Suddenly, Baganda want independence, not federo

This is the third time that Baganda have suddenly demanded independence from Uganda. On December 30, 1960 after Baganda failed to agree with the colonial secretary on a formula for independence acceptable to them, Lukiiko decided to secede. On May 20, 1966 Lukiiko once again demanded independence by giving the central government an ultimatum to quit Buganda on or before May 30, 1966.

The colonial government ignored the decision and went ahead with elections in 1961 for the independence of Uganda which the Democratic Party (DP) won under the leadership of Ben Kiwanuka and became the first prime minister of self-governing Uganda. The second decision for independence was interpreted by the central government as a rebellion that had to be prevented, resulting in the 1966/67 political and constitutional crisis that abrogated the 1962 constitution under which Buganda enjoyed a federal status.

Since the abrogation of the independence constitution, Baganda have consistently demanded its restoration and return of the federal system of governance. The demand received considerable attention at home and abroad including a debate on Radio Munansi for two consecutive weekends.

Consequently, in October 2012 a conference was held in London on federalism. The current Katikkiro of Buganda was the keynote speaker and laid the foundation for returning Uganda to a federal system. There was overwhelming support in principle from all parts of Uganda. It was decided that a committee be established to consult with all sections of the population throughout the country and in the diaspora and convene a national convention so that Ugandans decide how they want to be governed.

In March 2013, at a meeting in London, the committee on federalism was formed and tasked to conduct comprehensive consultations with a focus on culture and governance, prepare a report with action oriented recommendations and convene a conference at an appropriate time. The committee with a good representation of Baganda has begun collecting information.

Suddenly, especially since the signing of a secret Agreement between Kabaka Mutebi II and President Museveni, there has been a surge in the demand for secession using especially Somaliland as a case in point. Some Baganda have demanded that the armed wing of Ugandans to the Rescue Organization should focus on that goal. Given the deteriorating political situation in Uganda anything can happen, leading to the disintegration of Uganda or a civil war.

Experience of failed and costly attempts to secede by Southern States in the United States, Biafra in Nigeria and Chechnya in Russia should serve as a warning to the few but vocal Baganda pushing for secession. This could open a Pandora’s Box and expose Buganda’s Achilles’ heel. It could wake up “sleeping dogs” as happened during discussions for Uganda’s independence. In Ankole, Bahororo demanded a separate district which was denied. This denial woke up Museveni who ultimately created Ntungamo as a separate district and Ankole is the only area where the kingdom was not restored. The Bakonjo and Baamba demanded a separate district which was denied. It was followed by Rwenzururu guerrilla war and eventually got what they wanted.

As we know the nucleus of Buganda comprised three counties of Busiro, Kyadondo and Mawokota (G.K.Kahangi 2003). The rest was added through military conquest and colonization in part with external support and those affected know it. The issue of the lost counties should serve as a reminder complemented by current demands for autonomy by some counties. To pretend that all is a Garden of Roses in Buganda is unwise.

To avoid a possible catastrophe, Buganda and indeed Uganda need statesmen/women to craft a vision for the entire country for present and future generations based on a federal system that allows regions to determine their destiny in areas in which they have a comparative advantage except national defense, national security, foreign affairs, national currency and regulations for sustainable management of natural resources.

We should refrain from appeasement in seeking support for the next elections as some prospective presidential candidates have begun to do. The few vocal voices demanding secession not only in Buganda but in other areas should be persuaded to rethink because the costs in the short, medium and long term could outweigh the benefits.

By Eric Kashambuzi



3 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Peter Simon.,

    Interesting developments. This is quite reasonable since it is a common practice all over the world to revisit even binding agreements more so if they are considered unfavourable by the other parties. Uganda for example has protested the Uganda Electricity Board rates’ agreement signed by the British governments between Kenya and Uganda. The same applies with the use of water from Lake Victoria with regard to Egypt’s right to use the water and that Uganda must get express clearance from Egypt before it attempts to use it against the agreement.
    If NRM finds the Electricity and Water agreements signed by the British unfair and need revisiting, then the forced agreements on forming Uganda should equally be revisited and no force should be used against any seceding region!
    Teso should or will follow suit. I am tired of reading about rigging elections or feeling of vulnerability with no hope of redress.
    Too many dictatorial laws, no freedom; now banning of miniskirts signed to law; for us Iteso and Karamojong, this is very offensive, we were used to walking naked, now if they can ban mini skirts, how about our people who prefer “birth suits”, what will they do, kill them? Minister Simon Lokodo should remember that when President Idi Amin was overthrown, the Karamojong celebrated his fall because he forced them to wear clothes, the celebrations were held by burning clothes! I liked it, it was good to see people showing their resistance in a natural way.
    Buganda, set the example for others to follow.
    I will lead people to celebrate in our own way should Buganda succeed in fighting for secession.
    Peter Simon

  2. Hello Peter Simon,
    Reading your article, I could see that your are not serious, but only exhibiting your sense of humour. Surely, how could you be happy seeing the Karamojong burn clothes? Well, that’s harmless to others, but walking naked today can only be described as ‘madness’, not cultural, traditional, or any other way honourable.
    The question of ‘secession’ by any part of Uganda can only be raised by people who may be bored by stability. Does anyone in his / her normal understanding think that such a topic can be responded to with a smile and a hand shake? I think that such a topic will only be responded to by a kind of force and brutality that has never been witnessed in the country.
    Buganda is of course, the ‘backbone’ of Uganda and without any hard feeling, we can all agree to this as a fact. But, don’t you be deceived that without Uganda all is well with Buganda. Without Uganda, Buganda will be torn apart by ‘petty’ tribalism. You will hear some being called, “Banyala”, “Baluuli”, “Baddu”, “Banalwanda”, “Banyolo”, to mention only a few. These people will be at each others’ throats and the definition of ‘Buganda’ will be lost in a civil war that will turn Buganda as we know it today, upside down! The same may apply to any part of today’s Uganda which may try the ‘secession’ demand.
    We should open our eyes and see clearly. Uganda today is more integrated than the situation was at independence. We should in fact embrace the East African Unity, for it will unite the Ugandans firmly, but will also unite Rwanda and Burundi against ethnic divisions. Our children, grand children and beyond may live in harmony and strive together for the best of the entire community.
    BJ. Rubin.

  3. Muwanga,

    Diversity has its beauty.The reason why we have different tribes has its strengths which because of hypocrisy and selfishness we are ignoring.
    what sparks off tribal sentiments is an issue of injustice by those with power.
    Believe me we can live together happily if we agree on some things that can even bring even the minority tribes to begin appreciating this so called Uganda.
    I don’t believe is secession,but rather a federal system,restoration of the terms on presidency. But the impunity and arrogance with which top politicians exercise their authority and kill the institutions is so disappointing.
    If it was not for this arrogance egos ,injustice and abuse of power even the genocide in Rwanda would not have occurred.
    But even without federal there are better options provided justice and fairness become Major principles rather than building personalities as institutions.

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