Highlights of Uganda history and politics

Lest we forget, let us remind ourselves of the discussions we have had so far and the issues that have emerged. My contribution has been publication of ten books, creation of a blog www.kashambuzi.com, co-host of an English program on Radio Munansi, participation in debates through Uganda Observer newspaper, Ugandans at Heart Forum and as Secretary General and Chief Administrator of UDU. I have avoided discussing or writing about private lives or family matters of Ugandans I have referred to. Without understanding our history and political experience, we will continue to engage in misinformation and misinterpretation of developments. Uganda’s history and politics have been distorted to serve parochial interests and setting the record straight has created some of the controversies we have witnessed. Because the highlights cover discussions of a year and half, the article is therefore a bit longer than usual.

As we move forward we should be governed by reason and tolerance, not emotion and intolerance; equality, not superiority; merit, not favoritism as to religion, region, gender, age or ethnicity etc and civility and decorum, not abuse or threat. We must always remember that Uganda belongs to all of us. Not one single individual or a group of few individuals should be allowed to determine the country’s future trajectory. When one attempts, Ugandans must act boldly and swiftly and nip the effort in the bud. Here are the highlights.

1. Uganda history and politics have to be analyzed within the global and Great Lakes context. Uganda has been influenced by discredited race theories of white and black Ugandans and interaction of people from different backgrounds.

2. Uganda is occupied by two major ethnic groups: the Nilotic people and Bantu people. There are no Hamitic and Nilo-Hamitic people. The term “Bantu” was coined in 1862 by Wilhelm Bleek, a German philologist. The migration of Bantu from the Nigeria/Cameroon region started in the second millennium B.C. Bantu entered Uganda through the Congo basin along tributaries of Congo River. They arrived with short horn cattle, goats, sheep and poultry and iron technology. The Nilotic people entered Uganda from the Northern region.

3. In Northern, Eastern, Buganda, Bunyoro and Toro, Bantu and Nilotic intermarried extensively and created new communities and cultures and obliterated their morphotypical (distinct) characteristics.

4. In southwest Uganda (former Kigezi and Ankole districts) Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DRC Nilotic-Luo speaking people (long horn cattle pastoralists – Bahima, Batutsi, Bahororo and Banyamulenge) and Bantu-speaking people (so-called agriculturalists) didn’t mix. Although they speak the same local languages and use same names they have remained ethnically or morphotypically distinct. (From now on we shall use Batutsi generically to represent Batutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge. In Uganda today Bahororo led by Museveni constitute the ruling clan within this group). These groups are cousins with the same ancestry of Nilotic Luo-speaking people that entered Uganda and other parts of the Great Lakes region from Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan, not from Ethiopia. As Catharine Watson (Africa Report 1992) observed “There is no evidence of a trek from Ethiopia nor of the language the ‘invading’ Tutsi spoke”.

5. Because of European race theories, Africans were put at the bottom with whites at the top of racial pyramid. Blacks were assumed to have no civilization and existed in darkness which was not a subject of history, hence African Dark Continent. European explorers and colonizers, mostly from aristocratic families, were shocked to find sophisticated civilizations in the Great Lakes region especially in Buganda. They attributed them to a white race. They created the “Hamitic Myth” that Batutsi and cousins are white people that created all the civilizations in Africa including the earth works and settlements such as at Munsa, Ntusi and Bigo. They created Hamitic people and Nilo-Hamitic people (a mixture of Hamitic and Nilotic people). With discrediting existence of Hamitic people, the existence of Nilo-Hamitic people was ruled out. Studies in different fields have concluded that Batutsi are black and not white people, darker than Bantu people and have thicker lips than Bantu. If in doubt about skin color and thickness of lips take another comparative look and report back your findings. It is also not true that all Batutsi people are tall and all Bantu people are short. Bantu became short largely by being deprived of their nutritious foodstuffs such as milk and meat as a result of interaction with Batutsi people who ate the nutritious foodstuffs grown by Bantu people they dubbed Bahutu and Bairu (slaves or servants). It is also not true that all Batutsi women are beautiful and all Bantu women are ugly. Promoters have been working on weak minds. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder only. Stop being hypnotized.

6. In spite of overwhelming evidence Batutsi have continued to pretend they are white people, superior to Bantu people and born to rule, hence current problems in the Great Lakes region where Batutsi are trying to reestablish domination through the creation of a Tutsi empire in collaboration with some western interests that has created mayhem against Bahutu people. Museveni and Kagame push for fast tracking political federation ahead of economic integration aims at setting the stage for Tutsi Empire. Kenya and Tanzania must be aware of this Tutsi Empire goal which will result in elimination of state boundaries. Uganda and Rwanda took a decision recently at a meeting in Rwanda to eliminate national borders which has very serious implications. Ugandans especially parliamentarians and Uganda negotiators in the East African community should be very much alert.

