Seven demerits of federalism and five merits of unitarism…… I got them from S/Sgt Mwaipopo.

Dear netters,

When I was attending my Junior Non Commissioned Officers’ course from which I graduated as a Lance Corporal, they gave us Civics lessons which included a Doze Of Political Economy, DOPE, hence you will hear Mr Barigye rightly stating that Otto is on dope.

They taught us about systems of government and forms of government. The two systems highlighted were unitarism and federalism. They told us about the seven demerits of federalism and I list them here below for us to debate, if indeed we have the nerve:

1.It creates a deficient authority over component states and individual citizens especially in new states of the 3rd world where the process of nation building and state making is in its early stages.
2.It creates liability to dissolution by the seccession or rebellion of states especially when the core of the federation is an entity that enjoyed independent and hegemonic existence prior to the federation.
3.It creates liability to division into groups and factions by the formation of separate combinations of component states
4.It causes absence of the power of legislation on certain subjects where uniform legislation for the whole state is needed
5.It makes want of uniformity among the states in legislation and administration
6.It leads to trouble, expenses, and delay due to complexity of a double system of legislation and administration.
7.It weakens foreign policy

The Tanzanian military instructor (S/Sgt Mwaipopo he was called) also told us that, whenever you see one subnational unit out of several, singly and persistently and at times cantankerously pressing for autonomy while other subunits are not interested, then what you are dealing with is not federalism, but rather, the toxin called separatism or the early stages of secessionism. That staff Sergeant told us that the doctrine of nationbuilding and statemaking stipulates that, in such cases of suspect separatism, an NCO’s reflex response is to cork his rifle immediately!

He also added that, in the basic principles of political practice, federation happens through the path of separate state entities agreeing to come together and have some of their affairs managed by a central authority. That is to say, the central government is created by the constituent members through the act of federation. Individual political units do not beg/pester/nag/harangue/hector/armtwist/blackmail the central government to give them the federal status. The Staff Segeant told us that, asking for ‘federo’ turns logic on its head and that it is the central authority that is supposed to be at the mercy of the federal states and not the other way round!

I still believe him.

Also allow me to give you the merits of unitarism…… I got them from S/Sgt Mwaipopo.

1.It is a very effective and efficient form of government. The central government is all-powerful, and as such, it can take any step to meet the situation before it and is particularly effective in new countries that are still lacking in socio-political integration between groups and regions, i.e., countries that are very low on the scale of nation building and state-making.
2.It proves very successful in dealing with the conditions of emergency.
3.It is a flexible government. The constitution can be amended easily (yes!) by the central government according to the exigencies of the situation. It may delegate some of its powers to local units, or take them back without any difficulty (yes!) in the light of the obtaining circumstances.
4.It brings uniformity of administration and legislation. Since there is only one national legislature and since all powers are vested in the central government, there is uniformity in the spheres of law making and its implementation.
5.It is less expensive as compared to a federal system because there is no duality in the field of legislation, administration and adjudication. In other words, there is no duplication of work at the regional levels.




22 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. S/Sgt Mwaipopo. A great instructor indeed. All answers provided without question! It is as though he had Uganda in mind.
    Let those campaigning for “Federo” look at this message and learn from the lessons by S/Sgt Mwaipopo. No wonder then that the former Kings of ‘Tanganyika’, or Tanzania are no longer heard of, hence the unity of the peoples of the United Republic of Tanzania.
    BJ. Rubin.

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  3. Edmund Lubega,

    Why then is unitary Tz been the most backward country in EA?

  4. Edmund Lubega, You’d better elaborate on your statement, “…Tz been the most backward country in EA?”

  5. Edmund,

    I stand corrected, Sir…I based my conclusions on info that is out-dated by more than 30 years. I believe it is Uganda that holds that dubious distinction now

  6. Edmund Lubega, You have exhibited the spirit of a gentleman. To many people it takes much courage to come forward and accept the mistake made. However, I must also accept that what I see good, may be seen differently by someone else. By this note I have to state here that even thirty years agoTanzania could not be described as “the most backward in EA.”
    Right from the time of Independence of all our EA countries, mistakes were made as the peoples of the then three countries tried to establish ‘Democracy’. I won’t go into the details right now, but wish to inform you that while Kenya and Uganda worked hard on the question of Demoracy and Justice for all, Tanzania had another approach. Julius K. Nyerere wanted to integrate the peoples of both Tanganyika and Zanzibar. When the two countries merged to form the United Republic of Tanzania, that became the first step to the goal of ‘Democracy’. Tanzania then suspended the English language and concentrated on the teaching of the Kiswahili language to all. Remember also, that Swahili is a language that does not belong to any particular tribe or ethnicity. After achieving the national language, Kiswahili, it was agreed and realized that the road to political democracy would be smooth, as the spirit of patriotism had been consolidated.
    In Tanzania when the president has served his two terms, he retires and joins the common people without fear, but a respectable former president.
    That’s all for today, but hope to contribute more on this subject some other time.
    Let’s hope for the best for our country, Uganda.
    BJ. Rubin.

