A joint Report
Challenges of Reconciliation
The Necessity of Apologies
Truth is the Key to genuine Reconciliation
The Emotions vs. Intellectual Level of Public Debate
The Need for a Gwanga Vision
Reconciliation does not come easy
By Mr. W. L'Pajule'The debate on Reconciliation is a prerequisite for building the foundation of a new Uganda. My treatment of the topic is based on my life experiences and general formal education. I will attempt to narrate the history of victimizations and root causes of animosities between and among the peoples of Uganda. This will definitely open up a Pandora box of emotional outbursts but, my hope is that, in the end, we will be able to clearly and objectively see our parts in the problems that confront us. Rather than coming up with prescriptions for ironing out these problems and pasts, I will make suggestions and pose questions that will help us come up with some game plans.
It is common knowledge that Uganda has had a dark and traumatic history of internecine violence resulting in sufferings throughout the country. On every forum many abhor any more bloodshed—all wish to carry out their activities of living in relative peace. No one, however, wants to talk objectively about the past with attempts to heal. Real peace will not be handed to us on a platter—we must consciously and diligently work for it. Germane to that peace is the need to reconcile and make peace with the past. Federalism will come; multiparty democracy will come as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. We must not build these on the proverbial sand lest any gale storm brings all our efforts back to where we started.The history of Uganda began with the coming of the British who coined the name from a Swahili expression meaning the land of the Ganda. Over the years we have hurled insults at British colonialism, imperialism and racism and blamed them for our problems while, at the same time, we looked up to them. We need to free ourselves of the love-hate relationship and build a relationship of mutual respect. How do we do it?
The British initial contact was with the Ganda who helped them establish a beachhead and spread their influence throughout present-day Uganda. The relationship was mutually beneficial and the Ganda prospered generating a sense of superiority on their part and envy and hatred from other tribes that still simmer to this day. How can we come to terms with this particular era?At Independence, Obote, a Northerner came to power by adeptly putting together a national political machinery. The Buganda Kingdom, to maintain its pre-independence status, cobbled up a deal with Obote that helped his success at the cost to a Buganda son, Ben Kiwanuka (RIP). This unholy alliance soon unraveled and two big egos in the persons of Obote and Mutesa (RIP) collided. Lives were lost or ruined, and fortunes lost. The fallout was the beginning of the North (Acholi, Langi)—South (Baganda) divide. How can we come to terms with this particular era?
While no efforts were being made to patch the North—South divide beyond platitudes about “One Nation, One People”, an illiterate Amin swept to power. Understandably the fervor of the Baganda at this news knew no boundaries of educational levels. I remember, even as a child, rather cruel sarcastic remarks by two Baganda classmates about the fates of the Acholi in early 1971. Soon, however, Amin’s goons struck everywhere in Uganda.Amin has been chased out and some might have settled scores with West Nile while creating another divide. How do we adequately lay Amin and his immediate aftermath to rest? Many lives and fortunes were lost in the campaign to oust him. Obote 2 came and went, not before the North—South divide increased to a fever pitch. An opportunist in the person of Museveni seized the moment in which many lives and fortunes were lost. He announced a policy of national reconciliation, promising a return to democracy. A new era seemed to open itself to the people of Uganda. But this seemingly optimistic strain of mind was hiding increasing authoritarianism on the part of the President Yoweri Museveni. The situation is far from being ideal today. In the process of his ascend to supreme power, Museveni has had to contend with the Acholi and other pockets of resistances. While many areas took their bitter pills and folded, in Acholi, by dint of its own confusion of purpose and Museveni’s need for absolute military victory, victimizations, that has never been known in the history of any people in modern Uganda, still festers on. As a consequence the North—South divide has been extended to Ankole. The victor usually writes history, but will the victor do so forever if we don’t come to terms with what really happened?
