Bahima must accept their Luo ancestry, stop military adventurism and psychological warfare

People all over the world are proud of their ancestry and culture. Those who do not know their ancestry and culture are busy reconstructing them and making necessary changes including names.

On the other hand Bahima and their Batutsi, Bahororo and Banyamulenge cousins are busy hiding their Luo ancestry and their nomadic and militaristic culture. They are doing so because they do not want to lose the advantages they have enjoyed since aristocratic Europeans from Belgium, Britain and Germany falsely described them as intelligent and superior white people born to rule others.

They are afraid that if they accept their Luo ancestry then they cannot continue to claim that they are white people because Luo are black people. If they accept that they are Luo people then they cannot continue to claim that they are intelligent and responsible for civilizations that Europeans found in Uganda. They are afraid that if they accept that they are Luo then they cannot continue to claim that they are born leaders.

They are afraid that if they accept that they are Luo from southern Sudan then they will accept their nomadic and warlike culture and low level of civilization. They are afraid that if they accept their Luo ancestry then they will lose western support.

Because of racial prejudices aristocratic Europeans created this ‘white’ impression of Bahima and their cousins in order to discredit black people as inferior without history and a civilization. Although Bahima, Batutsi, Bahororo and Banyamulenge and those who support them have insisted they are white and aristocratic people, recent history is not on their side. The earlier they accept their Nilotic Luo ancestry the better for all of us. Let us revisit for easy reference the evidence from post independence research.

White ancestry argument has lost the debate

Bahima have insisted they are white people first through the hamitic theory and then the Bachwezi ancestry both of which have been rejected. Joseph Greenberg, the leading authority on African language classification rejected the stereotype of conquering Hamite [Bahima] as white people and recommended that it be abandoned. Subsequent research has confirmed Greenberg’s conclusion and rejected the hamitic myth. Roland Oliver has added “It must, and so indeed it has been” (R. Oliver 1991). D. J. Fage has confirmed that Bahima are black people (1995).

When they lost the hamitic myth argument, Bahima then turned and have clung tenaciously to Bachwezi white ancestry. In Uganda since Bahima and Bahororo-led government came to power in 1986 Bachwezi name is being used in many places to remind the world of Bahima aristocratic and white ancestry. Either they have not read or have decided to ignore findings of recent history. G. K. Kahangi (2003) has rejected the idea that Bachwezi were white people. B. A. Ogot (1999) and R. W. July (1998) among others have confirmed that Bachwezi were a Bantu aristocracy and not ancestors of Bahima.

Philip Curtain and colleagues have also rejected the myth that Bachwezi “were originally invaders who brought the idea of the state with them and imposed their institutions by conquest. In fact, this view is simply another misconception about African history that was very heavily influenced by the Hamitic myth [of white Bahima]. It is now thoroughly rejected”(Philip Curtain et al. 1978).

Bachwezi who have been established beyond reasonable doubt as a Bantu aristocracy have also been credited with the construction of earthworks including those at Ntusi and Bigo (R. I. Rotberg 1965).

These scientific conclusions leave Bahima and their cousins with one choice only – Luo ancestry! They should accept it and we move on.

Bahima and cousins must end militaristic ideas and practices

The argument that Bahima, Batutsi and Bahororo established symbiotic relations with Bantu people in pre-colonial days has been turned on its head. From the time Bantu and Nilotic Luo communities interacted in the Great Lakes Region 600 years ago, relations between the two ethnic groups have been characterized more by warfare than peaceful co-existence. Here are illustrative examples from Ankole, Rwanda and Rujumbura.

Writing in 1929, M. R. Davie has recorded that “In their internecine wars the Hima aristocracy must have destroyed during the last fifty years a quarter of a million people according to native accounts” (Davie 1929).

In Rwanda Batutsi King Rwabugiri Kigeri IV terrorized the Great Lakes Region as he “ruthlessly transformed his small Tutsi-ruled kingdom …Using muskets purchased from Swahili-speaking traders, his soldiers continually tried to conquer Ankole, Kigezi, Bukiga and Burundi” (R. I. Rotberg 1965). Kigeri introduce forced labor applicable only to Bahutu (slaves).

In Rujumbura and Kinkizi, Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda) chief Makobore described as a restless man (P. Ngorogoza 1998) terrorized indigenous people in the area. Using Arab and Swahili slave traders from the Indian Ocean coast and European weapons Makobore raided neighboring areas including Butumbi and Kayonza. “Weaker societies were raided for slaves while interstate warfare became rampant” (B. A. Ogot 1976).

