Remarks Made at the Uganda American Association of Greater
New York Post-Election Half-Day Seminar
Aloysius M. Lugira
Held at New York University
Saturday, March 24, 2001, 2:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.
Within the context of the planned theme of reflection on the Uganda Post-Election deliberations, my opening remarks bear the title of “In Search of Civility, Consciencism and Constitutionalism”.
Civility presages good breeding and contextualized education. It is what should be found in the concept of “humaneness” as reflected in Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu’s presentation from South Africa as Ubuntu and in Luganda together with other related languages, confirmed as Obuntubulamu. In terms of Ubuntu, this is what Archbishop Tutu aptly summarizes as, “We Africans speak about a concept difficulty to render in English. We speak of ubuntu or botho. You know when it is there and it is obvious when it is absent. It has to do with what it means to be truly human, it refers to gentleness, to compassion, to hospitality, to openness to others, to vulnerability, to be available for others and to know that you are bound up with them in the bundle of life, for a person is only a person through other persons. And so we search for this ultimate attribute and reject ethnicity and other such qualities as irrelevancies. A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons”. [1994:125].
Consciencism, not Francis Kwame Nkrumah style, reflects human actions on the basis of a person’s conscience. Conscience, here, is understood in terms of the human faculty by which distinctions are made between moral right and wrong.
Constitutionalism provides human checkpoints in as far as the fundamental laws and principles, which normally govern the operations of State or like associations, are concerned.
In Greek and Roman classical literature there is a narrative which is expressive of what we Ugandans should be after in the course of a search for ways and means of helping to restore political sanity in our home land. “A honest man” in as far as political leadership seems, for a long time, to have eluded Uganda. Diogenes Laertius [VI.41] is described to have reported in the following manner: “There was once a man who in broad day light would parade the streets of the neighborhood carrying a lighted lamp. Intrigued as to what was this all about people would ask why he went around during broad daylight carrying a lighted lamp. His repeated reply in the Latin language was “Quaero hominem”. That is to say: “I am in search of the human being”.Professionally, as an Anthropologist, a Philosopher and a Theologian, to me, being “in search of civility, consciencism and constitutionalism”, puts one in position of searching for the Post-Election Ugandan human being for purposes of trying to work towards contributing to the restoration of some hope for a Ugandan sane political future. Paleoanthropologically, a human being is deemed as being a homo habilis, that is the human being, which, by nature is endowed with the capabilities of skillfulness. It is a homo sapiens, meaning the human being, which by nature is endowed with the aptitude of developing a taste of creation around it, the ultimate development of which is wisdom.
Philosophically and theologically [a homo sapiens] is known to be naturally endowed as a rational being, social being, religious being and political being.
On the basis of civility, consciencism and constitutionalism, relative to the political future of our country and given what we have just experienced about elections, the Ugandan human being needs to be updated in skills, wisdom, rationality sociability and religiosity in a way that befits our membership in today’s Global Village.
For such updating, the obvious way is first and foremost respect for human rights in general and respect for human and peoples rights in particular. At this same point consideration of straightening out the constitutional basis of these issues, figure prominently out. If Uganda continues to live by a self-contradictory constitution, which gives with the right hand and simultaneously takes away with the left hand, Uganda would be continuing to live crookedly among nations of today’s Global Village. It is a constitutionally a disastrous constraint regarding the democratization process in Uganda, when the 1995 Constitution so glaringly contradicts itself. When those who should know better behave as not being concerned by such anomaly one is made to wonder as to what lies in the future for Uganda.
Case in point: Article 69, 269 and 271 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda are in contradiction with Article 20, 29 and 75 of the same constitution. The same articles do contradict Articles 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as Articles 10 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Yet Uganda is signatory to both mentioned World Human Rights Bodies. What is wrong with us?
To redress these constitutional wrongs and imbalances, it is imperative that serious constitutional amendments be effected in Uganda. Let Ugandans stop succumbing to such political gimmickry like “People deserve the governments they get”. We the people have to get organized in such organizations as have proven to be most conducive to democratic viability. Those organizations are political parties. Let us take back our human rights of Assembly and Association, now, without losing sight of civility, consciencism and constitutionalism.
1. Diogenes Laertius. Lives of Eminent Philosophers [Greek} With an English Translation by R.D. Hicks. 1925. In Two Volumes. London: William Heinemann Ltd. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.2. Tutu, Desmond Mpilo. 1994. The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland, Doubleday.
3. 1995. Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.