So, how and where do we go from these bleak pasts? The all-encompassing remedy is reconciliation. In my religion the Sacrament of Reconciliation means rebuilding my relationship with my God by confessing the wrongs I have done to others and His edicts as well as ask for forgiveness. If I practiced this, my life would probably be a lot different—but that is another story. This concept, however, seems to be the motivation behind the Reconciliation exercise that South Africans underwent. Various tribes in Uganda have various traditional ways of coming to terms with the wrongs of the past other than by violence. The buzzword in Acholi these days is “Mato Oput” in its efforts to reconcile with the LRA fighters who have laid down their arms.
Many have suggested national get-together of elders. Others have proposed interactions among traditional leaders. Other leaders have taken it upon themselves to apologize on behalf of their constituencies. Yet other have advocated for reconciliation between tribes (or nations) and between political parties in Uganda. There are those who read in the papers that some parties have nothing to apologise for and wonder who is to reconcile to who! If anything, all these efforts must be treated with the seriousness they deserve and should be supported by a formal leadership process that is widely marketed. The success of a viable Federal Democratic Republic of Uganda hinges on looking squarely at the past and bottling that genie and burying it individually and collectively. Until that is done, trust will be hard to come by, and trust is needed for a more healthy political and social life. Back to TopChallenges of Reconciliation
By Mr. W. B. Kyijomanyi
The issue of reconciliation is certainly one of the most sensitive in Uganda. Sadly, many Ugandans, national figures included, are not ready or willing to own up to their own mistakes. How do you reconcile a nation that is at denial? How do you reconcile national leaders who think they have never made any bad call? How can a country full of revisionist journalists help reconcile a country?
Their version of national reconciliation is trying to malign the dead. Do not be surprised when blame for what went wrong in Uganda is pinned on late leaders like Mr. Ben Kiwanuka (RIP), Mr. Grace Ibingira (RIP), Major-General Bazilio Okello (RIP), General Tito Okello (RIP), Prof. Yusuf Lule (RIP), etc. Do not be surprised if only the dead, for obvious reasons take most blame for what went wrong in Uganda. What does that tell you? To create "innocent victims", journalists and politicians are busy blaming the dead. Does that augur well for national reconciliation in Uganda?
Can Uganda live with its troubled past forever? Is it any wonder that there are apparently millions of Ugandans who are now clinically mentally sick? Is there a direct correlation between that discovery and our troubled and violent past [Granted correlation does not mean cause]? Given such a situation, should we not sooner or later come to terms with our past without passing the buck or blaming others? Should we not take responsibility for our role in creating such a sad state? Virtually we have had to deal with inter-tribal violence, but also intra-tribal violence, intra and inter-religious violence, intra and inter-regional violence etc.Unless and until, we come to understand the TRAUMATIC meaning of those well-documented violent episodes, on the people on which such violence was committed, reconciliation will not be possible. We have to deal with the violence on DP members within Buganda by KY supporters, whereby the former had their entire banana plantations and property destroyed; the UPC instigated attack on the Lubiri and the thousands of lives lost; UPC instigated violence on some of its own senior members; the Nakulabye and Kisubi incidents; the violence visited upon mostly the Acholi and Langi by Amin's soldiers; the violence visited upon Ugandans by State Research Bureau during Amin's reign; the violence visited upon the people of Arua/Moyo after Amin's downfall; the violence visited upon Ugandans by UNLA in Luwero during the war; the violence visited upon Ugandans after the fall of Obote 2; the violence visited upon mostly Acholi by NRA after the fall of the late Tito Okello (RIP); the violence visited upon the Acholi by both Lakwena and Kony; the violence visited upon the people of Teso by both NRA and Peter Otai's rebels; the violence visited upon the people of Teso by Karamojongs and vice versa; the violence visited upon the people of Kasese by both the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and rebels; the violence visited upon the people of Rukingiri by the Presidential Protection Unit and Kalangala Action Plan group etc. While the list is not exhaustive, it is quite informative of Uganda's violent past.
