Tuesday, April 6, 2010
We need to understand our History well to forge a better future under Federo
If the likes of Prof. Mukiibi had to change their names to look like they were Baganda, we need to re-think the strategies for co-existence in a united Uganda.
Bakiga influx a reminder of Kibaale under Bbuganda
THE problem of Kibaale District, argue Banyoro elders Dr. Kasirivu Atwooki and Matia Kasaija, is injustice and violation of Banyoro’s rights.
A lot has been said about Bunyoro and more so about Kibaale District. However, many of the people talking and writing about Bunyoro and Kibaale in particular lack a lot of information. Many of the presentations, most of which are critical, are subjective and not objective because of the lack of information.
Surprisingly, all people say there is a problem in Bunyoro but they end at that. They neither state the problem, the magnitude of the problem nor give what they consider to be a solution.
Here below is a brief account on Kibaale District: Kibaale is composed of Buyaga, Bugangaizi and Buyanja counties. Buyanja was curved out of Buyaga in the 1970s.
Buyaga and Bugangaizi were among the seven counties of Bunyoro, which were annexed to Buganda in 1894 by Col. Colville. The rest were Buheekula, Buruuli, Bulemezi, Bunyara (Bugerere) and Singo (Rugonjo).
The annexation was not as a result of Buganda defeating Omukama Kabalega and, therefore, conquering his territory. NO. This was Col.Colville’s unilateral action taking advantage of Omukama Kabalega’s retreat to Hoima from Mubende.
cradle of bunyoro
From history, it should be known that Buyaga, Bugangaizi and Buheekula were the cradle of Bunyoro-Kitara Empire. This is evidenced by the presence of many burial grounds of the kings and other cultural sites related to the kingdom’s rituals.
Other important cultural sites include the Mubende hill at the Nyakahuma site where ALL coronation rituals for the kings of Bunyoro commence. Other royal activities that were centred in this area were the presence of blacksmiths to make hoes, spears, arrows and other equipment for domestic, commercial and military use.
When in 1892, Col. Colville attacked Omukama Kabalega at Mubende where his capital was, Kabalega retreated to Hoima to reorganise himself and wage a guerilla war. The retreat of Kabalega gave Col. Colville an opportunity to put the Buyaga, Bugangaizi, and Buheekula among other counties of Bunyoro under his control and eventually pass them over to Buganda kingdom administration in 1894. In 1899, with the capture of Omukama Kabalega, Col. Colville officially handed over this cradle to Buganda and it was legitimised by the 1900 Buganda Agreement, which officially defined the boundaries of Buganda that included the seven counties that were annexed from the Bunyoro kingdom.
The period between 1892 and 1899, the British conducted a massive campaign to destroy all what could be destroyed in the seven counties and the rest of what is today Bunyoro. There is evidence that very many Banyoro lost their livestock (Banyoro were cattlekeepers) and other properties. It can only be summarised as a genocide.
Buyaga, Bugangaizi and Buheekula formed Mubende District, the first district to be established by the colonialists. In the 1900 Buganda Agreement, land in Buyaga and Bugangaizi was allocated to the Kabaka of Buganda, a selection of Baganda royals and Baganda chiefs in square miles. The allocatees would identify the land, which they wished to acquire and the surveyor would then proceed to survey the land for them.
It should be noted that the land that would be identified by the allocatees for survey was not empty but was occupied by the Banyoro. This was part of the punishment that was meted out to the Banyoro for resisting the British. The new landowners, now Mailo landlords, descended with vengeance on the Banyoro and herded them into nucleus villages so as to free the land. The Banyoro were forced to abandon their ancestral lands and move into these nucleus villages. The Banyoro were prohibited from constructing permanent houses and planting perennial crops. The Mailo landlords demanded Busuulu and Envujjo. Banyoro were prohibited from speaking Runyoro and those found doing so would be punished. See attached letters No. 26/33, dated August 18, 1933 and No. 44/1155/56, dated August 28, 1956 written by Kyambalango, the Buyaga Saza chief. This treatment was repulsive to the Banyoro. They organised themselves into a rebellion, the Nyangire Rebellion of 1907.
