President Museveni endorses the institution of intermarriages

I was very pleased to learn that while attending a wedding function in Uganda the President endorsed the institution of intermarriages which I have been promoting in my writings and speaking engagements for quite sometime now.

In societies – in time and space – that are relatively stable there have been intermarriages both ways – both ways in the sense that men from different ethnic groups marry women from different ethnic groups thereby ending ethnic exclusieness. It has been reported that societies in northern and eastern Uganda, Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro and northwest Tanzania are relatively stable because two way inter-ethnic or inter-tribal intermarriages have taken place there.

In Southwest Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Eastern DRC where intermarriages have been one way (Bahutu and Bairu men marrying Batutsi, Bahima, Banyamulenge and Bahororo women whereas Batutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge men are not marrying Bairu and Bahutu women) there has been constant conflict that contributed to the tragic events of 1972 and 1994 in Burundi and Rwanda respectively.

It has been reported that the desire by Batutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge men do dominate Bairu and Bahutu politically and economically led them to refrain from marrying outside of their circles. This has been written about extensively including by historians like Kevin Shillington (1989) who wrote that “Some immigrant pastoralist groups intermarried with settled cultivators and between them produced new mixed-farming populations. But the Hima and Tutsi [and later Bahororo and Banyamulenge] of the southwest highland zones [Great Lakes Region] did not mix so freely. They avoided intermarriage and by keeping themselves distinct they managed, in time, to establish a position of domination over the majority peasant cultivators [Bairu and Bahutu] of the region”.

In Rujumbura county of Rukungiri district where Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda) fled to and sought refuge in 1800, (60-90 years after Mpororo kingdom disintegrated and were replaced by Bahima in Uganda), there is not a single Muhororo (singular for Bahororo) man who – to the knowledge of the author who comes from Rujumbura – has married a Mwiru (singular for Bairu) woman because, it is said, Bahororo do not want to be infiltrated and weakened politically since secrets about dominating Bairu and others would no longer be kept.

Because of this exclusiveness Bahororo led by Bashambo clan have ruled Rujumbura since 1800 dominating all major political positions making them economically and by extension militarily powerful. Educated and wealthy Bairu have been urged to marry Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi women and become “tutsified’ and abandon their ethnic relatives who have remained leaderless. Bairu men that have not married Bahororo women have been systematically marginalized however educated they are sowing the seeds of instability in the area. The same can be said of former Ankole district.

That is why there are increasing complaints that Uganda is now led by Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi with support from those Ugandans that have married Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi women. It has been brought to Ugandans’ attention that everywhere you look in Uganda’s major political parties you will find that the leaders are men from Bahororo, Batutsi and Bahima or Ugandans that have married Bahororo, Bahima, and Batutsi women. And that is why some informed commentators are beginning to say that FDC and NRM and to a certain extent DP political parties are the same. Ugandans are challenged to research into these developments and decide on the way forward for the unity and stability of the country.

I spent thirty days in DRC, Burundi and Rwanda in January and February 2010 and devoted some sleepless nights investigating this intermarriages issue. The conclusion was the same: namely that for the sake of political domination Batutsi and Banyamulenge (in Eastern DRC) men do not marry outside of their ethnic groups while wealthy and educated Bahutu marry Batutsi and Banyamulenge women and thereafter become ‘tutsified’ and abandon their indigenous ethnic people who remain leaderless and vulnerable politically and economically.

I am writing these stories not because I want to cause trouble. On the contrary I am doing so to avoid trouble which is gathering on the political horizon in the Great Lakes Region as stories about ‘Tutsi Empire” spread in the region and beyond.

Once again, I thank the President for endorsing the institution of intermarriages which should be both ways to have meaning and contribute to peace, security and stability.

An old friend of mine from Senegal confirmed that comprehensive intermarriages in his country have ended ethnic exclusiveness and contributed tremendously to the stability the country has enjoyed. The Great Lakes Region needs to draw a lesson from this example.