Uganda is in a crisis: how did it get there and how will it come out?

That Uganda is in a serious crisis politically, economically, socially, environmentally and culturally is not in doubt. What are in doubt are the causes and possible solutions. This has given rise to a number of groups pointing fingers at one another. In the interest of time and space, I will focus on the salient points.

There are those led by Bishop Zac Niringiye and General David Sejusa who argue that it is Museveni and his family alone – his wife, son and brother that are responsible and should be held accountable. With Museveni and his family out of the way NRM will be able to get Uganda back on the right track and continue to govern under a new leadership. The term Musevenism has been coined to link all Uganda problems to Museveni.

There are those led by radio munansi who argue that Banyankole are responsible for the suffering of Uganda since 1986 and they alone should be held to account.

There are those who think that Baganda that have never accepted integration into Uganda on an equal basis with the rest of Ugandans are responsible for a big part of Uganda troubles including the current debate about self-determination with secession as an option.

There are those who go back to the time of independence and argue that it is Obote and the people he groomed including Amin and Museveni that are the root cause of the problem. London-based Musaja Gyagenda has been championing this cause relentlessly. Any Ugandan whose political views he doesn’t like he associates him/her with Obote and UPC.

There are those who think that the main problem is the unregulated influx of foreigners – legally seeking work, illegal immigrants and refugees. Through his policy statements that Ugandan has plenty of unutilized arable land and water resources and needs foreigners to assist in Uganda’s rapid economic development Museveni has encouraged massive influx of foreigners mostly from the neighboring countries that have occupied good jobs and taken over the private sector and assets especially land from indigenous Ugandans.

There are those who think that inequality in access to education, healthcare and jobs have created social groups and tensions between the rich and poor, employed and unemployed and have contributed to the crisis.

There are those who believe that Museveni thinks the crisis is in his administration and has forced him to temporarily or permanently transfer some key advisers including Kutesa to the United Nations, Sejusa to London, Nyakairima to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Mbabazi who has gone on leave.

There are those who think that NRM as a whole is messy and must be unseated from power, with no allowance for a compromise to form a government of national unity.

The solutions also vary. There are those who want a military solution because that is the language that Museveni understands. This group is led by Sejusa and his confidant Amii Otunnu who previously advocated democracy and good governance as solutions and Duncan Kafero with the backing of radio munansi and foreign recruits in his outfit as he confirmed on radio munansi.

There are those in the footsteps of Gandhi that want non-violent resistance. Their argument is that more authoritarian regimes have been unseated by non-violent means than through violence. The Hague Process on peace, security and development in Uganda has adopted the non-violent approach to regime change in Uganda.

There are those who want significant reduction of central government power that has suffocated regional, district and community ability to take decisions that affect their lives. This group is calling for federalism or confederalism. Once agreed the 1995 constitution would be amended to reflect these new political dimensions that no one party can change unilaterally.

There is the extreme group of Baganda that want secession or independence from the rest of Uganda. This is the group that has been very disappointed that Scotland did not vote for independence from Britain. The recent decision that the government of Catalonia in Spain has also decided not to go for a referendum on its secession from Spain has added frustration to those Baganda that had hoped to use these two cases if they had succeeded in forcing NRM to grant Buganda independence.

There are those who think that the different groups in the opposition should stop criticizing one another regardless of their diverging philosophies and just get together to force NRM out of power and then address their differences once in power. History lessons don’t lend support to this approach. More often than not revolutions by different groups that have one common goal of unseating an oppressive regime degenerated into civil wars because there was nothing to bind them together after the revolution had been accomplished.

The group that I belong to is of the view that winner take all is not a wise solution. Instead let all Ugandans come together except those alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide and form a transitional government under a presidential commission with a representative from each of Uganda regions. The government besides conducting the normal affairs of state would organize a comprehensive population census to determine who and how many we are, identify development needs and use this information at a national convention that would debate and decide how Ugandans wish to be governed. To succeed in this endeavor we need to put the interests of Uganda ahead of personal ambitions. We are all Ugandans first and foremost. Our diversity if properly nurtured is a tremendous asset. Let us keep that in mind. We are stronger acting together than separately, explaining in part why Scotland voted against independence.

