UGANDA: ‘LET THEM GO’ | Budget Uganda X-mas tours

... part of Uganda to Karamoja. We removed them. Some international

Part XXIV of these series is a speech that President Museveni made on July 12, 2005 on the occasion of the referendum for opening of political space in Uganda. In the first section of this speech, titled ‘Let them go (Mubaleke Bagende), Museveni traces the history of governance in Uganda:-

Dear countrymen and women,

I have come here, today, to address you on the question of the referendum that is due on the 28th of July 2005.

Before I talk about the referendum, let me give you a brief history of the peoples of Uganda, their fortunes and misfortunes in governance over the centuries and the recent minimum recovery, superintended over by the NRM.

Even before 900 AD, a number of areas that are now Uganda and parts of our sister neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, Congo, Rwanda, etc. were living under varying degrees of centralised administration. By centralised administration I mean having a government beyond the clan.

Some of the earliest records have been recovered through archaeological work at areas like Ntutsi and Bigobyamugyenyi in Sembabule district as well as areas like Hippos’ bay, near Entebbe and Omuunsa, near Mubende. The carbon-dating of cattle bones and pottery pieces (engusyo) recovered from some of these areas by archaeologists from Britain shows that by 900 AD there was a very large settlement, bigger than the city of London at that time.

Folklore confirms these archaeological findings. If you take the whole of western Uganda, including much of West Buganda as well as parts of Tanzania and Rwanda, the communities talk of three dynasties: Abatembuzi, Abachwezi and, then, the more recent dynasties such as the Kabaka of Buganda, the Babiito in Bunyoro, Tooro, Busoga, Bunia (DRC) and Kooki as well as Bahinda in Ankole, Karagwe, Buhaya, Bujinja (in Tanzania), etc.

Our communities evolved a very sophisticated civilisation in terms of language, culture and governance. Although the rulers could, in some instance, be despotic, nevertheless, some achievements in terms of stability were achieved at different stages.

The only great weakness of these traditional rulers was their inability to get together to confront the foreign invaders when they came to this area after 1850 AD. The coming of the foreigners was prophesied or predicted, especially by a sage from Karagwe, Tanzania, known as Kakara-ka-Shagama, Kamango, Katondagira ka-Rukunyu. He, for instance, said that this area would be invaded by abatetonderwa (people who cannot recognise your ancestry – in other words foreigners or strangers).

There were also other wise-men who had made very wise exhortations. One such wise-man was called Jejere from Buha (the area of Tanzania near Kigoma). Unfortunately, our rulers did not get together when the time came for the foreigners to, actually, invade our land.

Mwanga and Kabalega tried to form a common front but belatedly. It was too late. They were all taken into captivity in the Seychelles. Mwanga died there and Kabalega only came back to Uganda in 1923 only to die in Jinja before he got back to Bunyoro.

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