Every time there is discussion regarding federalism, the fifteen nations including their flags and anthems are mentioned. This is what happened at the London conference on federalism in October 2012 (flags were hoisted and some anthems sang) and at subsequent efforts to forge a common position on federalism. The fifteen nations have been widely publicized but none has explained what they mean including their genesis and implications, creating difficulties how to fit them into the federalism work we are doing.
Many Ugandans wish to know the genesis of the 15 nations. Did they evolve from the clan system into tribes and now nations? Were they imposed by colonial officials for administrative convenience and we now find them convenient for our purposes and should be maintained? What were the criteria used? What constitutes a nation? How were the boundaries drawn up and who did it? For example, are Kigezi, Ankole and Toro still nations? What was the position at the time of negotiating the independence constitution regarding these nations? If there is agreement on these fifteen nations can we use them as a basis for negotiating federalism or should we envisage some proposed changes? What would happen if there are some proposals of a complex nature and serious implications? Do we resolve this before moving on? The way Uganda should be governed post-NRM regime will be one of the first items on the agenda and federalism will be among the proposals.
There are some Ugandans who don’t want this matter discussed? We don’t know the rationale. Sooner or later it will come out. We might as well discuss it now. We are in a period where nothing can be hidden from the public anymore under whatever pretext. We are in a period where everything is up for discussion including areas that were previously taboo. Those who have been championing the fifteen nations’ project should come forward and explain to the public that is anxiously waiting.