Eric Kashambuzi is an international consultant on development issues. He lives in New York


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

Why and how Buganda expanded from three to twenty counties

Gordon Kamugunda Kahangi a former teacher and administrator of Uganda schools and universities tells us that Buganda started with three counties of Mawokota, Busiro and Kyadondo. Later it incorporated parts Butambala, Busujju, Bulemezi and Ssingo. In the 19th century Buganda added Kooki, Mawogola, Buwekula and Buruli.

Kahangi stresses that the expansion of Buganda was achieved at the expense of Bunyoro, not so much because Buganda was gaining in military strength but because Bunyoro was declining (when the British arrived Bunyoro was in the ascendancy and regaining the territories it had lost to Buganda but Britain stopped that expansion). “As Banyoro became weaker, Baganda became stronger and acquired more territory from Bunyoro” (Kahangi 2003).

Baganda are believed to have come from the Mt. Elgon area through Busoga in 1200 AD with Kintu (Kahangi 2003) but found some Bantu that had settled in the area around 1000 AD (Benson Okello 2002). Other Baganda came to the area with Kimera either from the north or from Bunyoro-Kitara (Benson Okello 2002).

Since the 1920s Buganda has been the magnet attracting people from the Horn of Africa and from the Great Lakes region in search of work and security. By 1959 Baganda constituted half of the total population in Buganda. With the influx since Museveni came to power it would not be surprising if we found that some 60 percent of the people living in Buganda are non-Baganda, a point to be taken into serious consideration when Baganda think of secession.

Buganda expanded by conquest; surrender and by a large reward of Bunyoro conquered and colonized territory from British. Regarding Bunyoro territory Robin Hallettt (1974) writes “In 1894 Bunyoro was invaded by British and Ganda forces and the ruler, Kabarega, driven from his kingdom. The Ganda were rewarded for their part in the victory by a large slice of Nyoro territory, an award that created an issue – the fate of the ‘lost provinces’”. The reward from Britain to Buganda of Banyoro land doubled Buganda counties from ten to twenty.

The methods of expansion varied. As noted already Buganda expanded by getting a reward of Bunyoro territory from Britain that had defeated and colonized Bunyoro. Some counties perhaps by virtue of weakness militarily simply surrendered like Kooki. Others were acquired my massive military force.

Katerega played a big role in the expansion of Buganda but was a dictator who used violence and almost wiped out a whole clan. Then came Mawanda who conquered some counties including the invasion of Busoga where many people were killed, houses burnt and property looted. Kimbugwe also invaded Busoga.

The Arabs and Swahili entered Buganda with guns that helped Buganda to expand. By 1880 Kabaka Mutesa I possessed one thousand guns. “The possession of guns as well as the Anglo-Buganda alliance strengthened Buganda and enabled her to acquire more territory from Bunyoro …, and from Ankole (Kabula in the 1890s”(Kahangi 2003).

It is important to note that Buganda has succeeded to expand and sustain herself because of external help. The decline of Bunyoro helped. The arrival of Arabs and Swahili with guns helped. The arrival of Britain with guns helped. The support of Obote helped Mengo get rid of Kiwanuka. Amin helped Baganda get rid of Obote and Museveni helped Baganda get rid of Obote.

There is virtually no record of Buganda acting alone and facing tough competition. You see Baganda now rallying behind Sejusa whom they see as assimilated Muganda to help them get rid of Museveni.

Baganda are not interested in leaders that don’t have military backing. That is why Baganda are also in favor of military means because they are not able to command strong political support in the rest of Uganda.

Most of Buganda kings ruled ruthlessly. The example of Mutesa II will suffice. “He [Kabaka Mutesa] had power of life and death over his people and maintained his authority by severe and brutal punishments, such as the destruction of houses and property, the selling of his subjects into slavery, mutilation, burning offenders alive or hacking them to pieces”(Arthur Tuden and Leonard Plotnicov 1970).

