Uganda has been a country in transition since it was woven out of some 15 or 16 nations by the British colonialists. It transited from precolonial, when it existed as the 15 or 16 nations in loose alliance with each other, to colonial entity when it was under British imperialism and called British Protectorate of Uganda, to a continuous post-colonial entity characterised by a succession of rulers maintaining and sustaining it as one.
The sustenance was not through the will of the people or the complete concession of the 15 or 16 traditional nations but by military domination and control mediated by deceptive elections and the political manipulation of the Constitution to ensure that the centre continually disempowers, divides, rules, and exploits the periphery. A love-hate affair has been perpetuated between the centre and the periphery especially militarily installed and sustained regimes.
The precolonial nations were Acholi, Ankole, Buganda, Bugisu, Bukedi, Bunyoro, Busoga, Karamoja, Kigezi, Lango, Moyo, Rwenzururu, Sebei, Teso, Toro and West Nile. Today they have been disintegrated into numerous meaningless districts and or constituencies to make them completely helpless and dependable on the centre. There are now over 137 districts all subject to and sustaining the centre financially and economically. All the taxes they collect are claimed by the centre, which then decides how much to send back to them, often for administration, far less for development.
Most are impoverished and are becoming even more impoverished with the passage of time. Despite the fact that the most of the districts are unviable, many more districts are planned to be woven out of the existing ones with the sole purpose of power retention by President Tibuhaburwa Museveni and family. Some of the traditional nations, which were kingdoms (Bunyoro and Toro) and the semi-Kingdom of Busoga were falsely reduced to cultural institutions in order to depoliticise them, while the Kingdom of Ankole was completely abolished by President Tibuhaburwa Museveni by denying it the status of cultural institution.
Interestingly, and in the craze for survival, the former traditional nation-states are still yearning for their identity and self-determination. This was best exemplified by the people of the Rwenzururu Kingdom in 2016 when they offered to die at the hands of President Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s ruthless military, and early October 2023, when they welcomed their King, Mumbere, back to the Kingdom after 7 years of incarceration in Jinja and Kampala on false accusations terrorism and murder.
In pursuit of their interests of occupation, domination, control and exploitation of resources from the centre, the British colonialists ignored the existence 15 or 16 separate traditional-cultural nations. They denigrated the nations by reducing them to tribes in order to pursue their imperial interests in their new sphere of political and economic influence.
This was not surprising because in Britain, specifically England, the smallest units of identification and/or classification of plants and animals, including humanity, were tribes. So, there were tribes of plants, tribes of animals and tribes of people. I will ask my friend, Oballel Omoding, who has lived in Great Britain for 30 years, to update me on whether or not tribes of human beings still exist in England. Reducing our traditional nations tribes was so derogative that there are generations of Ugandans that have never forgiven the British colonialists.
Such Ugandans are angered even more by black successors in power adopted wholesale the use of tribes to derogate, divide, abuse and exploit, and crush our people, denying them meaningful freedom, liberation, self-determination, democracy, development, transformation and progress, in an increasing harsh and unjust world.
In this article, I want to first of all introduce you to how we identify and classify organisms and microorganisms to make differentiation and categorisation of different types of living things easy. Then I will dwell on the current debate in Uganda on whether
- it is “identity” or “interests” that should matter in the political development of the county and
- (ii) we should advance and protect interests, not identities, in this 21st century and beyond.
It should, however, be noted that those advancing and protecting interests, just like the British colonialists, do not belong to any of the traditional cultural nations reduced to tribes by the British colonialists but migrated into the country from neighbouring countries and captured the instruments of power by force of arms and now make all the decisions – legal, policy, etc in the process of legitimising what appears to be new imperial rule. They are extremely averse to identity politics, which favours Ugandans, and virulently attracted to the politics of interests, which favours them.
One thing is true. Identities have been there since God’s Creation of Man and other beings as well as Nature. If we are to take the Bible or creation story (creation science) seriously, then we must accept that God emphasised identities of his creation. When he instructed the first man on earth, Adam, to call every living form or specific kind of living thing by a particular name, He was instructing him to classify and identify all the beings He, God, had created.
There was sense in doing that because, indeed the creations were different: elephants, lions, dogs, giraffes, hippopotamuses, buffaloes, leopards, cheaters, etc and mango tree, orange tree, guava tree, grasses, etc. There were of course variations within each kind. Adam had the wisdom of God to name everything. Everything, including had to have an identity in order to be recognised as a separate entity created by God. It must have been a laborious undertaking for Adam, but of course he had the guidance of God Himself to rely on.
