H.E. the Vice President,
Rt. Hon. Speaker,
His Lordship, the Chief Justice,
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister,
Rt. Hon. Deputy Prime Ministers,
The Hon. Alhaji Kigongo,
Hon. Members of Parliament
Their Excellencies the Ambassadors,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Since I addressed the Nation on the 6th of June, 2019, a number of other Ugandans have died including my clan sister, Nyina-Omukama Christine Biira, Mukirania of the Rwenzururu Kingdom. Let us stand up for a minute of silence to remember them. May their souls rest in eternal peace.
The Banyankore had an elaborate judicial system that encouraged harmony and conflict avoidance, unlike the present system that we inherited from the West that tends to increase conflict and is adversarial. Consequently, the Banyankore systems had a long list of offences that one had to avoid.
When I addressed you last week, I deliberately committed two of those offences: Okutsyorira the members of the Opposition and Okurengyeza the others. Okutsyorira is like if one’s wife’s mother had been a prostitute but that person had noticed good qualities in his future wife and they got married, her family background notwithstanding. According to Banyankore jurisprudence, it is totally forbidden for one, when angry, to one day say: “after all your mother was a prostitute”. This is the offence of okutsyorira. Yes, it is true that her mother was a prostitute. The Banyankore question then was: “What use will be served by taunting her with that history? Why don’t you give her a chance to live her own life?” It was, therefore, an offence and in an inter-clan tribunal, one had to kuhoonga (pay a fine of a cow or cows). In the Western system, they call this fair comment. The court will only concern itself in “establishing the facts”. However, some of the facts are not helpful to society.
Similarly, last week, I admit that I committed the offence of okutsyorira the Opposition when I said that they were neither Government nor Opposition but they were “nothing” and I quoted some “facts”, like the modern courts, to prove my point.
The points I put before the Public Court were that for 24 years of Uganda’s Independence, I was in the Opposition ─ DP (1960-70); briefly in UPC (September 1970-January 1971); Fronasa (1971-1980); UNLF (1979-80); PRA-NRA-NRM (1981-1986).
However, it was during those years that I helped most, first, the citizens in North Ankole and, later, the wider Uganda and even Africa (in some modest ways).
With the Local Community, the Banyankore, the main challenge was to wake them up from tradition and help them to see the importance of modernization as we keep the positive elements of tradition. Our communities’ tradition of exogamous marriages as opposed to endogamous marriages must be maintained because it avoids in-breeding (obutembane), etc. However, the Banyankore custom of drinking milk without boiling it, had to face my wrath when I came to know that a Frenchman, Louis Pateur, in the year 1862, had discovered organisms that cannot be seen by our eyes, known as bacteria, that do both evil and good, depending on their types that are found in foods, water, etc. Some of the bacteria cause diseases, like streptococcus that causes cellulitis that our Baganda people wrongly call edogo (witchcraft) caused by an ill-wisher laying etalo for one. However, some of the bacteria such as lactococcus cause milk to ferment from amashununu (fresh milk) to amakamo (which the English call “sour milk” because they do not have enough words).
At the age of 14, in the year 1959, I left my local area of Ntungamo (Kafuunzho, where a man by the names of Tashobya has mysteriously taken possession of my land and built a very big school there) and went “abroad” to Mbarara to, for the first time, stay away for some months from home.
The Ntungamoists regarded Mbarara, only 40 miles away, as so “far away” that they would say: “kworiza kugaruka, nibyo biro bya Mbarara” ─ “it will take you a long time like somebody going to Mbarara”.
In Mbarara High School, Sunday was a visiting day ─ you could go out of school to visit relatives, etc. My first Sunday, I visited a family that was known to my parents. The second Sunday, I visited Mbarara Government Stock Farm which the Banyankore were calling: “Farm y’ Omujuungu” ─ “the White man’s Farm”. There, I saw, for the first time, modern farming practices: dipping cattle to kill ticks; rotational grazing; etc. The cattle, both indigenous and exotic, looked very fat and growing fast. When I went home for the April holidays, the first thing I told my father was the better farming practices I had seen in Mbarara. My journey of transforming my family, my relatives, my community, Uganda and even contributing to Africa’s transformation had begun. Starting with 1959 to 1986, a period of 27 years, I was not, meaningfully, in any government position but I was, actually, in the Opposition for most of the time.
Nevertheless, it was during that time, that I started working on changing the people around me, changing Uganda through the student Movement, contributing to Africa by visiting the liberated areas of Mozambique in 1968, while still a University student.
