Ugandans must begin to think dialectically.Dialectics is the art or practice that helps to understand that we are not always told the truth. Dialectics therefore helps us to get to the truth by making sure that the absent is made the present because the greater part of the truth is in that which is absent.
Since colonial days Ugandans have been largely conditioned to obey what the teacher, or priest and increasingly Museveni says. Our history is still based on what John Hanning Speke (1863) and his aristocratic European and African followers connected with the royal courts wrote. They came up with the Hamitic Myth that Bahima and their Batutsi, Bahororo and Banyamulenge cousins are ‘white’ people, more intelligent, physically attractive and born to rule and that they brought civilization to the ‘Dark Continent’ then occupied by Negroes (black people).
By contrast, they emphasized that the Negroes were short with round heads and thick noses, unintelligent and born to be ruled and to serve as slaves (Bairu) of the ruling hamitic people. Although these stereotypes have been discredited with scientific evidence and performance at school and at work, Bahororo and their cousins of Nilotic Luo-speaking ancestry from Bahr-el Ghazel in southern Sudan (not Ethiopia as Speke wrote) have insisted they are superior and will rule in perpetuity wherever they happen to be, hence the idea of Tutsi Empire in the Great Lakes region.
The sad part is that Ugandans who are very well qualified, knowledgeable and experienced have acquiesced, allowing people with dubious qualifications to mess up the country. Those in Uganda look around you and what do you see: half naked people; some being consumed by jiggers; hungry people; sick people; school dropout people and unemployed people. Why should Museveni be given another five years? Because he has very little to offer, Museveni has come up with the idea of sending Ugandans to the moon if reelected! This shows how Museveni despises Ugandans.
In order to revamp their dominance that had been declining since independence, Museveni and his cousins realized that democracy based on majority rule would disadvantage them because of their numerical inferiority (they had seen what happened in Rwanda in 1959). They decided on the military option in alliance with western backers. They played on the frustration of Baganda and Catholics (who had been denied access to political gains by Obote). Museveni stressed the false message that they went to the bush to overthrow an illegitimate regime of Obote after the 1980 elections. The real objective was for Bahororo of Ankole and Rujumbura to regain power which they lost when Mpororo kingdom disintegrated in mid-18th century and their territory was taken over by Bahima under Bahinda clan. Bahororo in Ankole demanded a separate district out of Ankole during negotiations leading up to independence but did not succeed. This might explain why Ankole did not regain its kingdom!
Sadly, Ugandans did not ask why Museveni had gone to Tanzania in the 1960s to principally undergo military and revolutionary training and actual participation in fighting alongside liberation fighters in southern Africa. This decision was taken 20 years before the so-called 1980 rigged elections! Museveni should have gone to Makerere to study economics and political science where they were more developed than at Dar College. The Dar campus of then East African University specialized in law.
The Commonwealth observers certified the 1980 elections and confirmed Obote victory. Observers from the Commonwealth have been in Uganda to observe elections since Museveni came to power and have certified them and confirmed Museveni victory. When asked whether he rigged elections, Museveni has always denied because the Commonwealth observers certified his victory. So why did Museveni embark on such a destructive guerrilla war in 1981 when the Commonwealth observers had declared Obote victory in 1980?
Ugandans should have raised dialectical questions why Museveni actually went to war. If they had linked his military training in the 1960s they would have realized that he had goals other than toppling Obote and would probably have refused to join him in a destructive war. Ugandans also did not ask why guerrilla commanders and chiefs of intelligence and counterintelligence were Bahima, Bahororo and Batutsi refugees while other Ugandans were given diplomatic, political and administrative responsibilities far away from the armoury.
When NRM captured power in 1986 Museveni and his inner circle came up with ideas that should have raised an alarm if Ugandans thought dialectically. The idea of individual merit was designed to facilitate Museveni in appointing Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi in key and strategic positions, arguing that they were the only qualified individuals on the block. That is why key institutions and ministries are staffed with Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi or in-laws (no disrespect, we are just reporting facts). For instance, look at the ministry of foreign affairs at home and in diplomatic missions abroad. Do not go by the official diplomats list presented on a regional basis. Some who are registered as Baganda and easterners could be Bahororo, or Batutsi whose ancestors migrated there and have remained Nilotic in identity because men do not marry outside of their ethnic Nilotic group. Look below the surface and you may get a shock.
Through historian advisers (and he has hired many of them) Museveni has identified Batutsi, Bahima and Bahororo in all parts of Uganda, in the great lakes region and in the diaspora. These people speak local languages and adopt local names but have retained their Nilotic identity. Museveni has also identified men that have married Bahororo, Batutsi and Bahima women (the in-laws) and given them important posts because when they marry these women men become ‘Tutsified’ and abandon their ancestral relations. It is rumored that many men are being enticed to marry Bahororo, Batutsi and Bahima women in order to have easy access to state house and eat big!
In other countries citizens demand to know the background including ancestry and education etc of their leaders and to even protest some appointments when they are not satisfied with the choices. In Uganda because we lack a dialectical mind we take things at face value. Vetting by Uganda Parliament is a formality. Consequently, you may find that people who pose as Baganda or Itesot are actually Batutsi, Bahima and Bahororo except that they reside in Buganda or Teso etc, speak local language and have a local name and nothing else. Ugandans should begin to look into these matters so that the country is not hijacked now that we know the trick being used.