Can Uganda's politics be normalized without meaningful reconciliation? Is it not true that the practice of reconciliation lags the rhetoric? We must face up to the challenges of reconciliation in Uganda, and in my view that demands that Ugandans come to understand and recognize the traumatic experiences and the meaning for those affected by each violent episode.Can we achieve that with a simple sorry or regret? Some of the violence is intra and efforts are underway in some areas particularly Acholi to reconcile its people. That is encouraging and commendable, which brings me to the following question: should other Ugandans dictate to the Acholi and other groups how they should deal with the intra-imposed violence? After all, Kony and Lakwena instigated violence is mostly directed at the Acoli people. And it is the Acoli people who will have to immediately live with those they forgive or reconcile with. Shouldn't that be the model where intra ethnic/religious violence is involved? In my view their attitude shows that charity begins at home. Before reconciling with the rest, there has to be reconciliation within, and that applies to other groups as well be they tribal or political. Or should we continue with our "revisionists" efforts to create "innocent victims" in Uganda? I know that the long-suffering Acoli are part of Uganda. I know that the insecurity there is a national tragedy. But I also know that the people who have suffered most under Kony are the people of Acholi. I also know that while the rest of Uganda will have to deal with the consequences of the Acholi tragedy, the immediate people who must confront the dilemma are the local people in Acholi. It is them who have lost thousands of their family members, and it is them who have to try and reconcile the community. My point is this: if the Acholi people who have suffered so much from this senseless tragedy are ready and willing to forgive their tormentors for the sake of ethnic harmony in Acholi, do we have the moral ground to tell them how or demand otherwise? Should we for example, insist that since the tragedy has had national ramifications, the issue of reconciliation should not be entirely left to the Acoli people? Is that not the failed NRM policy? That is the mentality that we must get away from and in keeping with our main goal here, that would be against the aspirations and wishes of the local community. Should national interests dwarf the local interests within Acholi? The last time I checked the national effort was to defeat Kony but has instead left thousands in camps. If the local initiatives by the community can lead to an acceptable solution within Acoli, who are we to insist that because it is a national tragedy, they can't do that? It is precisely of that mindset that Federalism looks very promising.
"Among precautions against ambition, it may not be amiss to take on precaution against our own.... I dread our being too much dreaded.... We may say that we shall not abuse this astonishing and hitherto un-heard of power. But every nation will think we shall abuse it.... Sooner or later this state of things must produce a combination against us, which may end in our ruin". (Edmund Burke, 1775).
That was Burke's advise to Britain then when it was the dominant imperial global power. And in many ways it is relevant for our reconciliation dialogue. Think about it critically given our history.
"I am talking to millions of men who have been skillfully injected with fear, inferiority complexes, trepidation, servility, despair, and abasement." Indeed, racism skillfully injects fear and feelings of inferiority and trepidation into many. In another example, a young Negress states, "Me? A Negress? Can't you see I'm practically white? I despise Negroes. Niggers stink. They're dirty and lazy. Don't ever mention niggers to me." Inferiority automatically attaches negative characteristic and abilities to people who are not white. The young "Negress" in the above example automatically associates Negro with the following characteristics -- lazy, dirty and stink, and wishes to disassociate herself from "niggers" although she is a Negro herself. This form of negative and debasing stereotyping perpetuates racism and infiltrates the culture and the language of all peoples" (Frantz Fanon, 1967, Black Skin White Masks).
This second quote is also relevant for our reconciliation dialogue. Granted, in line with my long quote on Immanuel Kant, we need and encourage members to speak freely. But as Mr. L'Pajule' urged us sometime back, let us be proud of who we are. Reconciliation in Uganda demands frank, but sincere dialogue. It is useless to blame an entire group. It is useless to lament why you were born into a specific group. It is useless to stereotype an entire people like the fellow quoted in Fanon above. Let us not perpetuate the negation of the "Other". Let us not internalize our perceived inferiority, because doing so will not help our reconciliation efforts.
