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.

Children everywhere are more vulnerable than any other demographic age group to the ill effects of contaminated water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene. For instance, children under five years of age account for 90 percent of deaths from diarrhea.

To understand the challenges of water and sanitation and find lasting solutions we need to understand ourselves first and operate from the same page. Education and training especially of the youth on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean will play a key role in this endeavor.

It is well known that conflicts, misunderstandings and even wars as well as poor design and implementation of development programs often spring from poor communication.

But before doing that let me thank those Americans that have already collaborated with Africans on the critical issue of water and sanitation for African children. Water for Children Africa, Inc. which was founded in 1993 deserves special appreciation for its clear mission and work already done in Africa. For easy reference, the mission is to:

1. provide safe, sustainable water to rural villages through the transfer of appropriate technology;

2. Train recipients in repair and maintenance of equipment, public health education, and economic development;

3. Build an entrepreneurial bridge to improve the commercial relations between the U.S. and Africa; and

4. Help U.S. youth develop leadership skills and vision for the future development of Africa.

In her remarks at the 17th conference on Trade and Business Ms. Vickie Butcher said: “We inspire and educate youth to direct their creativity and skills to the development of the African continent”.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s when Africa was emerging out of colonialism I was a graduate student at the University of California at the Berkeley campus. At that time there was a shared feeling among African students that our African-American brothers and sisters regarded us as belonging to a lower social class that drove some of us to the other camp that painted African-Americans as lacking in many respects.

This divide made it difficult to work together even when we were taking the same classes.

The good news is that with time the perception is changing because as Americans visit Africa they have realized that the situation is different from what had been presented in the media.

There is also recognition that all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity regardless of race, class, gender or geographic location. We should therefore listen to and treat one another as equals.

Education and training, visiting Africa and interacting with one another more often as in this conference will help bring us closer together. Ms. Vickie Butcher hit the nail on the head when she stated that “Past trips to Africa, surveys, interviews, team experiences and lessons learned continue to be the building blocks for the future activities of our organization. We continue to strive for better approaches to provide safe water, sanitation, hygiene, housing and agriculture to rural villages”.

I urge Americans and Africans not only to continue to listen to one another but most importantly to hear what one is saying to the other and internalize the messages so that we find a common ground, shared vision or a framework within which to build sustainable economic bridges back to Africa.

All I can say at this juncture is that in rural Africa where levels of poverty, illiteracy and disease are very high we need to listen even more to what peasants are saying lest we are misunderstood as elites that know what is good for rural Africa. Let me add that even in this sad environment, African peasants know what they want and even what to do but need an enabling environment and effective participation in matters that affect their lives. Those with open minds and ears that have visited Africa or worked and lived among rural communities can attest to this.

Therefore African and American partnership should create an enabling environment that helps African rural communities to articulate the challenges they face in accessing safe drinking water and adequate sanitation at home and at school. Americans should therefore develop skills and creativity to respond appropriately to African needs rather than dictate what African peasants and their children need in water and sanitation matters.

Another point I wish to stress is that in our partnership we need to recognize that water and sanitation is an integral part of overall economic and social development processes. Thus, development will be retarded through poor health of Africans due to unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Fortunately the international community and increasingly other entities understand the link between safe water and good sanitation and rapid and equitable development and poverty eradication.

That this linkage has been appreciated water and sanitation was included in the Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were adopted by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly of 2000. It was agreed in the MDGs to halve the proportion of people without access to safe water and adequate sanitation by 2015.

In 2006 the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) published a Human Development Report (HDR) on water and sanitation. It said in part “Throughout history water has confronted humanity with some of its greatest challenges. Water is a source of life and a natural resource that sustains our environment and supports livelihoods. But it is also a source of risk and vulnerability. … In a world of unprecedented wealth almost 2 million children die each year for want of clean water and adequate sanitation. Millions of women and young girls are forced to spend hours collecting and carrying water, restricting their opportunities and their choices. And waterborne infectious diseases are holding back economic growth and poverty reduction in some of the poorest countries”.

In his remarks on this report the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that “Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right. Contaminated water jeopardizes both the physical and social health of all people. It is an affront to human dignity”.

