Saturday, September 12, 2009



By John Nagenda

“SHOULD the above sound like beating up on Uganda, again, substitute any other country of your choice. In which case, since we shall again be following the tribal trail (yawn, yawn!)…” That is how I had started off this week’s column.

But all that can wait. By mid-week that subject had been rapidly overtaken by another.

The Kabaka (King) of Buganda was desirous of visiting a part of his kingdom, Kayunga, in the county of Bugerere, in what district I know not, since those are now changing with the speed of quicksilver.

(Chorus: What shall this do to our united nation, Uganda?) A problem: in Bugerere lives a small tribe, the Banyala, who have for years agitated for recognition as being separate from mainline Baganda.

I remember Kitaka Gawera and Kyomuhangire in our Budo schooldays more than a half century ago, Banyala-Baganda both, and proud of it. Today’s firebrand Banyala want their own kingdom. Mengo, seat of the Buganda government smells a rat, and as usual suspects the Uganda Government of being at the centre of trying to chip away at Buganda itself. And what will follow?

Won't the Banyala be followed by the bigger Baluuli and Bakooki, the Banyole, the Bakenyi, and God knows what else? (Chorus: What shall this do to the kingdom of Buganda, and Uganda as a whole?)

Surely the message should be: Let us stay the same and not run the risk of descending, as other neighbours have, into stagnant cesspools of tribal hatreds. Uganda, as a whole, especially in latter years, has been remarkably free of this jingoism. And now come the creeping new districts (many based on bloodlines) against whom blame can thus be charged.

In the case of Buganda, from which I spring, I never cease to warn that the more you stress the Buganda “difference”, the more you encourage the smaller “groupings” (I rate them no higher) to also push their cause. It is a case of Biter, Bit. And of course it can be cynically used to bite chunks off Buganda, till it becomes a Kingdom of Ruritania, fit only for light operetta; perish the thought!
What has brought about the Furies of the last few days? Quarrels between Buganda (more specifically Buganda’s seat at Mengo) and the Uganda Government, in the same way as in family spats, break out frequently.

But the ante has now been hugely upped, by, in my view, Mengo, principally. Such are growing tensions between growing children and their parents. It is the duty of the parent to listen and consider, and to react with kindliness, and love, as indeed the Uganda Government will; but not to be swayed by indiscipline.

In the Kayunga case, Government gave its conditionalities to Mengo, knowing that whatever took place during the Kabaka’s visit, Security, above all, had to be king.

President Museveni has been trying for a couple of years to talk to the Kabaka, only to be spurned by the man he brought back to that office, and much more beside! What does that tell you? But there can be no going to Kayunga, in the charged atmosphere, without complete security being guaranteed, by Uganda: to the Kabaka, and other Uganda citizens.

Now we have seen terrible riots which have arisen merely because the Kabaka’s Katikkiro (Prime Minister) was not allowed to cross the bridge into Kayunga. Compare this: nearly 30 years ago Museveni, then Minister of Defence, and his wife, were forbidden to go beyond a spot on the road East. Did riots follow, and people get killed, as a result?

Mr & Mrs Museveni composed themselves and sat quietly for many hours, sensibly waiting for a resolution to the matter. What happened in the Katikkiro’s case was obviously pre-planned.

Apart from being dangerous, is this a sensible way to treat the President who allowed (almost single-handedly) the return of the Monarchies to Uganda? As Baganda, is this our contribution to the well-ordered path Uganda must follow to its full destiny?

I said on Bukedde FM on Thursday night, “Please Baganda let us not be of short memory. Let us know our true friends. Let us not follow those who would lead us to ruin; whom we know!” Let that be our mantra in the trying times ahead.

Many are already speaking language wholly unsuitable to the needs in hand. Yet those who should lead with wisdom stay mute, as usual; so much for their care for Buganda and Uganda!
Above all, let Uganda, including Buganda, keep cool heads.

Speaking of operatta, I promised to regale you with a tale of an Indian tractor in Pallisa. The main players, in the form of Major (rtd) Kakooza Mutale, and Lt (rtd) Kamba MP are well known – Kamba in his local neck of the woods, Mutale more far a-field. The tale will keep for another week!

Finally, this Lt Col Kulayigye, army spokesman, comes out with some real sparklers! Speaking of the capture of an LRA terrorist, he quipped: “We picked him like a grasshopper and he is intact!”

Carry on like this Felix, and you’ll deserve a column of your own!