Ugandans need and must interact as equals

There are some Baganda, a few perhaps, who will tell you directly or indirectly that they are more equal than other Ugandans. They will even tell you that you can’t apply for a certain position because you will offend the superior group. If you insist they will attack you in public to bring you down to where they think you belong. They consider the late Obote as unworthy and up to now they blame him for all the problems in Buganda. And if Baganda want to destroy you they will create stories to associate you with Obote as London-based Musagya Gyagenda has tried to do to me. And they think they can say or write anything and get away with it because politicians can’t dare challenge them because they want Baganda votes. So they appease them.

These are the people who don’t believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and especially the article which says that all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity.

Three London-based Baganda namely Musagya Gyagenda, Michael Mutagubya and lately Aloysius Sempala have stood out in demanding that Baganda are above everyone else. They claim Baganda are rich, powerful and other Ugandans need them for a successful political career and therefore you have to say what they want to hear.

When you object they descend on you like a ton of bricks. When I objected to bow to pressure on radio Munansi they chose to tear me down. Musagya Gyagenda insisted I am a UPC supporter and implied that I participated in organizing the return of Obote from Tanzania through Bushenyi. He has done that knowing that Baganda will not support a Ugandan associated with Obote and UPC. In response Jessica wrote that Baganda will not vote for me because they don’t approve of what I am saying about them.

Michael Mutagubya has been accusing me of distorting Buganda history to make Baganda unpopular among other Ugandans. To prove him wrong I decided to put on record what I had been saying about Buganda to which Aloysius Sempala reacted in an inconsistent manner and often apologetic manner. I have written or said the following most of it based on materials found in Uganda and even taught in Uganda schools:

1. Buganda originally had three counties. It expanded its territory mostly at the expense of Bunyoro as the latter declined;

2. In its expansion Buganda used excessive military force especially during the kingship of Katerega and Mawanda. King Katerega installed war leaders as provincial chiefs over conquered territories (Robert W. July 1998).

3. The arrival of Arabs around 1844 brought to Buganda guns that Baganda used to ravage neighboring territories hunting for slaves and ivory. “Repeated predatory expeditions sent out by the Kabaka Suni who reigned until 1856, and Mutesa who succeeded him for another twenty-eight years, yielded rich rewards in the form of produce and cattle as well as slaves and ivory”(R.W. July 1998). Buganda thus became rich by plundering neighboring territories and as we shall show later by exploiting cheap labor from Uganda labor reserve areas and neighboring territories and as administrators under British colonial rule;

4. Baganda collaborated with Britain in conquering Bunyoro, Eastern and Northern parts of Uganda. Semei Kakuguru’s record is well known. Baganda were rewarded by Britain with Bunyoro colonized territory that doubled the number of Buganda counties to twenty for its support in suppressing a rebellion by king Kabarega who had been regaining from Buganda territories that had been lost during Bunyoro period of decline in military power (Kahangi 2003);

5. Upon conquering or ‘pacifying’ the rest of Uganda, Baganda were employed as agents of British administration and churches. Baganda arrogance, exploitation and corruption made them unpopular and were removed from some districts including Bunyoro and Kigezi. Paul Ngorogoza (1998), former Secretary General of Kigezi wrote that “They [Baganda] thought and at times they made it obvious, that the people of Kigezi were ignorant and incapable of ruling themselves, but the central government held a different view – it saw that the people of Kigezi were only handicapped by lack of education”. Ngorogoza adds “In dealing with cases they [Baganda] did not distinguish between criminal and civil cases, for the simple reason that they wanted all cases to involve fines so that they could acquire goats and cows. … After collecting all these [goats and cows] from fines, the [Muganda] chief would send them home to Buganda or to wherever he had his land”. Other fines included hens, honey, beer, potatoes and beans. “In short, it was exploitation” Ngorogoza concluded. Because of this exploitation and other developments Baganda administrators had to leave Kigezi after 19 years, although they would have liked to stay on (Ngorogoza 1998);

6. Baganda kings exercised absolute power over their subjects. For example, Mutesa I “had power of life and death over his people and maintained his authority by severe and brutal punishments, such as the destruction of homes and property, the selling of his subjects into slavery, mutilation, burning offenders alive, or hacking them to pieces”(Arthur Tuden and Leonard Plotnicov 1970);

7. Since independence Baganda have insisted that unless they dominate Uganda and their king is above everyone else in Uganda there won’t be peace and prosperity (Onyango Odongo 1993). This pronouncement can easily be detected in how Baganda treat others as inferior.

8. Baganda have tried secession twice unsuccessfully in 1960 and 1966. They want to try again and that is why they have drifted away from federalism because that will not allow them to dominate other Ugandans and put the Kabaka above everyone else in the Republic. I have vigorously opposed secession because it will be catastrophic, hence the increased but unconvincing attack on my postings.

We can now see that:

1. Buganda expanded from a small nucleus of three counties by military conquest and use of military provincial chiefs to suppress resistance;

2. Buganda became rich by plundering neighboring territories, exploiting Ugandans where Baganda served as administrators under colonial rule and exploiting workers in Buganda cotton and coffee farms and on ranches. The exploitation of non-Baganda laborers in Buganda was revealed by Christine Obbo who wrote that Rwandese who came to Buganda were reported wearing tattered and patched clothes by Richards in 1954. By 1972 they were still wearing tattered and patched clothes and were treated like ‘rotten tennis shoes’(lussejjera envundu) (W A. Shack and Elliott P. Skinner, 1974);

3. Mutagubya has been conducting a program on radio munansi on Buganda past glory that needs to be restored to keep Buganda great. He has accused me of distorting Buganda history. By this note I am informing Sempala and others like him how Buganda became rich and asking Mutagubya to write his story so the people of Uganda decide.

Eric Kashambuzi