If the people of Kasese in Uganda are marginalised, discriminated against, exploited and dispossessed, what's wrong with them making calls for secession? In his violent crackdown on them, Yoweri Museveni has committed crimes against humanity for which he should be tried by the International Criminal Court.
If there is anything that maddens me, it is injustice either against a particular individual or against a particular community. I love humanity. I love everybody including President Yoweri Museveni and his gunmen because we should have no time to hate since the time we have to love is very limited.
In the past weeks, the first thing that greatly galled me was the cold-blooded murder of Kenneth Watmon Akena. While I didn't know him personally, I silently grieved. I was restraining myself so I never made any public uproar. The subsequent murder of Maj. Mohammed Kiggundu didn't only shock me but also upset me.
The subsequent heartless and insensitive massacre of the people of Kasese utterly cut off my wires so much so that I now do not even fear death. That's why I now dare do what Mr. Yoweri Museveni calls “putting my fingers in the leopard's anus”.
The only tool I have as a person who has been privileged to access formal education to the highest institutions of learning is my voice - which I can project through various mediums. I must tell truth to power such that tomorrow when I go for a rendezvous with my Creator, those alive will reflect on my words.
I am definitely not an authority on the Rwenzururu politics and grievances but I am sure the people of Kasese have genuine grievances that the government has failed or deliberately refused to address. Otherwise, what reason would one give to explain the stark reality that all MPs from Kasese are in the Opposition?
General Museveni during and before official campaign periods traverses the whole country shamelessly assuring all people that if they vote the Opposition they will not partake on the national cake. Political scientists are aware of Harold Laswell's and David Easton's flawless definitions of politics. Clearly, political power is purely about the allocation or distribution of the national cake. Laswell calls it "who gets what, how and when" while David Easton calls it the authoritative distribution of public valuables/values.
Accordingly, politics gives one the authority and the power to either partake or allocate the resources that belong to the public. Public resources are either generated from what sociologists call the commons or through taxation.
Let me go back to Kasese. Who doesn't know that Kasese has two national parks? Who doesn't know of Rwenzori Mountain? Who doesn't know of Kilembe Copper Mines, Hima Cement, Cotton around Hima, water bodies, e.t.c? Kasese and Rwenzori region on the whole inevitably generates huge sums of revenue to this country. We the Bakiga and Banyankore say, "engaro eha niyo eyakira" literally meaning, the hand that gives is the one that receives.
We can all agree that Kasese hugely gives to Museveni. I make this statement deliberately because it is from Andrew M. Mwenda that I learnt that PAYE actually means Pay As Yoweri Enjoys. From the foregoing, allow me to raise very simple but discomforting questions:
1) How much in terms of jobs, healthcare service, education facilities, political-cum-public appointments do the people of Kasese or the whole of the Rwenzururu Kingdom receive from the government led by the "vision monopolist" Yoweri Kaguta alias Tibuhaburwa Museveni?
2) How much in terms of security does the government provide to the people of the Rwenzururu Kingdom?
3) How many topnotch schools or hospitals has the government led by Gen Museveni built in Kasese and Bundibujjo? How many students enroll on government sponsorship annually from Kasese and Bundibujjo?
4) What is the coverage of tarmac in Kasese and Bundibujjo aka Rwenzururu Kingdom? How many households are on the national electricity grid? How many households can access piped water?
5) What is the probability that if Kasese, Bundibujo on one hand and Kiruhura and Ntungamo Districts, were hit by a natural disaster such as hailstorm or pro-longed drought thereby causing famine and starvation, the people of Kasese and Bundibujo would be prioritised in the distribution of food relief from the government led by Yoweri Museveni before those of Ntungamo and Kiruhura?
6) What is the probability that if there was an outbreak of a deadly disease in the above-named districts, the people of Rwenzururu would be prioritised?
7) How many students from Kasese or Bundibujo have been granted scholarships to pursue graduate studies in Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics and Political Science courtesy of state house? I know friends who have been given scholarships to study in the Ivy League universities but none of them is my relative yet my name is Nuwagaba. How easy or difficult then would it be for a Masereka or a Baluku or a Muhindo?
8) How many political figures projected to take over the topmost leadership positions in this country are from the Rwenzururu Kingdom?
9) Is there any cultural leader who would want his/her followers (do they call them subjects?) to remain tails while others from the vicinity are heads? Is not the God who created us from Ankole not the same God that created the people of Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu?
10) I have read that the Bakonzo have fought for self-determination for so many years. I read that they got their independence I think from Toro Kingdom then in June 1962 before Uganda got her independent. They are a nationality entitled to some form of self-determination. Even after independence they continued fighting until 1982, if my memory serves me well. Why would Museveni think that if they had grievances with him, they wouldn't fight for their rights?
Around 2008 or 2009, the people from the Greater North had started making calls for cessation ostensibly to form what they were to call The Nile Republic. My party leader and mentor Norbert Mao was very eloquent about the subject. His argument then, like it is now, was that nobody filled an application form to belong to Uganda. Definitely, it is not true that they willingly wanted to secede. I wrote an article in the Monitor in June 2009 titled "Secession talk is a pointer that something is wrong". That article is relevant to the Rwenzururu question more than seven years later. And many more will demand to secede including the Baganda if the question of social justice is not addressed. I have not enjoyed all my life on earth because I have grown up in this filthy, rotten, decrepit establishment.
My 11th question is, if the people of Kasese are marginalised, discriminated against, exploited and dispossessed like many of us so much that they don't like themselves ( kweyagalira) in Uganda, what's wrong with them making calls for secession? My former friend Kibazanga Christopher is now a minister in the regime that he ferociously fought for not less than 20 years, does he eat on behalf of all the Bakonzo? Do his kith and kin feel satisfied when he is eating?
I reserve the rest of the questions for another day. We must all fight for social justice. I implore you to join me in the crusade for social justice. And there cannot be peace without justice. Justice begets peace and not vice-versa.
Finally, my friend Dr. Swizen Kyomuhendo says, “The confessions from Rwenzururu’s old men and royal family at Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu must be disappointing those who were crying more than the bereaved. Slowly peace has returned to the Rwenzori region. Let us all support the process towards truth and reconciliation”
What I can tell Dr. Kyomuhendo is that I know pretty well that those “confessions” were stage-managed. It is the handwork of the state to ensure Museveni is not tried by the International Criminal Court. We all know that the UPDF and the police killed innocent civilians and the killers plus their overall commander, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, must answer for these crimes against humanity. We need justice to be done. Peace cannot return to the Rwenzori region without justice. That guns are silent doesn’t mean the presence of peace in the region.
* Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender, socialist, social justice crusader and a PhD Fellow at the Makerere Institute for Social Research.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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