And Kevin Watkins added that “Deprivation linked to water is a source of poverty, of inequality, of social injustice, and of greater disparities in life chances. That deprivation matters because water is a human right – and none of us should turn a blind eye to the violation of human rights. Nor should we tolerate a world in which over 1 million children are … dying for a glass of water and a toilet”. In developed countries safe water and good sanitation are taken for granted.

Given poor performance in the provision of safe water and good sanitation, the General Assembly has again in 2014 in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the post-2015 development agenda from 2016 through 2030 stressed the importance of water and sanitation and established goal 6 and targets and means of implementation:

Target 6.1: by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all;

Target 6.2: by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations;

MOI 6.b: support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management.

You can clearly see that there are similarities between the work you are doing and what is being undertaken at the United Nations level on water and sanitation.

Ipso facto, Water for Children Africa, Inc. should be commended for deciding to focus on safe water and adequate sanitation in Africa for maximum impact rather than scatter limited financial and human resources over many sectors with minimum or no impact at all.

The urgency of providing safe water and good sanitation was highlighted in a special report published by African Business in December 2013. It underscored that “Without water, there can be no human existence. While easy and cheap access to clean water is taken for granted in developed and many developing regions, Africa is still lagging behind. Few African cities can claim to be able to provide water to all the people who live in them and rural areas fare even worse”.

The report added “An equally important related utility, sanitation, is often ignored but its economic cost to the continent is around $30 billion. The cost in terms of poor health, illness and wasted time is almost incalculable”.

In 2008 African government agreed to allocate and spend at least 0.5 percent of their GDP on sanitation and hygiene and to have other budget lines for water and sanitation to improve accountability and track progress. Notwithstanding, implementation has fallen far short of commitment. As a result around 2,000 children die daily due to diarrhea caused by lack of access to safe toilets and clean water. Money that could have been invested in productive activities covers health costs. “If everyone had access to adequate sanitation and water services, patients would save themselves $565 million and world’s health sectors would save around $12 billion every year”.

Contaminated water and inadequate sanitation have lowered school attendance and performance and work productivity with an adverse economic impact of about 3 percent of GDP.

Besides, children can’t learn when they are too weak as a result of morbidity associated with waterborne diseases. UNICEF has reported that only 33 percent of primary schools in sub-Saharan Africa have adequate sanitation facilities. Consequently where adequate facilities and services don’t exist waterborne diseases spread rapidly and affect children who either cannot concentrate in class or stay out of school altogether. The education of children especially of girls is therefore impaired.

When women are educated, they acquire skills for productive employment, get good jobs, earn high incomes, reduce poverty and become empowered. Empowered women are able to manage their reproductive behavior without spouse pressure and end up with fewer children, contribute to reduction in population growth and lower child dependency and thereby increase savings for productive investments.

We know that the world has enough technology, expertise and financial resources to solve water and sanitation-related problems. What is needed is the will to do so within Africa and between Africa and her partners.

Investing in water and sanitation is also good business. The World Bank has shown that every $1 dollar invested in sanitation yields a return of $5 dollars. Furthermore investing in sanitation by encouraging communities to build toilets and water supply facilities and teaching children the basics of hygiene reduces morbidity and mortality from waterborne diseases considerably.

It has been shown that washing hands with soap in running water before touching food reduces the incidence of diarrhea by 50 percent. It has been recommended that where soap is not available, ash can be used (Facts for Life. UNICEF et al., Fourth edition, 2010).

Education and training will therefore play an important role in addressing the challenges of water and sanitation. Schools and community centers are the best places to create awareness of the impact of hygiene on health and economic development. Besides teaching hygiene schools need to provide separate clean private facilities for girls to be able to attend to their sanitary needs. Often girls miss classes during their periods because of lack of suitable facilities.

Investment in water and sanitation is not only good business; it is also relatively cheap. Studies conducted in Madagascar and reported in African Business in 2013 show that communities spend up to $9 for a basic model toilet with cement and wooden cover. An improved toilet with a ceramic slab and pan costs an average of $20. A sanitary mason reported that even when there were micro-finance facilities, some households chose not to borrow but pay cash once they understood the importance of toilets.

In my own home village in Uganda I worked with communities to tap spring water and construct latrines cheaply. The communities supplied labor and I paid for cement, sand, pipes and the mason to construct wells at an average of $15 each. Harvesting rain water was also achieved through using drums and water tanks made of sand and cement.