I agree with Mr. L'Pajule' that we need proud Bakiga, Acoli, Baganda, Basoga, Banyoro, Karamojong, Alur, etc. or DP/UPC/CP/UPM/Movement people to have meaningful reconciliation. Those who internalize inferiority [racism] suffer from what Fanon termed "Psychic torture" and won't help our dialogue. Those who internalize their perceived inferiority only serve the status quo. That is how inferiority is reproduced and maintained in the domination discourse...and reproduced as the cultural norm, as the "status quo" in Uganda. Those who internalize inferiority [racism] lament why they were born Blacks, Indians, Pakistanis, darker skinned, Basoga, Acoli, Baganda, Batoro, Langi, Kakwa etc. They would rather be the "Other". That is the basis for our problems in Uganda, and has been institutionalized in the minds of many. It is unfortunate that some people choose to abandon their people, culture, and race in favour of another. To reject what one was born with, "what is most real in one, the only things not borrowed is a fatal mistake". The internalization of inferiority works towards the negation of selfhood that results into seeing oneself in the eye of the "Other". The negation of the selfhood occurs when people want to change their "situation" which looks deplorable in the eye of the "Other". This "situation" is supposedly one's ethnic/tribal group status. Anyone with such an internalized mind will not help us with the crucial task of reconciliation in Uganda.
Yes, let us employ the motto of enlightenment: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding, but do not suffer from "Psychic torture" by internalizing any perceived inferiority in Uganda. As federalists, we believe in equality among, and within States/Provinces. Let the dialogue continue, and the best way is to try and see the message behind the two quotes cited above. They both have relevance towards the difficult task of national reconciliation in Uganda.The Necessity of Apologies
By Mr. M. KibukaThis is a summary of mistakes that need to be addressed in a reconciliation dialogue:
- The 1964 Mutiny
- The 1966 Lubiri Crisis
- The 1967 Pigeon Constitution
- The 1969 One Party declaration
- The 1971 Coup d'etat
- The 1979 Liberation War
- The 1979 Lule issues, accompanied with Muwanga, Binaisa etc.
- The 1980 Controversial General Elections
- The 1980 West Nile Armed Incursion
- The 1985 Okello-Okello case
- The 1986 Museveni Takeover
- The 1990 Broad base government prolongation
- The 1995 NRM Constitution
- The 1996 Presidential Elections
- The 2001 Presidential Elections
- The Lugogo Assassination Attempt
- The Acholi Tragedy
- Obote wanted dead on sight
- Besigye, wife, son and family pursued
- Harassment Reform Agenda Activists
1. Otai apologises for Obote-II crimes: Former State Minister for Defence in Obote II, Peter Otai, has apologised to the people of Uganda for the deaths of many people when the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) was in power between 1980-85.2. Matsanga Apologises For Role In Kony War: The former LRA spokesman and secretary for political affairs, David Nyekorach Matsanga, has apologised to Ugandans for his role in the rebel ranks between February 1998 and April 1999 when he resigned.
3. Mukura: lessons after 10 years: Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh had the sense to publicly apologise for the Mukura incident.4. Mwalimu's enduring legacy: Was Nyerere a great man? Yes he was. Nyerere was a great man. Always simply dressed and disarming in the manner in which he poked fun at himself and almost ridiculed his best qualities, Nyerere was the epitome of sharp wit and a razor-like mind. He suffered no fools, but when he found himself foolish he was ready to accept his mistakes. That is why Nyerere, in the mid-eighties, as Tanzania's economy was limping towards disaster, apologised to his people and bowed out of office. He accepted the shortcomings of his ujamaa policies and exhorted Tanzanians to restructure the economy without throwing the baby away with the birth water. To living heads of states and governments [and ex-heads] in Africa we need to pose two questions. How do they compare with Nyerere? Can they accept their mistakes, apologise and bow out? These questions are posed with much concern for genuine answers in [Kampala,] Harare, Windhoek and Nairobi.
