Love made in Uganda: Fighting us is just the same as fighting yourself, Ok?

Tuesday March 26 2019

Love made in Uganda

Love made in Uganda: Uganda has five international borders and a heavy dose of all her neighbours' blood flowing in her veins. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH | NMG 

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A relatively small country, Uganda has five international borders and a heavy dose of all her neighbours' blood flowing in her veins.

Actually, the root word “ganda” for the country's name means bundle, uniting different people. Fomenting war on Uganda thus amounts to fighting yourself, if you are a neighbour.

Neighbour number one, South Sudan, helped the British colonise Uganda by sending mercenaries to defeat our nationalists 135 years ago. But since Uganda became independent, she has been spending her resources and humans to help liberate South Sudan from racist northern domination.

And the Southern Sudanese also helped Ugandans big time in 1980 when our government decided to conduct a genocide against all our citizens in West Nile region, a genocide ironically well documented and reported by the government's own newspaper of the day, Uganda Times.

South Sudan took in a million Ugandans and kept them alive for six years. Today Uganda is keeping over a million South Sudanese refugees and giving all their children free school education.

Moving clockwise, second neighbour Kenya has so many communities in Uganda including the Gishu of Mount Elgon, Tesos, Luos, Kalenjin and Samia. Kenya once had a vice president Moody Awori whose brother Aggrey Awori was a minister in Uganda's cabinet and once a presidential candidate. If Aggrey had won and if some incapacitation had led to Moody's becoming Kenya's president, two presidents from the same womb would have ruled two countries.


In 1976, Kenya had a crisis from the assassination of popular politician JM Kariuki. Like a godsend, Uganda's jocular leader Idi Amin recounted the old boundaries status when Uganda stretched upto Naivasha. Kenya’s embattled leadership galvanised Kenyans against the external enemy eyeing their land, diverting attention from Kariuki’s murder.

Neighbour number three, Tanzania, overran Uganda in 1979, occupying it for several years. Uganda had also occupied Tanzania's Kagera province in 1978 for several weeks. Northern Tanzania was a strategic rear military stronghold for King Mwanga, the last Ganda sovereign who spent all his reign fighting Britain colonisers.

Mwanga’s top commander, General Gabriel Kintu just "retired' to Bukoba when they lost to the British in the late 1890s and lived there to ripe old age. By the way, Tanzania’s Wahaya and Uganda’s Banyankole are ethnically one.

Uganda's neighbour number four is Rwanda. The Banyarwanda are listed twentieth of Uganda’s fifty indigenous communities in Uganda's constitution.

But the Banyarwanda are also listed as Uganda’s sixth indigenous community as Bafumbira, a name coined in the 1969 census, the first after independence. Banyarwanda are thus the only Ugandan community enjoying double Constitution recognition, and of course live in all parts of the country.

Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination sparked the 1994 genocide was Mukiga, a major indigenous community in Uganda.

Uganda's fifth neighbour is DR Congo. In 1966, Uganda army commander, the Defence minister and their boss the Prime minister were mentioned in Congo gold and ivory looting. As Parliament’s inquiry moved to corner them, they overthrew the Constitution and the rest is history.

In the late 90s, Uganda with Rwanda helped overthrow Zaire president Mobutu Sese Seko, installing Laurent Kabila who renamed the country DR Congo.

Stuff happened and as Ugandan troops withdrew several years later by air, thousands of Congolese women trekked a thousand miles on foot to follow their new husbands. Priests prayed for them before they started their trek for love. Love made in Uganda.

Joachim Buwembo is a social and political commentator based in Kampala.