By Dr. M. Wafula
The Baganda of yesterday and of today suffer a common disease, easily diagnosed as an acute lack of self confidence. Sadly, this malaise is to be found predominant in the "elite" Baganda. This otherwise privileged class, it is all so apparent, believe that in order to be seen a nationalist, and, therefore, someone who appeals to all Ugandans, a Muganda must rank second or discard all that she/ he believes in or cherishes.
This has been the bane of our great nation! The shrewd non-Baganda, although not necessarily astute statesmen, have gladly exploited this weakness to their maximum advantage.
Thus, many a great minds of Baganda that would have played a critical and pivotal role in shaping the events in our country for prosperity and development, have instead been used by political scavengers, aka, opportunists as ladders for such elements to successfully reach the highest echelons of power in the country. In the meantime the Baganda, cowed into submission, are always taking second place to those whose only credentials are self-confidence, assertiveness and boldness.
Thus, when Museveni badly needs to sell a program that will ensure him political mileage he boldly uses Kiganda catchy words to effectively reach, better to say indoctrinate, the gullible Ugandan masses. And the Baganda have been the most potent force in delivering Museveni's messages. Currently, Prof. Bukenya is a very valuable asset towards this regard.
Need some illustrations here?
"Tubegyeko".......most recently at Kyankwanzi when he formally initiated a process that shall eventually "off-load" his latest used political baggage. And invoking that Kiganda expression to market his strategy is working wonders for the man.
Ministry of "Entandikwa".......universally used in Museveni's government. This was an ill-conceived program, ostensibly to eradicate poverty in the country but, covertly used by Museveni and his cohorts to blackmail the population into conditional political support. Wouldn't there be a link of this program to Museveni's survival, this long?
"Okulembeka".........was turned into a national slogan for Museveni to fight idleness, lack of creativity and laziness in the population across the country.
.......And the list goes on
I'm yet to hear or learn of any Ugandan including our dear brothers, too scared to advance Federalism through such a catchy word like FEDERO, denouncing Museveni for "Bagandanizing" several of his programs conceived, marketed and implemented using national resources. Neither have I heard of any part of Uganda rejecting such programs because they are being sold to them using Kiganda words and, therefore, perceived to be Baganda programs.
Nor has the Media labeled such programs or in some cases key strategies, as a Baganda affair.
Haven't the following words, only to mention but a few, been made and manufactured in Buganda to effectively and successfully, sell foreign concepts/products to Ugandans, gained national currency and acceptance after a skeptical beginning.
"Kooti" Both for Court and Coat
"Lukiiko" For local parliaments in so many regions of the country, believe it or not! ....And so forth.
Now, specifically, to our controversial (by the way only amongst the Ugandan elite) word, FEDERO.
FEDERO like the word MOTOKA is not a Luganda word, at all. In fact if one was to go by the pronunciation and spelling of this word it is more of a Nilotic (northern) than a Bantu (southern) word. As such, therefore, the logical conclusion based on the above premises would be that, this is a Northern concept camouflaged, well enough, to be sold to unsuspecting Baganda/Bantu.
However, on explaining Federalism to the common man anywhere in Uganda, one cannot escape defining it as a FEDERAL (pronounced FEDERO) form of government. Upon the end of detailed explanations accompanied with illustrations, to the majority of Ugandans, as I extensively did, across the country, during the General Elections of 1996, people all over the country, rounded up their understanding of this form of governance as FEDERO. Period.
Now the opponents of this system whose selfish reasons of its rejection are obvious, are trying but, with very limited success, to derail the Federalism cause by creating an artificial schism amongst its followers on account of the usage of the word FEDERO. These opponents claim that when one refers to FEDERO, it implicitly mean an hegemonic arrangement of the Baganda over other Ugandans. And that when one refers to Federalism it means a national federal arrangement for the entire country.
However, the link between FEDERO and "Ebyaffe" is only traceable by the fact that when Buganda lost its Kingdom status in 1966, it automatically lost its federal status, as well. Therefore, any meaningful return of "Ebyaffe" should include a workable federal arrangement for Baganda within the context of a federal Uganda. The current Mengo Establishment has been unequivocal about a national federal arrangement to benefit every corner of the country. Neither has it pegged its negotiations for a FEDERO UGANDA on amending the constitution to allow Museveni run, read rig, a "third term" in office.
The Banyoro, a sizable cross section of Banyankole, the Batoro and the Basoga are clamoring for "Ebyeitu" and federal status for their respective regions but, no one is deliberately misconstruing their demands as hegemonic. Or relating such demands to the infamous "third term".
Therefore, anyone, particularly a Muganda, who shies away from using the word FEDERO to market FEDERALISM in the country or ties the clamor for FEDERO to the "third term" issue, is unknowingly decampaigning a meaningful and successful federal form of governance for Uganda.
In my view all of those, under whatever form of disguise or ignorance, who are working against the strong current pushing for a federal arrangement for Uganda, must be engaged in a hopeless and futile exercise! Because sooner or later Uganda, is going to be governed under a federal system of governance and hence a FEDERO STATE OF UGANDA. And for those who are, consciously or otherwise, relating FEDERO to the "third term", they must be told that the former predates the latter. And, therefore, to link the two in order to distort and diminish the value of the former is a cheap and despicable tactic. Thus, any mischief in misusing a system of governance most Ugandans have come to cherish is doomed to failure.
I want to conclude this lengthy piece, if it was for the forum it would have been rather concise, by exhorting you not to give in to Museveni's machinations. If you were to ditch a word that is selling well our noble cause, it would tantamount to a betrayal of the people. However, we need to be always alert to the crude methods Museveni and his men are using to derail and possibly hijack this cause of the people. Characteristically, their schemes of well planned and deliberate deception, intimidation and manipulation, are aimed at eroding our self-confidence and esteem in order to advance their dictatorship and megalomaniac programs.
Indeed, at this hour, in our country's turbulent history, we cannot fail the majority of our people who have staked their confidence and trust in us by falling prey to the diversionary tactics of our detractors and opponents.
Editorial Comment: There are many foreign, mainly English words that have been gandanized or localized. These include (list by no means exhaustive): gavumenti, pulezidenti, minisita, minisitule, disitulikiti, zooni, palamenti, sipika, poliisi, ofiisi, yonifoomu, mmande, kkampuni, ttooci, woteeri, paasipoota, tikiti, bulangiti, pensoni, diini y'ekikurisitayo, heedimaasta, dereva, kompyuta.But we also have names like Petero, Paulo, Samwiri, Daudi, Yozefu, Fulegensio, or from Arabic, Muhamudu, Bumbakali, Sulayimani, Yusufu, Hajji, Sseeka, Kulaani, Jjuzu etc.