Federalism is a complex matter by nature, and we must build trust of some sorts if we are to sit on the same table and negotiate it. What we must know is that we can't go on like this, and some sort of power-sharing formula must be discussed. In these negotiations, no body should be closed out. Allow me to think out loudly (and please, do not tear me alive): Could you imagine Museveni being the delegate to the Federalism Conference for Ankole, Obote for Lango, Besigye for Kigezi, Mulondo for Buganda, Kony for Acholi and such a conference comes to fruition without some sort of genuine apologies? I do not think so! That's one reason I concur with Mr. Muwanga-Zake that reconciliation may make sense if it is carried out between the ethnic groups.Federalism demands that we negotiate our co-existence, and that negotiations shall only come to fruition if we trust each other. This may as well include some reconciliation and apology to each other. Allow me to reflect on what Judge Okello revealed to us. He wrote: "My careful observation of the development of the political trend of Uganda since 1966 enables me to come to the irresistible view that the crucial political problem facing Uganda today is lack of serious trust among the people of Uganda themselves. I do not want to be hypothetical about this point. It is difficult for the various ethnic groups of Uganda to work together in harmony."
I think that we should give more thought on reconciliation.References:
1. Otai Apologies: http://allafrica.com/stories/199807260024.html
2. Matsanga Apologises: http://allafrica.com/stories/200002250097.html
3. Salim Saleh Apologies: http://allafrica.com/stories/199907110051.html
4. Mwalimu Nyerere Apologies: http://allafrica.com/stories/199910170040.html
5. Judge Okello Observations: http://www.federo.com/Pages/1967_constitution_and_the_problems.htm
By Mr. J. Akena
Reconciliation without truth is a non-starter! It can be clearly seen from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Without first ascertaining the truth how do we begin to reconcile? I think the events leading to and culminating in 1966 were a national tragedy but fear that we may not agree to the reasons leading to and why it came about. When we establish the Truth then Reconciliation can follow. The culmination without the events that brought it about should not a starting point, likewise 'Acholi' tragedy looked at from the point of view of the traumatic effects and not the root causes is a poor recipe for Reconciliation.The Emotions vs. Intellectual Level of Public Debate
By Dr. KigongoI have had the chance recently to speak with a variety of Ugandans of varying ethnic and political persuasions, and even participate in a public debate on the "multiparty" question in Kampala. I came away troubled, because I got the sense that though there is vigorous and articulate debate of public affairs in Uganda's Parliament, press and streets, this debate has no effect whatsoever on public policy. I also got the sense that Ugandan affairs are effectively conducted at an emotional, not an intellectual level. On the emotional level most Ugandans identify with a section of Uganda, familial, ethnic, political or religious, rather than with the nation as a whole (mind you, very few will admit to it, but actions speak louder than words). Even greater than the allegiance he feels towards the "us" group, the Ugandan harbours a fear of the "them" groups. As a recent long essay forwarded from UgandaNet illustrated, "them" are a bunch of misguided idiots who would cause "us" disaster if they had any political or economic power. Everyone has a different "them" but the emotion is the same: "God forbid that they should control things", or if they actually control things, "look what a mess they have created, we must overthrow them and make sure they never rise again". The emotional approach to national affairs is therefore an attempt to figure out how "us" can gain and retain political and economic power. Now, this approach is of course diametrically opposed to the desired result of political reform, which is power sharing between political parties and ethnic groups and religions.
