How Rujumbura’s Bairu got impoverished

I want to thank Dr. Ephraim R. Kamuhangire for his response of December 23 to my article on “How Rujumbura’s Bairu got impoverished” which appeared in Weekly Observer of December 4-10, 2008. I will respond on how he has chosen to interpret my article. 

First of all, Dr. Kamuhangire’s use of words such as ‘hatred and sectarian bias’ is an attempt to prevent people from telling the truth and to sharing knowledge freely. This method must be discouraged forthwith. 

My article is about Rujumbura county. I am not comparing it with neighboring counties and beyond. Dr. Kamuhangire is free to compare Rujumbura and other entities of his choice and report his findings.

If one visits Rujumbura today, one cannot fail to see the level of unemployment, poverty, malnutrition, alcoholism, environmental degradation including drying rivers and spring wells and associated ills. These few examples make the county a troubled one.

Every body who lived in Rujumbura after independence and is familiar with Banyama (meat eaters) and Baboga (vegetarians) political story knows why some people left the area permanently or temporarily.

On the issue of inter-marriages, clarification is needed. It would be useful if Dr. Kamuhangire could give some examples and percentage of Bashambu men who have married Bairu women.

As stated by Dr. Kamuhangire, it is true that Rujumbura was not part of the short-lived (about 1650-1750) Mpororo kingdom. According to Paul Ngorogoza (1998) Bahororo led by Rwebiraro, a Mushambu, arrived in Rujumbura around 1800 – 50 years after the kingdom had collapsed. Bashambu lineage was pastoral but when the kingdom collapsed, the pastoralist groups lost their special political position and many of them moved back to Rwanda. Consequently, the memory of Mpororo kingdom was kept alive by clan chiefs “more so agriculturalists [Bairu] than pastoralists [Bashambu]” (Jean-Pierre Chretien, The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History, 2006).

The social divisions in Rujumbura – between the rich and the poor – will grow wider as long as income distribution and associated benefits remain skewed in favor of one social group. Therefore, in order to prevent the situation from deteriorating further some corrective measures need to be taken urgently.  

Let me make it very clear to Dr. Kamuhangire and others who might be interpreting my article like he has. My message of European peasant revolt, for lack of a better term, is to illustrate that if corrective measures are not taken to address the formidable challenges mentioned above, there might be some form of undesirable consequences. Dr. Kamuhangire should avoid twisting illustrations to mislead the public.


Finally, it is evident that Dr. Kamuhangire’s response was driven by prejudice, intimidation and character assassination.