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Day May 23, 2013

BACKGROUND CHECKS IN UGANDA: We aren’t like Britain where there is 1 CCTV for every 13 members of the population, the highest CCTV density in the world

1/11 This question of background checks is related to many other questions that we have debated here on UAH, including that of the tribulations of Uganda Police, the ubiquity of violence in Ugandan society, and broader questions related to our general capabilities across the board. Even when you look closely at the debate on political participation, the autocratic propensties of leadership/political elites at every level of society (not just in the state, a point we often refuse to acknowledge), the question of the capabilities of a pre-industrial, mediaeval society always catch up with us.

2/11 Now, background checks: what are these? What do they entail? Me, myself, Corporal Otto: I was born in a banana plantation at the back of our kitchen. My illiterate grandmother was the midwife. My dining table, the placenta, for the 9 month intrauterine phase of my life was eaten by our dog, Popi. There are no records anywhere in Uganda that I was ever born. In places where they carry out background checks, things start from there: you are born in a hospital, your DNA is harvested, your blood group is established, bottom line, you get onto some database. You are registered with a general practitioner in places where there is a national health system, and every ailment you get is placed somehwere on a database.

3/11 You will go to school and this is compulsory, lest your parents end up in jail, and that means you will end up on the national educational system database. You will be mistreated by your booze-loving Mzee and end up on the vulnerable children’s database. Your parents will be entitled to child benefits, that will place you on the revenue services database. Your parents may get you a passport, and you will end up on the Home Affairs database. Every trip you make abroad will be logged somewhere, right from your infancy. And they will automatically have your finger prints.

4/11 As soon as you clock 16 years, you will see a card coming through the post, telling you that you have a social security number (SSN) or national insurance (NI) number depending on the country. Because all your correspondence comes to you by post, it means that your physical address is known, by post code or zipcode. You don’t live at “ekikkilira, kumpi nekiyinja, noyita kumuyembe, kumpi nakavule”. No! If you are Otto, yours will be, 117 Coffin Grove; Death side, Warwickshire; CV40 10QT; United Kingdom. In other words, you are on some one’s radar.

5/11 As you advance in your education, you will be entitled to a student’s loan. You will open a bank account where monthly instalments of the loan will be deposited. Every time, and whereever you draw cash, and where ever you do shopping, that is logged somewhere on a database. You will take bus/train rides using a students swipe card. Where ever you swipe it, someone knows already which city or town you are visiting. You will own a mobile phone, and not pay-as-you-go, but contractual. Whenever and where ever you make or receive a call, that is logged somewhere by GPS.

6/11 You will have a login to use the computers in your local library or your campus. When ever you use those computers, that is logged somewhere. You will have an email address. What ever you do with that address and whenever you log in, that is captured somewhere. Some camera will even have already recorded some of your biomentrics like the character of your iris…without your knowledge.

7/11 If you live in a country like Britain, which has 1 CCTV for every 13 members of the population, the highest CCTV density in the world, everywhere you walk, you are advised to smile, because you are on camera, being recorded somewhere. If you acquire a driving permit, you are already on the database of the agency that licences drivers and vehicle owners, by address etc.

8/11 In other words, where ever you are, you are leaving a massive electronic footprint, and that is the real content of your “back ground” in that “back ground check” that you are wondering about in the Ugandan context. In countries where individuals have such a huge electronic footprint, by the time police come to you to arrest you, you know they have their data: you just ask with a smile, for the handcuffs to be put on your wrists, because in your heart, you know they have the data: wamenikamata, bankutte, bangemye!

9/11 The other day we were talking about safe houses and torture and so on. Where people undergo subtle surveillance like I have tried to describe above, there is not torture. It is not because of democracy, as some of us argue here simplistically, it is because you do not have to whip some one to get information from him. You have it by just one push of the button. In Uganda, you lack that background information, whether on criminals, prospective judges ( I heard of a Senior Justice Kalanda who was found to have used some one else’s papers to advance his education), MPs, presidents, let alone military recruits.

10/11 So, let us get real and understand what makes things work or fail to work, instead of spending all our time ridiculing ourselves, wishing that we were like others, and generally cursing the dark without ever lighting any candle.

11/11 The lack of such infrastructure as I describe above accounts for such proverbs as “Ente endhirugavu enakuleta”, in other words, I can’t catch you now but when darkness sets in, you will come back to roost……I think that is Lusoga, your language. In other settings, whether it is shining or not, they will get you. Why?

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick


Bahima were/are part and parcel of Buganda history as they have given Buganda Kabakas and chiefs

Mr & Mrs Ham & Hannah Mukasa. Robert & Dorothy Sebuliba. 1901. At Mengo outside his father's House near the post office in mengo

Mr & Mrs Ham & Hannah Mukasa. Robert & Dorothy Sebuliba. 1901. At Mengo outside his father’s House near the post office in mengo

The Ham Mukasa's and the Mulyanti's family. The photo well could be in de 1930's or even before,co'z u see de kabaka Mutesa en to de left is Mr.Ham Mukasa Sekibobo.This picture was taken in Mengo- Kewerimidde house in the back yard. I am almost sure about that

The Ham Mukasa’s and the Mulyanti’s family. The photo well could be in de 1930’s or even before,co’z u see de kabaka Mutesa en to de left is Mr.Ham Mukasa Sekibobo.This picture was taken in Mengo- Kewerimidde house in the back yard. I am almost sure about that

Bahima particularly Maama Nyakazaana, have given Buganda Kabakas and Chiefs. The prominent Nyakazaana is of the Bahinda clan of the Royal family of Nkore (“Ankole”).