Communities were also assisted to construct latrines and trained in washing their hands in running water with soap or ash and to keep water in clean containers. Consequently, child morbidity and mortality declined considerably and their nutrition improved because of reduced incidence of waterborne diseases.

It is important to stress that awareness of the health and economic benefits of safe water and adequate sanitation has to be created in the community before sustained response is generated so that communities can choose to spend their meager resources on safe water and sanitation than on something else.

African and American partners need to understand that creating awareness must be a prerequisite for providing safe water and adequate sanitation.

Many worthy projects have not been sustainable largely because the so-called beneficiaries were not engaged and had no interest to invest in maintaining them. It is therefore very important that we keep in mind the necessity to engage African communities at all levels so that in the end these communities become the owners of the process and outcomes.

Thus, for this purpose human and institutional capacities for water and sanitation should be constructed within African rural communities.

To conclude, the overall lesson we have learnt is that education and training are and will remain the key instrument in creating awareness of the importance of safe water and good sanitation and in understanding one another better. Regarding the latter, the recently concluded and historic U.S – Africa Summit will play a critical role.

Thank you for your attention.

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

People who have covered Uganda as scholars or general commentators will tell you that Uganda’s main problem is ethnic conflict between Bantu and Nilotic people, the former in southern Uganda and the latter in the northern region. Nothing is farther from the truth. The fact of the matter is that since independence, political struggles have been intra-Nilotic. What Ugandans and foreigners didn’t know is that Tutsi, Bahima and Bahororo in southern Uganda speak Bantu language and carry Bantu names but they are ethnically Nilotic.

It is now well established that their Nilotic Luo-speaking ancestors came from Bahr el Gazal in the southern part of present day South Sudan, the cradle of Nilotic people in Uganda and western Kenya. Because Tutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge men don’t intermarry with Bantu people, they have retained their Nilotic identity. One of the characteristics of Tutsi (Tutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge) is their determination to control the political process and stay on top of others. They feel God created them to rule others. It is therefore their birth right. It is for this reason that political fights have been among Nilotic people such as Ibingira and Obote, Obote and Amin (it is reported subject to confirmation that Amin’s father was Nilotic), Obote and Museveni, Museveni and Okello. The current leaders of all major political parties in Uganda – NRM, FDC, DP and UPC are Nilotic. Increasingly in the Diaspora they are beginning to dominate witness the closeness between Sejusa and Amii Otunnu – both of them of Nilotic ancestry.

Baganda separatist spirit

It is well known that Baganda consider themselves separate from others. They have continued to falsely believe the British colonial administration made them a special group even when paragraph three of the Uganda Agreement of 1900 clearly states that Buganda is a province like any other. They rejected participation in Legislative Council (LEGCO) for fear their special status would be eroded. They rejected the 1959 recommendations about the future of independent Uganda. They boycotted the 1961 general elections.

Kabaka Yekka (KY) stated just before independence that unless Buganda and the Kabaka stand above everyone else Uganda will never see peace and prosperity. They facilitated the coup of 1971 and provided guerrilla facilities in the Luwero Triangle to Museveni to topple Obote II regime. In the Diaspora, they demand to lead any organization as was experienced at the Los Angeles conference in 2011. Baganda have established radio stations like radio munansi where you are allowed to broadcast only according to their agenda.

Now Baganda led by London-based Mutagubya, Gyagenda and Sempala are demanding Baganda only independent state. Radio Munansi carries these messages regularly calling on non-Baganda to leave Buganda as was done in 1966 when the Lukiiko decided that the central government should quit Buganda soil. Earlier in 1960 Buganda seceded but had no means of enforcement.

To sum up: unless Ugandans, our friends and well-wishers are ready and willing to address these two challenges head on, money, technology, expertise, propaganda and firearms won’t bring peace, security, stability, dignity, prosperity and happiness to Uganda.

Since 1987 Uganda has been the darling of the West. That has not prevented the country from becoming a failed state vulnerable to domestic and external shocks. Let us be realistic and act before it is too late. Uganda needs a peaceful and inclusive society at the political, economic and social levels. Continued NRM exclusive policies and practices will only consolidate the marginalized into forces that will destabilize the country and possibly worse. Let us be clear about that.

