Ugandans are going through a hard time under Museveni dictatorship which his supporters interpret as bold leadership. But we should not lose hope. Contrary to what many believe, God hasn’t forgotten Uganda. We only happen to be passing through a rough phase. Those who fly between Europe and USA know there are turbulent sections across the Atlantic where passengers are advised to return to their seats and fasten seat belts. When the turbulent area is over the flight is smooth. That is where Uganda is now. In the end Ugandans will go through the stormy weather which is caused in large part by hanging onto traditional beliefs one of them being that we are created differently – some are born to lead and others to be led. Some are refusing to change their mindset.
In my home area of Rujumbura in southwest Uganda, Bairu (Batutsi slaves or servants) were conditioned to believe that Batutsi were more intelligent and born leaders. Bairu were born to labor for Batutsi. Men were conditioned never to cry or scream under whatever amount of torture by Batutsi (I understand in Rwanda this requirement applied to women as well). And we accepted it.
During British days Batutsi continued to dominate as chiefs in colonial and church administrations. Bairu produced goods and services for chiefs including building their houses and carrying them and their relatives and their luggage when they travelled; paid taxes and tithes and worked for free on public works. Bairu would cook food or make beer for Batutsi but wouldn’t eat or drink together because Bairu were inferior. Bairu would be canned or thrown in jail for the slightest action or omission that the chief wasn’t happy about.
When Batutsi came to your home and spent a night there all adult men would vacate the house leaving women at the pleasure of visitors. They would eat the food, have sex with the women they despise, produce children (Abambari) they would disown and take off. Fellow Ugandans and others who didn’t experience what I am saying, may believe I am sectarian and tribal hater and should be sent to the Hague International Criminal Court for trial because I am inciting the public to commit crimes against humanity. I am saying all these things with a very heavy heart because I see some of the habits creeping back in disguised forms and I don’t want these dreadful things to happen to another Ugandan. What I am presenting here happened to Hutu people of Rwanda and Burundi. These are the very people (Tutsi) since 1994 Rwanda genocide that have painted themselves as victims in a hostile environment occupied by wild Hutu who are demanding the right to arm themselves and hunt down Hutus wherever they happen to be and decimate them. These are the very people that have destabilized the Great Lakes region in pursuit of Tutsi Empire and committed crimes against Bantu people in the region, and yet they continue to get support from many western countries, some of them announcing strong support in their speeches on missions to these countries and defending them at the United Nations. The international community covers up the alleged genocide they have committed against Hutu in Burundi, DRC and Rwanda. Since the 15th or 16th century they have been the aggressors. Let me stress that I am writing these things so they are not repeated – nothing more and nothing less.
Until the 1940s, education in southwest Uganda was for Batutsi chiefs’ children, first their sons who would succeed their fathers and then their daughters because educated sons needed educated wives. That is how Gayaza High School started for girls.
When I was doing research on Uganda, I travelled by bus or taxes because it was easier to collect primary information than completing questionnaire by the elite. I wanted information from the horse’s mouth and I got it. From Kampala to Rukungiri and back, I collected useful information by just listening – no asking questions and no recording what I heard until I got out of the bus or taxi. One of the findings is that many Ugandans believe that God was punishing them but they didn’t understand for what. So they flocked to churches to seek forgiveness.
Traditional beliefs are held by other societies as well in time and space. For example, in medieval Europe, women were conditioned to obey and serve their husbands. Serfs were conditioned that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven they had to suffer on earth so they couldn’t resist exploitation by lords and priests.
Within societies, from time immemorial, you will find individuals who will begin to look at things differently and raise questions or develop a questioning mind. Socrates was one of them and lost his life for it but he started a process that was picked up during the Scientific and Intellectual Revolutions of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. People like Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and later Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau and Paine questioned traditional beliefs and paid heavy price at times. Many of the traditional beliefs were rejected. They preached liberty, justice, equality and dignity for all. People rejected absolute rule and divine right of kings and even went to war. They rejected laboring for others and demanded equal treatment.
When rulers refused to comply, there were revolutions including in France and Russia. The commoners (Third Estate) in France with support of some parish priests and some moderate nobles rejected exploitation and revolted against the king. Lenin promised Russians peace, land and bread which the Romanov kings (Czars) had refused to give and they were swept out of power. In Ethiopia, when starving people watched pictures of the Emperor feeding large chunks of beef to his pets, they were enraged and got him out.
