Kwame Nkrumah, a Ghanaian politician, and revolutionary once summarized the view of colonialism as, the policy by which a foreign power binds territories to herself by political ties with the primary object of promoting her own economic advantage.
Uganda’s pre-independence times date as far as 1894 when Uganda was declared a British protectorate was characterized by oppression, exploitation, over taxation and forced labor.
The British colonialists also caused tribal differences when they made Baganda their administrators tasked with collecting taxes and organizing labor for the British. The Baganda were consequently resented by other regions.
There were similarly religious differences and under-representation in the local government, the latter forced discontented Baganda to riot and burn down the houses of pro-government chiefs in 1949.
Although some political analysts have enduring believed that, Uganda rushed into independence and that the negotiators of independence made commitments and omissions that later complicated the post-independence period, we can’t overlook the fact that independence comes with fully unlocked starts.
The period after independence was pigeon-holed by hostility which included; the 1971 military coup, the Idi Amin eight-year reign of terror and brutal dictatorship, the five-year resistance war that brought the NRM to power and the Lord’s Resistance Army 20-year brutal insurgency in Northern Uganda.
Despite all the above, I believe that Uganda’s independence was timely, especially for her to grow her economy.
It is important to note that, the first concern of the colonizers was financial. They looked to the maximization of profits to develop their own home-based industries. It was for this reason that policies limiting the exportation of raw materials were put in place.
Leaders of the third world countries believed that the colonial masters held back economic development to keep them as dependents. Extracting their natural resources at little or no benefit and selling to them finished goods expensively.
Another sector that was muddled at the time of independence in 1962 was the education sector. Uganda didn’t have enough qualified personnel to provide services for the country.
The education system needed to be re-designed not only to produce highly qualified personnel but to also groom Ugandans to solve their own problems.
Before independence, colonialists educated Ugandans to take the positions of assistants to the European and Asian civil servants and teachers but not to be fully-fledged managers of institutions. Ugandans were made to feel incapable of accomplishing the tasks of sustaining their independence.
Therefore, the education system in Uganda had to be restructured to remove the inferiority feeling from the minds of the Ugandan and African students. In this effort, two important slogans were inaugurated, “the creation of African identity” and “the development of African personality.”
A new structure was then set up; among the changes made were: the Primary school level to last seven years instead of six, the Junior Secondary section of two years was abolished. Also, Teacher Training Colleges for Grade II teachers with primary school education had to be phased out. Courses had to be mounted to upgrade the existing Grade II Primary school teachers to Grade III status among several other reforms.
Today, Uganda is one of the most literate countries with her literacy levels over 75%. It is evident that the biggest percentage of Uganda’s civil service is headed by indigenous Ugandans.
It is also an honor for us as a country to meet global qualification standards which have enabled Ugandan’s working for multi-national conglomerate all over the world and performing perfectly well.
Take an example of our own Eng. Winnie Byanyima, who after eight years of professional service at Oxfam International, was recently appointed by Secretary-General, António Guterres, as the UNAIDS Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General. Her appointment followed a comprehensive selection process that involved a search committee constituted by members of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.
Also to note is the 2018 New Times Higher Education Index report that ranked our Makerere University as the fourth-best university in Africa. On top of that, Uganda had three schools on the list of the top 100 private and government schools in Africa, according to the 2013 rankings by the African Economist magazine.
With this notable progress, I congratulate Uganda upon her 57thIndependence anniversary and wish everyone happy celebrations.
The National celebrations will be held in Sironko district under the theme “Consolidation of National Unity, Security, Freedom, and Prosperity.”
The Writer is a Communication Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.