  7. Edmund Lubega,

    Thank you jnnyrubin: Nevertheless, on the merits of unitarism I would agree that it is simple and easier to understand and therefore easier to implement. Otto Patrick is right about that list he has written. However it is a double – edged sword: it is easier for a despot to control and manipulate the population through a unitarian system than a federal system. Federalism requires consensus-building and wide consultation of stakeholders. It’s not for the impatient and intellectually lazy. That’s why Obote was quick to dispense of federalism – precisely because unitarism was the only / best way of consolidating control. How do I know that? Well to his dying day, Obote insisted that federalism was the best way for Uganda to go! He should know what he is talking about.Do you think Idi Amin could have been able to take control of a federal state and maintain the tight grip he had? I doubt it. Look, the man ruled without even a parliament, it seems. M7 has one to rubber stamp his wishes.

    Many people in Uganda have accused Buganda of being sub-imperialist and trying to dominate other tribes. If that is the case, then Baganda are the most incompetent imperialists I know of, because instead of supporting a structure they could use to easily spread their dominance, they insist on federalism which will restrict their power and hinder maximising their clear advantage in numbers. M7 has brilliantly demonstrated that you do not need to have huge numbers to dictate and control the agenda in a unitary system. See, until just about a few weeks ago for example, the following posts in government(i.e. “power” ministries) were headed, ALL AT THE SAME TIME, by persons from a particular (minority)region / clan of the country: President, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of internal Affairs, army commander, head of police, minister of internal affairs, PGU etc. .Now imagine if Baganda had had the sense of using the opportunities they have had to control all of these, they would now be on top! In fact even non of the major political parties is currently being headed by a person from Buganda. If Baganda still want to dominate, I would advise them to consider ditching the quest for federalism and unashamedly vie for real power. Even the beloved monarchy might have to be jettisoned, as it is proving to be a distraction, a liability with too much baggage. M7 refused to allow Obugabe in Ankole not because it was devisive there( it is devisive – but that is irrelevant), but because it would have taken away the focus from trying to gain contrrol of the most important institutions in the country by people from his small clan.

    Perhaps not all is lost for Buganda. M7 has boasted in the past that, he owes his longevity and stability in power largely due to the votes and consistent support from Baganda. If so, the Baganda should go to him and tell him 30 years is long enough. It’s pay back time now. There must be a Muganda in the top job for the next ten years. Is this tribalistic? Yes it is . Who cares? Baganda will be accused of sectarianism and tribalism anyway-whether they support unitarism or federalism. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It’s time they developed a thick skin. NRM Buganda MPs should ensure that one of their own – a Muganda – is the party flag bearer in the next election. The same applies to all other parties.So the whole country wants unitarism does it? Well then let them have it, BUT there is no reason being the largest community in the country Buganda should allow others to dictate the agenda. Baganda should stop acting and thinking as if they are foreigners in their own country(I stole that from somewhere-can’t remember who first said it).Do you think the whites in the US spend sleepless night worrying about white domination of that nation’s politics? Or do the Blacks in South Africa wring their hands, moaning about Black Majority Rule? In Botswana the Bamangwato have completely dominated the political scene in a way that Baganda can only envy. Bangwato are the largest ethnic community in Botswana and their Late paramount Chief / Kgosi (In Luganda -Kabaka), Seretse Khama, abdicated the throne and headed the BDP which subsequently led that country to independence,becoming its first president. His son is now the current President of Botswana.You see now how the monarchy can be a hinderance? Seretse saw it and dealt with it himself. If Baganda complain they are being given a raw deal, they have themselves to blame. Come on folks, you have the numbers – take advantage! If you must live under a unitary system, then you had better make it work for you and take care of you FIRST before others. why should you allow others to use unitarism as a stick to beat you over with? Take it and use it to your own advantage!

    If negotiating with M7 proves difficult, he can be offered a carrot: Buganda can implement the “Muhoozi Project” in a delayed manner. When a Muganda president takes over, Muhoozi is retired from the armed forces and sent out to do business, studies or simply babysit his kids. After ten years he can be returned as Vice-president for another 10 years. After which he will be ready and mature (presumably) to take control. That’s the kind of thing that has happened in SA,Kenya and Botswana for example. In SA Ramaphosa is set to take over after 20 years in the political wilderness.

    Going back to TZ: If Tz had been ruled under a federal system, the infamous Ujamaa system would never have seen the light of day. I have yet to meet a Tanzanian who wants to go back to it. Perhaps it could have been implemented, but this would have required huge consensus building skills, that unitarists are not known for. Ironically if Ujamaa were to succeed, it would have had better chances under a federal structure than a top down one, as it would have been implemented through consultation and consensus building.