Bahima, Batutsi, Bahororo and Banyamulenge have resumed their militaristic adventures beginning with the guerrilla war in Uganda that led to the overthrow of Obote’s government in 1985 and Museveni’s capture of power in 1986.

From Uganda the Tutsi launched the war against Rwanda in 1990 and overthrew the Bahutu-led government of Habyarimana and triggered the 1994 genocide.

Bahima and Bahororo from Uganda joined with Bantutsi from Rwanda and Burundi and Banyamulenge (Batutsi from Rwanda) in Eastern DRC and invaded then Zaire in 1996 and overthrew the government of Mobutu in 1997.

In 1998 they again invaded DRC to overthrow the government of Laurent Kabila. Kabila received support from Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Chad and stopped the invaders from capturing the capital city of Kinshasa but war has dragged on costing millions of innocent lives particularly of women and children. The idea of a Tutsi Empire might lead to yet another war in the region.

Thus since they entered the Great Lakes Region 600 years ago these Nilotic Luo fighters have terrorized the region and caused untold suffering in human, economic and social terms. In Uganda, because the focus is on preparation for wars, the government has neglected human development. The social record as demonstrated by the mushrooming diseases of poverty is a clear testimony of how resources are allocated between military and economic development under Museveni’s government. Yet donors like the World Bank keep pumping money into Uganda especially as elections approach knowing full well that the bulk will not go into development programs.

Since independence Uganda governments have been led by Nilotic people who originated in Southern Sudan (Obote Nilotic Luo of Oyima clan {Bahima}, Amin {Nubian} and Museveni Nilotic Luo {Bahororo}). Bantu people have had nothing to do with wars and suffering of Ugandans. Rather Bantu people have been victims.

Psychological warfare

Apart from hamitic myth of white, intelligent and born to rule people and military conquest and domination of Bantu; Bahima and Bahororo in Uganda and their Batutsi cousins in Rwanda and Burundi have used psychological warfare to demoralize, intimidate and marginalize Bairu and Bahutu especially their women, with maximum effect.

The story of the milk test is too well known to be repeated here except that Kairu representing Bantu people came last in the test and the father condemned him and all his descendants to slave for his two younger brothers (Kakama {king} and Kahima {king’s cattle herder}) and all their descendants because Kairu (slave) was not an intelligent man. Since that time Bantu people have been regarded as intellectually inferior to Bahima and their cousins and only fit for menial work even when the record of academic achievements is on Bantu and Bairu side.

These stereotypes that Bairu are not fit to rule still exist and that is why all top and strategic leadership positions in Rujumbura including Member of Parliament since independence in 1962 have gone to Bahororo men even when most of them have the lowest level of education and of questionable quality. The two women presidential advisers also come from Bahororo of Nilotic Luo ethnic group.

Bairu and Bahutu women have been psychological tortured. They are repeatedly told they are ugly and that is why Bairu and Bahutu elite men do not marry them. In April 2010 Phionah Kesaasi rubbed it in hard when she wrote that Bahima women are more beautiful than other women in Uganda. In the end beauty is in the eye of the beholder and not in what Kesaasi and the like would want us to believe.

Bahima, Bahororo and Batutsi men have sex with Bantu women although they do not marry them. In Rwanda where Batutsi women are expected to remain virgin until marriage, Batutsi arrange for their young boys to have sex with Bahutu women! Here is the evidence. In pre-colonial Rwanda the system of inequality permeated Rwanda society to the extent that “unmarried Tutsi boys would be ‘given’ girls, temporarily, for sexual purposes” (N. J. Kressel 2002).

To conclude, the above outline has demonstrated beyond doubt why Bahima and their cousins have rejected their Nilotic Luo ancestry.

With education and understanding of their human rights Bairu and Bahutu are not going to allow these abuses to continue. We appeal to the international community to urge Bahima and their Batutsi and Bahororo cousins to accept their Nilotic Luo ancestry (although they speak Bantu language, their men do not marry outside of Luo ethnic group and have remained Luo since they entered the Great Lakes Region 600 years ago) and put an end to these ethnic arguments, militaristic practices and psychological warfare.

We are writing these stories not because we want to incite trouble as some have alleged but to find a solution to the intensifying ethnic problems in the lakes region.

Researchers who are making this effort should be encouraged and not harassed or intimidated and threatened together with their family members and relatives.

, , , , , , , , , All