly, Museveni knows that Uganda peasant mothers are dying in child birth, peasant children are dying of preventable diseases including under-nutrition, peasant children are dropping out of school because they are hungry (the rest are getting poor quality education) and peasant youth are under and unemployed (it would be interesting to know if there is a Muhororo or a cousin who is involuntarily unemployed in Uganda). Has he shown remorse? No – Museveni has even refused to provide lunch of maize porridge and beans to primary school children (and the peasant parents of these hungry children are going to re-elect Museveni on February 18, 2011!).
Muwanda Charles please note that writing about these national issues has nothing to do with geographical, personal and selfish motivation and not because we are living abroad. We are concerned about the suffering of those Uganda people that are voiceless and powerless and cannot exercise their human rights which are universal.
This article will hopefully help readers to understand what has driven Museveni to do what he has done that has resulted in failure as an intellectual and successor to Nyerere, why he despises every Ugandan particularly the late Obote who has turned out to have a better economic and social record, why he relies on advice from white people (Kevin Shillington, Lynda Chalker, William Pike and Paul Collier etc, is it true that he was sworn in as president in 1986 by a white judge?).
“Museveni has nothing but praise for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which made ‘us realize the importance of macro-economic tools such as letting prices find their own level’” (Foreign Policy Summer 1998). Unbelievable! As a trained economist that Museveni claims he is, he did not need IMF and World Bank staff (overwhelmingly white) to teach him macro-economic tools. If he did not know there were Uganda economists in his government who knew. This shows you the extent Museveni despises Ugandans.
Museveni has deliberately impoverished Ugandans except Bahororo and their cousins because it fits into the Rwandan pre-colonial feudal system, remembering that Bahororo rulers in Uganda are Batutsi from Rwanda. To a question, “Is economic reconstruction [structural adjustment], at whatever price, a lesser evil than the perils of poverty? Museveni’s response is an unabashed ‘yes’”(Foreign Policy Summer 1998).
Like Rwabugiri did for Batutsi of Rwanda through territorial expansion by military means, Museveni is pursuing the East African integration and federation to give Bahororo more space and more people to govern. Museveni tried the military option by his interference in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC but has not worked so far. That is why he is pushing very hard the political option for economic and political federation. In April 1997 he reported that his mission is to create a nation made up of federal states of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and DRC.
As he grew up Museveni heard stories that Bahororo and their cousins are white people, more intelligent with gorgeous physical features and born to rule Negros (Bantu people). When he studied with Bairu (slave) children in Kyamate and Ntare schools in Ankole district, he discovered that Bairu children were actually more intelligent than Bahororo particularly in mathematics and science subjects. He also found that some Bairu were actually taller with lighter skin color and more gorgeous than Bahororo. Then came independence and Bairu replaced Bahima and Bahororo elite who had ruled since pre-colonial days. Museveni could not take it.
He began active participation in debates to prove his intellectual superiority over Bairu, wrote articles and even a book “Sowing the Mustard Seed: The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy” (1997).
The review of his book has turned out to be disappointing for Museveni because he did not get a confirmation that he is an intellectual and Nyerere’s heir. In a book review article which was published in Foreign Policy (Summer 1998), Professor Gilbert Khadiagala at the prestigious Paul H.Nitze School of Advanced International Studies wrote that the book was long-winded and written with a passion for detail and the inevitable result of a desire to tell it all. “If you are looking for the trees, you will need a lot of patience ploughing through the forest”.
B. A. Ogot, the Kenyan distinguished History Professor also reviewed Museveni’s book. Using the term narcissism – a tendency to self-worship, absorption in one’s personal perfections – he wrote that “Museveni’s autobiography shows him as the Ugandan Narkissos who has fallen in love with his reflection in Uganda’s muddy political waters. He has turned Uganda’s historical record into a narrative of self-justification. … For Museveni, it is not so much how the past dictates the present that is important, but rather how the present manipulates the past”(B. A. Ogot 1999).
