Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today the Kabaka of Buganda cried

Today the Kabaka of Buganda cried.  He shed tears at the desecration of his ancestors resting place.  The Baganda will remember this day for generations to come.
Fire burnt down the Kasubi tombs last night and today when the King of Buganda laid his eyes on the ashes that remained in the place of the royal tombs, his heart broke and he grieved with his subjects and with all peace loving Ugandans.  A knife has been driven through the hearts of the Baganda and because of the acrimonious relations existing between the Kingdom and the government not many are likely to believe that this is a random act, an act of God, a careless accident.  We are more likely to believe that the tombs were destroyed by the evil hand of an arsonist.  If indeed this was the job of an arsonist then they have desecrated the Kingdom in a most despicable way.  
Within the tombs rested four Kings of the ancient Kingdom of Buganda but the structures, built in the 19th Century; were more than a resting place for kings, more than a UNESCO heritage site, more than a tourist attraction, more than a beautiful piece of ancient architecture.  The tombs were a place revered by the Baganda, not only as a physical manifestation of their rich culture, not just as evidence of the architectural sophistication of their ancestors but because they were one of the few remaining places within Kampala that they could truly call their own.  
The tombs stood for the perseverance of Buganda and were a symbol of cultural pride that has survived the mayhem, wars, troubles and tribulations that have engulfed their Kingdom through the Centuries.  There is no one living in Uganda that remembers the time before the tombs were built.  The tombs that stood proud since the late 19th Century basking in regal splendor, reminding us of the dignity and pride of the Baganda and their love for their Kabaka, even in the most adverse circumstances; have now been reduced to ashes.  In the past Buganda’s kings have been exiled from their Kingdom, and sent to far off lands when they disagreed with colonial administrators or rulers of independent Uganda but there were places like this, that remained behind for people to pay homage and identify themselves as a community, a place to remind them that their Kingdom would survive adversity as it always had for Centuries.
The mind of a Muganda might grasp the idea of an exiled king, even a king denied the right of passage through his own kingdom -- they were well prepared for such incidents by the history of tension between their kingdom and central government.  Nothing has prepared the Baganda for an attack on this significant symbol of their culture.  African cultures show great respect for the dead and all burial grounds are sacred.  Kasubi tombs was that much more sacred because it is a burial ground for the kings.  This attack will be understood by many as an attempt to destroy their culture.  
And they have seen it happen in other parts of the country where princes will never become kings unless the central government permits them; where a war has caused a whole generation of the Acholi in the North to grow up in camps, uprooted from their traditional communities, thereby severing the people’s connectedness to their culture.  An attack on the culture of a community hits at the core of a people’s identity leaving them nothing to remind them of who they really are, snatching away that intangible strength that is derived from enduring cultural pride.
And so if someone torched Kasubi tombs last night, who will stop them from torching the palace at Bulange?  Have they not already torched the King’s own school in Buddo?  How many arsonists have been brought to trial since this wave of arson hit the country.  Who is answerable for these fiery crimes?  If someone torched Kasubi last night they also torched the spirit of Buganda and an invisible line has been crossed by Uganda as a nation.  We have entered a dark, fiery, and smoky place that feels my heart with fear for the Kingdom and the country as a whole.  
As an opposition activist and a non-Muganda who grew up and spent most of my life in Buganda I see no gain for anyone from this cruel event.  The government has nothing to gain from escalating the anger that was already spilling over in Buganda before this incident.  The opposition on the other hand is already struggling to gain the trust of Buganda and recruit active leaders to strengthen its ranks in Buganda.  This event will only make the Baganda more introverted and suspicious of other nationalities, and of all national politicians.
But it must be stated clearly without fear that it is the Constitutional duty of the state to protect its people, guarantee their rights and provide security for person and property.  While many preferred to place the cause of instability in Northern Uganda on Joseph Kony and his gang of rebels many others realized that ultimately it was the duty of the state to protect the citizens of that region from the rebels and the state failed to protect the people of Northern Uganda for two decades.  It is the same with the mystery of fires that have consumed life and property from Kibwetere to Kichwamba, to Buddo and now to Kasubi.
There is still a chance that the fire of March 16, 2010 started accidentally.  Yet If indeed this was the evil work of an arsonist then ultimately the Uganda government must be held fully responsible and accountable.

