Foreign reliance on minority Tutsi has reopened old wounds

On July 9, 2011, I said a prayer silently and then stood up in front of fellow Ugandans in a conference hall in Los Angeles, USA and officially declared that I was going to devote the balance of my life to finding a lasting solution to the endemic problems in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (GLRA). I added that in carrying out this task I would be honest and fair to all stakeholders, notwithstanding that some findings may be contested even when everyone knows they are accurate. I have read and written extensively on the Great Lakes Region of Africa (GLRA) and posted some articles on

I was born and grew up in Rujumbura county of Rukungiri district in southwest Uganda which for centuries has been a battle ground between Bantu (Bahutu and Bairu) or agriculturalists and Nilotic (Batutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge) or pastoralists. Because of shortages of pasture and water, nomadic pastoralists fight most of the time to destroy or chase away the competitor and dominate the territory. Because of constant wars and dispossession of opponents, pastoralists end up destroying more than they construct. Pastoralists in GLRA (and possibly elsewhere) don’t have a culture of negotiations and sharing with others on equal terms.

“If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave” – Museveni

Museveni had an interview with Bill Berkeley. Berkeley’s report was published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine (USA) of September 1994. Museveni stated at the start of the interview that “I have never blamed the whites [Museveni considers himself white] for colonizing Africa; I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave”. This statement reveals a lot about the character of Museveni and why he has (mis)treated Ugandans with no remorse.

Slave trade was a ruthless enterprise that had no respect for human lives whatsoever. Slave trade involved foreigners who facilitated local slave catchers with guns that were used in slave trade wars. When slavery was suppressed for various reasons, slave trade was replaced by colonialism that continued foreign ruthless exploitation of Africans using local agents. Museveni is trying to cover up his being used by foreigners as an agent in the western neo-colonization project led by Britain and the atrocities that have occurred amounting to Ugandans being treated as slaves witness their low wages and awful working conditions.

Slavery was abolished so too must the epithet of Bairu

Slavery is a condition in which the life, liberty and fortune of an individual is held within the absolute power of another individual. Slavery is derived from slav because Slavs in Europe were frequently enslaved during the Dark Ages (500-1000 AD). Aristotle embarrassingly justified that some people are slaves by nature. In many situations slaves worked long hours from sunrise to sunset and suffered harsh punishment which included lashings, short rations and threats to sell members of the slave’s family. Slavery broke the spirit of many slaves but many others vowed to resist and end it. Slavery generated fear and hate. Because slavery and slave trade were evil, they were abolished during the 19th century and declared illegal.

How did Bantu become Bairu (slaves)?

John Hanning Speke wrote in his book titled The Discovery of the Source of the Nile (1863 and reprinted in 2006) that Bahima imposed the epithet (term of abuse) of Bairu or slaves on Bantu people they found in the areas bordering on Lake Victoria. Bahima imposed the epithet of Bairu because Bantu people had to supply food and clothing to Bahima masters. Subsequent extensive intermarriages between Bahima and Baganda, Bahima and Banyoro and Bahima and Batoro produced new communities of mixed farmers ending the master/slave relationship in Buganda, Bunyoro and Tooro.

Understanding slavery & slave trade

Slavery is an institution or a practice in which people own other people directly or indirectly. Ownership has an element of belonging. You belong to me and therefore I own you because, for example, I protect you or, in some cases, because I employ you. In return, the owned person submits to or accepts to be dominated by the owner and works hard as a slave.

A slave is a helpless victim to or of some dominating influence. A slave is also a contemptible person. Contempt is an act or mental attitude of despising another person and a contemptible person is an individual who deserves to be despised. To despise means to regard some one as inferior or worthless.

When someone from one ethnic group brags that he is worth 1000 people from another ethnic group, he is saying that members of the latter ethnic group are inferior or worthless. The inferior people become helpless victims in the process – hence slaves.

Slavery is an old institution with roots in pre-historic times (before writing was invented). Slavery reached its peak in Greece and the Roman Empire and declined during the middle Ages. The colonization of the New World (North and South America) resulted in a resurgence of slavery and slave trade.