Museveni Fosters Ethnic Strife Using False Concept Of History

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to national unity is a false conception of history.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to national unity is a false conception of history. This has led to falsehoods and half-truths which, by turns and in tandem, have fostered an enduring legacy of ethnic hatred between Uganda’s tribes.

A case in point, which is illustrative of such falsehoods and half-truths, is the fiction that during Uganda’s colonial period, the British chose the Nilotic tribes to serve in the army to the exclusion of the Bantu tribes.

This, we are told, created a “military ethnocracy”.

Then, at the apex of such an ethnic hierarchy, a coup d’état was staged by an Acholi General Tito Okello in July 1985, and came to a crashing end with the defeat of Okello and the presumably Acholi-dominated army by the National Resistance Army led by Gen. Yoweri Museveni.

Gen. Museveni favours this narrative as it suits his ethnic hatred for Ugandans from the north. However, we need to place Uganda’s history into proper perspective so that we can attempt to put an end to this ethnic hatred which has caused the needless deaths of hundreds and thousands of Ugandans.

We’ll to do just, now.

It is widely and mistakenly believed that tribes from the south of Uganda, especially Baganda, were kept out of the army by the British. Yet, as records show, there were almost 12,000 Baganda in military service in 1943, during the Second World War.

This was three times the number of Acholi in the army at the time.

Even before that, in 1939, the British Colonial Authorities sought to recruit Ugandans for a Uganda territorial battalion. After advertisements were made, 800 applicants for 100 places were received, 60 out of the selected 100 were Baganda.

Even after independence, the number of Baganda in the officer corps was illustrative of a different story to the one we have been force-fed in order to nurture ethnic hatred against the north.

Yes, there were 16 Baganda officers in the Ugandan army in 1966 compared with the 26 Acholi and 23 Langi officers.

So how and why did the tribes from the north become tarred as “martial tribes”?

This is simple, while the rest of the country was lying down and collaborating with the British, there were 18 months of confrontations in Lango, Teso and Bukedi. 174 Ugandans were recorded killed or wounded in clashes with the British in these areas. It is clear then that much of the north-west and north-east of the British protectorate was brought under British control by armed force (on the part of the British).

Of course, we cannot forget the legendary Lamogi Rebellion in 1911; whence the Lamogi people fought the British using arrows and bows, spears and Byeda and Tasa guns which they acquired from the Arabs in Sudan.

Beyond this history, it became expedient for cynical misleaders, such as Gen. Museveni, to turn the wider Ugandan population against the North in order to create a North-South divide whose cleavages would shape a gulf between Ugandans as a means to atomizing and thereby weakening them so they could not rise up against the Museveni junta.

Gen. Museveni was an expert at this sort of divisiveness which took on even more ominous undertones when Gen. Museveni spread the fiction that Milton Obote said a “dead Muganda is a good Muganda” while being married to Muganda woman, Miria Kalule, who was from Kawempe and whose father was even a speaker in the Lukiiko (royal assembly of Buganda).

All told, the only way Uganda can rise above its divisions is by embracing a conception of history which does not feed into the stereotypes surrounding her diverse peoples.

Our country is on the cusp of great changes. However, these changes should reflect our powerful potentialities and not our abject actualities.

History shall show us the way, if only we are willing to allow it to take the lead towards a correct conception of what it means to be Ugandan.

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