Telling the truth is costly – but necessary

I developed an inquisitive, listening and retention mind at an early age. People discussed all sorts of sensitive things in my presence thinking I was too young to understand. When I travelled by bus passengers talked freely and I obtained useful information. And I grew up in an atmosphere characterized by church gatherings that enabled me to hear incredible stories about human relations. My home village is strategically located and enabled me to gather information from Ankole, Rwanda, Burundi and Belgian Congo (now DRC). These stories mostly about brutal exploitation of the weak by the strong disturbed me – to say the least. As I grew up I witnessed some of these brutalities that continued under indirect colonial rule. Then I went to school and what we were taught (hunger, African laziness and too many children that cannot be fed properly) did not match most of what was happening on the ground at least in my home area. At times it was difficult for me to answer some questions or engage in discussions full of distortions. In some discussions I simply kept quiet or spoke in disagreement based on what I had heard. I decided early in my life that I would gather this information and share it at the right time. Thus, the information I am sharing with the public represents many years of accumulation from primary and secondary sources, checking and revising it as new information becomes available.

I grew up in a religious family where we were told never to lie but tell the truth, never to steal and to always help those in need especially children. I believe strongly that we should all play by the same set of rules. In short, there must be justice for all. None should benefit at the expense of others through corruption and/or sectarianism. Where justice has not occurred, I have sided with weak, exploited, vulnerable and voiceless members of society. I also believe in unity, merit, equitable development and a strong foundation for future generations. Defending the weak and promoting unity have been my guiding principles. However, implementing these principles has brought me into conflict with some authorities that survive on exploiting others and into politics.

When I was a student in high school, I ran for president of Rujumbura Students Association because some members were beginning to behave in a manner that was not conducive for collective action. I needed a strategic position to arrest that development before it went too far. We succeeded in making sure we followed the same set of rules and respected one another regardless of our backgrounds. I got into UPC politics in Rujumbura when Baboga (vegetarians) falsely accused a Saza (county) chief of being a Munyama (meat eater) simply because he made a statement (which I translated into English and knew the content) that Baboga felt was against their interests and therefore sectarian. They wanted the chief out of the area. I disagreed and joined those who supported the chief and we succeeded in making him stay. But because I made a strong and convincing case that persuaded many who supported the chief but were afraid to say so I paid a heavy price to this day. Baboga realized here was a young and bold fellow who could change the rules of the game and actually take bread out of their mouth. And they would not let that happen.

I strongly believe in unity. While in Zambia, where many Uganda refugees lived in the 1970s there were so many divisions along ideological, religious, ethnic and regional lines that we forgot that our common problem was the Amin regime. I refused to join any of the groups. Instead, I decided to demonstrate that Ugandans from different walks of life are capable of working together. I co-founded the Uganda Unity Group (UUG) which participated in the 1979 Moshi conference and the transitional government following the defeat of Amin.

Meanwhile, I continued to collect materials to back up stories of exploitation in the Great Lakes region. I hesitated to publish these findings which would tell the truth about the exploitation of Bairu and Bahutu by Batutsi, Bahima and Bahororo who were governing Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. I feared for my life and that of my family, relatives and friends.

After a long hesitation while exploitation continued and intensified, I said a prayer that gave me courage and published these true findings. They are published in my books beginning in 1997 and posted at I felt it was necessary to publish them so that exploitation of the many by the few does not continue in the countries of the Great Lakes region or when it happens people should understand why and who is doing it. I co-founded UDU to bring Ugandans together and press for improvements in our country and region because the two are connected.

Notwithstanding, the cost has been high. I have received threats to me, my family members, relatives and friends. Out of fear, some have kept their distance and do not want to have any association with me, a very sad development indeed. But I am not alone.

From time immemorial, people who have told the truth or confronted dictators have run many risks. Jesus preached against vices and selfishness and taught a gospel based on love of one’s fellow human beings. Other preachers, commentators and writers that risked their lives to make life better for others include Huss, Ball, Galileo, Locke, Paine, Voltaire, Marx and Romero.

Those Ugandans and others who doubt the truth of my writings should write their own stories for the public to judge instead of calling me all sorts of names. I will continue to report facts and tell the truth because all I want is a Uganda and indeed a Great Lakes region that will treat everyone with respect and afford everyone an equal opportunity to develop their potential. Let me state once again that direct or indirect intimidation, abuse and cooked up stories on radio and internet will not make a dent in my resolve to make our country and region a better place for all our children and grand children.

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