Many Ugandans now believe that the elite across the board connive to undermine both the country and the people in the craze for development, transformation and progress.
Let me to put the topic of discussion – the sociology of Uganda’s elites – into perspective. Having identified the various categories of elites of Uganda in the first segment of this discussion, let me now come to unravelling the sociology of our elites. First let me use the definition provided by Wikipedia to explain what sociology means.
According to Wikipedia, sociology is a social science that focuses on society as a whole, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interactions and aspects of culture associated with every day as a whole. It may be looked at as the scientific study of society.
From what I have submitted so far, it is clear that the sociology of Uganda’s elites is both complex and confused. It is no longer true that when one is an academic and intellectual one is destined to become a leader or a rich and influential person. This is mainly due to the sovereign power of the President of Uganda, Tibuhaburwa Museveni, who has institutionalised presidentialism, Deep State and hereditary or dynastic politics, thereby disorganising normal societal structure and function.
I have already defined presidentialism, deep state and hereditary politics in other articles, which you can access on Google.com and other sources.
There is too much societal distortion with the academic and intellectual elite now subordinate to the rich elite who are so because of their political, military, economic, social, ethnic and kinship ties to overcentralised power despite the much hype about decentralisation. It is not rate for academic and intellectual elite serving the military elite as more or less slaves.
Apparently, professionalism has been reduced to a non-essential in determining one’s position or station in society. What now matters is how much money one us and how near or far one is from power. This explains the decline in influence of other elites in the media, education, health agriculture and generally in the social arena.
In an effort to maintain and retain power, the powers that be have over the years moved to enhance its influence in determining the social power and influence of State House in the country. Everything, including social standing of certain categories of elites, begins and ends with the president and his State House. Through his power to create institutions and appoint individuals to them, many elites in many institutions in the country owe their social standing and influence to the president and State House directly. This applies to the plethora of presidential advisers, internal security organisation officers, external security organisation officers, military officers, resident district commissioners and their deputies, judges, ministers, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, heads of statutory bodies, commissions, parastatals, et cetera.
Therefore, many elites who dominate and influence the social space of Uganda owe their riches, power and influence to the president or State House. One may say that the social space of Uganda is dominated by President Tibuhaburwa Museveni and State House. Any Ugandan elites who are not connected to the president and State House politically, economically, socially and financially are inconsequential. Such elites include the political elites in the Opposition to the ruling political party, the National Resistance Movement Organisation (NRNO).
This explains the increasing greed and selfishness of many Opposition political elite who are said to be in touch with State House at night to tap into the enormous financial resources at the disposal of the president by virtue of budgetary allocation in the National Budget every year, and back to their political parties during the day. This way, these dishonest elites and traitors to both their voters and political parties enhance their social power and influence. It is part of the growing complex corruption industry.
Many business chiefs would not be anything be anything socially and in terms of influence if the president did not accord them preferential treatment in terms of money and opportunities. It is not surprising that many business actors are strongly ethnically related to power and the socially powerful and influential. Many business elites who try to do hones business without connections to power soon collapse and join the expanding chain of the poor.
The chain includes once socially influential retiree elites who have been denied access to their retirement benefits and are languishing in their communities. Although they were once powerful and influential they are disregarded in their communities because they have no money to influence others. These days it is money that talks and decides whether one has any influence in society. So the poor elite of today are the rich and influential of yesterday.
The president’s decision to separate the sciences (humanities, social science and natural sciences) in the universities by preferentially giving those in the natural sciences and natural science-based professionals far more money in terms of emoluments, ostensibly to encourage scientific production, has caused social segregation among the elites. The segregation has been extended to secondary schools, ostensibly to encourage science teachers to produce science students for the universities.
Unfortunately, this has disadvantaged knowledge workers in the humanities and social sciences. They cannot easily access scholarships for upward progression, let alone have enough to place their children in good schools. This politically instigated segregation has long term consequences. With the rise modern slavery, which is also preferred by government as a source of revenue, many knowledge workers will find their children becoming modern slaves.
This article cannot exhaust the sociology of Uganda’s elites. What it has been able to do is to try and create interest in the subject matter so that scholars may create relevant research topics to further look into it. With the rising threat of secondary illiteracy (the illiteracy of the educated), the sociology of our elites will continue to dynamically change, influenced mainly by political choices at the top echelons of power.
De-politicising the character and fate of Uganda’s elites will definitely require taking the liberation of the collective Ugandan mind seriously.
The universal docile mind characteristic of the body politic of our elites, resigned to the falsehood that Uganda cannot be without President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni, is creating for us a new crop of elites that we shall not need in the development, transformation and progress of the country. The new crop of elites will be a burden.
For God and my country – Uganda!
- A Tell report / By Prof Oweyegha-Afunaduula, a former professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences of the Makerere University, Uganda