Uganda voters should not sell their birthright for a kilo of salt

This 2011 election will save or destroy Uganda. Re-electing Museveni will change Uganda as we have known it – make no mistake about it. The trajectory is very clear. Museveni is already negotiating with foreigners to sell Uganda’s land – the deal with Egypt is in final stages of finalization.

When Roman food crop producing peasants were forced to sell their land to large scale farmers, the latter switched from food crops for peasant consumption to grazing cattle and sheep or growing grapes and olives for rich families. Rome’s population declined in part from high mortality rate of impoverished, hungry and sick peasants. The weakened Rome was invaded and conquered by barbarians.

Similarly, through the sale of Uganda’s land to foreigners who will then grow foodstuffs to feed their own people, Uganda peasants will dwindle and be replaced by ‘invaders’ through East African economic integration and political federation. This is not a joke. The brilliant, dynamic and jovial children that Uganda has known will be gone as education standards decline and child malnutrition and associated diseases take its toll.

A message to voters in Rujumbura constituency

Next month (February 2011) you will exercise your right and elect a president, a member of parliament and district councilors for the next five years. The purpose of elections is to choose people that will represent the interests of all the people in their respective constituencies through for example building schools (and providing school lunches), hospitals and clinics, constructing roads, providing affordable energy, improving agriculture, storage and processing facilities. Representatives should implement development promises they make during campaigning time. When a representative does not deliver as promised he/she should not be re-elected.

Like other constituencies in Uganda, Rujumbura has had elections since 1961. For most of the time (some 95 percent) Rujumbura has been represented in parliament by Bashambo clan of Bahororo people.

By way of background information, Bahororo are Batutsi from Rwanda (not Bahima as previously thought. There are no Bahima in Rujumbura) who came to Rujumbura around 1800 as refugees when Bahima overran their short-lived Mpororo kingdom (after it had disintegrated) in present-day Ntungamo district. In collaboration with Arab slave traders who came with superior European weapons, Bahororo managed to defeat and enslave, exploit and marginalize Bantu people they found in the area. Bantu people who were dubbed Bairu (which means slaves) lost their short horn cattle and industrial enterprises. They were reduced to cultivators growing food for and providing free labor to the new masters in a master/serf relationship as existed in pre-colonial Rwanda and medieval Europe. Punishments were severe to prevent rebellions or when they occurred.

Bahororo women are destroying Bairu nation

Readers who are not used to this kind of exchange might be disturbed. However, if you have an open mind you will overcome it once you understand the tricks Bahororo are using to keep Bairu down and by extension the rest of Uganda. I know there are some Bairu who will object to this kind of conversation in large part because they are benefiting from Museveni regime and do not want trouble.

The primary objective of writing this and other stories is not to make friends (it will be good if that happens) but to share my research findings with a wider public. I have tried to be as factual and as balanced as possible because I know that any story about the relationship between Bahororo and Bairu is bound to be controversial and emotional. If you do not agree challenge me with facts and not emotions. We are not going to let a whole nation be destroyed because we do not want to upset a few people.

Why Nilotic Bahororo and their cousins don’t marry Bantu women

In the article on “Who are Bahororo?” it was mentioned that men do not marry Bantu women. Some readers have asked me to elaborate in order to understand why they don’t. Although Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda), Bahima and Batutsi cousins speak Bantu language, they are ethnically different from Bantu people, hence the use of Nilotic Bahororo and their cousins in the heading. At one time it was erroneously believed that Bahororo and their cousins were white people, but scientific studies have demonstrated conclusively and definitively that they are black people and darker with thicker lips than Bantu people – no disrespect is intended (J. D. Fage A History of Africa 1995 & Jean Hiernaux The People of Africa 1975). Although Bahororo and their cousins do not marry Bantu (Bairu and Bahutu) women they use them frequently for sexual pleasure and even produce children together. More references will be provided for those who would like to read more on the subject. Many quotations will also be used to avoid misinterpretation of authors’ messages.

Time has come to rewrite Africa’s great lakes history

Since the leaked report alleging that Rwanda and Uganda troops committed genocide against Rwanda and DR Congo Hutu in DRC, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and government spokesperson Hon. Louise Mushikiwabo has been talking negatively and discouragingly about rewriting the history of Africa’s great lakes region. In contrast, many believe that the region is and has been unstable precisely because the history of the region was not properly written.

Influenced by European race theories that put a black person at the bottom of the race pyramid and the white person at the top, aristocratic explorers, missionaries and colonial officials in the great lakes region (Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi) credited all the magnificent civilizations they found in the region to Bahima and their Batutsi and Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda) cousins whom they described as ‘white’ people who got lost in the region and turned dark because of tropical sunshine. Further, they described them as intelligent, physically attractive and born leaders to indefinitely rule others in the region. On the other hand, Bantus or Negroes (especially Bahutu and Bairu) were described as a race of ugly and unintelligent human beings without leadership qualities and only fit for menial work. They were denied the civilizations they had developed in a region that had been described as part of the ‘Dark Continent’ without a history and civilization.

Dispossessing Rukungiri’s voiceless peasants is very disturbing

Some of us who grew up in conditions of extreme poverty, injustice (lack of fairness and equity), powerlessness and therefore political voicelessness were driven to study hard so that upon graduation we could help to dismantle the instruments of oppression, exploitation, marginalization, authoritarianism and dictatorship, and human rights abuses.

