During the 2004 hearings by the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, many African participants equated globalization with the re-colonization of Africa. Many Ugandans believe that Uganda which was never fully de-colonized has already been re-colonized since entering into structural adjustment with the IMF in 1981.
In order to appreciate that re-colonization has actually occurred, one needs to understand what the objectives of colonialism were. They were to secure a strategic advantage, evangelize the natives and obtain tropical raw materials and food for British industries and population respectively and land for surplus British population; and finally markets for manufactured products.
Britain, France, Germany and Belgium conflicted over the control of areas that eventually became Uganda. The agreement between Germany and Britain involving Heligoland is well known as is the Fashoda incident between Britain and France. The interests of White settlers in Kenya and Egypt’s reliance on the waters of the Nile affected the final shape and size of Uganda. Ultimately Uganda lost big chunks of land in the east and the north to Kenya and Sudan respectively. In the south and west of Uganda land was also exchanged among Germany, Belgium and Uganda. Uganda remains a battleground for old and new colonizers as a gateway to the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. During the cold war era, Uganda sat at the intersection between the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ belt states that contributed to the 1971 coup.
M7 should admit that his development policies haven’t worked in order to be able to make adjustments. But by refusing to admit he is continuing to make errors. He has now begun to come up with statistics about Gross National Income (GNI) and per capita income and increase in the manufacturing sector and energy production.
At the beginning of his presidency he came up with a comprehensive ten-point program whose end result was to end the suffering of the people of Uganda. He stressed ending, not reducing, poverty in Uganda. He stressed making schools work and produce quality and skilled workers. He would feed all Ugandans adequately. Diseases would be conquered and he would re-grow hair on balding Uganda hills. These were laudable goals.
But Museveni lost the way by embracing inappropriate neo-liberal policies of invisible hand of market forces, laissez faire policies, labor flexibility, austerity program and trickle down mechanism. He knew these policies had not worked in Chile and Ghana and he knew Tanzania was resisting them.
The principal cause of conflicts in the Great Lakes region is ethnicity. Minority Tutsi – some ten percent of the total population – are trying to restore domination they enjoyed from the 15th century to 1962 when they were defeated in pre-independence elections of 1962 in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda (Ankole).
Because they are minority they collaborate with foreigners in order to dominate others. In Rujumbura Makobore collaborated with Arab and Swahili slave traders to defeat Bantu people that were subsequently dubbed Bairu (slaves or servants). Makobore then sold members of defeated Bantu groups into slavery (“The [Indian Ocean] coastal traders were also employed in interstate raids for slaves. For example, Makobore, the [Tutsi] king of Rujumbura, employed them in his raids against Butumbi and Kayonza. The important social effect of the coming of the coastal traders on the peoples of south-western Uganda was the arms trade. Weaker societies were raided for slaves while interstate warfare was rampant” (B. A. Ogot 1976). Bantu grazing land was confiscated and Bantu short horn cattle were replaced by Tutsi long horn cattle and Bantu were reduced to cultivators largely for the benefit of Tutsi consumers. That is how Bairu came to be known as cultivators while they were wealthy mixed farmers combined with manufacturing products before interaction with Tutsi.
History shows that religious leaders step forward as representatives of voiceless people when political, economic and social conditions become hard. Parish priests who live and work among the people understand their suffering very well. The priests of Uganda are no exception. During the Christmas sermons in 2011, religious leaders throughout the nation spoke out against the suffering of the majority of their flocks. They pledged to speak out in the following years until human conditions improved. The public welcomed this resolution and is waiting to hear their voices that haven’t been loud enough thus far.
During medieval Europe, there was much suffering of serfs or peasants. Priests led in the struggle to liberate them. Priest John Ball together with peasant Wat Tyler led the English peasant revolt in 1381. The authorities were forced to cancel the poll tax.
During the colonization of Latin America, there was too much suffering of indigenous people. Priest de Las Casas stepped forward and protested on their behalf. During the French Revolution parish priest Abe Sieyes wrote and spoke on behalf of the Third Estate that represented the commoners who had been exploited and blocked in their efforts to progress for a long time. In Russia priest Gapon led the suffering urban population in St Petersburg into a protest demanding improvements in their condition.