With the social-economic transformation of North Ankole, although I belonged to the Opposition DP, I worked under and with some positive elements of UPC which was controlling the government. Why? I did not want the UPC to interfere with my mission of transforming my people from nomadism, subsistence farming, etc., to quasi-modern farming, education for their children, better health, better houses, etc. As DP supporters, we had tried to win in 1962 but the UPC and Kabaka Yekka, using hooliganism (attacking people), cutting people’s coffee, gerrymandering constituencies, etc., had been declared winners by Mr. Peagram, the departing British Director of Elections. As a pro-people activist, I could not stop working on the modernization of my people because UPC and KY had undemocratically grabbed power, assisted by the incompetent election machinery of the British.
As long as the new rulers did not stop people from attending classes in the school system and did not stop us from sensitizing our people about modernization, we continued. Our method of work was to use small meetings to pass on the non-political and purely developmental message of the four steps: stop nomadism; go from subsistence farming to commercial farming; do so with ekibaro; and, later on, started talking about stopping land-fragmentation on inheritance. No message about politics that would invite the clampdown from UPC after they had destroyed their opportunistic allies of Kabaka-Yekka.
In fact, after our studies in the universities, many of us joined government departments and I, even, joined UPC in September, 1970 and even encouraged the Nyabushozi area people to join UPC. Political Parties are a means to an end; they cannot be an end in themselves.
The end is to transform the people: the family, the area, the country and Africa. Transform them how? By making everybody join the modernity of the four sectors: commercial agriculture with cura; industries; services; and ICT. To have subsistence farmers in your area continuously and you call yourself a leader, you are a mockery of leadership. We actually wanted to help UPC deliver but their internal weaknesses could not allow them.
When UPC, which had some ideas about politics, collapsed in 1971 and was replaced by the more incapable and dangerous Idi Amin, we had to now go to another level, the Armed Resistance. Even here, our methods were principled and carefully thought out. We never used terrorism ─ attacking soft-targets, attacking non-combatants, etc. We never used assassination. Here, in Nile Mansions, I vetoed a plan to assassinate Oyite Ojok by our fighters. During all the time of the fighting, I rejected the plans to assassinate Idi Amin, Obote, etc. These methods of using violence carefully, even when you have to use violence, are not only principled but also strategic. I am now able to work with the children and grand-children of Idi Amin, Milton Obote, Okello Lutwa, Oyite Ojok, etc., because there is no personal enmity between me and those families.
Would that be the case with these younger generations had I assassinated their parents, beyond the usual losses of war?
Before the war, we were very careful not to arouse the suspicion of UPC which would cause them to interfere with our social-economic transformation efforts. I remember, for instance, the incident in Kazo Primary School, where all the elders of what is now Kiruhuura District were gathered to discuss the plans of building Kaaro Secondary School ─ as a Parents’ School. The issue of fund-raising came up. This was in 1967 when I was aged 22 years of age. I warned them not to collect funds without the knowledge of the UPC government. Otherwise, they may think that we are raising money to fight them. When I checked, I found that there was even a law known as the Public Collections Act of 1966. I had to come with two elders to the Police Headquarters in Parliament Building and we got the permission.
Besides, the UPC government had negative elements but it also had positive elements. One example were the programmes of His Excellency John Babiiha of modernizing the Livestock Industry by introducing tick control measures, water harvesting by the way of dams, creating beef ranches such as the Ankole-Masaka Ranching Scheme, tse-tese eradication programmes, etc.
The main weakness of these programmes was that they were only for the elite and the traditional farmers were left out completely. This aspect, we criticized. However, it was better that, at least, the elite were doing modern farming even when the traditional farmers were still forgotten. Previously, both the elite (Abaasoma) and the traditional farmers (Abataasoma) were out of the modern farming. A half-full glass was now better than an empty one. My engagement with Mzee Babiiha was to convince the Jokwano, (Abaasoma) that the traditional cattle keepers, with sensitization, could also do modern farming. Although the elite tended to underrate the traditional cattle-keepers and their potential for change, Mzee Babiiha actually supported our efforts. That is what serious Opposition means. At no time, during the 27 years of my political social economic efforts, did we try to “kuleemesa” (to fail) the governments that were in power: The British, UPC one, Idi Amin, UNLF, UPC two or Okello Lutwa. Instead, we were always trying to use the positive points that existed in the respective governments, even when we were fighting. Idi Amin built the Hima cement factory and the salt processing factory at Katwe-Kabatooro. We never tried to blow up those factories even when we were fighting Idi Amin with guns. Why? It is because our line is that Uganda needs more and more factories, not less, whether the NRM is in power or not. When the NRM eventually came to power after many years of struggle, the country and the NRM were actually, in some small ways, helped by those factories. Nile Mansions and the Conference were actually built by Idi Amin.