Is this the society and traditions Michael Mutagubya want Baganda to return to?

We urge Baganda and others to be careful about that group of Baganda led by Mutagubya with his ideology or else you could end up under conditions similar to those that prevailed during Mutesa I time. This is part of our civic education.

Eric Kashambuzi


The role of Baganda in Uganda politics

I have been accused especially by Michael Mutagubya on radio munansi and Aloysius Sempala on face book that I am deliberately distorting the history of Buganda to sow the seeds of disunity and isolate Buganda from the rest of Uganda. The truth of the matter is that it is Baganda that have always wanted to secede and are now mobilizing for independence. Some Baganda with good and others perhaps with no good intentions have advised me to refrain from writing and talking about Buganda the way I am doing because Baganda may not support me should I seek a national public office.

I have stated many times over that you can never solve a problem without getting to the root cause. In Uganda for various reasons we have failed to tackle one of the root causes of Uganda’s political problems. The attempt of Baganda to isolate Buganda from the rest of Uganda is in large part responsible for the political difficulties Uganda has experienced. The British appeasement policy towards Buganda which has continued since independence contributed to Baganda feeling they are special and Buganda is a state within the state of Uganda.

Paragraph 3 of the 1900 Uganda agreement is very clear on the status of Buganda in relation to other regions. It states “The kingdom of Uganda [read Buganda] in the administration of the Uganda Protectorate shall rank as a province of equal rank with any other provinces into which the Protectorate may be divided”(J.V.Wild 1950).

The message can’t be clearer than that. Nonetheless, some Baganda have vehemently insisted that Buganda is a state within a state and have the right to secede. Because I have challenged this false position, I have been branded anti-Baganda that must be opposed and forced to surrender.

As Uganda moved towards independence a Constitutional Committee was established under the chair of J. V. Wild to consult with Ugandans on the form of government – unitary or federal – they prefer and write a report with recommendations on the way forward. Because “A very great majority of people in the Eastern, Northern and Western Provinces … favore[d] the unitary system of government for Uganda”, Buganda feared that it might be dominated by a coalition from the Eastern, Northern and Western provinces (Report of the Constitutional Committee 1959).

The Buganda government rejected the Wild Committee recommendations. During 1960 Buganda tried to negotiate with the colonial authorities for an autonomous federal status; independent army; a separate high court; a separate police force and control of Kampala and Entebbe.

Iain Macleod rejected the idea of negotiating with Buganda. Having failed to achieve the goal, the Lukiiko unanimously passed a resolution on December 30, 1960 and declared the independence of Buganda. The Protectorate government ignored the resolution and went ahead with preparations for direct national elections to the National Assembly. The Buganda government ordered a boycott (T.V. Sathyamurthy 1986). Elections went ahead in 1961 including in Buganda, albeit with a low turnout, and the Catholic-dominated Democratic Party led by Ben Kiwanuka won the elections.

The Kabaka’s government participated in the Lancaster House constitutional discussions but failed to get all they had asked for including retention of all the lost counties and making the Kabaka to be above the Prime Minister. In frustration, the Kabaka Yekka (KY) issued a statement which included a section that “We of 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…”(Onyango Odongo 1993).

In 1963 the Uganda constitution was amended and Kabaka was elected the first president of the Republic of Uganda but the executive powers resided in the office of the Prime Minister. This unsatisfactory arrangement to Baganda and their loss of the 1964 referendum on the lost counties triggered events that led to another attempt at secession. “On the 20th of May, [1966], three saza chiefs … proposed a radical motion in the Lukiiko which was unanimously carried. The Lukiiko thereupon served an ultimatum on the central government which was asked ‘to remove itself’ from the soil of Buganda before the 30th of May 1966”(T.V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

The central government regarded the ultimatum as an act of rebellion to be stopped. “On the 24th of May, the Kabaka’s palace was surrounded by troops under the command of colonel Amin. Obote’s justification for ordering a direct frontal attack on the palace was a large cache of illegal arms had been found hidden in the grounds”. Be that as it may, “After an engagement lasting about twelve hours, the Lubiri was razed to the ground, the Royal Drums were burned, the Kabaka’s flame was extinguished, the resistance of the Baganda inside the palace was crushed, and the Kabaka and the Katikiro were put to flight”(T.V.Sathyamurthy 1986).