Through bold writings and discussions Ugandans are now increasingly realizing that their suffering isn’t due to God’s punishment. They now know that it is NRM regime that is responsible for their suffering although they haven’t quite understood the mechanism or tools used to cause such mental and physical pain. NRM surrogates by relentless attack on messengers are standing in the way but messages are filtering through. When you tell the truth victory is on your side. Those who support aggressors pay a heavy price.
When Museveni became president, he knew exactly what he wanted to do – use Uganda as a base on the road to creating a Tutsi Empire in the Great Lakes region. To avoid opposition, he decided to keep educated Ugandans in exile and spy on them there so they don’t plan to change NRM government and to impoverish Ugandans at home and reduce them to voiceless and powerless bystanders.
He appealed to Ugandans that in order to clean up the mess created by his predecessors, Ugandans needed to tighten their belts as he was diverting development resources to build security forces first which he filled with Batutsi. He reasoned that without peace nothing would get done. He advised Ugandans in the diaspora to stay there because he didn’t have jobs for them at home reminiscent of Rwanda president who advised Tutsi to stay in exile because there was no land for them at home.
Even when he was fully aware of the social and ecological damage it would cause, Museveni embarked on ‘shock therapy’ version of structural adjustment program which he used as a tool to redistribute economic power in favor of Tutsi people. He launched expensive private schools and expensive health services for the rich and neglected schools and health services for the general public. External manifestations of this neglect include functionally illiterate graduates who can’t find jobs even when there are vacancies that are filled by foreignersy, rising maternal and child mortality rates and reemergence with vengeance of diseases that had disappeared, etc. These are facts.
Agriculture or crop cultivation of least interest to Batutsi was neglected, cooperatives were eliminated, extension services drastically reduced or poorly funded and subsidies eliminated. Fisheries that were developed to provide an affordable source of protein for low income countries were harvested by NRM for export to earn foreign currency to repay external debt and build reserve foreign currency for the rich leaving low income families without adequate source of protein (beans another source of protein became an export commodity).
In his last (June 2012) State of the Nation address to parliament, the president admitted that his government had neglected the subsistence sector where some 70 percent of Ugandans earn their miserable livelihood. On the other hand, the livestock sector of great interest to Batutsi has been handsomely supported.
NRM government privatized Uganda public enterprises including post office and many of privatized enterprises went to Museveni’s kith and kin that are performing poorly and have to be bailed out by government periodically. The president suffocated trade unions and allowed labor flexibility including setting very low wages without benefits and hire and fire at will. To undermine Uganda’s future, Museveni has unilaterally refused provision of school lunches to primary school kids who are dropping out of school in very large numbers. When you starve children that drop out of school you are destroying the future of a nation because food is the most basic of basic human needs. That is what Museveni is doing to Uganda but his ethnic people are getting good food, good education and good health facilities. They are the ones being prepared for the future of Uganda. These are facts.
Museveni in his speeches and through the institutions he has created is preaching that the future of Uganda is in towns and urging Ugandans to sell land and use the cash to start business in towns (which he is expanding by extending municipal boundaries deep into rural areas to give municipality more land to sell to the rich or well connected to access loans: selfish politicians are happy because more parliament seats are created) because the return from land is very low. The question Ugandans should ask themselves is this: if economic returns from the land are low then how come Batutsi including Museveni are buying so much land at breakneck speed? Why then is the prime minister going ahead with transferring land from peasants to rich people like him to start large farms? Why can’t the rich people invest in areas that will bring higher returns than in agriculture? Do we understand the real purpose of turning Kampala into a “Greater City” by gobbling the Mengo region? Do we know but we can’t act because we are powerless or we simply don’t know. Does Greater Kampala have to be managed by state house? What checks and balances have been instituted to prevent abuse of power?
People who don’t understand the mind of Museveni may come to his rescue particularly the surrogates who are also being robbed. Museveni has deliberately neglected agriculture because that is where the majority of Ugandans lives and earns their livelihood. Museveni knows that industries create jobs especially small and medium enterprises and he doesn’t want to employ Ugandans because it is politically easy to deal with unemployed and powerless people. He devalued the Uganda currency so much and raised interest rates so high that make it is difficult to import intermediate goods for industries and raise credit domestically. He also opened Uganda markets so widely that Uganda industries can’t compete. These things are difficult to understand unless you have lived with Tutsi people for a long time to understand how they treat others. In Rwanda Hutu were stripped of their land and assets like cattle and reduced to work on the king’s land to feed his kith and kin in return for protection (not clear against what).
