When people resist in solidarity, they can’t be defeated

The principal reason why Africa was colonized is because Africans were divided. Take the case of Uganda starting with religious wars. The Muslims had their group of supporters; the Catholics had their group and the Protestants theirs. And they fought one another. That conflict had an adverse impact that has not vanished. Bunyoro would not have been devastated as it was had Africans joined it or stayed neutral. And who captured Kabarega and Mwanga? That is how resistance to colonial rule was lost. And history is repeating itself because we have refused to learn lessons of colonial rule and cold war. We are seeing a repeat of keeping leaders in power that have become staunch supporters of western interests regardless of how they are treating their people. It is known that Uganda is a failed state under a military dictatorship disguised as democratic because of rigged elections. Yet, NRM leadership has continued to score high marks among donors and is still protected. In practice, this is not the kind of democracy and good governance we have been hearing. The opposition has no chance of winning democratically when the playing field is not level, leading to temptations to resort to war out of frustration. To avoid this from happening alternative scenarios should be accorded the attention they deserve. All Ugandans should have a stake in the affairs of their country.

All the troubles Uganda has had since independence had an external hand. But eventually all groups suffered one after another. Ibingira and his group went first, then Obote and his group, then Amin and his group, then Obote and his group again. Museveni and his group’s turn will arrive some day. There is no way they can escape this trend. Who thought Mobutu would depart the way he did. What makes Museveni think he is exceptional especially if he keeps the country deeply divided, corrupt and sectarian; people unemployed and impoverished and the enlightened ones in exile or marginalized at home?

By and large external forces use the weaker group which is vulnerable but ambitious and greedy. With reference to Rwanda Jones (2006) observed “In the divide-and-rule tradition, Tutsis became colonial favorites and protégés. In part, this reflected Tutsi’s minority status – it is often easier for colonizers to secure the allegiance of a minority, which recognizes that its survival may depend on bonds with the imperial authority”. But when the supporting power changed position, we saw what happened starting in 1959. The supporting power (s) changed mind again and we witnessed what happened in 1994. It could happen again. This lesson should be kept in mind for the good of present and future generations.

The Tutsi minority is being used again in the great lakes region in the recolonization process. Some leaders in the region have been talking about a second Berlin. This time there won’t be a formal conference but the new boundaries are being drawn and new names proposed. If Zimbabwe and Angola had not stepped into the DRC war in 1998 on the late Kabila’s side, Tutsis would have taken over DRC and declared a Tutsi empire in the Great Lakes region. Tutsis are believed to be operating on behalf of a bigger power (s) that is invisibly directing them. Now we have in the region an invisible external hand directing economics and politics. On their own Tutsis do not have the means for such a venture. Weatherby and colleagues (2003) observed that Zimbabwe joined the 1998 war in DRC because “Zimbabwe President Mugabe, despite considerable criticism from his own cabinet as well as opposition figures, saw the danger of a Tutsi empire in the middle of Africa”. It is possible that Mugabe was not so much afraid of a Tutsi empire but of a bigger invisible external power in the neighborhood.

What we are witnessing in the East African economic integration and political federation is the resumption of what the British wanted since the beginning of colonial rule in East and Central Africa. Now African presidents and experts in the theories of integration and federation applied in developed countries that have little relevance in East Africa are being used. As noted previously, Museveni was picked to do this job in the early 1980s (Peter Phillips 2006) and Kagame joined him in 1994.

In 1997 Museveni stated boldly that his mission is to create a federation of states in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. Where would he get the means to accomplish that? Think about it seriously and you begin to see what we are up against that require real and full solidarity if we are to prevail. That is why Museveni has kept knowledgeable Ugandans out of his administration or mismatches qualifications with appointments since he came to power in 1986. That is why he is surrounded by lawyers in the executive and legislative branches to advise him about the legal implications of his decisions (Museveni being a political scientist) rather than economists that are needed especially at this moment when the economy is in deep trouble. Ugandans have lost interest and trust in economic growth and per capita statistics. Perhaps they are meant for another audience.

Museveni developed interest in the East African cooperation project initially to focus on economic integration, moving cautiously to avoid the problems that destroyed the first cooperation in 1977. Abruptly after the failed DRC war Museveni changed his mind and demanded East African political federation on fast track ahead of economic integration. Apparently Rwanda has been convinced to support political federation on fast track. The whole idea is like building a house starting with the roof (the Europeans had the same idea after the war but abandoned it in favor of a sector approach). And the other East African leaders are being dragged along. This is recolonization in disguise. There is plenty of information about the difficulties of rushed economic integration and political federation. Take a look at what is happening in Europe right now. This development should cause East African leaders to pause and recast the whole project. Instead, the leaders now under the chairmanship of Kibaki a trained economist continue to push for accelerated integration and federation. The people of Uganda and indeed of East Africa must resist what is going on because in the end they will suffer the consequences of bad decisions on this matter. We need solidarity under able leadership, nationally and regionally, to successfully resist. There is no chance of success if the people remain divided.

In the past, we did not have strong champions against negative external influence. Now we do as seen in the debates underway in East Africa and abroad. While we are prepared to work with outsiders because none can survive in isolation, the latter should listen to and hear the views of East Africans particularly of those in the opposition that have been sidelined for too long. In the end success at national and East African levels will depend on the extent to which we muster solidarity against what we think is not good for our respective countries (which must remain sovereign) and region.

, , , , , , , , , All