Keynote address: Working together to empower African children through safe water and good sanitation


Eric Kashambuzi

Let me begin by thanking the people of San Diego for the warm welcome. I also thank the organizers especially Ms Vickie Butcher for inviting me to participate in this 18th Annual Africa Trade & Business Conference on the theme: Building Sustainable Economic Bridges Back to Africa. This conference is taking place so soon after the historic USA-Africa Summit, thanks to President Barak Obama’s vision and after the United Nations General Assembly renewed its efforts to provide safe water and good sanitation between now and 2030.

While addressing participants during the Africa week at the United Nations that ended yesterday, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Elliason expressed his personal support to the efforts to provide good sanitation which he has championed in the Call to Action on Sanitation since 2013.

He reported that around the World two and half (2.5) billion people don’t have toilets and over one billion people practice open defecation.

As a keynote speaker, I am going to focus on the need for partnership between Africans and Americans in finding lasting and affordable solutions to the challenges of water, sanitation and hygiene in general that African children face.

Money, propaganda and firearms won’t bring peace and security to Uganda

Since NRM government and its leader Museveni were identified as the darling of the west, much foreign aid money, experts and firearms have been poured into Uganda. At the same time Museveni agents have poured propaganda into western capitals and the media. It’s now close to thirty years since Museveni captured power by force with external backing financially, politically and diplomatically. Yet, western support appears to be steady, witness Uganda foreign minister’s election as president of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

I have maintained and still do that unless we come to grips with the real causes of Uganda’s problems, the country will continue to drift towards a revolution and subsequent civil war regardless of external support. There are two principle factors that we must deal with without fear or favor: intra-Nilotic fights for power and Baganda separatist attitude.

Intra-Nilotic fights for control of political power and access to resources

Uganda is in a crisis: how did it get there and how will it come out?

That Uganda is in a serious crisis politically, economically, socially, environmentally and culturally is not in doubt. What are in doubt are the causes and possible solutions. This has given rise to a number of groups pointing fingers at one another. In the interest of time and space, I will focus on the salient points.

There are those led by Bishop Zac Niringiye and General David Sejusa who argue that it is Museveni and his family alone – his wife, son and brother that are responsible and should be held accountable. With Museveni and his family out of the way NRM will be able to get Uganda back on the right track and continue to govern under a new leadership. The term Musevenism has been coined to link all Uganda problems to Museveni.

There are those led by radio munansi who argue that Banyankole are responsible for the suffering of Uganda since 1986 and they alone should be held to account.

There are those who think that Baganda that have never accepted integration into Uganda on an equal basis with the rest of Ugandans are responsible for a big part of Uganda troubles including the current debate about self-determination with secession as an option.

Ugandans need and must interact as equals

There are some Baganda, a few perhaps, who will tell you directly or indirectly that they are more equal than other Ugandans. They will even tell you that you can’t apply for a certain position because you will offend the superior group. If you insist they will attack you in public to bring you down to where they think you belong. They consider the late Obote as unworthy and up to now they blame him for all the problems in Buganda. And if Baganda want to destroy you they will create stories to associate you with Obote as London-based Musagya Gyagenda has tried to do to me. And they think they can say or write anything and get away with it because politicians can’t dare challenge them because they want Baganda votes. So they appease them.

These are the people who don’t believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and especially the article which says that all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity.

Three London-based Baganda namely Musagya Gyagenda, Michael Mutagubya and lately Aloysius Sempala have stood out in demanding that Baganda are above everyone else. They claim Baganda are rich, powerful and other Ugandans need them for a successful political career and therefore you have to say what they want to hear.

Why and how Buganda expanded from three to twenty counties

Gordon Kamugunda Kahangi a former teacher and administrator of Uganda schools and universities tells us that Buganda started with three counties of Mawokota, Busiro and Kyadondo. Later it incorporated parts Butambala, Busujju, Bulemezi and Ssingo. In the 19th century Buganda added Kooki, Mawogola, Buwekula and Buruli.

Kahangi stresses that the expansion of Buganda was achieved at the expense of Bunyoro, not so much because Buganda was gaining in military strength but because Bunyoro was declining (when the British arrived Bunyoro was in the ascendancy and regaining the territories it had lost to Buganda but Britain stopped that expansion). “As Banyoro became weaker, Baganda became stronger and acquired more territory from Bunyoro” (Kahangi 2003).

Baganda are believed to have come from the Mt. Elgon area through Busoga in 1200 AD with Kintu (Kahangi 2003) but found some Bantu that had settled in the area around 1000 AD (Benson Okello 2002). Other Baganda came to the area with Kimera either from the north or from Bunyoro-Kitara (Benson Okello 2002).

The role of Baganda in Uganda politics

I have been accused especially by Michael Mutagubya on radio munansi and Aloysius Sempala on face book that I am deliberately distorting the history of Buganda to sow the seeds of disunity and isolate Buganda from the rest of Uganda. The truth of the matter is that it is Baganda that have always wanted to secede and are now mobilizing for independence. Some Baganda with good and others perhaps with no good intentions have advised me to refrain from writing and talking about Buganda the way I am doing because Baganda may not support me should I seek a national public office.

I have stated many times over that you can never solve a problem without getting to the root cause. In Uganda for various reasons we have failed to tackle one of the root causes of Uganda’s political problems. The attempt of Baganda to isolate Buganda from the rest of Uganda is in large part responsible for the political difficulties Uganda has experienced. The British appeasement policy towards Buganda which has continued since independence contributed to Baganda feeling they are special and Buganda is a state within the state of Uganda.