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.

Highlights of modern education in Uganda

There is consensus that the future of Uganda lies in education, yet very little is being done to fulfill the dream. Last week we talked about the negative impact of malnutrition on education. This time we are going to discuss the origin of modern education and how it has developed to the present.

Modern education was started by missionaries. Ugandans were provided with literary knowledge to be able to read the bible. In 1901, the Catholic chiefs in Buganda requested a revision in education to prepare children for a wider and changing world. Boarding schools were proposed. The first schools along these lines were started at Namilyango in 1901, Mengo High School in 1903, Gayaza High School in 1905, King’s College Budo in 1906 and Kisubi in 1906. They taught English grammar, reading, mathematics, geography, music and games. The majority of these schools were for sons and daughters of chiefs. Many children could not go to school because schools were not available or were expensive. Government financial support was very small.

However government provided schools for Asians, Goans and white children as well as Makerere to teach mechanics and carpentry and a few centers for training medical workers. Girls were initially educated so that sons of chiefs could have enlightened wives.

Highlights of the population debate

1. The population debate has been with us for a very long time dating as far back as classical Greece and Rome. It has evolved overtime and now includes population explosion and implosion as well as women’s reproductive health and rights.

2. At the global level population dynamics is a function of changes in births and deaths. However, at the national level (e.g. Uganda) total population is a function of births – deaths + in-migrants – out-migrants.

3. The world population change has gone through three phases: the first phase occurred in the Neolithic Revolution caused by shifts from nomadic hunter/gatherer communities to crop production and animal domestication making more food available to feed more mouths in settled communities and reduced deaths; the second phase from the Industrial Revolution that started around 1750. Improved transport systems and cold storage facilities connected food surplus to deficit regions and public health including general hygiene, safe drinking water and sanitation that lowered mortality; the third phase began in the late 1950s and is characterized by medical and technological advances that too lowered death rate. Thus, all these phases from the first through the third have one thing in common: they saved lives and increased life expectancy. Thus, during these three phases the increase in population was not because couples were having more babies. It is because people were living longer due to a reduction in mortality.

Highlights of Banyarwanda in Eastern DRC

The political and economic history of eastern DRC has become complex because of the gifts of nature. First, apart from diamonds in southern Kasai, all the known minerals lie in the eastern part of the country from Orientale in the north to Shaba in the south with Maniema, North and South Kivu in between. Second, most of the fertile land, abundant rainfall and good weather are found in the same area. Third, political developments in Rwanda’s history have caused many Banyarwanda to seek new homes including in eastern DRC. Fourth, natural or man-made disasters such as droughts have caused frequent food shortages forcing people out of Rwanda into neighboring countries. Fifth, Belgian policy to ease animal and human pressure in Rwanda and to recruit workers in plantations, mines and construction industries in eastern DRC led to movement of people and animals from Rwanda to DRC. Thus eastern DRC has acted like a magnet in attracting people looking for minerals, for jobs, for land, for shelter and for sustenance. The situation was particularly dramatic in 1959-61 when Batutsi left Rwanda en masse following the political disturbances leading up to independence in 1962, and the invasion of Rwanda by rebels in 1994 that drove millions of Bahutu out of Rwanda into eastern DRC. How have these movements of people and animals from Rwanda to eastern DRC contributed to the instability in the region? Let us start with Banyamulenge from western Rwanda to south Kivu.