I have attempted against all odds to dig into Great Lakes region history in order to understand why instability is endemic. Why is this region (Eastern DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda) permanently unstable? Western DRC, Kenya and Tanzania are part of the Great Lakes Region (GLR), yet they are relatively stable. What distinguishes the latter group from the former is that in the former we have minority Nilotic Tutsi that have insisted on dominating Bantu through military force, political intrigue and dispossession.
Because some commentators still question my motive, let me once again tell you what has guided my work part of it summarized below. Those who disagree with my research findings about ethnic conflicts in the Great Lakes region should debate me as someone suggested. I am interested in history and getting to the root cause of the problem. For easy reference, below is what has guided me.
First, I believe strongly that when you ignore history you are bound to repeat mistakes committed in the past. As we know the past impacts the present. To avoid repeating past mistakes my work has been influenced by reading history including of the Great Lakes region. I have looked at both sides of an issue to avoid biased findings and inappropriate recommendations. That is how I have approached the Tutsi and Hutu/Bairu relations since the 16th century. Previously including after Rwanda genocide in 1994, studies had been biased against Hutu as the ‘bad guys’, the only genocidaires in the region. Reporting history of Hutu genocide committed by Tutsi is changing this Hutu bias.
Second, I believe strongly that you can’t find a lasting solution to a problem without understanding its root cause. In my work I have tried to do just that. I have come to the conclusion that the desire by minority Tutsi to dominate others is what has made the region unstable as Hutu and Bairu resist continued dominance and exploitation.
Tutsi sold defeated Bantu into slavery. The people of Rujumbura and parts of Kanungu were sold into slavery by Makobore, chief of Rujumbura working in collaboration with Arab and Swahili slave traders. Those who wrote these sad stories are still alive. So by reading that history we may be able to detect and stop another attempt to sell Ugandans into slavery, now called human trafficking. Slave trade is alive.
We also need to understand who has committed genocide in the Great Lakes region. Until genocide of Hutu by Tutsi in Burundi came to light and the genocide of moderate Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda was reexamined, Hutu were considered the only genocidaires in the region. There are reports alleging that Tutsi committed genocide against Hutu in Burundi in 1965, 1972, 1988 and 1993. There are also allegations that Tutsi participated in committing genocide against Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda in 1994 and allegations that Tutsi committed genocide against Hutu in eastern DRC.
Trouble in post independence Burundi started when a moderate Tutsi, the eldest son of the king Prince Louis Rwagasore with a Hutu wife formed a multi-ethnic political party and won the election defeating a predominantly Tutsi party. Some in the party that lost the election killed the prince through a hired foreign assassin. That assassination of Rwagasore set the stage for the genocide of Hutu by Tutsi in 1965, 1972, 1988 and 1993. All these genocides are recorded in well researched and internationally recognized publications. I wrote and distributed a paper on this topic including on face book and Ugandans at Heart Forum.
Trouble in post-independence Rwanda like in Burundi was started by Tutsi shortly before independences. What triggered the Rwanda Social Revolution of 1959 is a combination of two events.
In May 1957, a group of Hutu issued a manifesto demanding democratization as stipulated in the trusteeship agreement under the United Nations in order to alter the relationship between Tutsi and Hutu. In short it was issued to bring about internal change, not necessarily independence.
As part of administrative reforms in recognition that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, the colonial government began to fill some posts with Hutu officials. A Hutu was appointed a local chief. Tutsi interpreted these changes as an attack on their dominating position and responded by attacking Hutu and a Hutu chief was killed, sparking the 1959 national revolution. Many Tutsi fled into exile from where they immediately conducted guerrilla attacks on independent Rwanda, ending up in double genocide of moderate Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 and Hutu genocide in Eastern DRC after RPF captured power in Rwanda in 1994.
In an interview at the Commonwealth Summit in Uganda, Kagame boasted that his troops had done a thorough job of eliminating genocidaires and interahamwe which is difficult to understand how Hutu genocidaires and Interahamwe were separated from innocent Rwanda and DRC Hutu since they lived together, look alike and wore the same clothes and were no longer carrying machetes.
It is also believed that Kagame troops ignored the Geneva Convention that wars must be fought justly and follow the procedures governing dealing with enemies.
Trouble in eastern DRC between Tutsi and indigenous people started during the civil war after independence in the 1960s. Tutsi joined Mobutu in crushing the rebels in Eastern DRC. As a reward, Mobutu allowed Tutsi to occupy land (and plantations) vacated by departing Belgians on land that had been taken from indigenous people after the Berlin conference that gave Congo to the Belgian king. The latest crime against humanity is the short-lived occupation of Goma, North Kivu by Tutsi M23 fighters. Those who committed crimes against humanity allegedly with support of Rwanda and Uganda governments should be brought to justice.
Trouble in Uganda since independence has been between southern Uganda Nilotic Tutsi in particular Ibingira and Museveni and northern Uganda Nilotic people in particular Obote and Kony.
The overthrow of Obote I started from the struggle for power between the Ibingira group and the Obote group. Both groups were led by Nilotic people. The war against Nilotic Obote II regime was led by Nilotic Museveni. Since 1986 until Kony was chased out of Uganda the fighting was led by Nilotic Museveni and Nilotic Knony. So you can see Bantu in southern Uganda have been like grass trampled when elephants fight. Bantu have not started or led or involved in Uganda troubles.
Those who want to punish westerners for violating their rights and freedoms must realize that Bantu haven’t been involved. That is why it is important to study history to realize that Bantu in Ankole, Kabale and Rujumbura have nothing to do with violations of human rights in Uganda. Bantu/Bairu people in Rujumbura are losing their land through expansion of municipality only in areas occupied by Bantu people at the hands of Nilotic Tutsi leadership. Bairu are losing their identity associated with Kagunga their sub-county now absorbed in Rukungiri municipality. This is a form of genocide by targeting a particular group. Genocide is destroying a target group in whole or in part. And this is happening in time of peace as Bairu scatter in different areas.