Obote had only dug the foundation; it is Idi Amin who finished it. Uganda House was built by Idi Amin. The Post Office building where the NRM Secretariat was housed for many years, the Nalukolongo Railways’ workshop, etc., were built by Idi Amin. Nevertheless, we had to oppose Amin because he had fallen below the threshold of the minimum Patriotic African standards of leadership ─ i.e. Patriotism, Pan-Africanism, social-economic transformation and democracy and he had no right to do that; however, whatever little good he did, we had to preserve it.
Yet, these days you hear of groups that talk of “Okwokya Kampala”, wanting to burn the petrol stations, etc. Indeed, Kayiira tried to blow up a petrol tanker that he had parked between the Nile Mansions and the present Hotel Royale when all of us were inside the Nile Mansions. That is ideological and strategic bankruptcy.
The UPC government of 1962-1971, which we did not support politically, nevertheless, met some of the elements of the threshold for acceptability. Especially, on principle number two of Pan-Africanism, Obote had frustrated the East African Federation, but he was not totally hostile and we were, indeed, beginning to work under him to continue to push that effort. On social-economic transformation, the UPC was tarmacking some roads, building some schools and hospitals. It is on patriotism and democracy, that they completely failed.
It was because of the two positive points that they somehow possessed that we were ready to work with them and under them to see how far we could push matters in the desired direction. Since they were panicky, not well informed about security and defence, ideologically limited and, therefore, patchiest, we were careful not to make them misunderstand us as people who intended to fight them. To do so, would be ideologically and strategically bankrupt on our side because they would, then, deny us the opportunities to preach transformation like we did between 1966 and 1971.
When, therefore, I see groups who say they are opposition, but preach disruption, support arson, do not use the many opportunities that are available to sensitize people under them to metamorphose social-economically, yet some of them are drawing huge salaries from the Consolidated Fund, I am tempted to use a strong negative word to describe them; but I will keep it to myself for now. That is when, therefore, during the State of the Nation address, I committed an offence of “Okutsyorira” the Opposition. Under the Banyankore-Bahororo-Banyakitara jurisprudence, I would, nevertheless, most likely escape punishment (ekiheneso) because the community is shouting in unison that “bakatukabya” ─ we are tired of the negativity of those people.
Regarding the “Kurengyeza”, it is what in English they would, probably, call a cryptic remark. It is like a boy who noticed that his mother was sitting carelessly around the fire and, without revealing the actual reason, suggested that when you warm yourself, it is always good to also stand up and stretch your legs and not to stay too long on the fire. While I was lambasting the Opposition, I was politely telling the others that the acid-test of leadership in the under-developed, pre-capitalist societies of the 3rd world, is the ability to wake up communities to go from negative traditions to the money economy with ekibaro (cura, otita, aimar). Where this has been done, such as in South Korea, China recently, etc., the societies have become affluent. Where it has not been done, like in Central and South America, Africa, etc., you can see the misery of the people on the televisions (TVs). I regard it as a big mistake to be part of a society and I am a leader but I fail to guide them, ideas wise, about social-economic metamorphosis. The kurengyeza, therefore, is a benign activity that will not attract ebiheneso (punishments). The transformation of the people in the cattle corridor has enabled them to build better houses, use solar power, do water harvesting, sponsor children in Universities with private sponsorship etc. During the dry seasons, these people have been hiring, at their own cost, water tankers from road companies to bring water and re-fill the dry dams. Once you transform the households, you empower the country.
Our traditionalists need to also be careful. Europe was greatly assisted by the “Enlightenment and Rationalist Movement” that started from the classical times of Plato and others. We need to study more of this enlightenment and rationalist movement in Uganda and use it to look at our superstitious societies, weighed down by negative traditions and lack of knowledge. The British Archaeological Society personnel, Dr. Sutton, did excavations in Ntutsi and Bigo-Byamugyenyi. He found that those settlements were bigger than the city of London that time. These were the dynasties earlier than the dynasties colonialism found here: the dynasties of Balangira in Buganda, Babiito in Tooro and Bunyoro, Bahiinda in Ankole-Karagwe-Buhaya-Kigoma, etc. That was in 900 AD.
