Why history lessons are important

A few listeners who are vocal on Radio Munansi are protesting reference to history because it is producing what they don’t want to hear. I must add that the silent majority who communicate privately are happy with the programs and have urged us to continue. The purpose of studying history is to draw lessons that help present leaders to govern better by avoiding past mistakes.

For example, it is stated that Kabaka Mwanga acted too late to control his converted subjects who had come under the influence of missionaries and disrespected the king. What lesson can we draw from this in present circumstances? If we let Museveni and NRM continue to do what they are doing especially dispossessing Ugandans of their land and giving it to foreigners, it may be too late when we decide to act. We need to do it now by vigorously opposing the new landlord tenant bill and the associated national land commission bill. Complaining is necessary but not sufficient. We must act.

The second lesson to learn is from the collapse of communism. It had been hoped that the states that broke off would stay intact. This is not what happened at least in two cases. Yugoslavia disintegrated into warring factions that became independent but problems are still there. Czechoslovakia split into two states of Czech Republic and Slovakia. This means that it is not territories that secede. It is people that do. They may choose to secede collectively or separately. If they choose the latter they move with their territories. The people in Buyaga and Bugangaizi were given three options: to choose independence; stay with Buganda; rejoin Bunyoro. They chose to rejoin Bunyoro and carried the territories with them. Baganda that are more vocal about Buganda secession need to realize that reality that it is not the territory or even leaders that choose but the people. In this connection, it is important to recognize that the Declaration on the Right of Self-determination adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1960 borrowed the language of the UN Charter which talks about the people, not countries or leaders. A paragraph in the preamble of the Self-determination declaration states:“Recognizing that the peoples of the world ardently desire the end of colonialism in all its manifestations”.

In Uganda, the manifestations of colonialism still exist, namely the territories that were incorporated into another region after they had been colonized by Britain (eventually Hong Kong went back to China).

We also need to realize that Uganda has conditions similar to former Yugoslavia and Ethiopia where territories were slammed together by some force or convenience of administration, making it difficult to refer to these entities as nations (there is no one nation in former Kigezi and Ankole. Buganda isn’t one nation because it has two ancestries (bana ba Kintu and bana ba Kimera) and people in Buganda speak their indigenous languages, Luganda is an adopted language by many living in Buganda: it is not their indigenous language).

Yugoslavia disintegrated in part for failure to compromise while Ethiopia has survived because of a federal system it adopted that has allowed Ethiopians in different regions to manage many of their affairs.

Another lesson that we should continue to stress is that marriages of convenience or appeasement policies (as is practiced particularly in Buganda) have short-term benefits. The UPC/KY and Moshi conference marriages should not be repeated because intricate issues were swept under the carpet hoping they would stay there. Sadly they didn’t. We should therefore be bold and discuss our differences and agree on shared values and a common purpose before NRM collapses. It is therefore unwise to accept the proposal that we should discuss our differences after NRM has exited.

To avoid the possibility of a political turmoil or even a civil war, it has been suggested that:

1. We should have a transitional government with all Ugandans participating including NRM.

2. To avoid one person dictatorship we should have a presidential team with every region represented.

3. To avoid jobs going disproportionately to those who are well connected, we should have a team managing the public service commission with every region represented instead of one person as chairperson.

4. The security forces should not be dominated by one region or one ethnic group. We must agree on a formula to balance appointments and promotions in the military, police and intelligence taking every region into consideration.

These innovations if adopted and implemented will likely minimize conflict that could even explode into a civil war as some groups are threatening publicly to punish others when the time comes.

Eric Kashambuzi