In my considered opinion often expressed in British and Ugandan press, the existential threat facing Uganda and other African countries is not tribalism, but population explosion, which is exerting unsustainable pressure on vital resources and public services. The resultant scarcity is pitting family against family, neighbour against neighbour and tribe against tribe, turning some countries to a failed state.
In Uganda, the scramble is only the beginning. Wait for the real one, when our population is reaches 115 million by 2050, only 27 years away, according to UN!
Yet, currently, there is a popular or notorious (depending on your pastime) social campaign under the hashtag #UgandaTribalismExhibition.
The thinly veiled campaign message is that western region is increasingly dominating every sphere of national life, namely the means of production, the military and security services, government departments and agencies – and access to jobs.
Except for its unprecedented breadth and width, thanks to social media, the present #UgandaTribalismExhibition is nothing new to anyone who has followed Uganda politics immediately before and since independent 61 years ago.
Consider this chronology of atrocities in the name of ending tribalism.
In November 1953, the British deposed and exiled Kabaka Mutesa in order end the Baganda domination of Uganda.
In May 1966, Milton Obote was completing what the British had started, when he sent Idi Amin to attack Lubiri palace. The Baganda said thousands were killed while Obote said only twenty died.
In January 1972, Idi Amin won wide public admiration, especially in Buganda, when he staged a “bloodless” military coup in order to stop Acholi and Langi domination of the army and government. It was claimed some 500,000 Ugandans mainly Acholi and Lango lost their lives in that “liberation”.
From 1980, Ugandan National Liberation Army (UNLA) from Tanzania came close to exterminating the entire population of west Nile region where most of Amin’s “occupation” soldiers came from.
In July 1985, Acholi members of the UNLA staged a coup to end the domination of the army by their Langi kinsmen. Announcing the takeover on Radio Uganda, the then Lt Walter Ochora called on “our brother Yoweri Museveni to come out of the bush to help us fight tribalism… we will leave no stone unturned”.
Some viewed the 1980-1986 NRA bush war in Luwero as a struggle to by the south to liberate Uganda from the north.
Whatever the real motive of the NRA war, it must be clear to any objective Ugandan that it has given our country a semblance of peace, security and stability for the last thirty-seven years.
Sadly, that unprecedented period of peace, security and stability could give way to decades of horror if #UgandaTribalismExhibition campaign is carried to its il/logical conclusion. I/logical because the consequences will devour the campaigners, intended victims and the bystanders alike.
“The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began… It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Genesis:41..)
Sam Akaki -Ayumu
Apac Municipality, Maruzi county