Our resolve was strengthened by provisions in the United Nations charter (1945) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The United Nations Charter states in part that “We the peoples of the United Nations [are] determined to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women … and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.

Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.

Why Bahororo are contemptuous of Bairu

We are writing these stories on the deteriorating relations between Bahororo and Bairu people because old contemptuous habits are resurfacing. Statements about Bairu inferiority are being made at public rallies, Bairu women’s rights are being violated in many ways, arbitrary decisions are being taken with impunity, canning of Bairu has returned etc. If these developments are not checked, they may lead to unforeseen catastrophes. Those of us who believe in prevention rather than cure are speaking up before the situation gets out of control. The rushed decision by Rukungiri District Council and Uganda Parliament to designate Rukungiri a municipality stripping Bairu of their land without consulting them is the start of troubles that lie ahead.

Bahororo who erroneously still consider themselves white people with a dark pigmentation borrowed their contemptuous behavior from European colonialists based on racism that flourished in Europe in late 19th century. European Social Darwinists who applied Darwin’s evolutionary theory to human societies felt there was a major biological difference between them and other societies. Applying the doctrine of the ‘survival of the fittest’ Social Darwinists saw ‘fitness’ in white skin only. They also used pseudo-scientific studies (phrenology) of bumps on the head to demonstrate that Europeans were more intelligent than other races and therefore destined to rule over them. This sense of racial superiority was expressed in many ways in colonies including dress and social exclusion. However, social exclusion coexisted with relations of a more intimate kind including sexual encounters between Europeans and subject peoples. “Almost all relationships between colonizers and others were saturated with inequalities in power: sexual relations were no different” (M. Pugh 1997).

Reprinting chapter 9 of Speke’s book has reignited Bahima and Bairu (master-slave) controversy in South West Uganda

John Hanning Speke a Bitish explorer wrote a book “The Discovery of the Source of the Nile” published in 1863. It was reprinted in 2006. The book is now available in all institutions of learning around the globe.

In chapter 9 titled “History of the Wahuma [Bahima]” and sub-titled “The Abyssinians and Gallas – Theory of Conquest of Inferior by Superior Races – The Wahuma and the Kingdom of Kitara – Legendary History of the Kingdom of Uganda – Its Constitution, and the Ceremonials of the Court” (Speke 1863).

Speke described Bahima collectively as Abyssinians or Gallas. Speke added “It appears impossible to believe, judging from the physical appearance of the Wahuma, that they can be of any other race than the semi-Shem-Hamitic of Ethiopia” noting that Abyssinians in Abyssinia are more commonly agriculturalists, the Gallas are chiefly a pastoral people co-existing with each other just as he found the Wahuma kings and Wahuma herdsmen co-existing with the agricultural Wazinza of Uzinza, the Wanyambo of Karague, Waganda of Uganda, and the Wanyoro of Unyoro (Speke 1863).

Understanding slavery & slave trade

Slavery is an institution or a practice in which people own other people directly or indirectly. Ownership has an element of belonging. You belong to me and therefore I own you because, for example, I protect you or, in some cases, because I employ you. In return, the owned person submits to or accepts to be dominated by the owner and works hard as a slave.

A slave is a helpless victim to or of some dominating influence. A slave is also a contemptible person. Contempt is an act or mental attitude of despising another person and a contemptible person is an individual who deserves to be despised. To despise means to regard some one as inferior or worthless.

When someone from one ethnic group brags that he is worth 1000 people from another ethnic group, he is saying that members of the latter ethnic group are inferior or worthless. The inferior people become helpless victims in the process – hence slaves.

Slavery is an old institution with roots in pre-historic times (before writing was invented). Slavery reached its peak in Greece and the Roman Empire and declined during the middle Ages. The colonization of the New World (North and South America) resulted in a resurgence of slavery and slave trade.

Ethnic relations in the Great Lakes region are antagonistic

Let me begin with two statements.

First, when my article on “How Rujumbura’s Bairu got impoverished” appeared in (Uganda) Observer, some Uganda readers were convinced that I was sectarian and hated Bahororo (another name for Batutsi who sought refuge in Rujumbura when the short-lived Mpororo kingdom disintegrated and Rwanda and Nkore troops moved in). Since 1986, Uganda government has been led by Bahororo many of them from Rujumbura or with roots in Rujumbura. With Uganda currently experiencing un-preceded poverty, hunger, unemployment, marginalization and functional illiteracy, many Ugandans have revisited the above article and drawn parallels with how the whole country of Uganda has been impoverished.

Second until the 1960s, the history of the Great Lakes Region was dominated by followers of J. H. Speke, C. G. Seligman – British explorer and academic, respectively – and African scholars mostly from aristocratic families who shared the two British biased opinions led by Alexis Kagame, a Catholic priest and historian associated with Rwanda royal court. The writings of these people were extremely biased in favor of Batutsi (Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge are clans of Batutsi) who were described as white or black Caucasian, intelligent, well built, civilized, wealthy through invasion and plunder of Negroes and born to rule. On the other hand they portrayed Bantu-speaking people (dubbed Bairu and Bahutu {slaves or servants} by Bahima) as reported by J. H. Speke (1863, 2006) as black Negroes, without a civilization, poorly built or ugly and short, unintelligent and born to serve the rulers. They used these racist and psychological instruments to rob Bantu-speaking people of their true identity, civilizations and wealth and reduced them to servants or serfs as in Rwanda.