I attended two conferences in Boston: UNAA and Ttibamiruka which were held from August 31 to September 3, 2012. I attended formal and informal debates/discussions which were interactive and substantive. Participants had done their homework very well and were definitely aware of what is happening in Buganda, Uganda and in the diaspora and were searching for a formula for lasting peace, security and development for all. I was impressed and welcomed the frankness of the discussions on general and personal issues and tough questions were asked particularly in informal discussions. I will focus on issues that for me stood out in the three days of debates: unity; compromise or flexibility; trust; leadership and ethnicity. These issues came up in discussions at both conferences.
1. The idea of unity. This issue came up in formal and informal discussions both at UNAA and Ttibamiruka conferences. Ugandans have recognized or are fast recognizing that to solve a major problem be it economic, social or political, unity is vital. People have to come together for or against a common purpose regardless of their faith, ethnicity, culture, region or demographics (gender, age or class). I got the impression if implicitly that it is now fully recognized that in Uganda there is no single interest group that can effect major change without working with others of the same opinion. I also got the impression that Ugandans are now ready to go beyond rhetoric so that desired changes can happen.
2. The idea of compromise or flexibility. This idea came up in both conferences in formal and informal debates. It was recognized and underlined that societies; communities or nations that have succeeded and lasted compromise with others or are flexible on issues, key words or cultural norms in light of changing circumstances. Compromise or flexibility means give and take, underscoring that a negotiator can’t be rigid and stick to positions as originally presented in content and/or wording. Therefore when you compromise, you don’t get hundred percent of what you wanted at the beginning of the negotiations. Those who demand and get 100 percent of what they want underscores that they are very powerful and impose their wishes on others that are weak. This is dictatorship that exhibits winner-takes-all. However, in a situation where opposing forces are about equal, compromise is the only way to finding a solution on a win-win basis. More often than not what is important is the outcome, not the strategy or name that has been agreed to.
3. The idea of trust. This came up only in informal discussions in both conferences. There was passionate debate on this idea, conveying the sense that Uganda leaders can’t be trusted although they may say or write good things. The element of trust has also come up in other debates including on Ugandans at Heart Forum. One commentator wrote that he likes what I write but wondered whether I could be trusted. I replied and those who follow discussions on Ugandans at Heart Forum read his response. When you examine Uganda records of leadership especially of Obote, Amin and Museveni and how they came to power, you wonder who should be blamed for lack of trust in leaders. Obote was not vetted to detect whether or not he had elements of trust in him. He arrived in Uganda in 1958 from Kenya where he had worked and got elected to the Legislative Assembly (LEGCO). By 1961 he had formed UPC and 1962 joined with Kabaka Yekka to form a government in October 1962. In a rush to prevent DP under Kiwanuka from forming a government, Obote was selected without understanding him. Frankly Ugandans who selected him are to blame for rushing into that decision and electing a man they didn’t understand and entrusted him with national responsibility. Amin’s brutal and criminal record was known in Kenya and Uganda witness excessive force he used on Mengo in 1966. But because some sections of Uganda wanted Obote out and anybody else would be better we accepted Amin as president. So, we should not blame Amin. If he had been imposed on us by whatever force, we should not have welcomed him on grounds that we didn’t trust him. But we warmly welcomed him, garlanded him and kissed him on the street in his open jeep. Museveni came virtually out of nowhere. A man who had lost the 1980 election in his home village because his own people didn’t trust him to make him an MP should not have been so warmly and openly embraced with both arms in 1981 and entrusted with responsibility to topple UPC and lead the country. We didn’t and still don’t know for sure where Museveni was born. But we removed presidential term limits for him to rule for life. Ugandans, not Museveni, should be blamed for making wrong choices. The lesson to be drawn is that next time we should do a better job. There are Ugandans whose profiles and family trees are known. If we choose to pick strangers then that is Uganda’s poor choice not the chosen person who loses trust of the people soon after he/she takes office. This brings us to a controversial leader.