Even after the genocide that was suffered by the Banyoro during the British military campaign, there was another round of suffering. The persecution of Banyoro intensified with the bringing by of Baganda chiefs by the British to occupy all administrative positions in the local government. The British were the district commissioners, district police and prisons commanders and they controlled the judiciary. From the county chief down to the smallest chief were Baganda. The British used the Baganda to fight their purported enemies, the Banyoro. The Banyoro were made to denounce anything pertaining to Kinyoro culture, including being prohibited from speaking Runyoro; those found speaking it, especially in public places were arrested and imprisoned. Banyoro were forced to adopt Kiganda names and Kiganda dances.
No education institution was constructed in the “lost counties”. Banyoro were denied school bursaries or scholarships from Buganda kingdom government. Any Munyoro who wanted a scholarship to study in a secondary or higher school would have to adopt a Kiganda name. People like Prof. Joseph Mukiibi, and Architect Henry Sentoogo, etc are living testimonies.
Other examples are late Prof. Senyonga, late Kirabokyamaria, and late Justice Sebugwawo Amooti among others. There are people like St. Andrea Kaahwa and St. Anatoli Kirigwaijo, the Uganda Martyrs who are Banyoro but they have since been given Kiganda names like Kaggwa instead of Kaahwa and Kirigwajjo instead of Kirigwaijo. These saints originated from Kibaale and were brought to Buganda as captives.
The depriving of the Banyoro of their land and the use of Baganda chiefs to suppress the Banyoro caused bad blood between the two communities. We are sure this was calculated to create enmity, which unfortunately resurfaces occasionally.
Around 1915, the British vaccinated cattle purportedly against rinderpest at Mpongo River and over 300,000 heads of cattle belonging to Banyoro perished. This was seen by the Banyoro as an attempt to impoverish them and further break their economic backbone. There was another round of vaccination in 1935, which killed the cattle that had remained.
As a consequence, many Banyoro went or were forced to go into exile out of Mubende District. Examples such as late Yohana Nyakatura, late Rubuto Benua who were activists were exiled to Lake Katwe. Many people fled to areas such as Mityana, Hoima, Masindi, etc. The end result was the depopulation of the area.
These harsh and other not mentioned mistreatments led to the formation of the Mubende Banyoro Committee (MBC) in 1918 with the following objectives:
# To fight for the return of Omukama Kabalega
# To recover Banyoro land from Buganda which was registered as Mailo, Crown and Estates land.
# To reinstate socio-cultural freedom to Bunyoro society
# To resist non-Banyoro rule, exploitation and other forms of subjugation.
The MBC presented several petitions to the Governor and even to the Crown, but they didn’t get a positive response. With the arrival of the ex-service men from the Second World War, MBC went into another phase when they launched an armed guerrilla warfare from 1949. Naturally the Omukama’s government gave substantial backing to the MBC.
In 1961 with the discussions at the Lancaster conference and during independence, there was a truce. The armed campaign nevertheless resumed in 1963 and 1964 up to when the referendum was held.
Between 1962 and 1964, Mengo was involved in a series of campaigns, including the ferrying of thousands of people from Buganda to register as voters so that they could outnumber the Banyoro when the referendum was held. Kabaka Mutesa was himself involved and at one time was confronted at Karuguuza and he shot and killed an MBC leader called Ntogota in 1963.
The central government countered this campaign by Mengo when they decided that only those on the 1961 voters register would participate in the referendum of 1964. The thousands who had been ferried into Buyaga and Bugangaizi never voted and the verdict was in favour of Buyaga and Bugangaizi who decided to returned to Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom.
However, the Banyoro and MBC all along thought that the land had been returned to the Banyoro. Even the Mailoland owners initially thought they had lost the land because many tore their certificates of title after the results of the referendum were announced.
It only dawned on the Banyoro later that the referendum was not explicit regarding ownership of land. Seventy per cent of the land in Kibaale is Mailoland and owned by now the famous absentee Mailoland owners. The 30% constitute the then Crown land, forest reserves, swamps and rivers.
Over the years, the Bafuruki have come to settle in Kibaale District. In 1972, the Government established the Rutete Resettlement Scheme, which Bafuruki claim was sanctioned by Omukama Winyi, though those who were present at the time have disproved the claim and there is no documentary evidence to support the assertion. The second resettlement was in Bugangaizi in 1992, which is also disputed as not being legally established. These Bafuruki were welcome and many were voted into leadership positions at local government and even national level. There was co-existence and harmony among the many tribes in Kibaale District. However, with time, especially starting 1998, the Bafuruki have engaged in a campaign of ferrying into Kibaale District thousands of people, especially from the Kigezi sub-region.
