…18th century English Botanist, Joseph Banks, imported the bread-fruit tree from Haiti to the West Indies,to create cheap food for the plantation workers..

The French transplanted the Libuyu ‘iron wood’ from Congo and Gabon( where it is called Azobe) to French overseas departements, to ensure reliable supply of hard timber for the French railway….The breadfruit of Haiti and the Libuyu/Azobe tree would make Uganda’s Kalangala East Africa’s food basket source of hard timber….alas, the Uganda ….Govt chose cooking oil to enrich foreigners instead……!!

( Plaque in one Patriot’s office)

Andrew Mwenda’s piece in The New Vision Monday February 25 raises one question that we all know too well but lack the courage to ask. What is the role of the current generation of African leaders? The anti-colonial and post-independence generations had their task clearly cut for them: colonialism was alive, apartheid was crimson red, globally it was an era of limits both ideologically( Capitalsim versus Communism), and religiously. Today, this is an era of Options( political, religious, ideological), including non-state actors ( NGOs) on one side and terrorists on the other. All these are now are stakeholders and any Pestle analysis cannot afford to ignore them. Nothing is clear-cut as it was then. All is gray, subtle but more brutal than then, simply smokescreened in ‘governance, democracy, human rights…et al, spiced by the modern opium of premiership, sports betting, supermarket shopping, etc

Colonialism of course has never died. It only changed robes and names to suit the times:
-Missionaries are now in form of the new ‘humanitarian’ and ‘advocacy’ charities
-IBEA Co in the case of England is now in form of the private sector multinationals which ancient direct imperial forces like CDC only replace Colonial with ‘Commonwealth, visible here in Uganda in the infamous Umeme!!

The ancient East-West rivalries that led to the jihads and crusades of yore, are now played here in Africa in the visible Book Haram, al-Qaeda et al, while Africans become the grass.

In the face of this, what is the role of the current elite? It is all summed up in Sembene Ousmane’s classic, Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu( God’s Bits of Wood): El Hadji Mabigue collaborates with the colonialists to defeat the workers’ struggle. He personifies Africa’s current elite and intelligentsia in the wider sense. Fa Keita, the old sage, only advises: since we are no longer strong as we used to be, we can only keep quiet. In-between, Penda, Alioune struggle to find their level ( today’s Twitter generation), while Ramatoulaye is seen in Ingrid Turinawe, Almadi and others. and the God’s Bits of Wood are the Nodding Disease victims, the 7 UPE pupils who never go beyond Standard 7, the pot-belly Karimojong on Kampala Rd….et al.

What it will take is simple:
The elite must rethink the hankering after the modern-day trinkets, tame its primitive physiological appetite and take lessons from Gandhi. He could have remained a barrister in England, and lead a comfortable life for himself and his descendants. Nelson Mandela was tempted with trinkets countless times. Dedan Kimathi the same. All led struggles in their prime years. What is the role of the current generation? Gen. Sejusa raises the same question.

Colonialism wont stop simply because we write against it. The times have changed. Tactics and strategies must change….are we up to the task? Do we learn anything from Joseph Banks, Gandhi, Mandela, France’s Colbert, German’s Adenauer? Are ready to see these trinkets for what they are reject them? Do we have the guts to tame our primitive physiological appetites???????????

Sandra Birungi


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Jonny Rubin.,

    Ms. Sandra Birungi,
    You’ve written so well and the questions you ask are very good ones, to state the least. My question to you then is, Do you mind giving us your suggestions?

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