Eric Kashambuzi

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.

There are those who go back to the time of independence and argue that it is Obote and the people he groomed including Amin and Museveni that are the root cause of the problem. London-based Musaja Gyagenda has been championing this cause relentlessly. Any Ugandan whose political views he doesn’t like he associates him/her with Obote and UPC.

There are those who think that the main problem is the unregulated influx of foreigners – legally seeking work, illegal immigrants and refugees. Through his policy statements that Ugandan has plenty of unutilized arable land and water resources and needs foreigners to assist in Uganda’s rapid economic development Museveni has encouraged massive influx of foreigners mostly from the neighboring countries that have occupied good jobs and taken over the private sector and assets especially land from indigenous Ugandans.

There are those who think that inequality in access to education, healthcare and jobs have created social groups and tensions between the rich and poor, employed and unemployed and have contributed to the crisis.

There are those who believe that Museveni thinks the crisis is in his administration and has forced him to temporarily or permanently transfer some key advisers including Kutesa to the United Nations, Sejusa to London, Nyakairima to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Mbabazi who has gone on leave.

There are those who think that NRM as a whole is messy and must be unseated from power, with no allowance for a compromise to form a government of national unity.

The solutions also vary. There are those who want a military solution because that is the language that Museveni understands. This group is led by Sejusa and his confidant Amii Otunnu who previously advocated democracy and good governance as solutions and Duncan Kafero with the backing of radio munansi and foreign recruits in his outfit as he confirmed on radio munansi.

There are those in the footsteps of Gandhi that want non-violent resistance. Their argument is that more authoritarian regimes have been unseated by non-violent means than through violence. The Hague Process on peace, security and development in Uganda has adopted the non-violent approach to regime change in Uganda.

There are those who want significant reduction of central government power that has suffocated regional, district and community ability to take decisions that affect their lives. This group is calling for federalism or confederalism. Once agreed the 1995 constitution would be amended to reflect these new political dimensions that no one party can change unilaterally.

There is the extreme group of Baganda that want secession or independence from the rest of Uganda. This is the group that has been very disappointed that Scotland did not vote for independence from Britain. The recent decision that the government of Catalonia in Spain has also decided not to go for a referendum on its secession from Spain has added frustration to those Baganda that had hoped to use these two cases if they had succeeded in forcing NRM to grant Buganda independence.

There are those who think that the different groups in the opposition should stop criticizing one another regardless of their diverging philosophies and just get together to force NRM out of power and then address their differences once in power. History lessons don’t lend support to this approach. More often than not revolutions by different groups that have one common goal of unseating an oppressive regime degenerated into civil wars because there was nothing to bind them together after the revolution had been accomplished.

The group that I belong to is of the view that winner take all is not a wise solution. Instead let all Ugandans come together except those alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide and form a transitional government under a presidential commission with a representative from each of Uganda regions. The government besides conducting the normal affairs of state would organize a comprehensive population census to determine who and how many we are, identify development needs and use this information at a national convention that would debate and decide how Ugandans wish to be governed. To succeed in this endeavor we need to put the interests of Uganda ahead of personal ambitions. We are all Ugandans first and foremost. Our diversity if properly nurtured is a tremendous asset. Let us keep that in mind. We are stronger acting together than separately, explaining in part why Scotland voted against independence.

Eric Kashambuzi is an international consultant on development issues. He lives in New York

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.

When you object they descend on you like a ton of bricks. When I objected to bow to pressure on radio Munansi they chose to tear me down. Musagya Gyagenda insisted I am a UPC supporter and implied that I participated in organizing the return of Obote from Tanzania through Bushenyi. He has done that knowing that Baganda will not support a Ugandan associated with Obote and UPC. In response Jessica wrote that Baganda will not vote for me because they don’t approve of what I am saying about them.

Michael Mutagubya has been accusing me of distorting Buganda history to make Baganda unpopular among other Ugandans. To prove him wrong I decided to put on record what I had been saying about Buganda to which Aloysius Sempala reacted in an inconsistent manner and often apologetic manner. I have written or said the following most of it based on materials found in Uganda and even taught in Uganda schools:

1. Buganda originally had three counties. It expanded its territory mostly at the expense of Bunyoro as the latter declined;

2. In its expansion Buganda used excessive military force especially during the kingship of Katerega and Mawanda. King Katerega installed war leaders as provincial chiefs over conquered territories (Robert W. July 1998).