As we approach 2016, Uganda people must be provided with election choices well in advance of the elections so that they are well informed about what is at stake and make the right choices.
United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) which has become a formidable force was formed in July 2011 and has been consulting with the people at home and abroad including in a local language and conducting civic education to determine what Ugandans need. We have got some ideas which contrast sharply with what the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government has been implementing since 1987. Here are the contrasts on selected areas.
Civilian versus military-backed government
NRM is led by a military president with full backing of the military. UDU proposes a civilian president with full backing of the people.
Specific roles of security forces and the judiciary
NRM has militarized the police, mixed up the roles of the military and the police and weakened the judicial system in the administration of justice.
Plan A of the first phase was to capture Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC by military means. It succeeded in capturing and retaining Uganda and Rwanda. The military solution was halted by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe troops.
Without abandoning the military solution, the leaders then moved onto Plan B of getting the Empire through the East African federation via the political route. This seemed slow.
Without abandoning the military and political East African solutions, the leaders then moved onto Plan C which is a combination of military and political strategies. Instead of going for the entire DRC they chose to capture Eastern DRC by military means. The region is now in imminent danger of being lost.
Rwanda and Uganda delegations met a few months ago and decided to abolish national borders among East African states probably starting with the border between Uganda and Rwanda. The two presidents may soon instruct their rubber stamp parliaments to pass legislation merging Uganda with Rwanda under a new name possibly The Republic of Rwaganda.
Uganda, the size of the United Kingdom, was born after a complicated ‘pregnancy’ following the Berlin conference; border adjustment negotiations among the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and France; religious and colonial wars that left some parts devastated. The outcome was compression into one country of segments of society with different cultures, hostile neighbors, different government systems and levels of economic and social development. Indirect rule using former oppressive chiefs over their subjects and employment of Baganda advisers to other parts of Uganda complicated the situation. Buganda was rewarded with territory taken from Bunyoro for cooperation in subduing the latter, a deal that Bunyoro never accepted. Through the 1900 agreement, Dundas reforms of 1944 and the 1955 agreement, Buganda was accorded a status of a state within a state. Because of various local administration ordinances, the colonial administration introduced a strong decentralized government system at provincial and district levels at the expense of central administration. Collaboration between colonial administration and the Protestant Church at the expense of Catholic and Muslim Faiths also created complications.
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 www.kashambuzi.com.
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.
UDU, an umbrella organization of parties and organizations at home and abroad opposed to NRM dictatorship and skewed income distribution in favor of a few, congratulates DP for a successful by-election in Bukoto South, Masaka. Opposition successes in by-elections after the stolen elections of 2011 confirm that the wind of change is blowing across Uganda and that a silent and peaceful revolution is taking place. To deliver the final blow to NRM, we need to understand how a tilted playing field brought NRM into existence and has sustained it in power. At the end of the 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Commonwealth Observer Mission reported that the electoral process (from registration of voters to the announcement of results) lacked a level playing field (tilted in favor of NRM), implying declaring results null and void. But that didn’t happen because the electoral commission is not independent. Because of this NRM favor, opposition presidential candidates didn’t concede defeat. Consequently the president formed and is presiding over an illegitimate government. Here is how NRM was born and has been sustained in power.
Let me begin with three points of clarification. First, there are some people who are wondering how one person can write as prolifically as I am doing without assistance. I want to assure everyone that I have never received one dollar in assistance; I have never hired a consultant or even a secretary to type my manuscripts. I have done all the research, all the writing and all the typing by myself and paid all expenses from my own resources. I have not been influenced by anybody or any ideology but my own conscience. It is a commitment to my country that has driven me to do what you have read. If unsure you are free to investigate.
Second, I became an author and co-host of an English program on Radio Munansi for various reasons. One of them is that many decision makers in Uganda used to tell me and still do that more often than not they take decisions they would avoid if they had enough information. Some of them urged me to share my thoughts with a larger public. I focused on the Great Lakes region because it has had a far greater impact on Uganda than any other African region, and it could even have more in the days ahead. Notwithstanding human imperfections, I have tried to be as factual as possible, at times examining both sides of the issue before drawing conclusions and offering recommendations.