In science (for that matter the natural or biological sciences), it is the science of taxonomy that is concerned with identifying and classifying organisms. Not many students enjoy studying taxonomy; the reason why the number of taxonomists (the scientists that do taxonomy) has dwindled over the decades almost at the same rate human curiosity has dwindled.
We can define Taxonomy as the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms – whether plants, animals or microorganisms. Identification is the action of identifying someone or something, or the act of being identified. Taxonomic keys, also called identification keys, are the simple tools used to identify things. They are the most used tools available to scientist trying to identify something, not interests.
People should be identified, and they are, according to origins and belonging, not interests. So, in Uganda, we have known our people according to their indigenous groups as Acholi, Banyankole, Bagisu, Baganda, Basoga, et cetera. And after the British created Uganda, we have identified all peoples belonging to the different locations and groups as Ugandans.
The 1995 constitution made by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) created a “new indigenous group” called Banyarwanda to which the absolute number of refugees or former refugees, in Uganda belong, thereby distorting the indignity of the country. So, in Uganda we have the dichotomies of Indigenous Ugandans and non-Ugandans (minus those constitutionalised as an indigenous group and erected among the indigenous groups of the country since 1995 but who were immigrants to the country).
Maybe I should mention and define the word dichotomy first. This is the separation that exists between two groups or things that are completely opposite to and different from one another. A good example in society are the politician and the clergy of Christianity and Islam, and in universities of scientists (natural scientists) and non-scientists (artists and social scientists) despite the fact that science is ONE with three dimensions: natural science, arts (humanities) and social science.
In Uganda since 1962, we have had dichotomies of political parties, religions, non-governmental organisations, sciences, et cetera. We have also had dichotomies of ruling epochs and philosophies such Oboteism and Aminism, and between adherents of Oboteism (i.e., the Oboteists) and Aminism (Aminists). Today we have Musevenism and Musevenists and Kyagulanyism and Kyagulanyists.
I will not touch on Oboteism and Aminism because I have done so in another article written before. I will focus on Musevenism and Kyagulanyism.
Musevenism represents mainly the philosophy and practice of conquest, occupation, domination, refugee economy, militarisation of everything conceivable, dispossession, displacement, disowning, ethnicisation of everything conceivable, political ethnicisation, ethnic politicisation, ethnic politics, commercialised politics, presidentialism, hereditary politics, despotism, dynasty-building, bribery, nepotism, districtisation, constituentisation, land-grabbing, family rule, desocialisation, depoliticisation, deradicalisation, dedemocratisation, corruption, environmental decay and collapse.
It is synonymous with deforestation, biological desertification, enslavement, drug trafficking, human and organ trafficking, deintellectualisation, decommunisation of society, deculturalisation, commodification and monetisation of life and water, interest politics, de-identification, denationalisation, decitisenisation, impoverishment via money bonanzas institutionalised as development programmes, de-professionalisation, academicism and scholasticism at the expense of intellectual development, abolition of minimum wage, devaluation of education, stealing of public parastatals, retrenchment of Ugandans from public employment and their replacement largely by immigrants some of whom accessed our nationality and citizenship unjustly and dubiously.
There is also runaway prices of goods and services, expensive electricity, thieving microfinance institutions, brain drain, political penetration of universities, spiralling extrajudicial killings, too many unfulfilled political presidential promises, politicisation of everything conceivable, deep state, disempowerment and fusion of the three arms of government – Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary) and decaying ethicomoral fibre of the country.
The list of descriptive characteristics of Musevenism is long and arduous (i.e., requiring integrated study and a lot of effort and energy) to unravel. Future academic curriculum design may have to include Musevenism among the crossing study programmed because there is nothing that has been spared by it.
President Tibuhaburwa Museveni may have been right when in 1997 he told a Monitor reporter that a future Uganda would be difficult to govern. He alone knew which path he wanted Uganda to follow. Even today most of the enthusiastic Musevenists, like the rest of Ugandans (educated and uneducated, literate and illiterate, young and old, don’t know where the president is taking Uganda. Some think the long-term personal project of the president is to have no self-governing Uganda at all, but simply an entity as a source for raw materials for something bigger woven out of Uganda, Rwanda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Time (which is God), the ultimate judge will reveal the fate of Uganda. The vices imposed on the country are not only burdening but also heart-breaking.
According to anti-Musevenists scattered among Opposition political parties, universities and the entire sociopolitical spectrum of the country, the plethora of manifestations of Musevenism are geared towards sowing the seeds of ultimate ethnic cleansing and control of Uganda, East Africa and the Great Lakes Region for the benefit of one power and resources hungry ethnic group.
