I have just come from a successful conference in New Jersey, USA organized by Ttabamiruka. I call it successful because the debates in formal and informal settings were frank but respectful.
I had an exchange with a Muganda friend of mine during break time about the troubles that Buganda has gone through since independence. This friend of mine believes very strongly that all post independence problems in Buganda spring from Obote’s hatred for Baganda. In justification of his strong stand, he emphasized that if Obote had not created Amin and Museveni Buganda would be a happier kingdom than it is today.
I asked him to listen to my point of view, pointing out that I never met Obote and he never gave me anything personally or any of my relatives that would compel me to defend him. I got a fellowship for my undergraduate studies from UPC government but this applied to everybody who was admitted to university so this was not a personal favor to me. He agreed to listen and I told him the following story which I am repeating for a wider readership and comments.
I agreed with him that when something goes wrong in a country or a home, the national leader or head of the family bears full responsibility even when he did not commit the crime or even instructed someone else to do it. That said, I urged that we need to know the individuals that participated in the coming to power of Obote and who did what after independence.
1. If Baganda had stuck together in the years before independence and backed Ben Kiwanuka (RIP) Obote would have had no chance. But many Baganda were not ready for a commoner who was also a Catholic.
2. If Baganda had backed Ignatius Musazi the co-founder of Uganda National Congress (UNC) in 1952 and a veteran of Uganda politics since the 1930s, Obote would have had no chance. But the late Abu Mayanja, co-founder of UNC challenged Musazi and preferred Obote who was radical like Mayanja and ditched Musazi who was moderate.
3. If Baganda had supported Abu Mayanja as leader of UNC he probably would have become the national leader instead of Obote. But the Kabaka chose to appoint Abu Mayanja a minister at Mengo depriving him of national leadership, leaving Obote virtually uncontested for UPC leadership. So who crowned Obote?
4. It was Pumla Kisokonkole a member of LEGCO who introduced Obote to the Kabaka. It was Abu Mayanja who escorted Obote to meet with the Kabaka. After he received Kabaka and Mengo blessing, the negotiations for independence were conducted by Ibingira and Kirya on behalf of UPC and Lumu and Sempa on behalf of KY.
5. When the constitutional negotiations for independence got tough and Buganda was experiencing stiff resistance to get a federo, it was Obote who suggested a Munster Commission on Relationships that ultimately suggested forcefully that Buganda should get a federo; Ankole, Bunyoro, Toro and Busoga a semi-federal status.
6. When Kabaka became president of Uganda while remaining Kabaka of Buganda there were bound to be problems especially with the lost counties issue and the Kabaka might refuse to do his job as president should Buganda and Uganda interests conflict. It was Ibingira possibly with blessing of Obote that moved an amendment of the constitution to the effect that should the president fail to act such as signing bills into acts the prime minister would do so, thereby disabling Mutesa as President and dragging him into Buganda and Uganda politics.
7. I have always argued that when it comes to the holding of the referendum on the lost counties Obote did not stick to the promise of getting the two parties together to discuss until a mutual agreement was struck. This he didn’t do and Buganda lost, ushering in the bitterness that is still felt today.
8. Ibingira who was an ambitious young man in Obote government as minister took advantage of the rift between Baganda and Obote government. He aligned himself with Daudi Ochieng who was a close friend of the Kabaka and Ochieng had a grievance against Obote over some appointments that Obote denied him. Ibingira got the army commander Shaban Opolot on his side leaving Obote with no choice but to align himself with Amin, the deputy commander.
9. It was the Uganda Governor Courts that refused to have Amin tried for criminal charges he committed in Kenya shortly before Uganda’s independence. So it was neither Obote who created Amin as a soldier nor saved Amin from criminal charges. Obote ended up with Amin by default because Opolot made the first move when he chose to associate with Ibingira.
10. Obote did not create Museveni. Museveni was created by Ibingira. When Ibingira became secretary general of UPC at Gulu conference of 1964 defeating Kakonge who had massive support of youth including Museveni, Ibingira proceeded to weed out of UPC supporters of Kakonge. Museveni and other friends of Kakonge were therefore thrown out and began working against UPC. If you recall when Museveni became president, Ibingira didn’t feature prominently in his government although he campaigned hard for Museveni in the USA where I was working and witnessed what was happening.
At the end of my story, I advised my friend that if Baganda continue focusing anger on Obote who has moved on, they are unlikely to gauge the extent of damage Museveni is doing to them. Until recently, many Baganda didn’t even know that much of the destruction of life and properties in Luwero Triangle during the guerrilla war was committed by NRA and many still have not accepted. They are psychologically in a better frame of mind blaming Obote. They would rather continue to blame Obote and his northern dominated troops than switch to the real cause of the trouble during the guerrilla war and since then.
The body language by some Baganda during discussions involving Obote when they don’t want to speak up for fear you may be recording them reveals that Obote is still blamed for all wrong doing to this day because to them it is people like Amin and Museveni he created that are doing bad things to Baganda on his behalf.
The history of Buganda will always record what Obote did for easy reference. But I think for now the focus should be on what harm Museveni is doing to Baganda. The secret Agreement between the Kabaka and Museveni has so many holes that it will not hold any water. Baganda should collectively focus on defeating the Agreement which will benefit a few people if it does instead of focusing on Obote for creating Museveni (which he didn’t) who is seen as acting on behalf of Obote and therefore Obote should continue to be blamed while Museveni tears Buganda apart with impunity.
This is a sincere advice from a friend of Baganda.