Everywhere Change begins with awareness

As I have been writing and saying change be it in politics or economics etc begins with awareness. You have to understand how you got your place in the scheme of things – how you became a ruler or ruled. And must you remain that way?

As we acquire education and travel, we end up reading about enlightenment or reason by Europeans who challenged the status quo inter alia of divine kings, peasants or serfs who were heavily taxed without benefits, leading to the American and French Revolutions followed by others throughout the world.

The Atlantic Charter agreed to by Roosevelt and Churchill called for self-determination of colonized people. Following the formation of the United Nations the General Assembly adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states in part that we are all born free and equal in rights and dignity. The differences are man-made: one group using whatever means but largely force turned another group into a servant or slave thus losing God-given political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights – especially the right to land ownership and the right to determine one’s destiny.

In Uganda the rights and freedoms of many Ugandans were taken away and forced into subjugation. People were forced into administrative arrangements that still exist today. Some kingdoms that started off tiny expanded into large entities by military force, intimidation and surrender. Buganda received a large chunk of Bunyoro as a gift for helping Britain to defeat Bunyoro. Ruthless methods including scorched-earth were used and the record is there for all to see. Thank God the records exist. Ugandans find them, read them and you will understand why we have inequalities: how some got ahead of others politically, economically and socially and those ahead don’t want others to catch up. You will understand strangers in our midst, how they got in and what they have done.

Uganda has entered the era of enlightenment or reason and that can’t be reversed. Ugandans no longer want divine rulers who think they rule by the grace of God and can dictate what is good for Ugandans. Ugandans are now vigorously questioning the current scheme of things in which those connected with the NRM administration and traditions get all they want while others are sinking deeper into poverty – educated or not or are languishing in exile. Ugandans want to know their history including their roots and how they came to be governed as they are. Those who want to prevent this thinking have launched ideological programs to keep Ugandans in the current scheme of things. You were born to be a goat herder that’s it, so will be your children and theirs. You were born to be a king that’s it, so will be their children and theirs. This is man-made and violates the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights about freedom and equality.

Ugandans are now reading and vigorously debating and no longer taking things for granted. They know independence discussions did not include people self-determination. They were just handed Uganda as it was colonized. The people were never consulted. They are now asking about the origin of 15 nations that have resurrected a few months ago and are asking: are Banyankole a nation? Are Baganda a nation? Are Banyakigezi a nation? Are Batoro a nation, etc? The champions of 15 nations need to explain who came up with this idea and how they define a nation whether in a classical sense or their own. Commentators are discussing it but the champions are silent. Have they discovered they made a mistake and don’t know what to do about it? I am asking these questions because I am not aware of what the champions have said.

Ugandans are now seeking self-determination. Self-determination is sought by the people, not their rulers. We call upon all Ugandans to engage in this debate with evidence and in a constructive manner so that we find solutions to set the record right peacefully. Rights and privileges are different things. Rights are inalienable (none has the power to take them away). Privileges are given by a ruler who can withdraw them. For example Museveni appointed Mbabazi a prime minister which is a privilege and he has taken it away from him. But Museveni has no right to decide who should vote and who should not. That would be a violation of a God-given political right of an individual. And when he takes away that right he should be resisted. That is why we are resisting the way elections are conducted and not accepting the outcomes as the opposition did after the fraudulent 2011 elections.

No president or king has the right to take decisions unilaterally. The people in one form or another must be involved. That is why in some situations referendums are held to get the views of the people in a free democratic atmosphere. When that does not happen, the people have a right to seek an alternative.

One of the things we should resist is losing our land because land is life. That is why the rich are investing heavily in land purchase or grabbing because they know that once you are landless and have no skills to sustain yourself outside agriculture you are basically finished economically and by extension politically and your rights and freedoms can be violated with impunity because your are powerless and voiceless.

In order to fulfill its fifty year master plan and extend it thereafter NRM is focusing on dispossessing Ugandans of their land. The opposition should stand up to this blatant abuse of the inalienable right to land ownership and challenge anybody who collaborates with the government in land grabbing.

The age of reason has come to stay and can’t be reversed. Negotiations and compromise is the only alternative to a peaceful resolution of differences. The alternative which should be avoided is a nasty one and everyone knows that is what Sejusa and Kafero are championing.