Baganda did not give up. They continued to agitate and in the process contributed to the environment that led to the overthrow of the UPC government under the leadership of Obote in January 1971. Amin who led troops that destroyed the Lubiri was warmly welcomed by Baganda when he became the head of state.

That Baganda were happy is revealed by statements from some Baganda religious leaders of major denominations. “The Catholic Bishop Adrian Ddungu of Masaka made a speech hailing Amin as a liberator – which apparently anyone who overthrew the Anglican Obote and his ‘socialism’ had to be.

Likewise, Baganda Anglicans welcomed Amin: Bishop Lutaya of West Buganda diocese is reported to have hailed Amin as ‘our redeemer and the light of God’”(Paul Gifford 1999).

During the guerrilla war from 1981 to February 1986, Baganda provided the largest support to Museveni and his National Resistance Army. They even offered the Luwero Triangle to wage his war from. Prince Ronald Mutebi lent his full support to Museveni as well as church leaders. “Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga and Haji Badru Kakunguru’s resistance to the Obote II government and their blessing of the five-year bush war was not a big secret”. When it was felt that there was strong resistance to giving Museveni a second term “… Cardinal Nsubuga went public with his continued support for Mr. Museveni. He made a passionate but strong appeal for giving Museveni an extra five years in order to stabilize the country and arrange for orderly succession”(Daily Monitor February 16, 2006).

As a reward for their support, Museveni has appointed Baganda to very high and prestigious offices including three vice presidents, three prime ministers, speaker of parliament, two deputy prime ministers, vice chair of NRM, inspector general of police, army commander, chairperson of national land board, the key ministries of finance, attorney general and education etc. NRM members of Parliament from Buganda have solidly stood behind the chairman of NRM who is Museveni. The relations between Mengo and Museveni are very warm, witness the signing of the so-called Memorandum of Understanding and current plans to discuss the federal arrangement for Buganda alone.

It is worth noting that some 80 percent of Uganda’s National Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala and its vicinity with a population of less than two million out of 35 million Ugandans where the majority in the Greater Kampala region are Baganda and most likely getting a disproportionate share of the national income.

With all these benefits going to Baganda and the role they have played in crowning and sustaining Amin and Museveni one wonders why they continue to complain that Baganda are discriminated against and stories are distorted to separate them from the rest of Uganda and marginalize them even more when as the evidence above amply shows it is Baganda that have always wanted to secede – a move that I have opposed very vigorously.

Eric Kashambuzi is international consultant on development issues.

What the people of Uganda need to know

Correcting distortions: The history of Uganda was and continues to be distorted. And there are people who are comfortable with the status quo. London-based Michael Mutagubya is leading a protest on radio munansi that I am distorting the history of Buganda and Baganda should dismiss what I am doing in civic education.

The second champion of dissent is another London-based Aloysius Sempala who is leading a protest on face book that Baganda are not a multi-nation but one nation (same ancestral origin and same indigenous language). He even observed that he has never heard of the clans of Kimera. For him all Baganda are clans of Kintu.

He too is urging Baganda to ignore the confusion I am creating. However, research findings do not support Sempala assertion. Let us refer to only two sources by Ugandans (I have been accused of using materials written by white people).

Christine Obbo who has done extensive research in Buganda says that “… since it has been easy for foreigners to become Ganda, the Ganda make a further distinction between ordinary citizens and the pure Ganda, whose clans supposedly helped the first king of Buganda, Kintu to consolidate the Ganda state at Kiwawu. However, the people belonging to the clans that supposedly came with Kimera, the third king of Buganda according to oral tradition, claim that the legend of Kintu is just-so story and that the Ganda kingdom began with Kimera, and that it is their clans that are pure Ganda”(William A. Shack and Elliot P. Skinner 1979).