    I do not like the way Swahili was imposed in Tanzania – although I am an admirer of that language. Why was it necessary for Nyerere to ditch English and put his countrymen at a disadvantage? Why did he deprive them the opportunity he was freely given to master both languages? If he could do it, so could the average Tanzanian citizen. I am sure they are not a nation of morons. Kiswahili is not only a beautiful language it is quite easy to learn. After all isn’t it the Swahili who tell us that “Chema chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza?” Suppressing English at the time was taking a step backwards. All you need to help people learn is to give them high quality teachers. Look how widespread Luganda is in Uganda despite it being neglected and even fought. So am sure kiswahili could have held its own too.

    It is a myth that a single national language is a prerequisite for national pride and unity. Definitely it makes things easier, but does not guarantee anything, otherwise we would not have had sectarian bloody conflicts in Rwanda and Somalia, whose communities have not just a common language , but a common religion as well! These are the worst ethnic conflicts in Sub – Saharan Africa in recorded history! BTW a few years ago the BBC reported inter-ethnic violence in Northern Tanzania. I can’t remember which communities were involved. Anyway that type of conflict has been virtually unheard of in multi-ethnic , multi-lingual Uganda. The violence in Uganda has largely been state – inspired, although it may or may have not targeted particular ethnicities. We had some friction between the Banyoro and the Bakiga a few years ago and there has been,over the last 30 years or so, simmering tension between the Acholis and Langis – but note these are communities that speak a similar language and already understand each other perfectly – they do not need Kiswahili to unify them – just a dialogue platform. I am all for the promotion of kiswahili in Uganda and all of EA-but not for the reasons given by the likes of Nyerere. i.e, the suppression of ethnic pride and patriotism – which is the wrong reason. There are positive reasons to promote it; it is a beautiful language, it is practical, it’s cool(I am sure you can come up with other reasons)- it does not need the lame excuse of fighting sectarianism / tribalism to be welcomed amongst our communities.

    Many African countries have made ethnic pride / patriotism a dirty word on the grounds of fighting tribalism. I do not understand how someone can call himself an African Nationalist but yet make people ashamed of celebrating their ethnic heritage. What the hell was independence for in the first place then? To complete the work the imperialists left undone? Why don’t the Europeans call their small ethnic communities “tribes”? they call them “nations”, for crying out loud! They have more respect for each other than Africans do.

    Edmund Lubega

  8. Edmund Lubega, You seem to be heading towards the “Federation of Uganda”, a topic we debated not so long a time ago. However, looking at our original EA countries and their effort to establish “Democracy and Justice for all”, among other things, I believe that Tanzania took the right path. It was also a rough path, as you see Uganda today and insults towards the then President, Julius K. Nyerere were probably worse than those we hear often against President Yoweri K. Museveni. Let me remind you of a song by a Ugandan, Jose Chamelione, “Basiima ogenze” (Appreciated after your departure). With all the insults against President Nyerere, only a few seemed to understand where the country was heading to. But years later even those who were opposed to him began to see the ‘light’. There were armed conflicts in many countries of Africa. They also seemed to realize that their national identity had been consolidated to a point where they were all proud to be Tanzanian, rather than dig to identify each other by tribe, or ethnicity. Whatever the hardships of life in Tanzania would be faced squarely as Tanzanians.
    Edmund Lubega, you are right that Uganda deserves a “Federal System of Government”. I believe also that if you asked President Yoweri K. Museveni what he thinks about it, he would answer likewise. He would probably add that it is not yet the right time for a Federal Uganda.
    Reading your statement here, I noticed your inclination to Buganda and Baganda. That alone is a sign of the trouble ahead. It reminds me of the Kingdom of Toro and the Bakonjo who fought for so long to establish their own Kingdom. When the ‘Provincial System’ was introduced the armed struggle for the Bakonjo stopped. By the way, the ‘Provincial System’ had a new administrative demarcation which split Buganda and other regions purely for administrative purpose, rather than tribal, ethnical, or cultural.
    Briefly put, I also believe that as long as we still put tribe ahead of our national identity, the Federal question should wait.
    That’s how I see it, but do wish our dear country, Uganda only the best.
    BJ. Rubin.

  9. Edmund Lubega,

    Jnnrubin I know this has been pointed out before, but let me remind you that Justice Odoki 20 years ago had a commission that found that over 65% of Ugandans preferred to be governed under a federal system. It seems the powers that were / be were caught off guard with this finding, because they believed federo was a “Buganda only issue”. Obote abolished federo without broad consultation of stakeholders.Remember federalism in Uganda had been established after broad consultation, hard negotiation and compromise. When M7 consulted the stakeholders he refused to accept the majority’s wishes. Who gave a small group of people the mandate to decide for the majority that “it is not yet the right time for a Federal Uganda”? The democratic thing would have been to implement the wishes of the people. Unitarism has always been imposed from the top down by those, like yourself, who feel they know better than the rest. I cannot comment on the Bakonjo / Tooro affair as I am not conversant of the facts.

