“Why have you turned against Batutsi?”

While in London to attend the federal conference in late October 2012 where I presented two papers and prepared a summary report of the conference, I bumped into a compatriot on Oxford Street. We discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to the sad situation in Uganda. He thanked me for writing a book on “Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century” including a chapter in which I praised Batutsi for the help they extended to me. He paused as if he was trying to say something that didn’t fit into the trend of the discussion thus far. He looked around and finally said “Why then have you turned against Batutsi?”

I told him I was not against Batutsi as human beings. I was against the destructive policies of the current generation of Batutsi in power in Uganda. And I am doing so to help them refocus the trajectory onto the right development path.

For easy reference (and against my principle of refraining from mentioning names), I am listing some Batutsi people in Rujumbura County of Rukungiri district who helped me (a Mwiru) while I was growing up. Some or their relatives are still alive and you can ask them to confirm or deny my story.

The late Kabateraine, sub-county chief of Ruhinda, treated me like his own son. He always gave me a ride even when the vehicle was full. He would ask passengers to let me sit on their laps, “after all he is tiny”, he would jokingly add. His late brother Bahinguza equally treated me like his son.

While in Rwenshama fishing village town to study fish marketing, I found Bahinguza there. He sent a message to his home instructing that he was coming home with a visitor for lunch and they should take that into account in preparing lunch. The late Rev. Katugugu, father of Jim Muhwezi, treated me like his own son and I have mentioned that to his daughter who lives in New York. Once he bought me lunch of chicken and bananas, the most expensive meal in Rukungiri town then. On another occasion, he gave me one Uganda shilling (a lot of money at that time) to go and have lunch.

Whenever there was space in his vehicle, the late Kitaburaza, saza chief and later secretary general of Kigezi district, would give us a ride to and from Kinyasano School where he dropped and picked his children. Every time I was in Lusaka on mission I would call on his daughter Enid. When her husband was ambassador to Zambia, I invited Rose, Kitaburaza’s daughter, and her family to my residence for dinner. I have had lunch with Kitaburaza’s daughter, Gertrude, in New York. Enid, Rose and I went to school together and we were taught religion together by Rukikaire’s late father.

While at Kinyasano School, Karahukayo and Rwekitama were some of my best friends. Canon Justus Rwabugaire took good care of me while in Kabale for district sports competitions because he thought I was too young to be left unattended. He behaved like a father to me and I have told him so. We later played soccer together as Kinyasano old boys.

Tabisa, a nurse at Rwamahwa dispensary, took extra care to treat my toe which I had badly injured. And Magoba from Kashenyi took good care of me when I was admitted to Rwamahwa dispensary suffering from food poisoning.

I have taken liberty to mention these names because Batutsi then were relatively good people and didn’t discriminate against me because I come from a different ethnic group.

The young generation of Batutsi represented by Muhwezi and Museveni has behaved very differently and unacceptably so. It wants to dominate others in a manner that is different from the old generation which also dominated Bairu but in a soft manner. And we knew it and resisted it in a silent manner.

The young generation of Batutsi is bent on impoverishing and dispossessing others in order to render them powerless and voiceless in order to dominate Uganda and other countries in the Great Lakes region by creating Tutsi Empire. To confirm this all you need to do is to see how the new municipal boundaries were drawn in Rukungiri town. It was done in such a manner that Bairu would lose their land and disappear from Rukungiri district. You go there and see! And they expect Bairu to keep quiet in order to be nice guys.

The young generation of Batutsi is using all methods including arranging marriages of Batutsi women to non-Batutsi men with the sole purpose of ’tutsifying’ them and detach them from their relatives and use them to cripple non-Batutsi ethnic groups. Museveni has made sure that strategic positions in the civil service and increasingly in parliament and district councils; in security forces and now increasingly in the oil industry are filled with Batutsi or ‘tutsified’ non-Batutsi men who carry out his instructions without question.

That is why regions like Buganda that were once wealthy and progressing are retrogressing but many people don’t understand what is hitting them. Ugandans have made the mistake of arguing that Museveni is finishing them. That isn’t true. Museveni uses the people from the same regions to do the damage against their own people in return for some rewards.

For example, when leaders from Bushenyi were fighting about whether or not Bushenyi should be split into more districts, Museveni just watched. In the end I am told the district was divided into four rather than the original two. So whom should we blame? Uganda districts have become economically unviable and depend on donations from the central government with conditions that benefit Museveni. And yet more districts are being created. Yes, Museveni is behind the idea but uses Ugandans to achieve the goal. Blame therefore should go to soft Ugandans who are greedy to become rich quickly at the expense of the people they represent.

Consequently, many Ugandans are becoming poor, hungry, sick and illiterate. You don’t expect people in this condition to fight for their rights because they may not even know they exist. That is why they need help and I am trying to make my modest contribution to open eyes and ears of Ugandans still in the dark as to what is impoverishing and marginalizing them. It’s not God’s punishment, as some have reasoned. It is greed of some Ugandans being used by Museveni.

The second reason I have turned against Batutsi is the extent of corruption. By nature and upbringing, I don’t like corruption. I recall when I was young my parents had financial difficulties and it was becoming increasingly difficult to send us to school. I gathered courage and told my father in a strong language that he should not steal church money in order to send us to school. Thank God he is still alive you can ask him. I stressed to him that I was prepared to drop out of school and help raise money to send the younger children to school. With God’s blessing we pulled through. To the best of my knowledge my father has never been accused of stealing church money. And I am very proud of him.

The corruption under the NRM government has gone too far and Ugandans and development partners have to speak up more loudly. Salaries aren’t being paid on time, project funds are disappearing into thin air. This week police officers’ wives in Kampala demonstrated. They shouted they were hungry and had no electricity in their homes because their husbands hadn’t been paid. Four children died recently in accidents arising from illegal electricity connections.

Unemployment especially of youth is going through the roof and children are dropping out of school in worrying numbers because they are hungry and the government has refused to support school lunches adopted by NEPAD. Additionally, Uganda with such a high level of maternal and child mortality doesn’t have a bright future. And this reality doesn’t bother NRM leadership at all.

In Sum, let me repeat: I am not against Batutsi as human beings although they and/or their surrogates have deliberately but falsely accused me of promoting sectarianism and genocide against them simply to silence me. I and my family are being threatened on a regular basis.

The old generation helped me and others while growing up. The young generation is doing things differently and wrongly to other fellow Ugandans because of its excessive greed for power. It is the policies formulated and implemented by NRM government led by Batutsi that I am fighting against. As I repeated at the London conference, I have dedicated the balance of my life to fight injustice, inequality and exploitation of Ugandans by Batutsi leaders or any other group of leaders.

Telling the truth though costly at times makes me feel better than if I had distorted facts to make people happy or purchase popularity. I have joined Uganda politics to acquire power with which to finish the job. I call on other Ugandans to join hands with me on this worthwhile crusade.

My telephone numbers are: 1 914 699 6132 and 1 212 961 7216. My email address is erickashambuzi@yahoo.com. My blog is www.kashambuzi.com.

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