People in the Lakes region want peace through democracy

People in the Great Lakes region want peace through free and fair multi-party elections and government of majority rule that promotes liberty and justice for all but have been governed by military leaders from minority groups who can’t win in free and fair elections. When asked, people from different ethnic groups will tell you they have no difficulties living together. It is their political leaders that create divisions along ethnic lines to mobilize support.

After assassination of the president of Burundi in 1993 Hutus attacked Tutsis. One Tutsi who had escaped unharmed was interviewed and he said “The people who killed my family were Hutu from Frodebu (Hutu Party]. … We used to have no problems with them. But when they had the news from Radio Kigali, they said Tutsi must be massacred. We peasants don’t know why the putschists killed Ndadaye. But we are paying for what they did. They provoked the revenge of the Hutu on the Tutsi”(Africa Report Jan/Feb. 1994). I have travelled in the Lakes region and talked to many people and they all want peace. They don’t care who governs provided it is done properly through free and fair elections and the elected government takes good care of all citizens equitably.

London conference discussed federalism in a tolerant atmosphere

The well publicized London federal conference organized by Uganda Federal Confederates (UFC) took place at the University of East London on October 27, 2012. The attendance could not have been better. A high powered delegation from Uganda joined others at the University including those from the United States of America.

All the four regions of northern, eastern, western and central (Buganda) and all demographic groups of men, women and youth were represented. Different organizations and political parties were also represented. United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) was represented by the Secretary General, Eric Kashambuzi who presented two papers on the Roadmap to Achieving Federalism in Uganda and plans to establish Tutsi Empire in the Great Lakes region.

The debate took place in a tolerant atmosphere under the leadership of the master of ceremony in which participants discussed a wide range of issues related to federalism versus unitarism freely and responsibly, disagreeing where they did in a civil manner. Decorum was exercise as required.

Presentations were followed by pertinent comments, questions and suggestions on the way forward. That the discussions were so engaging can be attested to by the fact that the master of ceremony had to set time limits for presentations and comments so that everyone had a chance to make a contribution. In the end according to my assessment the following observations emerged from the successful conference.

Revised politics of birth control

There has been a resurgence of debate on the adverse impact of Uganda’s rapid population growth. The focus has been on fertility and its impact on economic growth and development. The analysis so far has missed the migration and political dimensions. Uganda has become a magnet attracting many people from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region whose fertility has not yet been assessed. The debate also appears to overlook the political dimension. Therefore, this article will focus on the politics of birth control to provide lessons that may be useful as Uganda develops its population policy.

The politics of birth control has evolved since the end of the Second World War largely within the context of power relations. Politics is the science and art of getting power and how to use it to improve one’s welfare, making it essentially a struggle among groups. In this struggle numbers matter: groups with large numbers have an advantage over those who do not. The numerically inferior group knows its disadvantage and tries various ways including birth control to weaken the numerically superior group.

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.