4. Controversial people shouldn’t become leaders. This was a hotly debated issue whether a controversial person on issues that others fear to address is a better candidate for leadership than a compromise candidate who says virtually nothing to buy popularity and you have no basis to judge what he/she stands for. In the end the mood was in favor of a controversial person provided there is substantial support. No good and honest leader can poll 100 percent support.
5. Are you a Muhororo? I was asked genuinely and informally to confirm whether or not I am a Muhororo (singular for Bahororo). I have explained this matter at length on Ugandans at Heart Forum. Let me summarize. There are ethnic Bahororo who are Nilotic Batutsi whose ancestors came from Rwanda and founded the short-lived Mpororo kingdom. Museveni and Muhwezi for example come from this group. These are the Bahororo who are in power. Then you have Bantu who were conquered by Nilotic Batutsi/Bahororo in collaboration with Arab and Swahili slave traders and sold captured Bantu men, women and children into slavery. Those Bantu who survived were dominated and exploited ruthlessly and were dubbed Bairu (slaves or servants). When Rujumbura became part of colonial Kigezi Makobore who was Mutusi/Muhororo and became chief under the indirect colonial rule system decided that for administrative convenience all his subjects be called Bahororo but Bairu Bahororo continued to serve Batutsi/Bahororo as their slaves (to this day we are sometimes canned when the boss is unhappy). So the distinction to be kept in mind is that we have Batutsi/Bahororo as an ethnic group of Nilotic people who are now ruling Uganda under Museveni and Muhwezi. Then there are Bairu/Bahororo people for administrative purposes. There were too many Bantu clans that were compressed into Bantu/Bairu/Bahororo for administrative convenience under colonial rule. Thus, these are Bantu people who were dubbed Bairu when Batutsi/Bahororo defeated them with Arab support that under colonial rule became Bahororo for administrative convenience. I belong to Bairu/Bahororo group that has been suppressed, impoverished, marginalized since 1800 and are now about to lose our land since our area was incorporated into Rukungiri municipality without consulting a single Muiru (I have checked and to the best of my knowledge none was consulted). Because I have criticized Nilotic Batutsi/Bahororo for their wrongs in Rujumbura which is being extended to the rest of Uganda en route to formation of Tutsi empire, they have decided using a wide range of surrogates who use fake names on the internet to smear my name by arguing that I am one of them and should go down with them. I am already down in exile. So I can’t come down with them. They are trying to make sure I don’t rise. That is the message I am sending to caring people who fight for justice. They are trying to keep me down and in the diaspora and are harassing and intimidating me and my family. Ask Museveni and/or Muhwezi to explain to Ugandans why given my education and experience if I am a Nilotic Mutusi/Muhororo like them why they have never considered me for a job in their administration since 1986. I categorically state once and for all for all to read and to know unless you have another motive which I can’t prevent that I am not a Nilotic Mututsi/Muhororo of Museveni and Muhwezi group whose ancestors came from Rwanda after they trekked from South Sudan, not Ethiopia as originally thought. I belong to Bantu group whose ancestors came from Cameroon/Nigeria region. Upon conquest by Batutsi/Bahororo with help of Arab and Swahili slave traders and modern weapons, Bantu survivors (read Bethwell A Ogot. Economic and Social History of East Africa 1976 page 89 if you don’t believe me) we were dubbed Bairu and under colonial rule were further dubbed Bahororo. Of the two characterizations which most Bantu people detest, many of us prefer to be called Bairu (slaves or servants) but most can’t say so openly for fear of reprisals than be called Bahororo. However, there are a few Bairu opportunists or Bairu who have been ‘tutsified’ that are happy to be called Bahororo. I am not one of them.
To conclude, the two conferences were productive and I am very happy I had the opportunity to attend both of them. I trust the conclusions, recommendations and decisions made will be implemented to make life better for the people of Buganda and Uganda at home and in the diaspora.
UAH FORUMIST IN USA