We shall continue to write and to speak until the skeptics and surrogates are converted. A former colleague of mine advised that when you tell the truth, you will always win – sometimes at a price. He didn’t elaborate on the latter part. I have read widely, travelled widely and seen a lot. I don’t like what is happening in Uganda and won’t let it continue in order to be a popular guy on the block. Some have advised me that I am throwing away political capital by going negative against Museveni, his ethnic group and his regime. What I am doing is not for me: it is for the people of Uganda in present and future generations. If I got a public office it would be used to advance the cause of the people of Uganda – all Ugandans.
Before proceeding, let me say a word about Batutsi people and me. Normally I don’t use people’s names without permission but since I am going to say positive things I think it is safe to do so. I have already mentioned the names of Batutsi people who helped me as I was growing up. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Batutsi have treated Bairu well since the two groups interacted from around 1800. Bairu were deprived of their wealth including pasture land and converted into food cultivators to feed their Batutsi/Bahororo masters and to provide free labor before and during colonial rule.
As independence approached and Batutsi realized that they didn’t have the numbers to keep them in power by democratic means, they launched a two-pronged approach. They began to build bridges with leading Bairu while at the same time they divided Bairu within UPC into two groups: Baboga (vegetarians) and Banyama (meat eaters). On the whole, the two groups were beginning to appreciate the benefits of joint effort for the common good. That was the old generation that brought us into independence.
The young generation of Yoweri Museveni and Jim Muhwezi saw things differently. They wanted to have nothing to do with Bairu except to force them into serfs as Batutsi did to Bahutu in Rwanda in pre-colonial times. But within NRM there are Batutsi that wanted to maintain good relations with Bairu. I met with Matthew Rukikaire in Addis Ababa and New York and we had good conversation. He suggested that we should work together for the good of our area. He didn’t at any moment suggest or imply that he needed my support for his political ambition. He just wanted us to do development work for the public. Before we had time to finalize our discussions, Rukikaire who is civilian was politically undermined and eventually removed from politics by General Jim Muhwezi who doesn’t entertain the idea of Bairu working with Batutsi except to vote for them every five years. So there are Batutsi in the old and young generations that want to collaborate with Bairu but these are few and powerless civilians.
Let us return to our story. Museveni came to power with a hidden agenda – first, to convert Uganda into a Tutsi country and treat Uganda like Luois XIV treated France. Louis once said “L’etat c’est moi” (“I am the state”). Museveni believes he is Uganda and Uganda is Museveni. Ipso facto, he believes he is NRM and NRM is Museveni. In short Museveni believes he is the embodiment of Uganda and NRM and vice versa. Museveni also believes he is some kind of super king ruling by divine right and he enjoys it when people tell him he was sent by God to save Uganda although these days we are hearing less and less of it. That is why Museveni says he is the only Ugandan with a vision for the country and won’t retire until he has found someone who fits into his shoes.
By praising Museveni sky high some western governments, financial institutions and the media have endorsed Museveni belief. The second motive Museveni came with is to use a controlled Uganda to pursue the Tutsi Empire dream initially in the Great Lakes region. He confirmed this mission in his statement of April 1997 (EIR Special report).
In this article, focus will be on converting Uganda into a Tutsi country of Tutsi lords and the rest serfs. Museveni thought about this for a long time, at least since the early 1960s when he was at Ntare School. But he wanted to achieve it in a “silent” way.
When he became president, Museveni was concerned about the landlessness of his kith and kin and was determined to get them Uganda land directly but mostly discretely because he knew Ugandans wouldn’t accept it. He prepared the ground for them to acquire Uganda land by talking about Uganda as a country with surplus arable land that was not being used (the ranches in Akole were divided up and distributed to his guerrilla fighters, making former owners lose. National parks were reduced to create land for Batutsi people. Some obtained money to purchase land wherever it existed). He also talked about liberalizing (making it easy) migration into Uganda so that outsiders can help in the development process. Many Ugandans thought he was talking about foreign direct investments. He also addressed the issue of high population densities in some parts of Uganda. Then he plunged into East African political federation that would permit human and animal mobility within the East African community countries. Museveni also argued that for Uganda to develop, Ugandans must shift from agriculture to non-agricultural business in towns. He urged Ugandans to sell land and raise credit and start business in towns. The concept of willing seller and willing buyer of land and other assets entered Uganda’s development agenda. Commercial banks were ready to give loans and land would be used as security in case borrowers failed to repay.