7. Studies have also concluded that Bantu had kings and chiefs and appropriate systems of governance. For example, the title of Mwami for Batutsi kings was previously used for Bahutu kings. It has also been definitively determined that Bachwezi are not Batutsi but Bantu aristocracy (Bethwell A. Ogot 1999). Studies of earthworks and settlements in central Uganda including Munsa have shown evidence of mixed farming. In earlier settlements like at Munsa and Ntusi there is more evidence of crop cultivation such as millet, sorghum, harvesting knives, grinding stones and crop storage facilities and some livestock bones. As time passed some Bantu specialized in livestock herding, explaining why there are more bones than crop residues at Bigo, the last settlement. Bantu specialization in livestock is confirmed by E. J. Murphy (1974) who wrote that “In the many dry areas of central and southern Africa where grains do not produce good yields, many of the Bantu settlers switched to animal husbandry as a primary source of food, herding cattle [the short-horn type], sheep and goats”. Nilotic people reduced Bantu people to crop cultivation by taking over the grazing land for long horn cattle, thus starving to extinction short horn cattle.

8. The history of Uganda has been dominated by war than peace. There have been territorial wars (e.g. Buganda and Bunyoro), cattle wars, slave trade wars, religious wars, colonial wars and post independence wars and instability. The Nilotic people who are traditionally warriors and numerically inferior than Bantu have resorted to wars to establish and maintain their dominance. Inter and intra-ethnic wars have involved Nilotic Batutsi people. For example slave trade wars were inter-ethnic involving Batutsi/Bahororo in southwest Uganda who collaborated with Arab and Swahili slave hunters with modern weapons like muskets to fight against defenseless Bantu people. Captured Bantu were sold into slavery and carried ivory with them to the Indian Ocean Coast. Instability in the Great Lakes region, past and currently, is caused by minority Nilotic Batutsi trying to dominate majority Bantu. Batutsi always collaborate with foreign interests: with Arabs and Swahili during slave trade days, with Germans and Belgians in Rwanda and Burundi and with British in Uganda during the colonial days. Some Europeans and others are believed to be aiding Batutsi (with funds, weapons and equipment, trainers and advisers and fighters) in the Great Lakes region. Many argue that on their own Museveni and Kagame can’t cause the extent of damage they have in the region because they don’t have the means. Museveni and Kagame are acting as agents of more powerful interests while taking advantage to create Tutsi Empire before they are abandoned like Mobutu and Savimbi were. Commentators who argue that Kagame and Museveni have brought stability to the region are mistaken. What they have achieved is to overthrow some Bantu governments and replace them with minority Batutsi governments, thereby sowing seeds of instability in the region because minority dominance won’t be tolerated by the majority people who are quickly becoming aware of their human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in national, regional and international instruments.

9. Since independence the wars have involved Nilotics fighting among themselves. The 1966 troubles started with a political conflict between Ibingira (a Nilotic monarchist) and Obote (a Nilotic commoner). Ibingira began his drive for political control by unseating Kakonge as secretary general of UPC. As number two in the party, the next position was chairman of UPC. Ibingira with some western support began mobilizing key Ugandans. He ended up with Opolot the army commander and the first president of independent Uganda on his side. Obote had no choice but to align himself with Amin, the deputy commander (this is the distinction that many Ugandans who blame Obote don’t factor into their arguments). The difference is that Obote struck faster than Ibingira but the latter started the problem because of his political ambitions. This was an intra-Nilotic war (between two Nilotic groups led by Obote and Ibingira respectively).

10. The guerrilla war waged by Museveni (Nilotic) was a war against another fellow Nilotic Obote. The northern war after 1986 was a war between two Nilotic commanders: Museveni and Kony. One can safely conclude that to end wars and instability, Nilotic people should end use of the gun as a means of capturing and retaining control over Bantu people.

11. General consensus has also emerged that Museveni was not supported and installed in the Uganda presidency by Banyankole. He started the war with 26 people mostly Batutsi, Rwigyema and Kagame among them. He then recruited Banyarwanda migrant workers and refugees in Luwero Triangle. In the end Banyarwanda mercenaries constituted some 25 percent of the total guerrilla force. Banyarwanda in Uganda had been abused and demonized as people whose job was to clean towns and toilets. In 1982 they were expelled from Uganda. Most joined Museveni in Luwero Triangle to liberate themselves and end this suffering (as Watson heard from RPF fighters “In Uganda we were nonentities. We were harassed. To die here is nothing”) so the core of guerrilla fighters was Banyarwanda mercenaries with Batutsi as the trusted group. Rwigyema rose to the rank of Major General and became deputy minister of defense in Museveni government and Kagame chief of intelligence and counter-intelligence.