At face value, the ideas that Ugandans should move and settle anywhere in the country to consolidate national unity and peasants should sell their land and start business in towns to get out of poverty trap sound progressive indeed. The expansion of municipalities deep into rural areas has been hailed as a welcome innovation that will permit investors to develop land and create jobs.
What we are witnessing is that the rich who are connected to the first family and in-laws are acquiring land at frightening speed, pastoralists are occupying land (Buliisa case) they judge to be unoccupied and Batutsi are back in Uganda and in some parts like those in Ntungamo they already outnumber indigenous people and are speaking Kinyarwanda language. Museveni knows that once you are landless and functionally illiterate, you are finished. You are voiceless and powerless and he can do whatever he wants with you including forcing you to vote for him. If Ugandans had searched for what was not being said they probably would have rejected these ideas (or modified them) that are now causing trouble. It will be a miracle if Balaalo left Buliisa!
Ugandans should have known that focusing on primary education, denying repeating classes and refusing to give school lunches was a wrong policy. We have ended up with many dropouts (hungry children cannot stay in school) and illiterate primary graduates. Museveni introduced school fees in higher education knowing full well that bright students from poor families would not afford. Those with money would ‘buy’ education, hence evening classes at Makerere as we are told. That is why we have ended up with university graduates many of whom cannot tell you exactly which courses they studied. I have come across many Uganda graduates at UN meetings and at home. When you converse with them you really wonder how they graduated and got such important jobs. Some who join diplomatic missions go back to school leaving their seats in conference halls empty. And they still get paid for work they did not do!
When the idea of cultural leaders was introduced, Ugandans should have realized that Museveni had hidden something. All over the place we are now getting kings. If not mistaken, I gather Banyakigezi are demanding a cultural head. Soon the whole country will have kings who probably will replace LC 5 chair persons as district leaders. Museveni does some tricky and sensitive things incrementally.
NRM as a political institution was designed to kill UPC and DP. The leadership of DP was excited that UPC had been defeated and rushed to join NRM without checking what could have been hidden from them. Protestant bishops who were the bedrock of UPC were bribed en masse with Pajeros (I know only one bishop who did not get a Pajero) and other gifts and abandoned UPC in large numbers. UPC and DP as we knew them are dead – forever! Catholics got juicy jobs and boasted it was their turn to ‘eat’ (if you did not understand what was going on don’t get offended but learn from that error). It appears the time of eating big may be slowing down. Had Ugandans looked at this whole thing dialectically our country would probably be a better place today.
Ugandans should have seen that Museveni’s decentralization policy was not to bring services closer to the people but to weaken national unity efforts as different tribes were compartmentalized into virtually watertight economically unviable districts. That is what British colonial administration did and has caused national disunity since then. Greedy individuals who focus on parliamentary seats have missed the larger and negative picture of economic un-viability that frustrates efforts to bring services closer to the people. At the same time Museveni is relentlessly pushing for larger entities at the East African economic integration and political federation levels. Dividing Uganda into ‘tribal’ districts gives Museveni control over Ugandans while creating East African economic integration and political federation advance his dream of Tutsi Empire! The military option has not worked so far but may not be off the table. Can’t Ugandans and other East Africans see this contradiction between dividing Uganda into tiny political units called districts while at the same time fighting for a larger East African political federation?
The good news is that Ugandans have just entered the enlightenment phase and are now questioning the status quo. They want to know who is governing them, their ancestry and what they stand for. Matters that were taboo are now open to question. That is why Uganda leaders including political party heads are under scrutiny.
Museveni’s disastrous leadership of Uganda since 1986 has removed lingering doubts that Bahororo and their cousins were born to rule. Being a successful guerrilla fighter does not necessarily mean that one can succeed as head of state. Museveni would possibly have done better had he remained army commander. He did not have civilian governance experience and did not take advice. That explains in part why Uganda is in a mess as outlined above. Let me add the ecological component to complete the picture of failures.
Ecologically you will see that the river near your home has dried up, the spring well is gone, rainfall does not come at the right time and when it does it is too heavy and destroys crops and washes away soil. The dry season that used to be mild is now so dry that animals and crops die causing hunger and loss of income. Warnings have been given but environmental management is not on Museveni’s priority list.
Because Museveni has run out of ideas he has suggested that if reelected he will send Ugandans to the moon! What makes Ugandans think that Museveni, if reelected and keeps the same cabinet (which he will), will do better than he has done over the last twenty five years? A coalition with a clear goal to bring in well educated, experienced and ‘clean’ individuals might help.
In the final analysis Uganda needs to be saved from itself. Fortunately, Uganda still has well qualified and experienced people whose hands and souls are still clean. Ugandans must overcome fear and express their dialectical opinions to balance the conversation so that Ugandans take informed decisions. Messages coming through are clear: Ugandans do not always have to be ruled by those who brandish guns for democracy at gun point will fail in the long term.
UAH FORUMIST and a development consultant living in New York