Museveni came up with the idea of creating municipal parliamentary constituencies disguised as increasing representatives in parliament and serving people better. Politicians wishing to enter parliament welcomed the idea but this meant extending municipal boundaries deep into rural areas to increase population to the size required. Once land is incorporated into the municipality, it becomes the property of the municipal council that can ask former owners to vacate their ancestral land presumably with compensation.
Finally, although Museveni doesn’t support birth control officially, he has allowed well funded private organizations to bombard the public with information about the dangers of too many children and advised extensive use of birth control. However, Museveni introduced birth control indirectly. By limiting the number of children to four per family for free primary education, Museveni introduced birth control indirectly to stop the birth of extra children that would be educated at parents’ expense. Museveni was perhaps aware of what Moi had done wrong in Kenya that raised a storm of protest. Moi officially announced that any civil servant who had more than four children would lose their job. It didn’t go down well and he gave up.
The 1995 constitution has sections on free human and animal mobility and settlement anywhere in Uganda. Many people have abused the constitution and are invading others’ land leading to conflicts as Buliisa district case reminds us. Museveni ideas are being marketed by an urban institute and some researchers who have encouraged mobility from high density to low density areas. Apollo Nsibambi former prime minister has championed land privatization and resettlement of people from high density to low density areas. Many people have resettled in Buganda, Toro and Bunyoro including many if not most Batutsi.
With Rujumbura County as a case study which I know pretty well, I will show how indigenous Bairu have become landless or almost so through district and national policies of resettlement, land purchase and loss through failure to repay loans.
The settlement of Tutsi refugees in Kigezi district since 1959 that was already densely populated caused too much pressure that Kigezi district authorities decided to resettle some in Ankole. On the way to Ankole, the team decided to include Rujumbura and found there was some space occupied by wild animals. This was an area which had been vacated by Bairu people because of Tsetse infestation so the area still belonged to them. The authorities as those in Kenya when they gave Kikuyu and Masai land to white settlers assumed land was free because it was empty at that time. So, Rujumbura land was set aside for resettling people from Kabale including some Batutsi families who had come as refugees who should return home when conditions improved.
So Bairu lost that land which became the “New Kigezi”. The new settlers boast that when they arrived in the area Bairu were fast asleep (Twasanze Bebase) and by the time they woke up the land was gone, reminiscent of stories in Southern Africa that the blacks were asked to close their eyes as they prayed and when they opened their eyes the white settlers had already taken the land and blacks were compensated with bibles. Bairu weren’t given anything!
NRM’s launch of structural adjustment including user fees for health and education, elimination of subsidies on agriculture and increase in the price of kerosene etc, forced many Bairu to sell their properties especially land to cover expenses. At the same time commercial banks began lending to peasants who used their land as security. The money was lent with low but variable rates of interest which were subsequently raised beyond the capacity of borrowers. Those who were not able to repay lost their land (I received many messages from peasants in my village who wanted me to buy their land so they could use part of the revenue to pay off the loan).
As noted already, peasants throughout Uganda were encouraged to sell land and raise money to start business in town because agriculture is less profitable than business in towns. This encouragement together with the introduction of the notion of willing seller and willing buyer accelerated the sale of land by peasants who tried business and failed, ending up in towns landless, jobless and criminals.
Here is a very sad case. A distant relative of mine had a large piece of prime land. He passed on and his son inherited the land for the whole family. While relatives were still mourning and therefore couldn’t get together to decide what to do with the property left behind, the son sold the land secretly and was paid cash. With part of the cash he bought a piece of land in town and started constructing a commercial building. The money got finished before he roofed the building which was abandoned and the owner died a few years later possibly out of stress and shame, leaving so many people behind landless and penniless. Vey many families have lost their land through such dubious transactions.
Finally, Batutsi want to incorporate Rujumbura into part of reconstituted Mpororo kingdom stretching from DRC border in the west to Rwanda border in the east. Rujumbura was never part of short-lived Mpororo kingdom. Nevertheless, the word “Mpororo” has already been printed on some Uganda maps. Mpororo kingdom disintegrated in mid 18th century through internal decay and did not cover Rujumbura. So Batutsi want to colonize Rujumbura disguised as reclaiming the kingdom that disintegrated from within.
