Why Uganda is endemically divided and unstable

In my posting of December 31, 2014, I called on Ugandans at home and abroad to exercise tolerance, compromise, sharing and reconciliation. A divided society like Uganda can’t achieve this goal, however much we talk about it. We have to change our mind set and act responsibly.

Since colonial days Uganda has been divided between the rich and the poor; masters and servants; military and civilian populations; growth poles and labor reserves. This dichotomy and the associated inequality has remained basically the same to this day in 2015.

In 1959/60 Baganda who constituted 16 percent of the total population had 46 percent of the total students at Makerere. Bateso, Banyankole and Basoga who constituted 8 percent, 8 percent and 8 percent of the total population respectively had 6 percent, 6 percent and 6 percent students at Makerere University respectively. Kigezi district got senior one in 1957, five years before independence!

In 1961 Baganda constituted 47 percent in higher civil service while Bateso, Banyankole and Basoga constituted 2 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent respectively.

In 1967, 75,000 Baganda were employed in private industry and 34,000 in public sector. The respective figures for Easterners were 34,000 and 25,000; for westerners the respective figures were 32,000 and 22,000. For Northerners the respective numbers were 9,000 and 11,000 (V.A. Olurunsola 1972)..

At the economic level Buganda and to a certain extent Busoga were designated growth poles. Export or cash crops mostly cotton and coffee and later sugar and tea and the associated industries and services were concentrated in this area with all the benefits.

Clearly Buganda was overrepresented in the economy, education and labor market.

The northern and eastern regions dominated the security forces (military, police and prisons). For example in 1961, 15 percent of the police force came from Teso, 16 percent from Acholi and 5 percent were Lugbara(V.A. Olurunsola 1972). Clearly the eastern and northern regions were overrepresented in the security forces.

The western region and West Nile were overrepresented in the supply of cheap and unskilled labor as they were designated labor reserves for Buganda and Busoga. That is why education was slow in coming.

Sadly, the situation has remained the same. Buganda still leads in education, economy and labor market. For example, over 80 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala and its vicinity with a total population of less than two million while the rest of the country with 32 million people generates a mere 20 percent of GNI.

Whereas the strength of the security forces has shifted from the northern region to the western region since NRM came to power in 1986, the Nilotic dominance has remained the same because Batutsi (Bahororo and Bahima) are also Nilotic like their cousins in the north – a fact that many people don’t understand.

This situation is unsustainable in the long-term, explaining why Uganda is endemically unstable and insecure. Unless it is corrected, Uganda will remain unstable, insecure, underdeveloped and unequal and engulfed in conflict.

To overcome this impasse we must accept that all Ugandans are born free and equal in rights and dignity. They will not rest until they feel everyone is given space to utilize the God-given potential.

I have resolved to continue with civic education so that Ugandans and our developed partners understand why Uganda with all its endowments is unable to lift millions of its citizens out of poverty which has led to endemic instability and conflict.

Happy New Year