    Why are you trying to guilt-trip me about being “inclined to Buganda and Baganda”? What is wrong with that? Why shouldn’t I be free to celebrate and be passionate about my heritage and culture IN MY OWN COUNTRY? If i cannot do that in my own country where else can I???? I am not being violent or threatening other law – abiding citizens. Don’t get me wrong: i have nothing against other ethnic communities and I wish them all well. I really do. But in order to be a caring person i have to first build up those who are close to me then focus attention on those who are afar.

    If you prefer to put off the federal question until we stop “putting tribe ahead of our national identity” – that’s OK with me as long as my tribe / family / ethnic community are in the driving seat and calling the shots. I can no longer afford to wait until that utopia you are referring to is realised. Otherwise I would be putting the well being of myself, my family,community and others I care for, at the mercy of strangers who usually have their own selfish agenda. There is nothing wrong with ethnic patriotism. It is the foundation for a stronger nation.. To be a good Uganda i must first love my family and my community(i.e. one must be a good Muganda, Mutooro, Acholi, Lugbara etc). I do not trust those who claim to love their state more than their “tribe”. They are being dishonest and hypocritical.If you cannot love what is close and familiar how can you tell me you love and trust that which is afar? No way man. If that be the case then you need help. Honestly. Even the Bible acknowledges that loving oneself is a prerequisite for loving others.

    Ugandans, and Baganda in particular, have not been shy about talking about their ethnic communities and celebrating them. the Kenyans, Rwandans and Tanzanians see this as taboo- but it is they(Yes the Tanzanians too) who have had serious inter – ethnic clashes and not we Ugandans. How do you explain that? You cannot run away from this. Let’s have unitarism if that’s what you want but, if i can help it, I will make sure my ethnic community has a loud voice in it and has a strong say in how policies are made and implemented.

    Just for the record: i love Uganda and I am very proud to be a Ugandan and African, but I cannot in all honesty focus on broader African, Ugandan issues when my own community is backward,discriminated against and marginalised.

  10. Edmund Lubega,

    Edmund Lubega

  11. Jonny Rubin,

    Edmund Lubega, Let me please start here by reminding you that I have not stated any where that I “know better than the rest.”
    I understand how difficult it may be for you to debate someone clearly opposed to your wishes, but is this not one of those nice words we often hear about ‘Democracy’? To have the freedom to say my mind? Would you rather debate with someone who only pretends to agree with you? With all that has happened in Uganda for the past fifty years, haven’t you learned from all that? Do you keep in mind the fact that life is just for a while? Would you rather start the chaos for which your children will struggle to remedy, or would you rather try your best to ensure that your children, grand children and beyond would live in a country in which they will not be judged by their tribe, ethnicity or culture, but by the context of their character? A country in which all will strive together and promote all the cultures and traditions as a pride of their country. Well, that’s the Uganda I remember growing up, but always interrupted by the politics of ‘tribalism’.
    Looking at Tanzania today, I realize what a great thinker Julius Kambarage Nyerere was. While some other newly ‘independent’ African countries were struggling to implement what they believed was ‘democracy’, they did not realize that the enemy was not the lack of ‘Democracy’, but ‘Tribalism’ in their midst which was in fact, the weakest link in all their struggles. Julius K. Nyerere had a plan as I explained prior and now that the Tanzanians have overcome the ‘Hinderence’ of tribalism, they have a clearer path to a better and stronger ‘Democracy’.
    By the way, the cultures and traditions of the Tanzanian people have become stronger as they enjoy support of each other as Tanzanian compatriots.
    Some time ago I wrote a story about a Mr. Mayanja, a Tanzanian friend of mine. One of his colleagues at Muleba Hospital near Bukoba had invited us and in honour of the in-laws of our host Kihaya music was played and the Bahaya started dancing. Mr. Mayanja, a Tanzanian Muganda started criticizing the music and proposed that he and a few helpers would play the Baganda music and that his daughters would dance. He told the host that all are free to join in and dance. The host had no objection and the Baganda music was played and the girls danced. Within ‘no time wasted’ everybody was on the floor dancing and the place was filled up by so many uninvited guests, but it was alright for the host.
    The point I am making here is that by the criticism of the Bahaya dance by a Muganda at a Muhaya’s home and ceremony did not raise any commotion at all. It was a pleasure indeed, for the host and all the guests. Imagine such a criticism in today’s Uganda and we would be discussing how many fatalities that might have caused!
    Edmund Lubega, I am not a tribalist, but a nationalist. At least you may quote me as such, if you wish. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Baganda people as they are my relatives, but I am concerned about the Uganda in which my children, grand children and beyond will live in. I have seen and lived through chaos, I don’t wish that for anyone else and that’s why I am convinced that we all can work together as Ugandans to make a better tomorrow for all our people.
    As always, I hope that you will join me to wish our beloved country, Uganda, only the best.
    BJ. Rubin.

