Uganda is no political laboratory

Joseph Ochieno

Africa has come a long way. Only last week, I was congratulating my African-Haitian brethren for their historical uprising on August 23, 1791, against their slave masters. Those are Africans who had been taken by force and as Bob Marley would say, 'flown to America', to work in the sugar plantations and helped build the industrial base for American and European economies.

The deal being sweet, in 1884-85 in Berlin, the Europeans opted to divide Africa like sweets in what later came to be known as the 'Partition of Africa'. France take that (French West Africa), Britain take the other one (British East Africa), Germany, you are good guys, you can share with the Dutch, take Namibia sorry, and briefly Tanzania. And so it went on.

As the diamonds and gold got sweeter, they decided that they could no longer walk on the same roads with the natives. Create a homeland for them....so came apartheid in southern Africa.
Just as Africans were waking up into independence with great sons like Kwame Nkrumah, Milton Obote, Patrice Lumumba, a new means of checking them was designed.

Either shoot them or, teach them a lesson. Give them Idi Amin. According to British PM Edward Heath, Amin is a gentle giant, a man who would be good for Britain and good for Ugandans; was he? Another experiment, with local crops of Bismarck, Cromwell and Hitler. Democratically elected African governments were distabilised.

Just as we were recovering from Amin's destruction, Africa was blessed with a 'new breed' of African leaders in the names of Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Meles Zenawi and Isiais Afewerki.
In Uganda's case, I was now wise and grown enough.

Flown to London by force, I watched and listened with shock how the British, the French, the Americans the Germans, the Dutch and the Swedes, justified trampling on the fundamental rights of Ugandans by propping up and sustaining a one-party-cum-military regime for 20 years. Uganda burnt, Rwanda burnt, Congo burnt but wherever we went, we were told the new breed of our leaders had brought 'stability', in Museveni's case he was the beacon of hope. Tell that to Ugandans who lost their loved ones in Luwero, northern and eastern Uganda.

That Uganda was not yet ready for democracy, that we needed a strong military man to rule us, silly weak natives. We could not manage because we were divided along tribal and religious lines and, we needed to build a nation of middle classes first. All this as I watched in Northern Ireland where Catholics and Protestants could not live on the same street and, in London, where a Catholic could neither become the Queen nor marry the King.

Now some kind Swedish NGO, the 'Christian Democratic Centre (KIC)' with some European donors have suddenly come up to help battered UPC, DP and other 'new democrats' to know how to talk, live together, learn new ideas and beat Mr Museveni. Why is the approach different from Zimbabwe? Where were they all these years?

Is tribalism over, are we now economically free or, are all Ugandans now fully secular?
Or is it the same Uganda where Buganda is battling with Museveni and Beti Kamya believes she can only lead FDC if she swops her tribe and, districts are now demarcated at clan level?

UPC fought a long and lonely battle. It is a shame that the rest of the world can treat Africa like their political laboratory like Obote would say, as if "we are not part of the human race". UPC is a very mature political party; with a history (good and bad), a track record, a clear ideology and a real sense of mission.

The problem is with those who supported and entrenched Museveni, not UPC or DP. The solution lies in 'de-Musevenising' Uganda. We must not deal with symptoms but rather real causes.

Remove constitutional, legal, electoral and security obstacles to free politics in Uganda. Demilitarise politics, demystify the NRA lies and free the minds of all Ugandans, especially the youths, then we can talk like real adults – in politics. Otherwise, we must stop being willing participants in the 'donors' laboratory for their quantitative research.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
Procurement Consultant
Gsm: +250-08470205
Home: +250-55104140
P.O. Box 3867
East Africa
Blog: http://www.cepgl.blogspot.com
Skype ID : Kayisa66

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