Benson Okello adds that “The Baganda were one of the Bantu clans which had been living within their present homeland since 1000 AD. Some clans joined them later. These clans claimed to have come with Kintu. Kintu was the founder of the Buganda kingdom. He came from the eastern direction, probably from the Mt. Elgon area. However, some clans claim that they came to Buganda with Kato Kimera who, according to Bunyoro-Kitara tradition, was a brother to Isingoma Rukidi Mpuga. Although some historians (especially Baganda historians) disagree that Kimera came from Bunyoro-Kitara, Kimera might have come to Buganda from the north as a result of the Luo invasion”(Okello 2002).

Clearly it is difficult drawing on these authors to avoid the conclusion that Buganda has more than one nation – clans of Kintu and Kimera and foreigners that have easily entered Buganda and become citizens.

As an aside, there are Ugandans who are advising me not to disturb Baganda because they need their political support in post-NRM regime. Let me be clear: what I am doing is civic education and should not be mixed up with politics or sectarianism.

In this presentation I will be selective because there is much ground to cover and many readers don’t like long articles. I have even been advised to make my sentences and paragraphs short for easy reading.

Uganda ethnic groups: Who are we ethnically? Some authors give four ethnic groups namely Bantu people; Nilotic people made up of River Lake Nilotes that originated in Bar-el- Gazal of South Sudan and Plains Nilotes also called Paranilotic; Sudanic people and Nilo-Hamitic people.

Two observations: First, there is no group called Nilo-Hamitic for the simple reason that there are no people called Hamite that would have intermarried with Nilotes to produce Nilo-Hamitic (For details read Zamani edited by Bethwell A. Ogot and John A. Kieran 1967; The African Experience by Roland Oliver, 1991 and African History by Philip Curtin et al., 1978 on the Hamitic Myth).

The second observation is that contrary to popular belief, Bachwezi were not ancestors of Luo but a Bantu aristocracy. According to Ogot “Bachwezi were not Bahima or Luo: they were a Bantu aristocracy who emerged in western Uganda in the fourteenth and fifteen centuries”(Building on the Indigenous by Bethwell A. Ogot 1999).

Settlement of different ethnic groups in Uganda

Several authors have simplified the settlement of Ugandans within Uganda along the Bantu in the south and Nilotics in the north and East divide. For example in Uganda: From the pages of Drum edited by Adam Seftel and published in 1994 it is stated “Bantu-speaking peoples live in the southern half of the country… The Sudanic-speaking people such as Lugbara, Madi and Kakwa live in West Nile and the Luo-speaking peoples live in northern and eastern Uganda”. That is the broad picture presented which is far from the truth.

Baganda in Uganda: Because of conflicts within Buganda and deployment of Baganda as civil servants and religious leaders, Baganda are found in virtually all parts of Uganda especially in western and eastern regions.

Tutsi in Uganda: As we know by now Tutsi are descendants of Nilotic Luo-speaking pastoralists that migrated from Bar-el-Ghazal area in southern Sudan. Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge are all Tutsi cousins (we shall use the generic term of Tutsi to refer to all these groups). They adopt local languages and local names wherever they settle but men don’t marry outside Tutsi ethnic group. They have therefore retained their Nilotic Luo-identity (this might explain why Amii Otunnu and Sejusa both Nilotic Luo descendants might have decided to work together to lead Ugandans in the Diaspora and form the next government).

In western Uganda migration from then southern Sudan brought Nilotic Luo-speaking pastoralists who settled in Ankole as Bahima (a Tutsi clan as reported by Gerard Prunier 1995) and ruled Bantu people they found in the region and called them Bairu – slaves or servants. Another branch of Tutsi settled in Rwanda and Burundi where they dominated Bantu they called Bahutu – slaves or servants.

In mid-17th century, a group of Tutsi left Rwanda and founded Mpororo kingdom in present day northern Rwanda and southwest Uganda in present day Ntungamo district and northern parts of Kabale district. The Bantu who lived in the area were defeated and converted into Bahororo/Bairu. The Tutsi rulers became Tutsi/Bahororo, a distinction that must be kept in mind when discussing who has benefited under Tutsi/Bahororo regime led by Museveni who is a Tutsi/Muhororo.