  12. Edmund Lubega,

    I guess Nyerere was a”great thinker” – even though many of his “great” theories have been debunked even by the party he founded and led. I am not convinced that the war against “tribalism” in Tz is won though. I think issues were just swept under the rug and everyone continues to pretend that all is hunky dory. Like I said, a few years ago there were ethnic clashes in Tz – of the kind we have not experienced in our “tribalistic” Uganda. What does that tell you my friend? Think about that.

    On the issue of tribalism, I think it is important for me to understand what exactly you mean by “tribalism”. This has to be made clear. If by that you are referring to ethnic bigotry, prejudice and discrimination, then I agree that tribalism is an evil thing and we must do everything to fight it and defeat it. BUT if you are referring to ethnic patriotism, am sorry I disagree. The brand of nationalism you and the Nyereres have promoted, vilifies our ethnic and cultural heritage and for me that is anathema. The tribalism you and Nyerere fear is exaggerated. Just like in the example you have given of the Kihaya / Ganda interaction, there is A LOT of inter – ethnic respect and solidarity amongst our peoples than you want to give them credit for. This long predates Nyerere’s influence, for your information. Bahaya and Baganda have been so close that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two. Baganda like making fun of the Banyoro and Basoga, but the reality is we have lived quite well with the two nations. The Langis helped Buganda and Bunyoro in their fight against imperialists. Daudi Ocheing, an Acholi, was the leader of KY, the Buganda nationalist party. Am sure you know of other examples. So there is proof in history that we know how to work together. In fact more examples of our co-operation exist than our fighting and rivalry, so I don’t know why our leaders like to focus only on the negatives. We did not and do not need the Nyereres to patronise us and teach us how to live together in respect and harmony. We were doing that before, thank you very much. Listening to your likes one would cannot help get the false impression that we were all going for each others’ throats! I believe this tribalism that the Obotes,M7s and Nyereres talk about was exaggerated to justify the assault and rape of our cultural institutions.

    Let me point out to you another African country that is more stable and prosperous than Tz but allows or even encourages “tribalism” in a positive way. That country is South Africa. It is hard to find Black Africans that are prouder of their heritage than the South Africans. Yet these people also promote and celebrate their “tribes” – and they have dozens of them. The fact that they have ethnic tensions between their communities from time to time does not daunt them. They have learnt to live with that. They have 11 (indigenous) national languages and many of their provinces are governed autonomously or have semi-autonomous status. Did you know that the “Richest Tribe in the world” is from the RSA? This is the Bafokeng Nation, whose capital is Rustenburg. Do you know why they are called “The Richest Tribe in The World”? Well it’s because of the royalties they earn from minerals mined on their ancestral land. They are less than half a million, yet their compatriots do not begrudge them the right to be the first to benefit from them wealth located in their region. Their tribal leaders(yes TRIBAL leaders) sit on the boards of directors of the companies that mine these minerals. I think that is a very mature and brotherly attitude our South Africa brethren have towards the Bafokeng- unlike what we have in East Africa, particularly in Uganda and Tanzania.

    If what the Bafokeng are allowed in South Africa is tribalism, then can we please have some of it in Uganda? We could easily dethrone them from the title of having the Richest Tribe in the world. What, with the oil wealth in Bunyoro and gold in Karamoja?

    If the Bafokeng were located in Uganda you can be well assured that their minerals would be controlled by State House and their children would be street kids like many of the Karamajong kids are in Kampala.

    We are told there is oil wealth in Bunyoro, yet Banyoro are not being involved in a meaningful way on decisions concerning how the oil on their ancestral land is will be mined. Yes I know, I know because that will be tribalistic, right?