12. Shortly after Museveni launched his guerrilla war, he was joined by Andrew Kayira (Muganda) and his organization Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM). Kayira had sympathy of many DP supporters who are Catholics. Within six months, Museveni was joined by former President Yusuf Lule (Muganda) and his organization Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF). Lule was either a DP member or sympathizer. The three groups formed the National Resistance Movement and National Resistance Army (NRM/NRA) with Lule as chairman and Museveni vice-chairman. These are the groups – Baganda and Catholics that fought the war, not Banyankole as has been alleged. As a reward, Catholics and Baganda had a large number of cabinet ministers and other positions in NRM government, not Banyankole. In a report titled “Uganda 30 Years: 1962-1992” it is stated that the DP which had been a senior partner got a lion’s share of senior and strategic cabinet posts which included the DP leader, Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere – Muganda (Internal Affairs); Ponsiano Mulema – Muganda (Finance); Robert Kitariko – Mukiga (Agriculture); Evaristo Nyanzi – Muganda (Commerce); Joseph Mulenga – Mufumbira (Attorney General); and Sebana Kizito – Muganda (Regional Cooperation). As you can see there is no Munyankole among those who were rewarded for supporting Museveni in the guerrilla war. It is mostly Baganda and Catholics. If you add that the Banyarwanda mercenaries are Catholics, you get the overwhelming Catholic support for Museveni. Some of the Senior Catholic religious leaders were openly in support of Museveni. Museveni also rewarded Baganda with other important positions. The prime minister and later vice-president Samson Kiseka was a Muganda and Moses Kigongo (vice chairman of NRM) who is the third most ranking member in the government is a Muganda. Paul Ssemogerere was promoted to the rank of second deputy prime minister and minister of internal affairs and Abu Mayanja, third deputy prime minister and attorney general. Museveni has since appointed Bukenya and Ssekande as vice presidents and Musoke and Nsibabambi as prime ministers.

13. Whether by design or accident, Baganda handed Museveni the presidency on a silver platter instead of to a Muganda. Lule who had been executive chairman would probably have become president. But when he passed away, a year before NRM came to power, Baganda didn’t press for new elections to replace Lule with another Muganda as chairman. Instead Museveni took over as acting chairman of NRM in addition to being commander of NRA until he became president. Again, it wasn’t Banyankole. It is therefore not true as mentioned on page 70 of the report referred to above that Museveni was chairman of NRM – he was acting chairman. As noted by one commentator “We don’t even know when he [Museveni] became chairman: It was interim chairman when we took power” (EIR Special Report 1997).

14. There is a feeling that those accusing Banyankole of fighting for and crowning Museveni as president want to plant seeds of disunity so that Banyankole and Baganda and other groups don’t join forces to ouster NRM. This is the reason why we have taken the trouble to inform readers what exactly happened so that informed decisions are taken. Those on Radio Munansi and other channels who continue to blame Banyankole for putting Museveni and sustaining him in power (for which they should be commensurately punished) should look elsewhere because Banyankole were not around in a critical mass to drive Museveni to state house.

15. We have also learned that military leaders educated or not under Amin and Museveni have performed poorly than a civilian leader. Military leaders by virtue of their profession are trained to treat opposition in ‘enemy terms’ to be destroyed. They govern by giving orders which must be implemented without question. Whereas civilian leaders are trained to listen, negotiate and compromise. Uganda should not accept another military leader and military government.

16. We have also discussed that a military option should be used only when NRM government uses excessive force against non-violent resistance. Using military force as the first line of attack against NRM government is ruled out because we don’t want another military government or military leader as president; there is no popular support for it (Ugandans in Luwero and Northern and Eastern Uganda have experienced what damage war can do. Surely we don’t need another war in these same areas or elsewhere). Those undergoing military training should prepare for Plan B which is self-defense; there is no regional, continental or international support for war in the first instance whether we like it or not. Those who want war in the first instance should recast their position and temper their emotions.

17. Experience has shown that untested leaders in government or opposition with no prior experience have turned out to be a disappointment. Next leaders should be able to demonstrate their experience of public service and undisputed capacity and capability to govern. They should also indicate their background and family tree for national security interests. There appear to be many people as we learned when Batutsi returned to Rwanda in 1994 that are holding key, sensitive and strategic positions in Uganda that are not Ugandans. Raising these issues is important and should not be interpreted as intended to incite violence or genocide as some are quick to draw that conclusion to intimidate and silence debate.