Around mid-18th century, Mpororo kingdom disintegrated from internal conflicts. In Ankole Bahinda rulers took over parts of former Mpororo kingdom and the rest was given to them by the British that doubled the size of Nkore which became Ankole.

After disintegration, some Bahororo stayed in former Mpororo as commoners, others returned to Rwanda, yet others under Rwebiraro migrated to Rujumbura around 1800 as refugees and settled at Nyakinengo. They came with a standing army and defeated the Bantu clans who were subjugated and called collectively Bairu – slaves or servants.

At the time of colonization Makobore a Tutsi/Muhororo and chief of Rujumbura decided that all the people of Rujumbura (Tutsi/Bahororo and Bairu be called Bahororo for colonial administrative convenience). So in Rujumbura we have Tutsi/Bahororo led by Jim Muhwezi now in power and Bairu/Bahororo who are trapped in poverty under the NRM regime and increasingly being dispossessed of their land, a form of genocide in time of peace as such a decision will result in reduction of Bairu numbers through ill-health and forced birth control because of economic hardship.

Another group of Tutsi/Bahororo stayed in northern parts of Kabale and became Bakiga.

Beginning in the 1920s, many Rwandese and Burundians both Hutu and Tutsi migrated to Uganda in search of work. Some mostly Tutsi settled in Ankole as cattle herders and others spread to all parts of Uganda where livestock herding is found including in Buganda, eastern and northern Uganda and many of them settled permanently adopted local names and languages. Hutu workers concentrated on crop cultivation and settled mostly in Buganda.

Then came the 1959 social revolution in Rwanda that drove many Tutsi and their cattle into Uganda. Immediately upon arrival one third of them settled with their kin and kith and became Ugandans especially in Ankole and Kigezi. As independence was approaching in Uganda the British authorities did not want to be saddled with a refugee problem. They discouraged refugee camps and instead encouraged Tutsi and their cattle to filter into all parts of Uganda.

The Kabaka government driven by humanitarian concerns allowed Tutsi and their cattle to settle in Buganda and return home when the political situation normalized. Instead they have settled permanently, adopted Luganda language and names. They are therefore counted as Baganda free to enjoy all that Buganda provides on equal footing with indigenous Baganda and other foreigners that settled in Buganda – a source of conflict with indigenous or pure Baganda that is driving a desire for secession.

Thus, a combination of power conflicts and economic hardship in Rwanda and to a lesser extent in Burundi forced many people to migrate and settle in Uganda. It is important to note that Uganda became a hostile territory to Hutu refugees or workers since NRM came to power in 1986 and most of Rwandese and Burundians coming to Uganda are Tutsi.

Since the 1920s Uganda has received many Banyarwanda. By around the time of independence they formed about 40 percent in Buganda alone. For more information read Rwanda Conflict by Dixon Kamukama, 1997 and Administrators in East Africa by B. L. Jacobs, 1965).

Who are Banyamulenge? They are Tutsi pastoral people who fled Rwanda in mid 19th century as a result of instability during the reign of King Kigeri Rwabugiri (1853-97). They settle in DRC near a hill called Mulenge – hence the name Banyamulenge – the people of Mulenge Hills (Ben RawLence 2012). It is believed that some of them have found their way in Uganda and are participating in many aspects of Uganda politics, economics and society.

Thus when we talk of Batutsi (Tutsi) we include Bahima or Hima of Ankole, Batutsi/Bahororo and Batutsi/Banyamulenge. The leaders of Uganda under Museveni have come mostly from this group.

But there is still confusion as to who has benefited

You will hear people especially Baganda telling you or writing like Amii Otunnu has done that Banyankole and increasingly Bakiga have taken all the good jobs, have killed other Ugandans especially Baganda and northerners and easterners and must pay when the time comes.

First of all in trying to understand who is ruling Uganda we must draw an ethnic distinction, sad but necessary.

