To unite Uganda we need to identify the problem first

Ugandans won’t understand our troubles fully without studying the genesis of conflicts between UPC and KY and the differences within the Mengo administration. The purpose of my constant writing and talking is to give Ugandans the necessary information to take informed decisions.

Musaja Gyagenda who resides in London has consistently maintained that it was UPC under the leadership of Obote that alone planted the seed that has constrained Uganda’s peaceful development since independence. You have heard his arguments on Radio Munansi and I will not repeat them here. Instead I will give you the other half of the story.

First of all it should be understood that at the start of the UPC and KY short relationship, the two groups were diametrically opposed. UPC was nationalistic and radical whereas KY was conservative and primarily concerned about the future of Buganda in independent Uganda. They came together for the sole purpose of defeating DP a largely Catholic-based party led by Ben Kiwanuka a Catholic who was well educated and fairly experienced Muganda commoner.

At the constitutional conference in London in 1961, Buganda demanded (1) an autonomous federal status; (2) an independent army; (3) a separate High Court; (4) a police force of its own and (5) control of the strategic towns of Entebbe and Kampala (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

At the end of the conference the Kabaka Sir Edward Mutesa (RIP) wrote the following about the outcome.

“The talks were successful for us. With Obote’s support we obtained a great deal of what we wanted and looked forward to receive the rest later. We were to have our own High Court and body guard which was meant to be 300 strong, but never run above 120. Also the Lukiiko could decide whether to hold direct elections for LEGCO, which was to be called the National Assembly, or whether to nominate members; Ben Kiwanuka was disturbed by this. Though we had started asking for an army we were content. Mr MacLeod gave us all sherry and we smiled” (Onyango Odongo 1993).

While the Kabaka took a compromising stand, his Katikiro Michael Kintu, the Lukiiko and KY were unhappy about the outcome of the conference. On this Onyango Odongo (1993) writes:

“When the Buganda Delegates returned from the Constitutional Conference and reported their achievements to the Lukiiko, they were strongly criticized by members of Kabaka Yekka Movement of having failed to secure acceptance and acknowledgement of the superiority of the Kabaka of Buganda over all Ugandans from other members of the delegations at the conference, who were representing the various tribes in Uganda. They particularly wanted the new Constitution to spell out clearly that the Kabaka was above the Prime Minister of Uganda. Hence with tremulous agitation, they issued a public statement which reads:

‘As from 1st March, 1962, the seat of Uganda Prime Minister will be in Buganda at Entebbe, and the National Assembly of Uganda will be in Buganda in Kampala. We of the Kabaka Yekka cannot hesitate to state that if Uganda is ever to be a prosperous and peaceful country, the Prime Minister must always be subordinate to the Kabaka and other hereditary rulers as shown by Kabaka Yekka in the picture opposite’”.

As you can see the location of the central government in Buganda was demanded by Baganda. It was not imposed on them. Secondly, because of these arguments, it was not possible to agree on the Head of State and Uganda entered independence with the Queen as Head of State represented by the Governor General. Thirdly, it was not possible to agree on the name of the country. Temporarily, it was referred to as the Sovereign State of Uganda. Fourthly, no agreement was reached on the sensitive issue of the “Lost Counties”. The colonial power insisted that there should be a written provision for a referendum. Michael Kintu was unhappy. The Kabaka reconciled to the idea. Obote persuaded Baganda and Banyoro that he would do everything to reach a mutually acceptable formula after independence. Michael Kintu remained adamant and no such a formula was agreed to when the referendum took place. Buganda lost the referendum and that contributed to the end of the UPC and KY coalition and subsequent sad developments

On May 20, 1966 three saza chiefs from Kyagwe, Buddu and Ssingo proposed a radical resolution in the Lukiiko which was unanimously adopted. An ultimatum was served that the central government should remove itself from the soil of Buganda before May 30, 1966. This resolution divided the Mengo administration. Before the resolution was adopted, the Katikiro tried to restrain the three saza chiefs from tabling a hastily drafted resolution.

The central government regarded the Lukiiko resolution as an act of rebellion that had to be dealt with. “On the 24th May [1966], the Kabaka’s palace was surrounded by troops under the immediate command of Colonel Amin. Obote’s justification for ordering a direct frontal attack on the palace was that a large cache’ of illegal arms had been found hidden in the grounds. … After an engagement lasting about twelve hours, the Lubiri was razed to the ground…”(T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

There were Baganda on both sides of the dispute. Some of the strongest supporters of Obote were from Buganda. “Baganda militants did not receive as widespread a support from ordinary people as initial reports would have led one to believe” (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986). On May 28, 1966 several of Kabaka’s ministers “broadcast a joint message appealing for calm and an end to fighting and implicitly disavowing the Lukiiko resolution of the 20th May” (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

The purpose of this story is to give you information that Musaja Gyagenda has left out so that you can take an informed decision. Lest I am misunderstood, this is not to apportion blame but to draw lessons.

Eric Kashambuzi