Anne Mugisha
Deputy Secretary International & Regional Affairs

Sunday, March 7, 2010



March 8, 2010

Fellow Ugandans; women of the world.
Members of the press who are our most valued allies in our struggle for true democracy.
We, women belonging to the Inter Party Cooperation, belonging to the four cooperating parties: Conservative Party (CP), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Justice Forum (JEEMA) and Uganda People’s Congress UPC) gather here today to mark the International Women’s Day.
We should be celebrating. But we are not. There is no reason to celebrate this day this year. This is because the government has failed to bring those changes that the women were promised 24 years ago, but instead resorted to lying to the women, hoodwinking them and exploiting them. 
They appointed some few women as ministers, created special seats for women in parliament. But they did this to deceive the women that they are now empowered. They have not done anything for us the local women who toil and suffer in villages and slums. The real women who have lost their husbands, their sons, their sisters… and have to look after the orphans. The real women who sell their radios, beds and chairs to educate their children. And even after their children they graduate, they cannot get jobs because they don’t know anyone in government.
We cannot celebrate women’s day in Uganda because our husbands, brothers, sons and sisters were murdered by the army and the police in Kampala last September(2009) when the government decided to stop the Kabaka of Buganda from visiting Kayunga, another part of Uganda and Buganda. They were shot with live bullets and killed. Some were dragged out of their houses. They were not armed. There has not been any government apology, no arrests of the police officers and army officers who killed our children have been made. NO compensation has been made to the families of the victims. We know the names of those who killed our children and husbands. We shall not rest until they are punished.  
Let all stand up for a minute of silence to remember these, our children, who were murdered by the government trigger happy army and police officers.
May the almighty God rest their souls in eternal peace and determine what to do to those who ordered their killing, and those who accepted the orders to kill.  
We are not celebrating International women’s day today because thousands of women die of over bleeding in hospitals during labor in government hospitals where there is no blood for transfusion. Others deliver babies on bare floors in government hospitals. Hundreds of thousands of our children die in infancy, before their first birthday, because of preventable diseases.  There are no drugs in government hospitals. 
All the money that should help women and their children is stolen by government officials. They stole money for AIDS treatment. Money for Malaria treatment. Money for Tuberclosis treatment. Money for immunization. They don’t steal only  health sector money. They stole NSSF money- we all remember Temangalo. They stole CHOGM money. They have stolen NAADS money. They have stolen money meant for the roads, Kampala roads look like village paths. They are buying new aeroplanes. They fly their daughters to Europe to deliver babies. They are still stealing and each time we come up to express ourselves on these matters, they bring riot police and other security forces to intimidate us. The job of the police is to catch thieves, but not to intimidate those who report and fight thieves like us. 
We are not celebrating today because the women have been impoverished and have not been assisted by the government to keep the prices of essential goods like salt, sugar, soap and kerosene affordable. No pro-people government does not step in to keep the prices of essential commodities down. They argue that this is a free market economy. Liars! Government, even in a free market economy can subsidise essential commodities to help its poor people. But government officials who would do it are the importers of these commodities. Some are business partners in the some local industries. The higher the prices of commodities, the more they benefit. The fuel prices cannot go down because most petrol stations are owned by the same corrupt government officials. We shall soon publish a list of petrol station owners in Uganda. 

We are not celebrating this year because in spite of the official propaganda that government supports girl child education, no girl schools have been established for women in the past 24 years. Instead the existing ones have deteriorated. UPE has become a disaster. Very little money is allocated to education and that little is stolen by corrupt government officials. Children don’t get food at school because the money is stolen. If there was no corruption, the school environment, where a child would get proper lunch and sit in a proper classroom would make the children look forward to going to school. Instead, because of these unacceptable conditions in our schools, girls are dropping out of school at an alarming rate. Other reasons cause girl child drop out. But they are essentially poverty related. There is poverty in Uganda, an otherwise rich country, because of corruption. To fight poverty, you must fight corruption. The “bonna bagaggawale” lie is clear to everyone now. It is another way to steal our money, just like CHOGM and NAADS.

We are not celebrating International Women’s day this year because we are worried of the violence that will occur in Uganda if a free and fair election is not held. The re-appointment of an incompetent and clearly partisan Electoral Commission is an indication that the election has already been rigged before it is held. A disputed election is a recipe for violence. We saw what happened in  Kenya, our sister state. A bad electoral commission caused the death of over 1500 people in Kenya and the destructions of property worth billions. 

Government officials have been bragging  to us that “Uganda is not Kenya, there cannot be violence here”. They had said the same before September 2009 riots in Buganda. Can they say it again? Violence is not a reserve of one country. It is not a monopoly of any body. It is the inevitable consequence of injustice. We demand that the present Electoral Commission be disbanded and replaced by an acceptable one. This is because when there is violence, it is us, the women, who suffer most. We lose our husbands, children, breadwinners, our sisters. We are raped and killed. Our little girls are defiled. This is why we shall not rest until the corrupt electoral commission is disbanded and replaced with an independent one.

Today, we will not go to dance and praise the president and government officials as our fellow women have died, and lost hundreds of their children in Buduuda because the government had no equipment to rescue our people except hand-held hoes and guns! You saw on TV and newspapers what equipment the president carried to Buduuda. A gun. Shame! Shame! Shame! Just  because  the money to buy rescue equipment was used to probably buy the president’s new plane. 

Let us stand up again for a moment of silence to remember the Buduuda landslide victims.

May their souls rest in peace.

We shall instead walk in a procession to Mulago Hospital to meet our fellow mothers in the labour ward and hand over to them the little we have collected for their temporary relief.

We invite you the members of the press to come with us to Mulago Hospital and record the impressions of the suffering women in Uganda’s biggest hospital under the NRM government of 24 years.

Asia Nassuuna Kamulali - Conservative Party         ________________________________
Ingrid Turiniwe - Forum for Democratic Change    ________________________________
Ogwal Diana  -   Justice Forum (JEEMA)                   ________________________________
Jane  Mworobe - Uganda Peoples Congress              ________________________________