THINGS FELL APART IN UGANDA.
Having given examples of Nigeria’s chequered political history on this page to create rich conversations on the way forward, I want to draw your attention to Uganda with similar development challenges like Nigeria.
Uganda before independence from Britain was structured along the lines of its ethnic configuration. This was encouraged by the colonialists’ divide-and-rule policies.
Before Uganda’s independence the minority Buganda/Baganda tribe enjoyed the support of the colonialists, making the tribe the fulcrum of the country’s politics.
The tribe was favoured in appointments in government just like the minority Tutsi dominated the majority Hutu in Rwanda before and after independence culminating in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The genocide was spurred by the death of Rwandan president of Hutu descent, Juvenal Habyarima in a plane bombing suspected to have been planned and executed by Tutsi rebels. In reaction, Hutu militias vented their anger on the Tutsi class killing more than 800,000 of them.
Like in Nigeria, the British colonialists were not leaving Uganda without handing it a democratic parliamentary system. Democracy means the decision of the majority and the Buganda people understood this. To protect their identity and interest they got a semi autonomous status in independent Uganda.
Before the country’s 1962 independence, the Buganda tribe was divided mainly into neo-traditionalist, nationalist, protestant and catholic schools.
The neo-traditionalists preached the supremacy of the Kabaka (king) over Buganda. Their ideals were anchored on monarchism and conservatism.
The protestants were also Bugandan nationalists who sought self rule having recognized their minority status would put them at a disadvantage in a democratic Uganda.
The catholic bloc was more concerned about a united Uganda built on the basis of democratic principles. This group formed the Democratic Party (DP) for the purpose of political power.
As expected, the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), a party of the north won majority of the seats in parliament at independence. In a governing coalition with Kabaka Yekka (KY), Milton Obote from the Lango ethnic group became the Prime Minister (PM) and the King of Buganda, Kabaka Fredrick Mutesa the ceremonial president.
Tafawa Balewa from the Northern region as Prime Minister, and Nnamdi Azikiwe from the Eastern region as ceremonial president.
When the British colonialists left Uganda, things fell apart and the centre could not hold. Ethnic division polarized the country with the Buganda tribe moving for greater autonomy.
Having failed to convince the group, Obote in 1966 used the military to remove the Kabaka as president and monarch. The Kakaba’s palace was militarily assaulted, forcing the king into exile in London where he died of poisoning in 1969.
In 1967 a new constitution under Obote abolished all of Uganda’s kingdoms, including Buganda.
Obote made himself an executive president in a coup against the constitution. He assumed absolute power.
It was a reign of repression.
He used Idi Amin the Army Chief to usurp political power. By deploying Idi Amin and the military for power sake, Obote created a future of aggression, militarism and conflict.
After using Idi Amin to achieve his aim, he tried to get rid of him, but Amin held his ground. With international support, Amin rallied the military behind himself.
Under a climate of bitterness, Obote ordered his arrest before travelling to Singapore for the 1971 Commonwealth Conference.
He was in Singapore when his government was overthrown by Idi Amin on the 25th of January 1971.
Written by Edmund Obilo, a decorated Journalist, and on air personality.