The following illustrates the above point: According to the 1991 population census there were 25,000 Bakiga in Kibaale. In 1992, the Government settled 35,000 Bakiga in Bugangaizi County. According to the 2002 Population Census, there were 126,000 Bakiga.
There are two buses, which ply the Kabale-Kagadi route. These buses arrive when they are full and go back almost empty. There are several minibuses and lorries, which are bringing people from Kigezi sub-region. There are also people from Rwanda and refugee resettlement schemes, especially from Nakivale coming to settle in Bunyoro.
It should be noted that the settlement of 35,000 Bakiga from Mpokya never had the blessing of the Kibaale Local Government. Actually the Kibaale District Council denounced it. The land on which these people were settled has claimants among the present absentee Mailoland owners and the Banyoro who owned and occupied it before it was allocated to the Mailoland owners. Today, we can only estimate that there are over 250,000 Bakiga in Kibaale District.
According to the 2002 Census, Kibaale District had a population growth rate at 5.2% against the national average of 3.3% meaning Kibaale has the highest population growth rate among all Uganda’s districts. Today with the massive influx of people it is estimated that Kibaale District has a population growth of about 6 %.
The influx of Bakiga into Kibaale is organised and well co-ordinated to increase their numbers in Kibaale District for voting purposes. They want to outvote the Banyoro and take all the available political posts.
The above scenario only reminds us of what happened when Kibaale was under Buganda. There was no Munyoro in the Buganda Lukiiko and, therefore, the voices of Banyoro were never to be heard. In the Obote I government where Buganda nominated people to Parliament, Kibaale was represented by a Muganda called Jolly Joe Kiwanuka who belonged to the Kabaka Yekka party. He could never present the views of Banyoro. The tribal voting of the Bakiga in Kibaale seems to be making history repeat itself.
One may ask, were the Banyoro of Kibaale born to be represented by other tribes or are they not entitled to represent themselves at national level?
Is the tribal problem of the Bakiga limited to Kibaale alone? People need to study what is happening in Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Bunyaruguru and Buwekula to mention a few cases.
In Bunyoro, many of these Bafuruki have invaded the forest reserves and swamps. There is also a lot of land fragmentation. The politics has been tribalised as the Bafuruki vote in blocks for their own people. Arrogance is at its peak with words such as “Abanyoro nabashema” (Banyoro are stupid), “Turabategyeka” (We shall rule you), “Turabanyaza” (we shall make you urinate), “Kuha akaruru Omunyoro hakiri nkaha embwa enkiga” (Instead of voting for a Munyoro, one would rather vote for a dog native to Kigezi). Such remarks remind the Banyoro of the days when Buyaga and Bugangaizi were under the Baganda rule and it is reawakening the spirit of resistance.
The Banyoro have over the years requested the Government, especially the NRM Government to live up to its Ten-point Programme as amended of “redressing the past historical errors”. The Bunyoro problem, especially the Kibaale issue is about injustice and the violation of the rights of Banyoro. It is good people say there is a problem, only that they don’t describe the problem. Before you redress an injustice you need, first of alls to know how the injustice was committed? You determine against whom it was committed. You determine the injury and its extent. Then you determine how to redress it?
In our view, the violation of land rights has to be redressed by restituting to the Banyoro their rights to land in Freehold. Period. There is evidence on the ground, which proves the presence of ancestral lands of the Banyoro.
Many villages are named after prominent Banyoro who lived in them. Names such as Kyarwita, Kyamukwege, Kyawakame, Kyakasimbazi, Kyakajoro, etc. There are surviving grandchildren who are claiming their ancestral lands. The Banyoro will only feel that the injustice against them has been redressed only when the government returns to them these ancestral lands them.
The Bafuruki who claim they bought Bibanja from the Banyoro can sit down with them and get leases.
We agree that the Mailoland owners be compensated in accordance with Article 26. However, are the Banyoro liable for compensation because of the over a century-long violation of their rights to land?
Secondly with the ever-increasing population of the Bakiga in Bunyoro and their voting on tribal basis, will Banyoro however good, ever be elected into leadership positions? However, lousy a Mukiga is, if he stands against a Munyoro, the Bakiga will vote for their person. Merit is not the issue. People might have observed that elections in Kigezi, are largely based on religion, but when they are outside Kigezi, their basis is tribe.
Published on: Saturday, 5th September, 2009