    Edmund Lubega

  13. Edmund Lubega, The ideas of Julius K. Nyerere built the foundation on which the future politicians would work for the best of their country. You have referred to certain ethnic clashes in Tanzania, but you have not mentioned which ones! Even if there were ethnic clashes for any reason which you have not stated here, that surely should be seen as a problem by a minority, while the majority are at peace with each other.
    In Luganda there is a saying I wish to directly translate into English, “A village on which you have never lived is the village you call the best.” Your reference to ethnic harmony in the Republic of South Africa clearly shows that you only hear about the country and have not been there yourself! Briefly, Nelson Mandela had a rough time to bring the Zulu to harmonize with others. Remember when then President Mandela suggested that Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi “Remains as acting President of the Republic of South Africa”, when he was leaving for world tours? Even Chief Buthelezi was astonished, but that assured the Zulu population that they too ‘are part of the RSA’. Previously, there were disagreements and instigation of disobedience to ‘Pretoria’ by the Zulu, which was seen as ethnic antagonism, simply because President Mandela was not a Zulu. Even today ‘Ethnic Harmony’ in the Republic of South Africa is not yet fully realized, but a foundation was laid by the ANC then led by Nelson Mandela and kept alive by still fresh memories of the ‘arpatheid era’.
    Julius K. Nyerere played his part for the good of his country, Tanzania and likewise, Nelson Mandela for his country, the Republic of South Africa. If the governments that succeeded these Leaders failed to consolidate the foundation of harmony and progress, the aspiring politicians and the youth should search carefully to find where and what went wrong. The phylosophers say that, “United We Stand and Divided We Fall.”
    May I conclude by informing you that in Tanzania former President Julius Kambarage Nyerere is referred to as, “Baba Wa Taifa.” In English that means, ‘Father of the Nation’. The Law is clear about any defamation of the Father of the Nation, “Five years imprisonment”.
    A Tanzanian friend of mine by the names Ludovic S. Mwijage wrote a book entittled, ‘The Dark Side of Nyerere’s Legacy’. The book was published before Mwalimu Nyerere died and I think he, Nyerere read the book before he died. The Law about the defamation of the Father of the Nation is still in force and my friend, the author of the book still finds it hard to return to his home country. In this context, the statement you made here is misleadind; “…I guess Nyerere was a “great” thinker-even though many of his “great” theories have been debunked even by the party he founded and led.”
    My reference to Julius K. Nyerere and his idea to unify the peoples of Tanzania before embarking on the question of ‘Democracy and Justice’, was to acknowledge my appreciation. For this reason, I believe that I shall support any policies designed to unite the peoples of Uganda, but also respect and promote our respective cultures and traditions that befit the modern era.
    Lastly, I keep in mind that ‘We are here, just for a while’, and when my time comes for me to go, I shall say to myself, ‘I did the right thing to support the unity of our people and wished all only the best’.
    BJ. Rubin.

  14. Edmund Lubega,

    Point of information BJ Rubin, Sire: I have not only visited Tanzania, I have worked there too. I have also visited South Africa a number of times and I have studied there as well at the University of Stellenbosch. I currently ply my trade in Botswana.

    About the Law of Defamation of the Father of the Nation: Why are Tanzanians so insecure about Nyerere’s legacy? If it is positive does it need a law to defend it? Africans!!! When you do right the truth comes out and speaks for itself! The mere fact that his legacy needs a law to defend it suggests it is a questionable legacy. To me at least.

    Yes South Africans have had inter – ethnic tensions and I acknowledged that in earlier in this thread, however that has not led them to suppress expression and celebration of ethnic identity as has happened in EA. South Africans have nevertheless made progress and appear to be proud of being South African. Let us leave South Africa for now and look at another peaceful African Country: Botswana. Botswana’s first president was the hereditary chief of the Bangwato Nation(tribe) and his eldest son is the nation’s current president. Are you still with me? They have tribal land and tribal authorities and tribal land boards.The country has its traditional courts and systems of administration(Kgotlas) and its parliament / national assembly has two chambers: The Lower House – House of Representatives and the Upper House – The House of Chiefs. The members of the House of Chiefs, as the name suggests, are leaders of the different TRIBES that make up the Nation of Botswana and / or their representatives. Imagine Uganda having the Kabaka, Omukama of Tooro and Bunyoro and other hereditary traditional leaders sitting in parliament – instead of the army! That’s what I call REAL African Nationalism. What we see in EA where our tribes are frowned upon and traditional leaders are kept in the background as something to be embarrassed about instead of involving them in the Nation’s development is a phoney nationalism, I am afraid to say. I prefer the Botswana and South Africa model to the East African one. At least we would do well to borrow a leaf or two from them.

    Edmund Lubega

  15. Edmund Lubega, Thank you very much for your response. Let me be very brief in my response.
    About the Law of defamation of the Father of the Nation, I wish to inform you that it was not either suggested, nor was it enacted by Julius K. Nyerere. As I pointed out prior, President Julius K. Nyerere laid a foundation for the nation and that Law is by the people of Tanzania to show respect and appreciation.
    About the unity of the peoples of Southern Africa, it should not be overlooked that the indigenous Africans belong to a single ethnic group, Bantu and therefore easier to negotiate with each other, compared to the peoples of East Africa and else where on the continent. Remember too that the ‘apartheid era’ is still fresh in their mind; A reason to continue the ‘struggle’ to uphold the freedom and unity for which they fought, died and suffered for so long.
    Coming to the question of Uganda, it has not been easy to govern such a country that was formed by patching together various Kingdoms and other territories, while the colonialists did not treat all the territories uniformly. The people also belong to different ethnic groups with divergent cultures and traditions. Perhaps, if all the Kingdoms and territories were inhabited by a single ethnic group the situation would be easier to handle, as it may be in the Southern Africa.
    How to solve todays ills of Uganda is certainly not to jump to the ‘Federal System of Governance’ without proper planning. I don’t wish to return to what we have already discussed, but do advise you to refer to our previous debates on this subject. Surely, you will be able to learn what other UAH feel about the situation of Uganda and what they suggest to ‘recapture’ the glory of our beloved country.
    As always I hope you’ll join me to wish our beloved country, the Republic of Uganda, only the best.
    BJ. Rubin.