I got the sense that there is today no mechanism by which meaningful political reform can happen in Uganda. Those in power have too much fear of reprisal should they lose power, and those out of power have no intention to desist from such reprisal should they come into power.The question of reconciling with whom or/and for what is therefore a serious one. It is entirely wrong to say that a group of Ugandans discussing the possibility of reconciliation is engaged in "political correctness" or "polite idle talk". There is serious divisions between Uganda's peoples, and it can be correctly note that in office we would all face a great temptation to restrict the inner circle of power to "our people", as has been done all too often in the past. But the analysis is incomplete, it should also go on to observe that leaders in the past who have governed this way have ended up in exile, with their unfortunate kinsmen getting the heat from the succeeding government. This periodic shift of power is inevitable in Uganda because no ethnic group has the numbers required to sustain itself in unshared power. It is important here to note that those suffering kinsmen, in 99% of cases, had little or no benefit from the "eating" that was done in their name.
Therefore, if I were in power I would have the temptation to fill the government with "my people", but if I were smart I would recognise that such a government could in the long term actually work against the interest of "my people".Having observed that our current system of government is less than ideal, the next question we have to ask ourselves is whether we are permanently doomed by nature to do no better. If we say, "yes, this is the best that Ugandans can produce" then the [reconciliation] discussion on this forum is indeed idle chat, we should direct our efforts at the more realistic task of making sure that "we" are next at the eating table when the incumbent leaves it. But are we indeed doomed to perpetual enmity?
It is easy to assume that peoples with longstanding differences will always have such differences. I always quote the French and Germans as an example. Starting in 1614 with the Thirty Years War, the Franco-German frontier was the site of conflict at least once in every generation until 1945. An observer on the scene in 1944, observing the carnage and knowing the history, would reasonably have concluded that this was by nature a permanently hostile frontier. He would be wrong, the French and Germans found a solution to a centuries' old rivalry. Today, a visitor driving across the same frontier would probably not even notice it. Except for small signs reading "Frankreich" or "Allemagne" (unrecognisable words to many English speakers) there is no indication at all, no stop for a check of any kind!Ethnic mistrust, enmity and violence are common, but not inevitable, features of human society. The peoples of Uganda have a troubled past and present, but are not necessarily bound to remain thus. That's the raison d'etre of this forum. It is undeniable that most of us owe primary allegiance to our old nations, not to Uganda. As I have written in the past, many still consider this allegiance to be a shameful matter, and go on about "we are Ugandans of undivided loyalty", deceiving no one. But where I differ from such Ugandans is in the actions that I see as the best way to advance the allegiance that I feel towards Buganda.
If I were naïve, I would put my hopes into getting a Muganda equivalent of Museveni into State House, to turn Twariire into Tulidde, so to speak. I have been cured of this viewpoint by a number of observations:First, Twariire is an ineffective way of delivering peace and prosperity to those you care about. A government sustained by unshared power is inevitably a corrupt one, and a corrupt government is ineffective in generating wealth. Mbarara has sprouted an impressive number of magnificent private homes, each one with a high wall because the majority of citizens, even there, remain desperately poor. Mbarara's primary classrooms are as overcrowded as any, and textbooks are just as scarce. Any public amenity not built by the British (such as a sewage system) will not be built. Even among those with visible wealth from Twariire, only a small minority has any assets of substance, the majority would be impoverished once out of power. Is this what I want for the Baganda? No sir.
Second, Twariire is a scramble for crumbs. I have had the opportunity to sit on an executive committee of a medium sized hospital, whose budget exceeds that of the Uganda government. That same Uganda government budget, one recalls, is largely made of donated and borrowed money. After 15 years of economic recovery, many public services are performing below their 1962 standard, though the bureaucracies are ten times bigger. I feel no hunger to be in such a scramble, even as a minister.In my view Buganda (to which I openly state my allegiance belongs) would best be served by a civil government of Uganda, a government where power is shared with other Ugandans rather than one where it's based on unshared military force.
