I write these stories with a heavy heart and watery eyes. It is heart breaking that Tutsi who were admitted into Uganda on humanitarian grounds as refugees and on a temporary basis when they were chased out of Rwanda in the wake of the 1959 Social Revolution have turned their guns on us and colonized our country and turned us into serfs to labor for their comfort. Those Ugandans who refused have been killed, jailed or forced into exile. The mysterious death of a young MP has stirred emotions of many Ugandans at home and abroad. She shouldn’t die in vain. Her untimely passing should serve as a rallying cry for all Ugandans at home and abroad with a view to making far reaching political changes.
Museveni tricked Ugandans who were unhappy with Obote and Amin regimes promising them to regain what they had lost in the political and economic areas. Catholics were promised the presidency and Baganda were promised return of federo, Mailo land and forests but none has come to pass and it is more than twenty six years since the promises were made.
Major changes including in political, economic and social fields more often than not take place in the wake of crises. The plague or Black Death in Europe contributed to the end of feudalism. The devastation of European economies and societies during the Second World War contributed to the birth of the European Union. In his Zurich speech of 1946, Winston Churchill proposed a “United States of Europe” so that Europeans can “dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom”. Although Europeans supported the creation of a European federation, they resented being rushed or forced into it.
And progress was slow and some disappointments were experienced like when Jean Monnet “the Father of a United Europe” resigned as President of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) because it was not followed by further steps towards integration. Out of this frustration, a committee of experts was formed to study the situation and make suggestions on the way forward.
Of late there has been a resurgence of writing and debate about Uganda’s population ‘explosion’ or ‘bomb’ that will destroy development efforts because savings are going into feeding unproductive mouths of children instead of investing in productive enterprises. Increasingly we are witnessing people who are not trained in population much less experienced in this complex subject writing and commenting with confidence like they know more than any other Ugandan or for that matter any other expert. Some of these may have had one day or one week’s seminar in population matters and begin to talk with authority.
Population dynamics are very complex in time and space. We have seen the regrettable results of countries that rushed into reducing population growth rapidly by force or couples that did not want children or just one or two. These countries and their governments are now rushing to reverse the trend. Have you heard of “Conception Day” in one of the developed countries where a national holiday has been declared so that the citizens can stay at home and increase their population? Have you heard of a wide range of incentives that are being offered in developed countries so that their populations can have many children? What I am saying is that rushing into curbing population growth can be costly in the long term.
Uganda won’t industrialize during our lifetime
Before Uganda became a British protectorate, the communities in the area had attained an economic structure of balanced agriculture, manufacturing and trade in local and regional markets. Industrious people had utilized their comparative advantage to improve their standard of living by eating balanced diets and accumulating capital through sale of surplus products. Travelers in east and central Africa marveled at the level of economic development. If the British had asked Ugandans whether to specialize in agriculture or manufacturing, they probably would have opted for industries because of the range of products and the level of industrial sophistication that had been attained.
Because Britain was looking for tropical raw materials like cotton for her domestic industries, food for her exploding population and markets for her surplus manufactured products, Ugandans were not asked about their preference. Thus, at the start of the 20th century, British authorities decided that Uganda would become a producer of raw materials and food by African and non-African farmers and a market for British manufactured products. However, in 1922 British policy was changed and Uganda’s small holder farmers would become sole producers of agricultural produce except tea and sugar. From 1923 the government actively encouraged and organized peasant production, suffocating indigenous manufacturing enterprises out of existence.