  16. Edmund Lubega,

    jnnyrubin: It is to me irrelevant whether or not Nyerere suggested the Law on Defamation of The Father of The Nation. My guess he would have probably been opposed to it knowing he was a man who had (at least outwardly) a modest persona. My point is that a good character or legacy speaks for itself and never needs a law to defend it. Remember the Swahili saying: “Chema chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza”. Let Nyerere’s character and legacy be analysed and criticised by who ever wants. Let us see if it will stand scrutiny on its own.

    You are right that most Black Southern Africans are of Bantu stock. However that alone does not make it easier for them to work together and live harmoniously. It’s like saying because the Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Bosnians, Croats, Czechs, Slovaks and Poles are all Slavic nations they should therefore automatically live together in a unitary state. We would be having WWIII! I guarantee you. Croats and Serbs speak the same language but fought a genocidal war against each other. The Czechs parted ways with the Slovaks. In Uganda the Acholis and Langis get on better now with Baganda than they do with each other. See how the Somalis and the Rwandans have behaved in their own respective communities even though the language, culture and religion amongst them are virtually homogeneous.

    That is not to say there is no merit in having a similar language and culture. There is – and it can be used to build harmony and unity much easier than in societies where there are bigger differences. It can certainly make governance and administration easier but it does not ensure it. Let me put it this way – even if Uganda was all Bantu or all Nilotic, I would still prefer to run it as a federal state.

    Somalia has given us a “pilot” run on applying this. The Northern part has been governed autonomously for decades now and is considered, if reports are to be believed, one of the most stable states in Africa. They certainly seem to have earned the right for international recognition. If Southern Sudan can be given independence, why not Somaliland? But I am not talking of independence for Uganda – just autonomy for those parts that want it. BTW this is in line with the UN charter of human rights, in which the rights for self determination and indigenous peoples are enshrined. The unitary system in Uganda lacks moral legitimacy as it was and is being imposed through the barrel of the gun, the spilling of innocent blood and intimidation, while the federal constitution was a product of difficult, painstaking negotiations and consensus seeking. No peace – loving person can have problem with that. Of course you are right the federal system has to be implemented after proper planning. That goes without saying. It will probably require a slow and gradual transition. We have to go back the conference table to re-negotiate it and address the imbalances that may have existed in the first post independence constitution. I guess this forum will help to those ends.

  17. Edmund Lubega,

    i just tought I should share the link below. apparently ‘federalists’ exist in other parts of Africa too.

    “……..There is strong evidence to support that self-determination
    could be one of the most positive steps forward for the development of
    African states and the upliftment of its diverse groups and people.

    Nigerian journalist, Lawrence Amaku, provides sound analysis of the South
    Sudan secession. He highlights the fact that many of Africa’s
    countries/states have been artificially formed. These unnatural unions
    which were forced upon Africa by colonial forces has been the source of
    many an African conflict and has failed the citizens whom live within their

    The Exemplary example of Ghana

    Ghana was established under the lines of the Empire of Ashanti, thus
    creating and maintaining a sustainable and hereditary natural state. Other
    countries with unnatural borders which where invented and created in 1885
    by acts of either folly or plain disregards, or even by colonial arrogance.
    These Colonial countries which as a country only exist in a map live in a
    constant state of conflict and confusion. Thus hindering any prospects of
    peace, harmony and development.

    Plantation Africa to Self-Determined Nation States

    We all want an end to: “Plantation Africa.” We want instead
    “Self-Determined Nations States” in Africa as the basic Independent
    sovereign political units on the continent. That’s how the rest of the
    modern world exists today, or is actively working towards and becoming……”