Nyakazaana was the wife of Zachary Kiwanuka Sensalire, and together, they were the parents of Ham Mukasa Rwamujonjoza (1871-1956), one of the greatest sons of Buganda. Ham Mukasa as you know was the Sekibobo of Buganda (i.e., the Chief of Kyaggwe), the longest serving chief in the history of Buganda. Zakariya Kiwanuka Sensalire was himself a descendant of a long line of Sensalires, i.e. heads of the balalo clan of Njovu who are known to have gained prominence right from the days of Kabaka Kintu as the official balaalo. Up to now, it remains the duty of the Njovu clan to educate every new Kabaka on the art of bulaalo (herding). Like other balaalo, Sensalire married from among his fellow Bahima, hence the Nyakazaana that you are now vilifying.

Nyakazaana, a Muhima, was the mother of Ham Mukasa as we have seen. Ham Mukasa, with his first wife Anna Mawemuko, then went ahead to father Victoria Sarah Nalwanga (b. 1910). Nalwanga was the mother of the two Kisosonkoles, Sarah and Damali, the wives of Kabaka Edward Mutesa II.

Sarah Kisosonkole, (the great grand daughter of Nyakazana), was Kabaka Mutebi’s mother. The Kiganda version of the Hima name, Nakazana has stuck around up to now. Kabaka Mutebi’s first Namasole was known as Edith Nakazana. She passed away recently in London, I think on 02 Sep 2008, and you may have even attended her funeral service!

Tracing the ancestry of Nyakazaana was not an end in itself but a means of shedding light on the basic facts that we disregard when we are stoking antipathy against certain groups. Key here is the extent to which groups have intermingled over time, and in case of Buganda, the extent to which it is indeed a bundle of bundles, one of which bundles are Bahima. One could almost argue that Buganda is a bundle of Bahima and balaalo.

Look at this: the mother of Kabaka Mutebi I, Wanyana, was the daughter of Mugalula Buyonga, the founder of the Nseenene (conjugated from Nswa enene) clan. Mugalula, originally called Mugarra, a Muhima from Busongora and a mulaalo, moved with others from Busongora, with their herds of cattle and settled in Bweera via Buddu, then eventually moving to Nakanoni village in Gomba and on to Kisozi.

One of Mugalula’s brothers, Kalyebala (whose Kiganda’s corruption is “Kalibbala) became the chief mulaalo of Chwa I, Kabaka Kintu’s successor, was to be promoted to the chieftainship of Kayima or Kaima (in Runyakitara, part of which Rusongora is, Kahuma or Kahima, the cattle keeper or mulaalo). The Kayima or Kaima is still the title of the Chief of the Ssaza of Mawokoto (just like we have the Mugema of Busiro, the Kasujju of Busujju, the Katambala of Butambala; the Pokino of Buddu, the Sekibobo of Kyaggwe etc). All those were Bahima. I am sure you know that, those of Nsenene clan that lost their herds of cattle to rinderpest in the 1880s and resorted to crop rearing are now called Baima abatasunda, that is, the “Bahima that no longer churn milk”.

Mutesa I’s mother, Ndwaddewazziba, was a Muhima; Prince Badru Kakungulu’s mother was a Muhima, Prince John Kintu Wassajja’s mother was a Muhima, Princess Teyeggala’s mother was a Muhima, and as we have shown you here at UAH, Prince Jjunju Suna Kiwewa’s mother is a Mututsi, the Muhima equivalent of Rwanda-Burundi. The whole process of the arrival on the scene of your likely next Kabaka has been a process of concentrating Hima/Tutsi blood at Mmengo. You do not have to hate or love the fact. That is how it is.

If you can, look up the history of the Nsenene clan of Buganda, and ask them why the title of the Ssaza Chief of Mawokota (one of the three core counties of Buganda) is “Kaima” up to now. Ask them about the first Kaima that was to be aloocated a large estate in North Mawokota, the only known grazing grounds in the Mawokota-Kyaddondo-Busiro heartland of the nascent Buganda. Kaima means Kahima or Kahuma, “the Hamite”.

As you try to “dig dip” the history of Bahima and balaalo in Buganda, I will refer you to some readings that might give you some basic facts. These might also be of some use for others that champion Buganda exclusionism and the anti-Hima and anti-Tutsi invective that abounds on this forum:

1.Reid, Richard J (2002), Political Power in Precolonial Buganda (Kampala: Fountain)…also available from James Currey and Ohio University Press.
2.Kaggwa, Apollo Sir (1934), The customs of Buganda (New York: New York)
3.Ashe, RP (1889), Two Kings of Buganda (London).
4.Roscoe, J (1911), The Baganda: An Account of their Naive Customs and Beliefs (London).

And on some people’s conviction that Baganda are pygymoid, I refer you to:

Mukasa, Ham (1904), Uganda ‘s Katikiro in England ; being the official account of his visit to the coronation of His Majesty King Edward VII ( London : Hutchinson ).

In Sir HH Johnston’s introduction to that book on page xvii, we read that, Apolo Kaggwa is “…a very tall and muscular man about 6ft 3in and of absolutely unmixed Negro race.”

And on the view that my reference to Bahima being part and parcel of Buganda history is contraband, on that same page of that book I quote above we read that Ham Mukasa is

“…somewhat lighter in colour and has about him a slight element of the aristocratic caste in Uganda (read Buganda) known as the Bayima or Bahima”

That corroborates the information you discounted as “smuggling” Bahima and Balaalo into Buganda history. And of course, you did not justify your use of the term “smuggling”: the best way to justify it would have been with counterevidence on the ethnicity and origins of Ham Mukasa’s mother, the Muhima lady Nyakazaana.

Note that Ham Mukasa was baptised the name “Ham”…that looks obvious. Do you wan to know why? Please let me if you want to know why.

If you want a copy of that last book I have quote, go to this link: It is a good 328 pages.

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick

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