Why reading history is important for Uganda

When you read widely you are likely to stumble on useful information applicable to a contemporary situation like in Uganda regarding land grabbing.

One of Museveni’s principal goals was to find land for his ethnic nomadic people in the Great Lakes Region. He came up with the idea that Uganda had plenty of empty arable land (there is no piece of land that is unoccupied by animal and human populations) which was well watered and needed to be populated by people who did not or were deprived of their land (Museveni has claimed that his people were dispossessed of their land but does not say who did it). So word went around in the Great Lakes Region that Uganda had plenty of empty land. Mobility to Uganda has been facilitated by a liberal immigration policy that has been pursued by the NRM government since 1986. Associations like Banyakigezi were created in large part to assist in identifying land for purchase. And it is also rumored subject to confirmation that a trust fund was created to make money available for those in need of purchasing land.

The 1995 Uganda constitution allows free mobility and settlement (of Uganda citizens) in any part of Uganda. However, following in particular the East African provision of visas to travel anywhere in the region, many Tutsi have moved from Burundi, Rwanda, DRC and Tanzania and are settling in Uganda in large numbers and dispossessing indigenous people of their ancestral land. The proposed new Landlord and Peasant Bill, resulting from the Agreement between Mengo administration and central government, is designed to formalize permanent settlement of these non-Uganda land grabbers. History indicates that if this matter is not resolved quickly and land returned to rightful owners it could lead to serious trouble – possibly armed conflict – at some stage in the future.

This bill should be opposed by Ugandans as everyone will be affected in the end. This is one of the issues that the English program was advocating when we were unceremoniously axed from Radio Munansi two weeks ago. Although Radio Munansi is basically Baganda-based who have suffered extensive land grabbing by outsiders, the proposed Land Bill has not been discussed and one begins to wonder whose side the radio is on.

This is part of civic education

Eric Kashambuzi