Killing Kagunga won’t solve Rujumbura problems

The majority of people in Rujumbura county of Rukungiri district in southwest Uganda want a peaceful environment in which to grow up, raise their families and retire. The history of Rujumbura since 1800 has made it extremely difficult to create such a suitable environment because Bahororo minority ethnic group want to dominate Bairu forever. Bahororo think it is their God given right to suppress others with impunity whether they are educated or not. In fact the more you are educated and progressive the more you suffer under Bahororo because they want to send a discouraging message to those on the way up. They divide up family members favoring some with temporary inducements to dominate them.

The situation of Bairu turned a corner onto a very dangerous road when Bahororo deliberately incorporated Kagunga sub-county into Rukungiri municipality without consulting residents who are mostly Bairu. The principal intention of this incorporation is to finish off Bairu by rendering them landless and homeless. People without a home have no identity and could even be denied their rights.

Irrespective of their background, Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda) are very difficult and selfish people to live with. They despise everyone else. Up to this time they still think that one Muhororo is worth a thousand Bairu. They think they are physically and intellectually better endowed than anyone else. They conclude that they are the only ones entitled to comfort. They will not tolerate anyone who demands that justice be served. In Rwanda they introduced a feudal system that turned Bahutu into miserable people a situation made worse under Belgian rule that used Batutsi agents under the colonial system of indirect rule until 1959.

Batutsi who became Bahororo in Uganda brought with them the institution of ruthlessness. In Rujumbura where they settled as refugees in 1800 peaceful communities were attacked and stripped of their property and sold many into slavery in collaboration with Arabs. When you are not with them as subordinate and sweat for them they deny you your rights, cripple your progress including through character assassination and attack your relatives until you yield or perish. Even when you ran away they will follow you! They even unleash your own people against you. So you end up faced with a dilemma. Bairu people of Rujumbura are at this stage.

With Bahororo-led government under Museveni their disrespect for human rights has spread to the rest of Uganda witness the alleged brutality in the Luwero Triangle and northern and eastern Uganda. This brutality has superseded anything Uganda has witnessed. Some donors who support Museveni interpret his brutal behavior as boldness to maintain stability for private sector development but at a terrible human cost.

The incorporation of Kagunga sub-county into Rukungiri municipality is an attempt to eliminate Bairu ancestry home and identity. Bairu people have lived in the area for centuries. Once you are dumped into a municipality, it becomes very difficult to develop or sustain a common position. Kagunga sub-county has a cluster of highly educated and enlightened Bairu people that understand their rights and Bahororo leadership does not like that.

The municipal authority has already served notice that any development must be approved with a service charge. Most Bairu peasants are too poor to pay all municipal charges. Either their land will be confiscated for failure to pay or they will be forced to sell at throwaway prices and become landless. Without good education, they will be jobless and homeless.

Meanwhile, Bahororo are consolidating their base. After they defeated Bairu with Arab support and European weapons, Bahororo carved an area that later became Rujumbura comprising Kambuga, Buyanja, Kebisoni, Nyakagyeme, Ruhinda, Buhunga and Kagunga. Due to a change in administrative boundaries, Rujumbura has lost Kambuga, Buyanja, Kebisoni and Kagunga. To avoid confusion between the old and larger Rujumbura and the new and smaller Rujumbura that has been reduced to a smaller constituency, there has a risen a need to give the smaller Rujumbura a more appropriate name because Rujumbura has become a misnomer. Bahororo are resisting for fear of losing their identity which they have denied the Bairu of Kagunga.

The dispute over colonial names in the whole of Uganda was resolved by naming new administrative units after their main towns. For example, Kigezi district was divided into three and more appropriate districts of Kabale, Kisoro and Rukungiri. Similarly with major changes in the size of Rujumbura a new name is appropriate.

Unless Bahororo are prepared to come to terms with Bairu and create a level playing field, two major problems will remain. First, the people of Kagunga will continue to agitate until equity in the demarcation of municipal boundaries has been achieved. Second, Bairu in Buhunga and Ruhinda will not accept to be denied political representation for ever. Bahororo will have to abandon zero-sum political games they have played so far. They will not continue to monopolize the parliamentary seat. It is not hereditary. And democracy at gun point will have to end.