I have operated a travel bureau in Kampala for the last 15 years, and I have witnessed first hand, how many of my clients who are genuine Ugandan Banyarwanda often suffer at the hands of immigration officials, just because, it is convenient to ignore that Banyarwanda are in the constitution as one of the Ugandan indigenous communities, and instead call them foreigners to either outrightly deny them their Citizenship rights or extort money from them, so as “to sell citizenship” to them, as if it’s a favour and not a right!
On the other hand, while Ugandan Banyarwanda are segregated and victimized by exploiting the loophole of tribe and nationality (where Banyarwanda are a nationality of Rwanda and a tribe in Uganda) this problem does not affect Bafumbira despite everyone knowing that these are indeed Banyarwanda in Kisoro district near Mountain Mufumbira, which area was part of the Kingdom of Rwanda which was annexed to Uganda due to the arbitrary boundary demarcation by the colonialists. The reason why the Bafumbira are not vilified, victimized and segregated lies in the name. The name has no attachment or reference to Rwanda, even when their culture, language, names or appearance references Rwanda origin. To recognize only Bafumbira as the only legitimate citizens of Uganda of all Kinyarwanda speaking communities, is not only to practice double standards, but to also admit that, because the name Banyarwanda references a country called Rwanda, partly this majorly contributes to the stigma that runs so deep to the extent that, some genuine Ugandan Banyarwanda even resort to “hiding” among other tribes just to safeguard their citizenship rights. This is the case especially among Ugandan Banyarwanda from Western Uganda who easily camouflage among Banyankore, Bakiga and Bahororo because they fluently speak the languages from those communities and at times take on names from those communities.
This however is not the case with Ugandan Banyarwanda from Buganda region. Despite speaking luganda effortlessly, they cannot hide among Baganda because of their appearance. Henceforth, a name rebrand from Banyarwanda to Abavandimwe might be the solution to Ugandan Banyarwanda who feel disenfranchised due to the name reference to Rwanda.
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