the NRM government assumed power in 1986, it was determined to end
the inhuman conditions in Uganda. The president addressed this
challenge with passion and eloquence. He argued convincingly that
Uganda was still pre-industrial and backward and the society was
dominated by peasants. He maintained that Uganda had not yet
undergone a metamorphosis from a feudal to a middle class economy and
society. He reported that in the last 500 years, European societies
had transitioned from peasant, feudal to middle class and skilled
working class societies. Africa, on the other hand, was still stuck
with quasi-feudal, peasant characteristics and foreign ideas.
Europe or the middle ages – from 500 to 1500 AD – was
characterized by three classes – the lords who governed, the clergy
who prayed and cared for the souls and the peasants, the majority of
the population, who labored for themselves and for the needs of the
other two classes. During most of this period, over 90 percent of the
population lived in the country side and depended on agriculture for
livelihood. The barbaric invasions had driven large populations from
towns and disrupted commercial transactions hence rural
medieval Europe, peasants produced all the food using primitive
implements: hand hoes, folks and knives because they could not afford
improved equipment such as the iron plough. They broadcast seed and
used scarecrows to frighten off birds. Because they could not afford
oxen and later horses, European peasants used human energy for almost
everything. The sowed by hand, weeded by hand, harvested by hand and
ground seed by hand.
depended on rain and used extensive agricultural methods, applied
crop rotation and mixed crops to minimize losses and improve soil
fertility. They raised a few pigs and some chickens to lay eggs for
the lords and clergy.
half of peasants’ harvest was consumed by the clergy through
tithes, the lords through tribute and charges in kind for using his
bakery, brewery and grinding mills.
urban population increased over time, the demand for food led
peasants to sell an increasing share of their produce for cash.
Consequently, peasants ate poorly, surviving on poor quality bread,
soup and a few vegetables when in season. They ate bacon and old
chicken after laying eggs. A combination of dirty water and poor
sanitation contributed to under-nutrition and early death.
and clothing were also sub-standard. Peasants lived in dilapidated,
ill-ventilated, unsanitary and overcrowded dwellings – thatched
with grass – which they shared with livestock for security and
warmth in winter. Clothing was also sub-standard. Peasants wore poor
quality clothes mostly home made but also second-hand imported
Uganda, as in medieval Europe, there are three classes – the clergy
who pray and care for the souls, the elite who govern and the
peasants who labor for their needs and those of the other two
classes. Over 90 percent of the population lives in the countryside
tilling the soil with primitive implements – the hand hoe, axe,
machete and knives. They broadcast seed by hand, sow by hand, weed by
hand, harvest by hand and grind grain by hand. They use scarecrows to
ward off birds. They depend on rain, rotate and mix crops to minimize
losses and fertilize the soil. They rear goats and chickens and
increasingly pigs because these are relatively easy to maintain.
Because tractors are expensive, Uganda peasants use human power.
various charges and the need for cash to cover education, health
care, housing and clothing expenses, peasants sell most of the food.
Consequently, they eat poorly with non-nutritious maize and cassava
dominating the diet. They drink dirty water and live in unsanitary
conditions leading to high levels of under-nutrition and related
is still poor and dwellings are small – to economize on building
materials – and overcrowded.
instability and policy, Uganda has ceased to be a competitive textile
industry resorting to importing second-hand garments.
the NRM promise to metamorphose Uganda has not happened after more
than twenty years in power. Instead the gap between peasants on the
one hand and clergy and elite on the other hand has widened
considerably through skewed economic growth, calling for a new