3. The arrival of Arabs around 1844 brought to Buganda guns that Baganda used to ravage neighboring territories hunting for slaves and ivory. “Repeated predatory expeditions sent out by the Kabaka Suni who reigned until 1856, and Mutesa who succeeded him for another twenty-eight years, yielded rich rewards in the form of produce and cattle as well as slaves and ivory”(R.W. July 1998). Buganda thus became rich by plundering neighboring territories and as we shall show later by exploiting cheap labor from Uganda labor reserve areas and neighboring territories and as administrators under British colonial rule;

4. Baganda collaborated with Britain in conquering Bunyoro, Eastern and Northern parts of Uganda. Semei Kakuguru’s record is well known. Baganda were rewarded by Britain with Bunyoro colonized territory that doubled the number of Buganda counties to twenty for its support in suppressing a rebellion by king Kabarega who had been regaining from Buganda territories that had been lost during Bunyoro period of decline in military power (Kahangi 2003);

5. Upon conquering or ‘pacifying’ the rest of Uganda, Baganda were employed as agents of British administration and churches. Baganda arrogance, exploitation and corruption made them unpopular and were removed from some districts including Bunyoro and Kigezi. Paul Ngorogoza (1998), former Secretary General of Kigezi wrote that “They [Baganda] thought and at times they made it obvious, that the people of Kigezi were ignorant and incapable of ruling themselves, but the central government held a different view – it saw that the people of Kigezi were only handicapped by lack of education”. Ngorogoza adds “In dealing with cases they [Baganda] did not distinguish between criminal and civil cases, for the simple reason that they wanted all cases to involve fines so that they could acquire goats and cows. … After collecting all these [goats and cows] from fines, the [Muganda] chief would send them home to Buganda or to wherever he had his land”. Other fines included hens, honey, beer, potatoes and beans. “In short, it was exploitation” Ngorogoza concluded. Because of this exploitation and other developments Baganda administrators had to leave Kigezi after 19 years, although they would have liked to stay on (Ngorogoza 1998);

6. Baganda kings exercised absolute power over their subjects. For example, Mutesa I “had power of life and death over his people and maintained his authority by severe and brutal punishments, such as the destruction of homes and property, the selling of his subjects into slavery, mutilation, burning offenders alive, or hacking them to pieces”(Arthur Tuden and Leonard Plotnicov 1970);

7. Since independence Baganda have insisted that unless they dominate Uganda and their king is above everyone else in Uganda there won’t be peace and prosperity (Onyango Odongo 1993). This pronouncement can easily be detected in how Baganda treat others as inferior.

8. Baganda have tried secession twice unsuccessfully in 1960 and 1966. They want to try again and that is why they have drifted away from federalism because that will not allow them to dominate other Ugandans and put the Kabaka above everyone else in the Republic. I have vigorously opposed secession because it will be catastrophic, hence the increased but unconvincing attack on my postings.

We can now see that:

1. Buganda expanded from a small nucleus of three counties by military conquest and use of military provincial chiefs to suppress resistance;

2. Buganda became rich by plundering neighboring territories, exploiting Ugandans where Baganda served as administrators under colonial rule and exploiting workers in Buganda cotton and coffee farms and on ranches. The exploitation of non-Baganda laborers in Buganda was revealed by Christine Obbo who wrote that Rwandese who came to Buganda were reported wearing tattered and patched clothes by Richards in 1954. By 1972 they were still wearing tattered and patched clothes and were treated like ‘rotten tennis shoes’(lussejjera envundu) (W A. Shack and Elliott P. Skinner, 1974);

3. Mutagubya has been conducting a program on radio munansi on Buganda past glory that needs to be restored to keep Buganda great. He has accused me of distorting Buganda history. By this note I am informing Sempala and others like him how Buganda became rich and asking Mutagubya to write his story so the people of Uganda decide.

Eric Kashambuzi

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).

Since the 1920s Buganda has been the magnet attracting people from the Horn of Africa and from the Great Lakes region in search of work and security. By 1959 Baganda constituted half of the total population in Buganda. With the influx since Museveni came to power it would not be surprising if we found that some 60 percent of the people living in Buganda are non-Baganda, a point to be taken into serious consideration when Baganda think of secession.