Regarding his intellectual standing and heir to Nyerere, Khadiagala concluded with a rather long paragraph “Throughout this book, one senses Museveni’s yearning to fill the intellectual void left in eastern Africa with the retirement of Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere. Museveni seems to want to be the new philosopher-king, cajoling his people with presidential wisdom on all manner of things. But if this tome is his entry into the annals of philosophic presidencies, then he does not quite measure up to Nyerere’s legacy. The diatribes and invectives against his opponents that litter almost every page demean the philosophical tradition of moderation and caution. Besides, Nyerere’s leadership stemmed from deep-seated, yet unchanging convictions born of grand conceptions of the individual and society. Museveni’s ideas are limited and pragmatic, nurtured in the battlefields of Uganda’s rural Luwero Triangle and within the constraints of global capitalism. This book is steeped more in the narrow convention of a street fighter than the contemplative tone of a scholarly treatise”(Foreign Policy Summer 1998).
Professor Ogot (1999) adds “But the book has many flows of both style and substance: the tone of self-satisfaction and self-congratulation and it is partial and glosses over some complex episodes. … He has low opinion of practically all his teachers at the University of Dar-es-Salaam; he condemns all DP leaders as lacking ‘a dynamic leadership”, “conservative men”, with “limited perspective”; and the “UPC leadership were generally an uncouth breed, anxious to get rich as quickly as possible using state apparatus. …
“It is evident that Museveni’s main motive for writing this book – apart from the one already referred to of portraying himself as the savior of Uganda – was to erase completely the figure of Obote from the history of Uganda. Unfortunately for him, Obote is a much more substantial figure than Museveni implies and his contribution deserves a critical and serious appreciation which would go beyond the sympathetic political biography that has been written by Professor Kenneth Ingham, the first professor of History at Makerere University and a former Nominated Member of the Uganda Legislative Council where he first met Obote”. (Museveni’s other target to erase are Bairu of southwest Uganda. That is why he does not recognize educated members particularly those in Rujumbura of Rukungiri district. You look at the people with key positions and their in-laws from Rujumbura and you will confirm that Bairu are being deliberately marginalized. These are facts. Therefore people like Muwanda Charles should advise ‘our president’ to be impartial rather than intimidate us).
Ogot adds that Museveni and his friends between 1965 and 1966 were anti-Obote. “He [Museveni] himself hated Obote at that time because he frustrated the East African Federation idea against the support of Nyerere and Kenyatta” (Ogot 1999). So you can see that Museveni’s idea of East African Federation is not new! He knew about the importance of a federation when he was in high school presumably because he heard stories about king Rwabugiri’s territorial expansion for Batutsi people – hence Museveni’s idea of Tutsi Empire through the East African federation. He still wants it and if re-elected he is going to coerce everyone – including fellow heads of state – to get it.
The feudal system which Museveni emulates was based on lords and serfs. This is what happened in pre-colonial Rwanda which actually continued under colonial rule. Bahutu would be impoverished and during famine periods which were frequent, desperate Bahutu would beg Batutsi to adopt them as their sons and adopted Bahutu sons would do anything for their adopted Batutsi fathers in return for a glass of milk. Museveni has adopted this policy of pushing people into hardship so they can beg him for a job in return for political support. Those who have been affected – and they are many – know what we are talking about. You can even see how Museveni is benefiting from unemployed youth by giving each a yellow shirt in return for campaigning for his re-election. If these youth had jobs they would not be doing that for him – hence Museveni’s refusal to launch public works through fiscal stimulus packages.
Thus, Museveni’s failures are of his own making: his abortive effort to prove that he is an intellectual and heir to Nyerere and his deliberate impoverishment of the majority of Ugandans that has exploded into the diseases of poverty that can no longer be swept under the carpet of distorted economic growth, low inflation and per capita income figures as presented by Keith Muhakanizi recently.
Museveni’s interest in the East African federation has a long history to benefit his Bahororo/Batutsi people through fulfillment of Tutsi Empire dream.
Museveni has neglected agriculture and employment because impoverishing peasants benefits him politically. That is why 70 percent of Uganda’s GDP is concentrated in Kampala and its suburbs largely under the control of foreigners. He therefore does not lose much sleep over the suffering of Uganda peasants. He appears to have decided to go slow on the pursuit of intellectual superiority.
That is your Museveni seeking re-election for another five years that will take him to thirty years in office of president of the Republic of Uganda.