  18. Edmund Lubega, My apology for taking such a long time to respond to your very interesting and yet ‘memory refreshing’ statements.
    You gave examples about why you believe the ‘Federation System of governance’ is possible. You gave an example of Somalia and Sudan. As for Somalia, the area which later chose to be known as “Somaliland”, was due to the civil war that was being fought and the ‘war lords trying to capture the Capital, Mogadisho. The northern fighters chose to protect their area from those who were fighting for power and therefore for the control of Mogadisho, the Capital of Somalia. As the war continued in the South, the North, “Somaliland” tried to establish a souvereign State, a secession from the Islamic Republic of Somalia. That of course, was not accepted by the United Nations. We should also know that most Somali people are related. The fighting there is mostly interclan conflic and that’s why it is difficult for the AU or UN to mediate. I asked a Somali friend of mine why the Somali war lords don’t take seriously the advice from the AU, UN and other friendly nations. He responded that, “What they don’t realize is that what is happening in Somalia is family business”. He told me that they are “all” related and that they consider themselves as one family with many clans. He said that the Somali problem will only be solved by the Somali people and that the foreigners should only be by-standers and not to interfere.
    The question of Sudan is self explanatory. The North are Arabs, or consider themselves as such. Religion also played its part; Islamic North and Christian South. I don’t wish to intrude in the politics of our neighbours, but of course do wish them good neighborliness, stability and prosperity for all their people.
    I honestly believe that the ‘Federal System of Governance’ will be good for Uganda when the right time comes. Firstly, we should accept that the Federal “Provinces”, or “States” shall be simply geographical and not tribal, clearly for the purpose of governance. Having that in mind, we should then make it clear to the entire nation of Uganda what role the Kings or Cultural Leaders will play in the ‘Federal Republic of Uganda’.
    You mentioned Ghana and I know that even today, the Ashanti King is there and not concerned with the national politics of the Republic of Ghana.
    I believe that you and I wish only the best for our country, Uganda, but let us not propagate such an important idea so hastily, an act that may cause violence. Let us also consider the prevailing situation and see whether it is truly the right time for ‘change’.
    As always I wish the Republic of Uganda only the best.
    BJ. Rubin.

  19. Apuuli ow'Obusinga,

    “suspect of separatisim,a NCO’s reflex response is to cork his rifle immediately”!!!!!!That is what exactly the once USSR (Russia) did barely 30 years ago in USSR and in Germany, it was so in Yougoslavia and in China to Taiwan. We all know that today there is no more East and West Germany. Yogoslavia is many states and Taiwan is an independent state. In a nut shell; a rifle CAN NEVER unite people.The will of the people to do so is the only long lasting solution. In any case he who corks the rifle assumes that the other either has no rifle, can not get it nor can he use that rifle when he gets it. One of these days the “weak” Baganda will learn to cork and use the rifle.

  20. Jonny Rubin,

    Apuuli ow’Obusinga, What an interesting comment! “One of these days the “weak” Baganda will learn to cork and use the rifle.”
    If I may ask, who are these “weak Baganda” do you mean? Do you live in Buganda, so that you have noticed such a possibility? And why should those weak Baganda learn to cork and use the rifle? Let us assume that you are a Muganda and you wish to mobilize your fellow “weak Baganda” for the purpose of learning and using the rifle. How easily do you think you’d mobilize? How would you know for certain that those you are trying to mobilize are “Baganda”?
    I don’t know how old you are, but what I can inform you is that Buganda today is probably the most integrated area in Uganda. Finding a group that will innitiate such an act with a rifle in the name of “Baganda” today, is not easy. In fact, it is impossible.
    Some time ago I wrote an article here at the UAH about Buganda. The article, “Buganda today” is about a gentleman, a “Muganda” I met in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After just a few hours with him, I was convinced about what the Buganda of today looks and feels. You may request Mr. Abbey K. Semuwemba, the Moderator to send you a copy of the article. I guess it is in the archives of the UAH mails.
    Let us hope for peace and prosperity for our people. As always I wish the Republic of Uganda only the best.
    BJ. Rubin

  21. Edmund Lubega,

    “The reason why Uganda continues to suffer identity crisis is the failure to recognize, accept and respect its past. No society has ever survived without acknowledging and respecting its own past however primitive and backward it was and continues to be. The Obotes, Kinyattas, Nyereres, Kuandas and Bandas wanted to transform Africa into modern too quickly and that is why we continue to have failed states on the continent every year…..” – Dr. Oryema Johnson

    I would re-word that quote slightly by saying that Obote and his comrades wanted to transform Africa while despising and ignoring the foundation of our cultural heritage and history. I do not think that the problem was in the pace that they had adopted but in the false foundation they were building the New Africa on. If they had the right foundation we could have moved at supersonic speed – just like the Asian Tigers have done.

    Edmund Lubega

  22. Dr. Oryema, please elaborate on your statement that, ” Uganda continues to suffer identity crisis is the failure to recognize, accept its past”. Also if you please may, the insinuation that, “The Obotes, Kenyattas, Nyereres, Kaundas and Bandas wanted to transform Africa into modern too quickly and that is why we continue to have failed states on the continent every year…..” Of the countries presided over by the Leaders you mentioned here above, can you indicate which ones you label as, ‘Failed States’?

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