Buganda expanded by conquest; surrender and by a large reward of Bunyoro conquered and colonized territory from British. Regarding Bunyoro territory Robin Hallettt (1974) writes “In 1894 Bunyoro was invaded by British and Ganda forces and the ruler, Kabarega, driven from his kingdom. The Ganda were rewarded for their part in the victory by a large slice of Nyoro territory, an award that created an issue – the fate of the ‘lost provinces’”. The reward from Britain to Buganda of Banyoro land doubled Buganda counties from ten to twenty.

The methods of expansion varied. As noted already Buganda expanded by getting a reward of Bunyoro territory from Britain that had defeated and colonized Bunyoro. Some counties perhaps by virtue of weakness militarily simply surrendered like Kooki. Others were acquired my massive military force.

Katerega played a big role in the expansion of Buganda but was a dictator who used violence and almost wiped out a whole clan. Then came Mawanda who conquered some counties including the invasion of Busoga where many people were killed, houses burnt and property looted. Kimbugwe also invaded Busoga.

The Arabs and Swahili entered Buganda with guns that helped Buganda to expand. By 1880 Kabaka Mutesa I possessed one thousand guns. “The possession of guns as well as the Anglo-Buganda alliance strengthened Buganda and enabled her to acquire more territory from Bunyoro …, and from Ankole (Kabula in the 1890s”(Kahangi 2003).

It is important to note that Buganda has succeeded to expand and sustain herself because of external help. The decline of Bunyoro helped. The arrival of Arabs and Swahili with guns helped. The arrival of Britain with guns helped. The support of Obote helped Mengo get rid of Kiwanuka. Amin helped Baganda get rid of Obote and Museveni helped Baganda get rid of Obote.

There is virtually no record of Buganda acting alone and facing tough competition. You see Baganda now rallying behind Sejusa whom they see as assimilated Muganda to help them get rid of Museveni.

Baganda are not interested in leaders that don’t have military backing. That is why Baganda are also in favor of military means because they are not able to command strong political support in the rest of Uganda.

Most of Buganda kings ruled ruthlessly. The example of Mutesa II will suffice. “He [Kabaka Mutesa] had power of life and death over his people and maintained his authority by severe and brutal punishments, such as the destruction of houses and property, the selling of his subjects into slavery, mutilation, burning offenders alive or hacking them to pieces”(Arthur Tuden and Leonard Plotnicov 1970).

Is this the society and traditions Michael Mutagubya want Baganda to return to?

We urge Baganda and others to be careful about that group of Baganda led by Mutagubya with his ideology or else you could end up under conditions similar to those that prevailed during Mutesa I time. This is part of our civic education.

Eric Kashambuzi

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.

Paragraph 3 of the 1900 Uganda agreement is very clear on the status of Buganda in relation to other regions. It states “The kingdom of Uganda [read Buganda] in the administration of the Uganda Protectorate shall rank as a province of equal rank with any other provinces into which the Protectorate may be divided”(J.V.Wild 1950).

The message can’t be clearer than that. Nonetheless, some Baganda have vehemently insisted that Buganda is a state within a state and have the right to secede. Because I have challenged this false position, I have been branded anti-Baganda that must be opposed and forced to surrender.

As Uganda moved towards independence a Constitutional Committee was established under the chair of J. V. Wild to consult with Ugandans on the form of government – unitary or federal – they prefer and write a report with recommendations on the way forward. Because “A very great majority of people in the Eastern, Northern and Western Provinces … favore[d] the unitary system of government for Uganda”, Buganda feared that it might be dominated by a coalition from the Eastern, Northern and Western provinces (Report of the Constitutional Committee 1959).

The Buganda government rejected the Wild Committee recommendations. During 1960 Buganda tried to negotiate with the colonial authorities for an autonomous federal status; independent army; a separate high court; a separate police force and control of Kampala and Entebbe.

Iain Macleod rejected the idea of negotiating with Buganda. Having failed to achieve the goal, the Lukiiko unanimously passed a resolution on December 30, 1960 and declared the independence of Buganda. The Protectorate government ignored the resolution and went ahead with preparations for direct national elections to the National Assembly. The Buganda government ordered a boycott (T.V. Sathyamurthy 1986). Elections went ahead in 1961 including in Buganda, albeit with a low turnout, and the Catholic-dominated Democratic Party led by Ben Kiwanuka won the elections.