You have heard many say, I'm sure, that "we would be different in power, we are enlightened". Do not believe it. A government based on military force inevitably drifts into corruption, repression and poverty.You may also ask how long it will take to achieve the Uganda we hope to achieve, let me tell you a story:
A young graduate was posted to an underdeveloped district as a forestry officer, with instructions to start a reforestation scheme. On the day of his arrival the other officers at the District headquarters invited him to lunch at their club. As they sat down the DC said, "I think you've been sent on a wild goose chase, lad, it'll take fifty years to get anything to grow in this place". At which the young man stood up and said "in that case you must excuse me, sir, if I miss the lunch, I don't have a moment to lose". The area around Mutare (Zimbabwe) today has some of Africa's most impressive forest plantations.For Ugandans to deal with one another in a civil manner they will have to deal with each other as equals, and to deal as equals each part of Uganda must have a certain level of cohesion. (It is important to note that physical or economic equality is of secondary importance in such dealings. For example, small Botswana can deal more forthrightly with other nations than can huge Sudan, because the representatives of Botswana can speak "for his nation" in a meaningful way.)
The same question was touched upon by Prof Nabudere, a veteran politician and political scientist (and no fan of Buganda) in a newspaper article last year, where he observed the organic cohesion of Buganda and wondered how Uganda, which lacks such a cohesion, could deal with it. The previous (1966) solution to the equation was, of course, to dismantle Buganda as a political entity, but that solution ended up bringing down the whole country. Museveni has, in this as in most matters, gone halfway and then sat on the fence, hoping the matter will go away.In my opinion, one reason why nationalist feelings are rarely articulated outside Buganda is an emotional resistance to recognising Buganda as Number One, even if that Number One is a first-among-equals. How to overcome this resistance is problematic, but it is clear that once a federation is in place the issue will be seen to have been relatively trivial. Today there are few significant national assets outside Buganda, so the idea that "they want to take and keep it all" does frighten many. When there are large cities, first class universities, major hospitals, airports and good jobs in four corners of Uganda then the argument will deflate. Unfortunately, under a corrupt unitary government (and the two are inevitably linked) there will be no development of substance outside Kampala, so we Baganda federalists have to ask our compatriots to take us on trust, that by allowing us regional autonomy they will reap much more than they will lose. We have yet to find a way of getting this message across.
Mr. Kibuka touched on the fact that the other political parties (DP etc.) did not come out strongly in support of the UPC rally in Kampala recently [12 Jan. 2002]. This observation actually goes to the heart of the matter of reconciliation. The leaders of DP, and many other Ugandans, would not take part in a struggle to end the NRM rule if that struggle is likely to lead to a return of the UPC to power. They are not alone in this sentiment, if the DP were to produce a credible challenger to Museveni, the UPC's support for that challenger wouldn't materialise.The reason for this is the winner-takes-all nature of Uganda's government since 1966. An opponent of the UPC will not do anything to help the UPC, even if that act helps him too, because the UPC has been in power twice, each time with disastrous results. He would rather stick with the NRM, because the NRM is already in power and its continuation involves no upheaval. Changing the government in Uganda usually involves a lot of chaos and suffering, and Ugandans are keenly aware of the fact. "Are we to go thru another round of suffering just so the butchers of Park Hotel can return to town?" I was asked by one Kampala resident. I couldn't deny the logic of his stance, which is that a new government is unlikely to be any better than the NRM, so why bother. Critics of the view derisively call it "kasita twebaka ku tulo" (at least we can sleep at night) but nobody who lived thru 1981 to 1985 and recalls the level of terror will be so dismissive of such thought.
