Land grabbing has contributed to revolutions and decolonization wars

NRM leaders and those hiding behind them while invoking colonial agreements in independent times to grab land because peasants are currently powerless and voiceless or ignorant of their rights must realize that land grabbing has from time immemorial contributed to revolutions, revolts, rebellions and bloody decolonization wars. Take France before the revolution as a case in point.

France on the eve of the revolution had 26 million people, 98 per cent of them commoners. But see how land was distributed.

The clergy that numbered 130,000 owned 10 per cent of the land. The highest officials of the Church: archbishops, bishops and abbots benefitted enormously from the land while parish priests were as poor as their peasant parishioners.

The nobility that numbered some 300,000 owned up to 30 percent of the land while 98 percent of French who were commoners owned about 60 percent and many of them were landless or had land that was not enough to give them subsistence life. Land shortage combined with rising prices, unemployment and food shortages in 1788 and 1789 contributed to the French Revolution and regaining of land by peasants.

In Russia the serfs were set free in 1861 but were not given land from where to earn their livelihood. In February 1917 landlessness, food and energy shortages, unemployment and unpopular WWI sparked the revolution that swept the Romanovs out of power. Lenin using the motto of ‘bread, land and peace’ wrestled power from the provisional government and turned Russia into a communist state.

The decolonization of Africa was bloody where the whites had grabbed land from Africans such as in Algeria, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Uganda escaped because land grabbing in Buganda went to Buganda king and his relatives; regents; 4000 chiefs and a few notables that turned previous users (the Bakopi) into serfs or tenants.

The current grabbing of land in Uganda largely by foreigners is being watched with different lenses from those of the 1900 Uganda Agreement that dispossessed Bakopi. Ugandans now know better and won’t keep silent for long.