18. It has also been demonstrated that having relatives in influential positions of power does not guarantee commensurate benefits to the people where these leaders come from. If that were the case Buganda would be way ahead of other groups. Buganda has had four presidents if the chairman of the Military Commission is included (Kabaka Mutesa II, Lule, Binaisa and Muwanga), three vice president (Kisseka, Bukenya and Ssekande. Moses Kigongo is the third in rank after the president and vice-president. Buganda has also had three Prime Ministers (Kisseka, Musoke, Nsibambi) and two deputy prime ministers (Ssemogerere and Mayanja). If you add on other key ministerial positions, ambassadors, Bank of Uganda governors, you will see that Buganda has had more than a fair share of senior and strategic government appointments without commensurate benefits. Baganda need to find out why but for now the conclusion is that having one of your own in the top position does not necessarily guarantee increased prosperity. A nationalist president committed to lifting all boats could benefit Baganda or another group better than a president from your region, religion, gender or ethnicity. So let us get parochialism out of selecting leaders and focus on merit and patriotism otherwise we shall continue to slide backwards as has happened under Amin and Museveni. Uganda was far ahead of Kenya and Tanzania, now it is far behind. How does Museveni – the only intellectual and visionary leader – explain that? How do his external and internal supporters explain that?

19. We have also learned that the presidency of independent Uganda and other senior positions have been dominated by Nilotic people (presidents Obote, Amin, Okello, and Museveni). One vice president Idris Mustafa and two prime ministers Otema Alimadi and Cosmas Adyebo. Eastern region has had two vice presidents Nadiope and Kazibwe. Two speakers of parliament, Wapakhabulo and Kadaga. Western region has had one vice president Babiiha, one prime minister Amama Mbabazi and one first deputy prime minister Kategaya and one speaker Butagira. Since westerners did not install Museveni into the presidency and the majority of Banyankole have not benefited, he should not be registered as coming from western region. He was refused to lead DP and lost to a DP candidate in the 1980 parliamentary contest so he could not have mobilized support for war in such a short time after being rejected. He should technically represent those that fought with him, put him into power and were rewarded handsomely. These are Baganda and Catholics throughout Uganda. We are reporting research findings which hopefully will not hurt some feelings.

20. The next leadership should be based on demonstrated merit of leadership, policy articulation, impeccable character and service to the public and local community. Potential leaders that jump out of the ‘cornfield’ on the eve of elections should be disqualified or once in power do virtually nothing. Education qualifications should also be spelled out. It is not clear what Museveni studied and graduated in. In one case it is political science (Y. K. Museveni 1989); in another it is political economy (Africa Forum 1991); in yet another it is economics and political science (Uganda Yearly Review 1993). How can this be! From now on a leader should know and tell what he graduated in and whether all the requirements were met before graduation. Leaders whose background is shrouded in mystery of one form or another should be rejected.

21. Uganda’s economy and civil service since 1986 has been dominated by foreigners and NRM cadres, not well qualified and with no capacity or will to adjust to the new development paradigm of public and private partnership. Uganda has continued with failed and abandoned stabilization and structural adjustment policies, explaining why the economy is growing at 3 percent against a population growth of 3.5 percent, giving negative per capita growth. Uganda needs to grow at 9-10 percent, not five percent as projected by government in the medium term. Uganda also needs to put emphasis on agriculture with a focus on small holder farmers who are when properly facilitated more productive, more efficient, more environmentally and socially friendly than large scale farmers being promoted by the government without justification and going against current direction of supporting small holder farmers including the World Bank and G8 industrial countries. Uganda must also industrialize by protecting infant industries against unfair competition. Education, healthcare, housing and environment policies must be recast. There must be a balance between unemployment and inflation reduction measures because unemployment has been ignored for far too long. Economic growth and trickle down mechanisms have not worked and won’t work because of inherent imperfections in the operation of market forces.

22. UDU has prepared a National Recovery Plan (NRP) which is an alternative to the failed Uganda government policies. It is available at www.udugandans.org. Detailed information on these highlights is available at www.kashambuzi.com.

23. Uganda should support and participate in East African economic integration and political federation provided there are net benefits to Uganda and her national borders remain inviolable and land is excluded from negotiations. The AU position is “Unite we must. Without necessarily sacrificing our sovereignties [including national borders], big or small, we can forge a political union”(New African July 2012). Ugandans and other members in the East African Community must not allow Kagame and Museveni to dictate terms and set priorities and speed of economic integration and political federation. Ugandans especially parliamentarians in Uganda parliament and East African Legislative Assembly should not yield to Museveni who together with Kagame want to remove borders as part of their Tutsi Empire dream so that Batutsi can live anywhere and do as they like. This has serious potential of ending Uganda as we know it.

For God and My Country