I think anybody who goes through high school anywhere in any era without knowing about dictatorship, democracy, socialism or communism, is but an educated fool.It’s unlikely that such a person will comprehend weighty political issues of the world later in life, even with the benefit of further education.

I would not call the education I got under President Amin as a privileged education either.However, there was a good deal of activism that went concurrently with Amin’s heavy-handed manner of leadership. Schools were free to teach and debate on whatever they so wished.

I and a classmate, Herbert Masozera, represented Mbale SS at inter-district debating competition at Ngora SS where the topic was, “Which system is better: Democracy or Dictatorship?” And this was in 1978.

At Mbale SS, we got to read and vigorously discuss Animal Farm, A Modest Proposal, The Wealth of Nations, Things Fall Apart, No Longer At Ease, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. These tomes were not subject matters that you expect “a repressive” regime like Amin’s to allow to be taught in schools.

Contrast that with Kenya under Moi, where university students and lecturers were routinely arrested and jailed for reading such “subversive” materials like The Green Book, by Muammar Gadaffi, or The Prince by Machiavelli!

I knew for example that Amin was not the first dictator in history.If some of our friends on UAH had read about Julius Ceasar, They would have known that the term Dictator was a title, and the first receipent of it was Julius Ceasar. In its original form, ‘Dictator’ innocently meant one who conguered all for the benefit of the people without fear of one’s own mortality. It was only later that the term took unpleasant meaning and misuse.

That debate about what was preferable between dictatorship and democracy was not specifically about the situation in Uganda at the time. It was a discourse on the different political systems in history and their effect on people.

In fact, the debate followed a term-long syllabus on The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution. Amin’s presence on the national scene was a coincidence.

But again, maybe I went to a special high school. Or I had really radical teachers. Whatever the case, I benefited a great deal of that school and my teachers.’

Edward Pojim.


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