By Reuben Baingana
The perceived or real cold war between Uganda and Rwanda that has found its way in the press is a cause to worry for East African integration and those who believe in African unification. In his New Year message, President Kagame talked of neighboring countries who do not wish Rwanda well and fingers were pointed at Uganda and Burundi.
We cannot afford hostility between these two sister countries that share cultural, economic and historical ties even during pre-colonial times. We, the citizens stand to lose due to probably mistrust between the three Heads of State. We have ethnic Banyarwanda in Uganda and historically some Rwandan territories were incorporated in Uganda by the Anglo German Agreement.
The Anglo German Agreement of 1910 transferred the province of Bufumbira, present day Kisoro district and Kamwezi in Ndorwa County in Kabale district to Uganda. Or should I remind you of the defunct Mpororo Kingdom that occupied Ntungamo and parts of Rukungiri in Kigezi or the annexation of Byumba from Kigezi by King Rwabugiri that up to now, we have ethnically Bakiga people in Byumba, Rwanda.
The 1959 Hutu revolution saw expulsion of Tutsi and some ended up in Ugandan IDP camps in Nakivale, Isingiro where would be revolutionaries Paul Kagame and Fred Rwigyema grew up. These two joined the NRA/M and fought in the bush war that brought General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to power.
They launched a civil war on October 1, 1990 to liberate their home land. Rwigyema himself had been part of Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) led by president Museveni and other Ugandan exiles that fought Amin in the 1979 liberation war with Tanzanian Peoples Defence Forces (TPDF) and other Ugandan exiles. Comrades, this is a brief history of how closely linked our history with Rwanda is, the last time we had similar bad relations was in the first and second Congo wars that brought Laurent Kabila to power(1997-98) 1998-2002 where the two friendly armies turned against each other.
We cannot afford to lose this friendship
We cannot talk of unifying Africa when there are internal bickering among leaders. Our energy should be focused on achieving the last pillars of the east African community, that is, monetary union and a full political federation as envisaged by the late Mzee Julius Nyerere. Whatever went wrong, the two comrades must restore unity among the citizens for prosperity, trade and other areas of mutual interest.