Anyway, Musevenism has given rise to diversity of theorizing and theories. Time will reveal the truth. None of the theories may stand the test of time.
According to the Kyagulanyists, Kyagulanyism represents the undoing of Musevenism and everything it stands for and against. More precisely, Kyagulanyism stands for identity politics and re-empowerment and sovereignty of Ugandans and the institutions of government and elimination of the deep state. One unswerving Kyagulanyism states that Kyagulanyism is Ugandanism, which is self-rediscovery and self-empowerment of everyone in order to reinstitute the sovereignty of the traditional nation states of Uganda. However, I have not yet come across a clear integration, articulation and clarification of these ideals, although I have several times heard Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the political head of the new political party National Unity Party (NUP), currently the majority political party in the parliament of Uganda.
Off we go by the recent multitudes of people that thronged wherever Kyagulanyi Ssentamu went, then NUP has captivated the masses of Ugandan behind one word: Change. There is no doubt that NUP will need to mould its ideology into one ideological whole that can be articulated and clarified simply and coherently by its ideologues and members from top to bottom. It must be a Change ideology as opposed to the multipronged No Change ideology of Musevenism.
The greatest challenge facing Kyagulanyism is how to meaningfully and effectively derail Uganda from the path of the politics of interests that Musevenism has spent time, energy and money to build, to the path of identity politics that respects and advances the identities of our different traditional nationalities that were there when the British colonialists handed the instruments of power to a Black man.
Kyagulanyism should make it clear whether it sees federalism as the way to restoring the identities of our traditional nations, and if it intends to reconstitute the nations through de-districtisation and de-constituentisation. Therein lies the pathway to rebuilding Uganda as a united country of equals united by recognition and respect for each other.
It will be important, however, for Kyagulanyism to upstep the political literacy and political development of its members, if there is a critical mass of people who can understand its aims and purposes as well as its evolving ideology. Both educated and uneducated Ugandans need to be politically literate and politically developed. Otherwise, they might collectively and collectively think that change simply means replacing President Tibuhaburwa Museveni with Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. Indeed, this has in the past, been the tendency since Idi Amin removed Apollo Milton Obote from power through the barrel of the gun.
To use President Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s concept of “fundamental change”, there must be fundamental change in the collective mindset of Ugandans, not in the mindset of a few for greedy and selfish ends of acquisitiveness, dispossession and displacement – the current new imperialism in Uganda involving black people who grabbed the instruments of power through the barrel of the gun.
It will be important for Kyagulanyists to remember that one of the cornerstones of Musevenism is that a mere piece of paper – the ballot paper – cannot remove President Tibuhaburwa Museveni from power. You don’t need to ask me what can. Although the president said he was like a quarter pin of a bicycle, which goes in by knocking and comes out by knocking, people power, involving no guns, can bring about change using elections organised by a reigning political regime.
Not long ago, Mzee Namungalu Magemeso, 75, once the boss of Uganda Television, told me of a story of how people power alone removed dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power in Philippines.
Marcos derived his long stay in power, not from the people but from the barrel of the gun and USA, like most dictatorships of the world have. One day Marcos ordered the killing of the opposition leader, Aquino, which was carried out at the country’s airport. The opposition in Philippines, determined to bring an end to Marcos’ dictatorship, collectively asked Aquino’s widow – Corazon – then a housewife wife, to step into her husband’s mantle. She enthusiastically agreed. Most likely Marcos was preparing one of his sons or his wife to take over from him.
In a show of people power base, Corazon Aquino told Marcos to call a general election if he thought, believed and was convinced that he was still a popular leader of Philippines, and not just a ruler hiding behind the gun to impose himself on the people. Marcos wondered how a mere housewife could defeat him in an election. Arrogantly he called the election and was soundly defeated by the woman he derided as housewife wife.
Marcos and Aquino were simultaneously sworn in as president on different Hills because Marcos refused to hand over power to her. Aquino called a million people to the city of Manila to witness her swearing in and escort her to State House to occupy the seat of power. Completely unprepared for a million people escorting their new president to State House, soldiers previously loyal to Marcos were mesmerised and just looked on. The guns were rendered useless.
It became clear that the USA was the one imposing the dictator on the people of Philippines when a helicopter from the superpower came and landed on top of the State House to whisk Marcos and his flamboyant wife, Imelda Marcos to the USA. Marcos died in Honolulu, USA”.
For Uganda, we must continue to ask: How much more will Musevenism endure in the country under the growing and proliferating Kyagulanyism, knowing fully well that nothing lasts forever except God!?
For God and My Country