Today Tuesday October 9, 2012 has been marked with a lot of fanfare as the Day of Jubilee, 50 years of “Independence” from British protectorate rule. While other fellow Afrikans in Uganda celebrated the day, I took time to ponder seriously the next 50 years.
First, a little bit of history. When the British first landed on our soil, they found a multiplicity of nations. These were independent nations that had distinct governments, cultures and languages. These nations include Kigezi, Tooro, Ankole, Bunyoro, Buganda, Lango, Acoli and several others. These nations were forcefully conscripted into the protectorate beginning in 1894 with Buganda.
In 1894, the British declared war on Bunyoro. The atrocities committed during that period were on a massive scale as the brutality of the British was used to break the determined resistance against domination. Several people were displaced, several fled to Lango and other areas as they tried to flee from the bloodshed. In fact, in my family, a story is told about how my paternal great grandfather, while only about 5 years old, was uprooted from his Bunyoro homeland during the war and carried all the way to Lango by Langi fighters that were retreating during the bitter and brutal war. He was found abandoned, probably because his mother had fled in a hurry unable to carry him along for whatever reason or had been killed. Nobody really knows. He was adopted by one of the warriors into the Omolo Atar Odyakol clan of the Lango nation.
However, no one knows where exactly his Bunyoro roots are. Its part of my heritage that for now is hidden and speaks a lot about the great devastation and displacement of people that took place as Britain forcefully imposed its will on the Afrikan nations. In 1899, the British finally defeated Bunyoro and then systematically conscripted the rest of the nations into present day Uganda thereafter.
Eventually, several nations were brought into subjugation and the British, using the divide and rule policy, systematically rewarded collaborators and punished the nations that had resisted. My dad and his siblings were born in Luweero because my grandfather and his young wife were forced to abandon their homeland and settle in Buganda because it was considered to have progressed more than Lango, with health centres and schools that had been built by the protectorate government. Their family only moved back to Lango in 1966, after “Independence”.
While there was a lot of progress that the newly created “independent nation” made in those early years after October 9, 1962, in the words of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, “It Is Not Yet Uhuru“. The protectorate government was only replaced by a central government that continued to carry out the same kind of administration and kept almost all the laws, including the oppressive ones, intact. These very laws that the protectorate government had imposed were then used to whip into line those nations that resisted the rule of the Central Government. None of the nations voted to retain the system forcefully created by the British. It, without question, continued to be imposed on the people.