By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi |
Early in 1979, gun shots were heard in neighboring Nsoga village, the late Munyabuzaari, a notorious robber, who had been a “mulebeesi” of defunct Uganda Army soldiers and now had teamed up with Tanzanian ‘Wakombozi,” came to our home and told my father, the late Sheikh Abaas Kimera to hide a Muslim cap that was drying up at an orange tree.
Fred, our youthful labourer, from Kakuuto, now in Kyotera District, protested saying that “Islam came to Uganda from Tanzania, so there is no need for Muslims to hide.”
Two wakombozi were training some of their fans how to shoot a gun, hence the gunshots, and later came to our Nnambiriizi village, went to my aunt, the late Fatina Nantale, took local beer (tonto), left and a found me and my little sister grazing cows. “One greeted us with only one word: Siboota?: Atempting “osiiby’otya” as they commonly greet in Luganda. Another was riding a bicycle. They reached our home where my father and grandfather Zuli Arabi Mukasa, had run away, but did not harm our mothers. One of our mothers was hailing from Kyotera and was fluent in Kiswahili.
Yet rumors had it that Tanzanian forces and Ugandan exiles were killing Muslims all over Mawogola Sub District now Ssembabule District simply because Idi Amin was a Muslim or a section of the Muslims were supporting his regime.
In our own family, my father and great father were suspected by local chiefs many of them Christians, of being collaborators with the Wakombozi. I am not sure about it but it was due to local Muslim factionalism between Kibuli and Bukoto Nateete sects within Uganda Muslim Supreme Council. The only Amin’s fan was me due to patriotism.
Likewise, the National Council for Banyarwanda, a national association which brings together all Banyarwanda born and raised in Uganda has castigated all forms of uncalled for segregation, vengeance and hatrage by a section of people saying they are Ugandans just like any other.
Speaking at a press conference headed by Mr Frank Gashumba whose Rwandan great grand parents migrated to Masaka in early 1920’s, they said no body has a monopoly of this country since no body chose what tribe to belong to.
” Many Ugandans are living large in USA, German or UK as nationals on even weak grounds and no one is threatening them, how then can some one start be threatening a Rwandan born and raised in Uganda who is therefore a Bonafede national?” wondered Gashumba.
He particularly singled out self-proclaimed blogger Lumbuye who of late has been overheard uttering words intended to endanger the co existence of Ugandan Rwandans.
Gashumba called on Mr Bobi Wine and NUP to desist from associating with people of Lumbuye’s calibre who are likely to spoil Bobi votes with such backward tribal sentiments.
“Banyarwanda like any other tribe we are voters and our vote power falls not less than well over four million in this country, imagine fools spoiling such for Bobi Wine?” Gashumba wondered.
This comes days after the Bobi Wine national riots which left over 43 people dead as supporters opposed his arrest and detention.
During these riots, some people threatened to harm Ugandans of Rwanda origin which Gashumba and other Rwandans call misplaced anger and condemn with full force.
The National Council for Banyarwanda also said they stand for cultural development, unity and equal opportunities among others.
Condemning a community because of being the accident of birth or heredity of a leader in Uganda is not new. Obote used a Baganda bogey to mobilize the rest of Uganda against Baganda, who had been colonial agents in most parts of Uganda. Buganda as a region and Baganda as a community were an enemy of state under Obote l and ll governments.
Then at the fall of Idi Amin regime, a section of Ugandans see Muslims as staunch supporters and beneficiaries of the falling regime. That is why the late Mushabuzari was telling my father to hide his Muslim identity which was protested by our labouroer who may have been even a Wakombozi collaborator. The worst was in Itendero in Mbarara where the local population was incited by the late Maj. Edward Rurangalanga a UPC leader who was quoted as saying that: We have cut the tree, it is up to you to finish off the branched. This was stopped by the then State Minister for Defence Yoweri Museveni, who was directed by the cabinet chaired by the then President Yusuf Lule to go to Mbarara to stop it.
The worse was in West Nile, Amin’s home region in 1981 under Obote ll regime, the Ombaci massacre, where, men, women and children were massacred indiscriminately by the notorious Uganda National Liberation Army and the Acholi Luo militia on directives of the Army Chief of Staff, David Oyite Ojok. This was after Obote had survived an ambush narrowly while campaigning in Koboko in 1980 but the author was then Major and later brig. Bernard Rwehururu, hailing from Ankole, in South West Uganda. These drove the rest to exile in the Sudan and DR Congo and returned home after NRM/NRA victory in 1986.
Then came 1982 when Chris Rwakasisi, Minister of State for Security, Edward Rurangaranga, Minister, Office of the Prime Minister started witch hunting Banyarwanda for supporting NRA rebellion and many were killed, displaced and their cattle and land seized by UPC functionaries. Since Rwanda under Habyarimana also blocked them from returning, many joined the rebellion and participated in the liberation of both countries, Uganda and Rwanda.
There was also a witch hunt of Langi, after the Okellos had taken over in July 1`985, and the survivals crossed to Katonga and joined NRA. Even the Iteso who were mostly in defunct Special Force, suffered the same and it contributed to them joining Force Obote Back Again under Aggrey Awori and Uganda People’s Army under Peter Otai.
According to the then Director General of External Security Organization, David Pulkol, one of the reasons for the outbreak of Northern rebellion was to capture the monopoly of state power both political and military, which the Northerners had enjoyed since independence under Obote, Amin and Tito Okello.
However according to Mao, then a Gulu Municipality MP and now DP President General and presidential flag bearer, NRM had stopped at Karuma in 1986, and only NRA crossed to the north and there was suspicion between Northerners and Southerners.
According to then Mawogola MP and now Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, it was wrong to generalize Northerners as Anyanya, associating them with Obote and Amin regimes, and Southerners as “Nyarwanda” associating them with rebellion.
There was no doubt that Baganda played a prominent role in spreading Islam, Christianity and colonialism in Uganda but those were officials, chiefs and notables that were not beyond 1,000. Why should one blacklist a quarter of the country and population for the past mistakes of a section of their ancestors?” Likewise, a section of Banyarwanda had played a notorious role in State Research Bureau under Idi Idi Amin, but those were elites, why should it be generalized to all, when some like Fred Rwigyema, were in FRONASA, contributing to national liberation.
However, members of the communities themselves, should also be careful with the role they play in their country as citizens so that they and their communities are not witch-hunted again. Let us grow up as Ugandans and as Africans.