Consequently Uganda is de-industrializing and unemployment particularly of youth has gone through the roof (over 80 percent). Museveni knows that hungry people can’t learn and have low productive capacity. That is why he advocated the policy of agricultural production for cash and export and not for the stomach and has refused to provide school lunch or even allowed teachers and parents to do it. School lunches are provided everywhere in developed and developing countries because they improve attendance and performance especially of girls and Museveni doesn’t want that to happen even after NEPAD endorsed school lunch in all African schools.
To confuse Ugandans and development partners, NRM reports economic growth, inflation control, foreign currency reserves and export diversification for which he is given high marks by donors. He doesn’t report that the trickle down mechanism which was supposed to distribute the benefits of economic growth to all classes and regions hasn’t worked and therefore income distribution has become highly skewed in favor of a few families mostly with connections to state house.
When the president realized that Ugandans were becoming aware of who was gaining and who was losing from his economic policies, he called on parliament to pass anti-sectarian law that bars Ugandans to indulge in sectarian discussions or finger pointing because he knew Batutsi who have gained the most would be in trouble. Anti-sectarian and the comprehensive anti-terrorism laws have made it very difficult to criticize the government or the president for corruption, sectarianism, cronyism and mismanagement of public funds. Any criticism is interpreted as inciting the public to disturb peace and security of the country with severe punishment. These are facts.
There is one consolation. In life, in time and space, when things go too far and people feel they are squeezed too much, they react. During colonial days, Uganda farmers realized that middlemen and crop processors were squeezing them. They demanded a share in transporting and processing their produce. When the colonial government refused to budge there were strikes, demonstrations and boycotts. When the late Kabaka Mutesa II realized that he was getting a raw deal in his negotiations with Governor Andrew Cohen, he refused further discussions. He was forced into exile hoping he would be replaced by a more collaborative Kabaka. To his surprise, Baganda and the rest of Ugandans rallied behind the exiled Kabaka and the governor was forced to bring him back in triumph.
We Ugandans are now waking up and are discovering that we are not cursed by God: we are exploited by Museveni and his relatives and other collaborators who are protecting him. Museveni surrogates are working hard to keep Ugandans in the dark by hurling all abuses at messengers including accusing them of promoting genocide and sectarianism. When I began writing about Museveni and his Tutsi Empire P. Kesasi among others accused me of ignorance and bigotry. She added all sorts of accusations hoping to silence me but I stood my ground because I knew that I was right and she was wrong. Eventually she stopped and others took over.
Now you see Tutsi have taken over eastern DRC as part of Tutsi Empire. If Eastern DRC is finally detached from DRC which appears likely, the next region that will fall is southwest Uganda (former Kigezi and Ntugamo districts). Mark my words. Then you will have a nucleus of Tutsi Empire covering Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern DRC and southwest Uganda. Then the rest of DRC will fall, followed by Angola, Namibia, Congo and Gabon. Then Kenya and Tanzania will be next. Leaders in these countries should act collectively or they will be overthrown and their countries absorbed into Greater Tutsi Empire. Museveni likes Greater things. He has created Greater Kampala out of Mengo region.
Museveni mission that he announced in April 1997 is to turn the Great Lakes region and Horn of Africa into federal states under one nation. And he is not working alone. Rwanda and Uganda don’t have the kind of resources for such an adventure. The resolve of the international community and the United Nations to defeat aggressors is being tested over DRC.
Ugandans are also being told that when you are deprived of a good education, a good job, a good meal, a good clinic, a good roof above your head and a good dress to wear you don’t have much time on this planet earth unless you gather courage and energy and resist.
History shows that people who succeed pool their resources under able leadership. During the English Peasants Revolt of 1381 peasants from Sussex and Kent got together under the leadership of Wat Tyler and John Ball and demanded changes in the way they were being treated. The poll tax was abolished immediately and other changes came later. This revolt and others in Europe contributed to the demise of feudalism.
Let me end by returning to where we started. Ugandans are waking up and know who is causing them suffering. That is the first step. We are informing the world that is also beginning to understand that Uganda is unjustly governed. The next step is coming together under able and committed leadership like the peasants of Sussex and Kent did. Ugandans must stand together and refuse further exploitation. If we stick together with Almighty’s blessing, victory is ours.