Some of us have protested at these anti-Bairu developments from a human rights point of view. When I heard Rukungiri town was being converted into a parliamentary constituency, I contacted the mayor of Rukungiri town about it. I contacted LCV chairman about it. I contacted the land board chairman about it. I contacted LC III chairwoman about it. I wrote to General Jim Muhwezi then area MP. I wrote to Kizza Besigye as prominent person in the area and leader of FDC and suggested that we needed to discuss this land and other issues that were not being handled properly. I was told by some officials later after many attempts for an answer that these are matters to be handles only by representatives and I contacted some of them but got nowhere. Because I persisted, I was warned that I was behaving like someone sabotaging NRM development efforts and that wouldn’t be tolerated.
Eventually at an emergency meeting of the district council Rukungiri town was upgraded to a municipality and designated a parliamentary constituency. But the demarcation of new boundaries was done in such a manner that it incorporated only Bairu land deep into the countryside while land occupied by Batutsi which is closer to the town center was left out. Once land is incorporated into the municipality ownership shifts from original owners to the municipal authority and previous owners become tenants who can be removed anytime in the name of public development projects or to sell land to the highest bidder and raise revenue. Land rents also increase beyond the means of tenants. Losing ancestral land through such a process is very painful.
Presentation to parliament of municipality designated areas is the responsibility of local government after consultations have been conducted with the people concerned for their concurrence. In the case of Rukungiri municipality the presentation was made by Jim Muhwezi MP for the area at that time. There was no consultation. The matter was rushed through the district council at emergency meeting on a Friday afternoon and presentation to parliament was made on the morning of the following Monday and was passed. Why did the speaker allow a member of parliament to make the presentation when it is the responsibility of local government?
Upon receiving the news, I immediately emailed the speaker of parliament with a copy to the leader of opposition. I sent reminders but got no response from the speaker who is now vice president.
What has happened in Rujumbura is targeted dispossession of Bairu people by General Jim Muhwezi who used the district council to push the decision through. If Rukikaire had been MP, I don’t think he would have done a thing like this because civilian leaders generally don’t use force like Muhwezi did because he is a military general and can’t tolerate opposition which he considers something to be crushed forthwith. General Muhwezi actions using the district council and replacing local government to push through the bill that dispossessed Bairu amounts to ethnic cleansing or to acts of genocide in the end.
Ethnic cleansing occurs when one ethnic group (or its representative) expels (immediately or later on) persons belonging to other ethnic groups. In this case General Jim Muhwezi worked with or led the district council to incorporate Bairu area into municipal council knowing that the peasants will be forced off their land sooner or later. Batutsi who have more money or better access to credit facilities will buy this land and have serfs to work it for them.
Genocide is defined inter alia as “Deliberately inflicting on the group [in this case Bairu group] conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. This will definitely happen as Bairu lose land, become poor, malnourished and produce underweight children that will die in infancy or survive as physically and mentally disabled, jailed for crimes as they try to make ends meet. In the end Bairu numbers from this targeted group will decline, constituting genocide.
Those who purchase the land will become landlords and will use the landless as serfs.
As I have advised before those who don’t agree with me please visit Rukungiri municipality and look at the new boundaries and you will get a shock about how Bairu were targeted and Batutsi spared because General Muhwezi doesn’t want his people and their land to be incorporated into Rukungiri municipality because he knows the dangers involved, so he pushed the powerless and voiceless Bairu land into the municipality.
The most disturbing part is that when we the victims complain about the wrong doing of Batutsi aggressors, we are accused of sectarianism or promoters of genocide against Batutsi (just watch and you will read or hear the insults that will be hurled at me after reading this article). Batutsi are and have always been the aggressors in the Great Lakes regiong, witness what is happening in eastern DRC but Rwanda was rewarded with a seat on the United Nations Security Council and Uganda could also end up occupying another high position in the UN in the near future, raising questions about what is happening when aggressors are rewarded and victims like Bahutu are condemned, demonized.
Regarding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, someone has written: “We know that what took place in 1994: Fifty percent goes to the RPF, and the rest, to the other side”(EIR Special Report 1997).
I urge fellow Ugandans to study what is happening in your areas and see how if at all land is changing hands as in Rujumbura and who is getting it. Greater Kampala has changed hands and management is now located in the office of the president. We need to keep an eye to see who buys land in Greater Kampala.
Uganda patriotism requires us to ensure that Uganda isn’t turned into a country of lords and serfs. That is what I am doing. Let me finish with this: Land has led to many wars. Two examples will suffice: the 100 years war between England and France and more recently between England and Argentina.