Museveni promised Habyarimana that he would not export to Rwanda the Revolution he introduced in Uganda. “On a trip to Rwanda Museveni assured President Juvenal Habyarimana that Uganda would not help Rwanda dissidents”(Africa Report January-February 1988). Yet, with help from Museveni, RPF invaded Rwanda and destabilized the government and in this atmosphere two Hutu presidents lost their lives in a plane that was shot down and ignored by the international community.
It is alleged by a former minister of internal affairs in RPF government Seth Sendashonga who was assassinated in Nairobi allegedly by a Rwandan diplomat in Kenya that the genocide and massacre of Tutsi and Hutu was also committed by the Rwanda Patriotic Front from 1990 (EIR June 1998).
It has also been alleged that Museveni and Kagame arranged a coup in which the president of Burundi and many senior officials were killed. “Museveni also had a hand in the Oct. 23, 1993 coup against Burundi President Melchior Ndadaye, whose election had ended 31 years of Tutsi military rule in Burundi. According to some sources, Museveni planned a coup in a meeting in Entebbe which included the RPF’s Paul Kagame. Two coup ring leaders, Major Bucokoza and Lt. Paul Kamana, were in Kampala, openly carousing with Uganda officers, from late October to February 1994, and according to Burundi sources, they are both now with the RPF. The attempted coup in Rwanda resulted in the murder of President Ndadaye …”(EIR November 1994).
Burundi has been described as “a country that has one of the longest histories of ethnic bloodshed in Africa…”(Africa Report July/August 1993). Tutsi have committed genocide against Hutu in Burundi and yet little is known about it.
In 1996 using the pretext of saving Banyamulenge (clan of Tutsi) in Eastern DRC from genocide, Museveni and Kagame shielded by Desire Kabila launched a military attack that committed alleged genocide against Hutu, eventually ousting Mobutu another Bantu president from power in 1997.
When Kabila refused to hand over the country to Tutsi, they launched another military attack but this time Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe joined Kabila and stopped Tutsi take over and declaring a Tutsi Empire.
Studying history of the region has also helped us understand the influence of refugees. We have learned that political instability has created serious refuge problems in the region.
For example in one of Tanzania’s areas “The local population was outnumbered 3-to-1 by refugees. They watched with increasing frustration as large tracts of forest, rivers and arable land were destroyed. … Hosting refugees has become a heavier and more painful burden than ever before to countries of asylum like Tanzania. Protecting and assisting refugees has brought new risks to national security, exacerbated tensions between states and caused extensive damage to the environment…”(UNHCR Winter 1997).
In Uganda where refugees have been received since 1959 and allowed to settle anywhere in the country with their cattle, Uganda is experiencing tremendous national security, political, economic, social and environmental problems especially since NRM came to power in 1986.
There are some areas in Uganda including Ntungamo where immigrants exceed indigenous population, necessitating a census to know the demographic composition following the heavy influx of foreigners into Uganda. This is not sectarian. It is a matter of national security.
After capture of power in 1986, NRM cadres began systematic land grabbing in Southern Uganda including in Kapeeka and Luwero where land was being taken from ex-UPC members (Africa Events September 1986). A delegation complained to Museveni in 1989 about systematic land grabbing. Nothing appears to have been gained because land grabbing has continued at breakneck speed. As noted already the next population census which has been postponed should look into the demographic, economic, political, social and environmental consequences of refugees, immigrants and those that have become citizens of Uganda as a result of introducing dual citizenship. That there is no money for the census should be rejected in view of the fact that Museveni carries sacks full of money distributed at rallies.
Should donors continue to give Uganda money that the president dishes it out this way?
I urge everyone including our western friends and well wishers to study Great Lakes region history. Contrary to the rosy picture painted of Museveni and Kagame by their western supporters as peace makers who have presided over rapid economic growth and per capita income; they have created income inequalities, dispossessed the weak, created death of millions and wounded millions more while others were raped and/or displaced from their homes.
They have created serious potential political instability that is discouraging foreign investors that structural adjustment program was meant to attract. Investors are pulling out of Uganda that is de-industrializing and decaying socially and environmentally in rural and urban areas.
Economic growth and per capita income figures in Uganda presented by 2013 HDR as a sign of success that are even below 8-9 percent growth rate needed as a minimum to meet the MDGs will not make the failures disappear.
Uganda is a failed state under military dictatorship that has transferred preparation of national budget from the ministry of finance to NRM secretariat and empowered the military to issue identity cards. Their rightful and professional job is to defend the country against external aggression, not issue IDs. These changes have been described as amounting to an administrative coup that Ugandans and development partners must oppose by withdrawing cooperation.
Kenya and Tanzania are advancing faster in large part because they haven’t had political conflicts and wars as in Burundi, Eastern DRC, Rwanda and Uganda because the Tutsi dominating element is missing in these two countries.
In a region where Tutsi constitute less than ten percent of the total population, it is going to be an uphill task indeed for them to hang onto power by military means, political intrigues, spy networks and political marriages where Tutsi women marry non-Tutsi men for dominance as contained in the 1962 Tutsi dynasty covenants.
That Museveni doesn’t care about Ugandans and other Africans came out clearly during an interview with Bill Berkeley. He stated “I have never blamed the whites for colonizing Africa; I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid you should be taken a slave”(The Atlantic Monthly September 1994).
So think about this message and do some home work for verification if necessary before drawing your own conclusion.