Why are Baganda complaining of impoverishment and marginalization?

UDU premise is finding and telling the truth about Uganda and Ugandans in order to identify problems and recommend solutions that will benefit all. In our culture we have a saying developed before refrigeration became available that if you hide meat from fire it will rot. Either you roast or boil it.

When confronted with a difficult situation, we Ugandans have developed a habit of brushing sensitive issues under the carpet/rug hoping time will provide solutions. We especially politicians have therefore developed a tendency of saying what the audience wants to hear or skipping vital issues to earn popularity.

There is ample evidence that if discussions before independence had been genuine, Uganda would have avoided the situation we are in. But because they were rushing our negotiators made some blunders. They avoided the issue of the head of state and we ended up with a Governor-General which delayed the problem. They avoided the right solution to Amin problem and we all know what we got from him. They avoided the issue of ‘Lost Counties” and we know what happened and what still lingers on. The colonial administration simply handed over the problems it created.

It is common knowledge that Baganda are not happy with the NRM regime although Baganda have occupied key and strategic positions in Museveni government. Complaining is one thing; finding a solution is another. Opinions are being expressed that some people who pose as Baganda may not be so in the real sense of having their hearts in Buganda and working for the welfare of Baganda. They speak Luganda and have Kiganda names but their interests may be somewhere else.

Since the 1920s Buganda has become a melting pot. People came into the kingdom from different areas in search of economic or political security. Many stayed and have been assimilated or counted as Baganda. Consequently Buganda has ‘ordinary’ Baganda and ‘pure’ Baganda (W. A. Shack & E. P. Skinner. Strangers in African Societies 1979).

It is possible for whatever reason that Museveni has appointed more ordinary than pure Baganda to high office (this analysis is not to create bitterness but to understand so that corrective steps are taken). Do we have information about ordinary and pure Baganda in Buganda to serve as a basis on the way forward? Yes we do.

The Munster Report (1961) on the Uganda Relationship Commission recorded that Buganda “contains an abnormal number of immigrants within her borders. Her population (1959 census) is about 1.8 million, but of these only about one million are native Baganda”, meaning that there was a one to one ratio of native Baganda and immigrants. Most of the immigrants are Banyarwanda. A. R. Zolberg and colleagues (1989) have reported that Banyarwanda in Buganda constitute 40 percent of the population. Because of this abnormal level of immigrants (workers and refugees) Buganda had at one time more males than females (under normal circumstances there are more females than males).

The 1994 event should have opened Uganda eyes. People we went to school with, worked with in various branches of Uganda society including key and strategic positions in the civil service and security forces and thought were Ugandans packed their bags and returned to their country after the Habyarimana government in Rwanda was overthrown, meaning that Uganda may still have people in legislative, executive, judiciary and security forces who are only using Uganda for survival and have no desire working for the people among whom they live. How much confidential or secret information about Uganda did they take with them? To prevent this from happening again Ugandans must exercise their right to know who our leaders are. This is not sectarianism that NRM government or surrogates is fond of using when it wants to hide the truth: It is patriotism.

Baganda have always been aware of the likely adverse impact migrants or strangers might have on Buganda. In her article titled “Village Strangers in Buganda Society”, Christine Obbo observed that “There was fear that assimilated Ganda might one day dominate the political structure”. Obbo added that “some of the most zealous of the king’s ministers may have been assimilated foreigners” (Shack and Skinner 1979).

Baganda therefore need to find out whether their political structure has been dominated by assimilated Baganda who are not paying enough attention to Buganda interests, hence Baganda marginalization. If so corrective steps should be taken rather than sweep the matter under the rug hoping time will take care of it. UDU civic education is designed to bring forward such issues for discussion.