These were the dynasties of Batembuuzi and Bachweezi. These Kingdoms have, therefore, been here for a very long time ─ certainly, more than 1 millennium. There is a country which did not exist that time. This is the USA. It is only 400 years old if you start with 1623 when the first European settlers arrived in that area. It is now the most powerful country in the world ─ more powerful than all the old kingdoms of Europe, not to mention the ones of Africa. Therefore, the traditionalists, like the careerists I just talked about above, need to be careful. Do not continue to kugumaza (divert the attention of) our people or even obstruct them. We need a thorough talk as to which traditions are still rational in view of modern science. Actually, science is not modern. It is ancient; but the people did not know all the mysteries of God through science. We now know that etalo is not edogo. Please, let everybody spread this. Africa needs integration for survival ─ economic and strategic security. Let everybody emphasize that, instead of trying to create parochial chiefdoms.
Recently, we saw the debate about our late comrade, Professor Nsibambi and his heir who is none other than our daughter, one of the girls of our comrade. Actually, Professor Nsibambi had told me about his determination to make his daughter the heir. I am a traditionalist but a traditionalist who wants a strong Africa. That is what I told the Buganda Lukiiko in my speech of the 2nd August, 1993, when I opened that body. Africa cannot be strong with the traditions that disable her. Therefore, all traditions must be audited with that in mind.
I saw lawyer Mulira arguing legally about this issue. With me, when dealing with issues, I never start with legality, but with legitimacy. Is it legitimate, is it reasonable, is it rational for girls to inherit their parents’ wealth and responsibilities in some circumstances? In the modern context, the answer is an unequivocal: “Yes”. Yes, the Banyankore in the past never allowed girls to inherit for very good reasons of that time. The Banyankore, like the other tribes of this area, are exogamous and also patrilineal. Moreover, the clans were, sometimes, at war with one another. Since the girl had to marry outside the clan, was it wise to allow her to take the heritage of the clan to the clan of her marriage? What if this clan was to fight us tomorrow? Those were the considerations of that time and they were legitimate. Today, however, the considerations are different. The main challenge is to produce modern wealth ─ commercial agriculture, factories, hotel, ICT companies, etc. Is it reasonable for tradition to force a Mulwana or a Nsibambi who, in his life, has built up a string of multi-billion shillings’ business companies to bequeath all this to a lousy nephew because he is a male or to leave the powers of selecting the heir to the clan members some of whom may not have bothered to wake up to the need for modernization? Unless, of course, we do not know well what a Musika is supposed to do today. In Ankole, the busika meant inheriting the property and even the wife.
Recently, I had to atone for the injustice of my grandfathers who, in the 1930s, had given all the cows of one of their brothers, Kachuuya, to his brother, Kabuguma (my direct grandfather) because he had died as enchweekye (to die childless), his two daughters (Kobushuuru and Kakwangire) notwithstanding. Girls, because they could not fight the clan and tribal wars, were not counted as children. Although my father is not the one who inherited those particular cattle, I called my 90-year-old aunt, Kakwengire and gave her, her father’s heritage with some interest.
The way the law is, now, is reasonable. It gives absolute powers to the creator of the wealth to dispose it the way he/she deems fit except for the children who are still minors. I think those are entitled to something and spouses are also, I think, entitled to something. What Africa lacks is wealth creation on a serious scale and not negative traditions and heirs. The latter two are in plenty. We should not discourage the views of wealth creators by interfering with the Will of the dead. The living wealth creators may, then, say: “Why should I toil if my wealth is going to be messed up by the clan?”
I had a good modus vivendus with my late father. He still believed in Kujugisa (bride-price) for the girls who were still under his direct care. I rejected kujugisa for his grand-daughters, my daughters. Instead, I would give my girls cows to escort them into their marriages. That was the best way: live and let live.
You heard the budget. My appeal to all the leaders ─ political, religious, cultural ─ is please, work to modernize the families or family under your influence by convincing them to join the money economy with ekibaro (cura, otita, aimar).
In my up-country trips I have pledged to create 3 new additional wealth and jobs creation’s funds. These will be: the zonal fund for import substitution through value addition; the Emyooga (specialized skills/trades) fund for the following 15 activities:
1. Boda Boda Association;
2. Women Entrepreneurs’ Association;
3. Carpenters’ Association;
4. Salon Operators’ Association;
5. Taxi Operators’ Association;
6. Restaurant Association;
7. Welders’ Association;
8. Market Vendors’ Association;
9. Youth Leaders’ SACCO;
10. PWDs’ Association;
11. Produce Dealers’ Association;
12. Mechanics’ Association;
13. Tailors’ Association;
14. Media operators;
15. Performing Arts and Musicians.
SACCO for all the elected leaders of: Local Government, NRM structures and the leaders of other parties if they are not allergic to wealth creation.
The value addition fund will be at the zonal levels: Lango, Acholi, etc. The other two funds will be at the district levels and will be open to all people in each of the categories if they choose to join.
I thank all of you.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org