On the of 3rd April, 2022, Jimmy Spire Ssentongo tweeted:
“Between your ethnicity and being Ugandan, what makes more sense to you (in terms of attachment)?”
A significant number of quotes and comments on Spire’s tweet suggest that one’s ethnicity makes more sense than their nationality. My wonderment, after reading the comments, was whether people who were commenting in favor of ethnicity significantly belong to the ethnicities they claim to.
What defines a Mutooro or a Mugishu or a Muganda or any other person’s ethnicity? Is it their genetic makeup, geographical area they occupy, physical appearance or their culture?
If you think that genetic makeup is the most defining aspect for one’s ethnicity, how many Ugandans can authoritatively give detailed profiles of their three great-grandfathers? If one can’t tell their third or fourth great-grandfather’s name and roots, then they have no authority to claim that their genetic makeup is of a specific tribe.
Many people would be shocked — if a proper genetic analysis is made on them — that they aren’t genetically attached to ethnicities they claim to be.
If we are to consider physical appearances, there are many people with striking resemblances across different ethnicities. Reader, I guess you remember the comparisons people made between Akon (an artiste from Senegal but mainly lives in USA) and General Katumba Wamala ( a soldier from Uganda). The two even met for a photo moment as a consequence of the resemblance talk on Ugandan social media.
To argue that geographical location defines one’s ethnicity is analogous to saying that scores of Africans that are born and reared in Europe or USA are now Whites. Or, that Batooro that have been born and raised in Buganda are now Baganda. I’m not sure whether that would be a plausible argument.
Culture is defined as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. Almost all Ugandans on Twitter( and away from Twitter) have Biblical or Quranic names which suggests that they subscribe to Abrahamic religions — religions that were alien to many of our forefathers.
Very few Ugandans have an experience in grass-thatched shrines and many have never prayed to their local deities such as Jajja Mukasa, Kiwanuka etc. but almost all Ugandans have entered churches and mosques to pray to the heavenly God. It’s Ramathan and many of the moslems are now fasting.
It’s not uncommon to find a Ugandan man putting on a coat (even on a very sunny and hot day) and a rope( read necktie) around their neck as if they are going to hang themselves. Long and white wedding gowns are originally not part of any culture in Uganda.
Most of the same Ugandans can play with English better than their local languages both in writing and speaking. Even when two or more educated people who are supposedly from the same ethnic group meet, they’ll easily and most likey have an interlocution in English. Many Ugandans know more English proverbs than those in their local languages.
The English Premier League( EPL) is a religion of sorts amongst most Ugandan urbanites and also significantly rooted in some peasants who can access radios. Not knowing a thing about EPL presents one with airs of backwardness before many Ugandans. A random Ugandan will effortlessly name players from Arsenal or Manchester United but the same Ugandan will scratch their head, look at the sky and contract their eyes for a whole day to name only one person from any of the teams that make up the Uganda Super League.
Many Ugandans have spent more than a decade in school being instructed in English. They’ve been exposed to alien curricula; studying western economic, governance and social systems. Many Ugandans loathe Museveni because he is not as democratic as Western leaders. Suggesting that we go back to barter trade anywhere in Uganda would make people there chuckle.
Surely, there’s a mountain of evidence to show that many Ugandans don’t culturally belong to “their” ethnicities significantly.
I conclude on a point of wonderment: couldn’t Ugandans be attached to nothing ethnically? Or, isn’t a random Ugandan made up of more than one ethnicity? If yes, to which ethnicity should one be most loyal?