Ankole: In Ankole tell me how many Bairu the large majority in that area are in power and in important business in Uganda? Those called Banyankole who have benefited tremendously are Tutsi (Tutsi from Rwanda and Burundi, Bahima and Bahororo led by Museveni).

Kabale: Many of Ugandans from Kabale who register themselves as Bakiga are actually Tutsi that remained behind as Bahororo and those that entered Uganda after the social revolution of 1959 (that was triggered by Tutsi when they assaulted a newly appointed Hutu sub-chief) and since then.

Rujumbura: In Rujumbura the prominent personalities in Uganda politics, army and civil service are Tutsi/Bahororo. Jim muhwezi, Aronda Nyakairimama, Tumukunde, two women presidential advisers, Allan Kagina of Customs Department and Keith Muhakanizi Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance.

Tell me how many Bairu/Bahororo hold prominent positions and yet we have the largest number of educated and experienced people.

Thus in former Ankole and Kigezi districts where Bantu/Bairu people are the majority and have the best trained have not benefited from the NRM regime. So when Museveni government collapses and you descend on Ankole and Kigezi to settle scores you are going to kill innocent people who have suffered under Museveni regime. Tutsi will have run out of the country with their money. So keep that in mind.

Who has benefited in NRM government from Northern and Eastern region?

What I want to say here briefly is that there are many Baganda and Batutsi living in these regions. They have adopted local names and languages. We therefore need to do our homework to make sure that these regions are not disproportionately represented by Baganda and Batutsi.

Baganda in Museveni government: Since NRM came to power, the prominent and prestigious jobs have gone to Baganda possibly dominated by Tutsi (I have not yet analyzed the ethnic composition). Three vice presidents have been Baganda (Kisseka, Bukenya and Ssekandi and before then Speaker of Parliament), three prime ministers have been Baganda (Kisseka, Kintu Musoke, Nsibambi). Ssemogerere second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Abu Mayanja third Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister. Mukiibi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ponsiano Milima Minister of Finance. Mayanja Nkangii Minister of Finance and Chairman: National Land Commission. Overall the ministry of finance has been dominated by Baganda including Milima, Mayanja Nkangi, Ssendaula and now Mayanja. Moses Kigongo has been Vice Chairman of NRM.

Buganda and Luwero War: The location of Buganda has made Baganda suffer needlessly. I have spoken about this matter perhaps more than anyone else. Baganda are being dispossessed of their land. But this is happening everywhere. Poverty and unemployment are happening everywhere. On statistics alone one would think Baganda are doing relatively well economically considering that over 80 percent of Uganda Gross National Income (GNI) is generated in Greater Kampala where the vast majority of Baganda live or work.

Does Baganda suffering call for secession?

Secession of Buganda from Uganda has two major hurdles. First, do Baganda have the numbers and/or the will to carry it out? The 1959 census showed that Baganda and non-Baganda were in a tie of 50:50 that is Baganda were half of the population in Buganda. Since then Buganda has experienced unprecedented immigration and occupation and settlement. If you add on the human loss during the guerrilla war and the many Baganda that have fled into exile and taken on dual citizenship you begin to wonder whether Baganda who are calling for secession from exile have the numbers to wage a war of secession. Christine Obbo observed in 1979 “There was fear [among pure Baganda] that the assimilated Ganda might one day dominate the political structures”. That was 1979 and it is possible the number of non-Baganda has grown faster than that of pure Baganda. If conducted professionally the 2014 population census will give us the exact information.

The second hurdle Buganda faces is the rising consciousness for self –determination by several nations or sub-nations. Advocating secession may open a can of worms that could result in the disintegration of Buganda. Therefore those who are advocating secession need to consider the costs that might exceed the benefits. Instead of secession, Baganda may wish to look at the advantages of a federal or confederal arrangement that give regions and communities power to manage their own affairs except in matters of defense, security, foreign affairs and national currency. What lesson can Baganda learn from Scotland?

This brief presentation is designed to open debate so that Ugandans are fully aware of what challenges we are up against and design policies, strategies and programs that would iron out these distortions. All Ugandans must participate in these debates so that no one is left behind.

Eric Kashambuzi


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