The Kabaka’s government participated in the Lancaster House constitutional discussions but failed to get all they had asked for including retention of all the lost counties and making the Kabaka to be above the Prime Minister. In frustration, the Kabaka Yekka (KY) issued a statement which included a section that “We of Kabaka Yekka cannot hesitate to state that if Uganda is ever to be a prosperous and peaceful country, the Prime Minister must always be subordinate to the Kabaka and other hereditary rulers…”(Onyango Odongo 1993).

In 1963 the Uganda constitution was amended and Kabaka was elected the first president of the Republic of Uganda but the executive powers resided in the office of the Prime Minister. This unsatisfactory arrangement to Baganda and their loss of the 1964 referendum on the lost counties triggered events that led to another attempt at secession. “On the 20th of May, [1966], three saza chiefs … proposed a radical motion in the Lukiiko which was unanimously carried. The Lukiiko thereupon served an ultimatum on the central government which was asked ‘to remove itself’ from the soil of Buganda before the 30th of May 1966”(T.V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

The central government regarded the ultimatum as an act of rebellion to be stopped. “On the 24th of May, the Kabaka’s palace was surrounded by troops under the command of colonel Amin. Obote’s justification for ordering a direct frontal attack on the palace was a large cache of illegal arms had been found hidden in the grounds”. Be that as it may, “After an engagement lasting about twelve hours, the Lubiri was razed to the ground, the Royal Drums were burned, the Kabaka’s flame was extinguished, the resistance of the Baganda inside the palace was crushed, and the Kabaka and the Katikiro were put to flight”(T.V.Sathyamurthy 1986).

Baganda did not give up. They continued to agitate and in the process contributed to the environment that led to the overthrow of the UPC government under the leadership of Obote in January 1971. Amin who led troops that destroyed the Lubiri was warmly welcomed by Baganda when he became the head of state.

That Baganda were happy is revealed by statements from some Baganda religious leaders of major denominations. “The Catholic Bishop Adrian Ddungu of Masaka made a speech hailing Amin as a liberator – which apparently anyone who overthrew the Anglican Obote and his ‘socialism’ had to be.

Likewise, Baganda Anglicans welcomed Amin: Bishop Lutaya of West Buganda diocese is reported to have hailed Amin as ‘our redeemer and the light of God’”(Paul Gifford 1999).

During the guerrilla war from 1981 to February 1986, Baganda provided the largest support to Museveni and his National Resistance Army. They even offered the Luwero Triangle to wage his war from. Prince Ronald Mutebi lent his full support to Museveni as well as church leaders. “Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga and Haji Badru Kakunguru’s resistance to the Obote II government and their blessing of the five-year bush war was not a big secret”. When it was felt that there was strong resistance to giving Museveni a second term “… Cardinal Nsubuga went public with his continued support for Mr. Museveni. He made a passionate but strong appeal for giving Museveni an extra five years in order to stabilize the country and arrange for orderly succession”(Daily Monitor February 16, 2006).

As a reward for their support, Museveni has appointed Baganda to very high and prestigious offices including three vice presidents, three prime ministers, speaker of parliament, two deputy prime ministers, vice chair of NRM, inspector general of police, army commander, chairperson of national land board, the key ministries of finance, attorney general and education etc. NRM members of Parliament from Buganda have solidly stood behind the chairman of NRM who is Museveni. The relations between Mengo and Museveni are very warm, witness the signing of the so-called Memorandum of Understanding and current plans to discuss the federal arrangement for Buganda alone.

It is worth noting that some 80 percent of Uganda’s National Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala and its vicinity with a population of less than two million out of 35 million Ugandans where the majority in the Greater Kampala region are Baganda and most likely getting a disproportionate share of the national income.

With all these benefits going to Baganda and the role they have played in crowning and sustaining Amin and Museveni one wonders why they continue to complain that Baganda are discriminated against and stories are distorted to separate them from the rest of Uganda and marginalize them even more when as the evidence above amply shows it is Baganda that have always wanted to secede – a move that I have opposed very vigorously.

Eric Kashambuzi is international consultant on development issues.