The "at least we sleep at nights" logic has one flaw; of course, it assumes that the NRM is capable of maintaining the peace. This assumption is unsupported by the evidence. About 25% of Uganda's area has been a war zone for 16 years, and Kampala is unlikely to remain permanently immune. Besides, the internal cohesion of the NRM and the donor-driven economy are also fragile, and likely to crumble at the same time. At such a time a complete breakdown of the nation will only be prevented by an explicit national consensus on power sharing between ethnic groups, nothing else will do. Every Ugandan clearly understands that political rights or human rights are meaningless if someone else holds power. (No less an authority than Mr. Obote Jr. recently reminded us that in 1967-71 the right of association was guaranteed by the constitution, a statement which left me wordless with amazement but which illustrates the point nicely).The possibility of civil rule will only exist if we have an understanding that people we consider "others" cannot have complete power over the civil service, the economy, the police, the army and the courts. A federation is the prerequisite to a return to democracy in Uganda. Unfortunately, most Ugandans don't want democracy, they want power. I wouldn't put too much stock in "apologies" or "reconciliation". I have nothing against reconciliation and apologies, but I do not think they are our primary need in Uganda. The primary source of evil in Uganda has been (and remains) unshared and absolute power. A government with absolute power would be unacceptable to me; again regardless of how many apology and reconciliation meetings have taken place. In other words, in my view substantive reconciliation would have taken place when I start to feel safe.
Many, as you note, have given up on the way of negotiation. I have not because the way of force will lead to Congo or to Yugoslavia. The question of reconciliation therefore is at the heart of the matter of political reform in Uganda. It explains why the changes of regime in 1979 and 1986 have left the nation still facing the same basic problem. Over the last year we have seen that it is quite possible to design a workable administrative system for a reformed Uganda, but where do we go from here?The Need for a Gwanga Vision
By Mr. V. MukasaI have tried to follow and make sense of the contributions on reconciliation, and I see gentlemen engaged in polite idle chat. The reality is more brutal than you realise.
Reconcile with whom and why?
I have long noticed on the net and elsewhere that seldom if ever at all does anyone from another Gwanga (Nation) other than Buganda openly discuss their vision for their Gwanga's. The Baganda for example openly and freely talk of Kabaka, Federo, and Ebyaffe etc. Visions of Uganda are three a penny, but not visions of all the other Gwanga's. Why is this?The call of Gwanga is more powerful, more carnal, more debilitating than the call of Uganda, especially more so for those Gwangas that have not traditionally had large-scale exposure to other Gwangas. The pin has dropped! There will be absolutely no reconciliation in Uganda in your lifetime for the following reasons!
- Every Gwanga in Uganda has a vision for itself and for Uganda that is not compatible with that of any other Gwanga.
- You cannot have an equitable Uganda unless all the Gwangas have relatively similar political, social and economic objectives - those with objectional visions will keep them under wraps until they are in power.
- There is not a single Gwanga in Uganda that chooses to be a part of another Gwanga in the bigger Uganda.
Any Gwanga that does not have a strong sense of cohesion within itself, or a common vision for itself amongst its own people will always feel threatened and insecure in the larger Uganda.
Negotiation is about trading a piece of my vision for a piece of yours. You cannot therefore start a negotiation with a visionless person! He will mug you!Reconciliation does not come easy
By Prof. F. N. LugemwaThe major reason for reconciliation is that we can all get along peacefully and forge a new chapter for our country. Adopted:
One of the hardest things for a nation or a society to do is to come to grips with the evils it has done.The reconciliation part comes from addressing a point of pain or silence or frustration between our communities, and addressing it together.
With the effect of the wrongs softened or reversed, a new relationship can be started on a firmer and more truthful footing, and reconciliation takes place.Reconciliation does not come easy. It's not just a political struggle; it's psychological, personal, and also spiritual. Just about everyone has had something done to them, and has done something to someone. A lot of suffering has been caused. A lot of walls have been built, but we can stand up, start afresh and declare that.
We, the peoples of Uganda, of many ethnic groups as we are, make a commitment to go on together in a spirit of reconciliation.Our nation must have the courage to own the truth, to heal the wounds of its past so that we can move on together at peace with ourselves.
Reconciliation must live in the hearts and minds of all Ugandans. Many steps will have to be taken as we learn our shared histories.
As we walk the journey of healing, one part of the nation apologises and expresses its sorrow and sincere regret for the injustices of the past, so the other part accepts the apologies and forgives.We desire a future where all Ugandans enjoy their rights, accept their responsibilities, and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. With reconciliation, we build for the future.