What the people of Uganda need to know

Correcting distortions: The history of Uganda was and continues to be distorted. And there are people who are comfortable with the status quo. London-based Michael Mutagubya is leading a protest on radio munansi that I am distorting the history of Buganda and Baganda should dismiss what I am doing in civic education.

The second champion of dissent is another London-based Aloysius Sempala who is leading a protest on face book that Baganda are not a multi-nation but one nation (same ancestral origin and same indigenous language). He even observed that he has never heard of the clans of Kimera. For him all Baganda are clans of Kintu.

He too is urging Baganda to ignore the confusion I am creating. However, research findings do not support Sempala assertion. Let us refer to only two sources by Ugandans (I have been accused of using materials written by white people).

The nations of Uganda should define how they want to be governed

A nation is defined by two main characteristics: a common ancestry and a common indigenous language (in Spain for instance people are questioning the idea of the ‘Spanish nation’ that carries negative connotations. They would rather discuss a grouping of 17 autonomous regions – Andrew Whittaker 2008).

Nations or people are the ones, not governments that decide how they want to be governed including declaration of independence, federation or confederation etc. The principle of the people determining how they should be governed was contained in the 1941 Atlantic Charter between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The charter supported the right of all people to choose their leaders (Roger Matuz 2009).

In 1945 the Charter of the United Nations was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It states: We the people of the United Nations are determined to develop friendly relations among nations large and small based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples (UN Charter).

In 1960 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 1514 (XV) on Self-determination. It reaffirmed that “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”(United Nations 2002. Human Rights Part I Universal Instruments).

People power sent Marcos into exile

Ferdinand Marcos was elected president in 1965 and re-elected in 1969. To overcome a two-term limit and stay in power, he declared Martial law in 1972. He made promises like land reform, end corruption and large-scale foreign investments which he did not meet. Opposition grew by civilian non-violence and armed rebellion. In 1983 the opposition leader Benigno Aquino returned home from exile and was assassinated at Manila airport on arrival, an act of desperation.

In 1986 Marcos called snap elections which he rigged and supporters of the opposition leader Corazon Aquino objected. “When Marcos moved toward his own inauguration, the people of Manila took to the streets and physically surrounded the presidential palace in a non-violent protest. Fearing a civil was the Filipino army abandoned Marcos, who fled the country”(Arthur Cotterell 2011).

Why do Ugandans want to live separately?

I have been conducting research on this subject from primary and secondary sources for a long time. By and large, the desire to drift into separate communities or states is driven by a sense of insecurity not only in Uganda but in many parts of the Great Lakes region as well. There was a time when suggestions were made that the Tutsi and Hutu in Burundi and Rwanda should be separated so that the Tutsi live together in one country and the Hutu in another. The idea did not advance to the stage of negotiations because ethnicity is not the primary source of conflict. For example, from 1962 to 1994 conflicts in Rwanda were not inter-ethnic but intra-ethnic between Hutu in the south and Hutu in the north.

In Uganda there is a strong sense of post-independence injustice on the one hand and insecurity on the other hand. During colonial days some regions and communities benefited at the expense of others. The indirect rule system benefited chiefs and their relatives at the expense of their subjects. Areas that were designated labor reserves in northern and western Uganda suffered economic and social injustice at the expense of those that were designated growth poles in Buganda and Busoga. By way of illustration, let us examine this injustice and insecurity with reference to Rukungiri and Buganda respectively.

Uganda needs a transitional government under collective leadership

Uganda is slightly over fifty years old since it attained independence in October 1962. Uganda had been slated to achieve independence ahead of then Tanganyika and Kenya. However, internal political conflicts prevented that from happening and Tanganyika got there ahead of Uganda. Even with this delay, we were not able to resolve all the outstanding challenges. In a rush to beat the Catholic-based Democratic Party (DP) that won the 1961 elections and formed the self-government administration, the Protestants rushed into a UPC/KY coalition.

The constitutional negotiators at Lancaster House could not agree on the head of state so we ended up with the Queen represented by the Governor-General. In 1963 the constitution was amended and created the post of a constitutional head of state which was occupied by the Kabaka of Buganda in an election that was considered unfair by contenders from other regions, leaving executive power in the prime minister from the north to the discomfort of Eastern and Western regions. A disproportionate share of the benefits of independence went to the central and northern regions. The executive presidency created in 1967 put too much power in the hands of one president and contributed to the military coup of 1971 that concentrated even more power in the northern region in one military leader.

The likely impact of Buganda secession

Some Baganda – probably a few but very vocal – are calling for an independent kingdom for Baganda only. They argue that non-Baganda have devalued their culture, impoverished Baganda economically, socially and environmentally and dispossessed them of their assets and that there are some non-Baganda who are confusing Baganda. For example, a friend contacted and told me that around 12:15 pm on Sunday, September 14, 2014 London-based Michael Mutagubya stated that he is on radio munansi to make sure that people like Kashambuzi do not confuse Baganda. Apparently he did not elaborate which he should be asked to do. Mutagubya is focusing his sessions on Baganda culture presumably preparing Baganda to demand a return to their pure traditions as the rapidly globalizing world is adversely affecting Buganda culture. One would like to know what Mutagubya advised the Katikiro regarding Buganda independence during the latter’s recent tour.

Political marriage of convenience hasn’t worked in Uganda

Pressure is building up for the opposition at home and abroad to come together and remove NRM from power and establish a new government. We are already witnessing a lot of travelling between Uganda and Europe and North America and groups being formed overnight in readiness to take up their seats in the new government. For some what is important and urgent is removal of the regime and the rest will follow.

This rush to form coalitions or political marriages of convenience reminds us of what happened in Uganda shortly before independence in 1962 with UNC (Obote branch) joining UPU to form UPC and then UPC forming a coalition with KY and in Moshi just before the overthrow of Amin regime in 1979.

In the latter case, Ugandans in the Diaspora who had nothing in common except to defeat and replace Amin administration gathered in Moshi and agreed to form a new government with nothing else in common. As expected trouble started immediately they arrived in Kampala: innocent people were killed and others fled. Lule’s government was overthrown after 68 days in office. A hurriedly organized election was rejected by those who lost and led to a bloody guerrilla war that left some 700,000 people dead in the Luwero Triangle alone.