It’s now two weeks since I set foot in this beautiful country Costa Rica for my studies. I can’t say much about the country and the people only that Me gusta todo aquí.
But even before a month elapses I read the news that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is seeking to join the Latin America-Africa syndrome of calling for a new constitution that expand executive powers and get rid of “unnecessary checks” on the president’s authority.
With less than 9 months left in office, Arias can’t run for re-election but his brother and current minister of the presidency — a primer minister of sorts — has openly said he’s interested in running for president in 2014. A new constitution with expanded executive powers would fit him just fine.
That’s all I can pick from the media. And when I told a friend about my worries for this latin American country that has been a island in an ocean of countries facing conflicts, he suspected I might be the one who has exported this idea to Costa Rica. Being Ugandan where we successfully saw the amendment of the constitution to open the lid on presidential terms, my friend suggested I might be the very good Arias advisor.
Costa Rica has not had an army in the last 60 years and it is seen as one of the most progressive countries on South America. But I told my friend I never was part of the group that masterminded the imposition of the whole idea of life presidency on the Ugandan society as if they society never saw enough during the self proclaimed life president Idi Amin. What hurts more today however is that those defending the decision to put our country’s leadership future in uncertainty want to justify. They justified it then by saying we had a good and able leader and therefore if we gave him one more term he would leave and we would have gained so much from him in those five years. But alas! There’s a new tactics and reasons, that his lubimbi will end when his 75. One Ugandan saying goes, “Owahinga ahorobi nawe ayinuka” which means that even the one who ploughs the softest soil still retires.
I hope Costa Rica doesn’t commit the same sin that my country did and might pay dearly for in future.
Last week it was the Daily Monitor editors who were summoned by police on charges of forgery and uttering a false document over the publication of President Museveni letter on politics in Bunyoro in July which has been widely seen as tribal.
One of the editors Daniel Kalinaki said: “Our journalists acted in the public interest and reported the best obtainable version of the truth. These charges, which are completely false, are only meant to divert attention away from the controversial contents of the letter.
But apparently it seems the government is not only looking at the Bunyoro issue but rather stories that will have real implication on the elections as Museveni who has been in power since 1986 seeks to extend rule in Uganda come 2011.
Yesterday the police summoned The Independent editors over a cartoon that they claim to be “seditious publication” under the Provisions of Section 27A of the Police Act.
A s I indicated in an earlier post, you can get a T-SHIRT, for 31 Million Bafuruki, an expression against those that seem to be enjoying the naming and supporting of proposal that will have implications on ethnic harmony in Uganda. This is not to say people can’t seek genuine interventions to help a certain group of disadvantaged Ugandans get the required attention and solutions to their problems. But members of this group are against use of ethnicity as a dividing factor which politicians in Uganda are currently doing. One can be proud of their tribe and at same time be committed to seeing a a justice country.So stand for Uganda and be part of the 31 Million Bafuruki. You can also join the discussion on facebook. Just search for 31 Million Bafuruki.
Today August 23rd is a a Slavery Memorial Day, many set this day aside to remember the horrendous inhumane acts that saw Africa and Africans robbed of their dignity for centuries. Even though slavery was abolished, its consequences are still faced by many today. Like someone said at UPEACE, if history is not remembered it may happen again. I also think on such a day, we should support people that are working hard to eliminate modern day slavery. Slavery is still practiced in many parts of the world and it goes on with little attention. In many African countries like Niger, Chad, Mali the estimates of enslaved people go beyond 20 million. In many African settings many practice child labour. In Uganda, some people shameless employ 12 year olds to watch over and cook for their children who are almost their age. In Uganda, slavery-like acts may not necessarily be brought upon these children forcefully but poverty and economic inequality force many to be victims.
I looked up for discussions on this subject today being the day for remembrance and didn’t find much. I found this blog post on slavery commemorations discussion in the UK.
Below are pictures from Goree Island off the Senegalese coast where most slaves were kept and shipped off. I visited the island March this year and everything on the island has a moving slavery related story behind it.
President Museveni shocked Ugandans by renewing the term of the Electoral Commission chairman Badru Kiggundu and four other commissioners. I have read Gaaki Kigambo’s analysis in The Independent and found interesting. One of the new commissioners is Justin Ahabwe Mugabi, a teacher who has no idea of how the commission works.
And issues of competence of the current commission have been raised in the Ugandan media for quite a long time (since 2006.) Many have said that Museveni is preparing to rig again come 2011. I think backgrounds of these commissioners need to be checked properly. When they appointed Sr Margaret Magoba many saw it as a ploy by Museveni to convince Catholics that he was with them and that he could choose a nun to be part of the organisation of elections. This could have been a good cover but I have got friends who went to Immaculate Heart Girl’s school where Sr Magoba was a headteacher for a good time. My friends were just 14 years in senior two when Uganda saw the first presidential elections under Museveni in 1996. My friend remained at school and the school was actually a polling station. She was actually forced to vote by Sr Magoba. No you can’t call it voting. My friend was called to the polling center which was in one of the rooms at school and they asked about her age and they gave her a ticked ballot, the only thing she did was drop it in the box.
The other friend a lady I have much respect for told me she was excited by the whole freedom to vote even when she was fifteen. She indeed ticked President Museveni under the watchful eye of Magoba. More than ten years after that she feels so bad about having to help a regime rig elections when she was only 15. So when out of nowhere she was appointed to the commission everyone new almost nothing about her and her part played in the past elections. It’s known that elections are not rigged at polling stations but at district levels so I think the opposition should not only concentrate on the EC but should move for reforms like mechanised polling process. Some Ugandans in South Africa have written in the past to the EC to ask if the can help procure the voting machines but the EC and government have turned a blind eye.
So if Kiggundu really stays he must be pressed to adopt changes so that the rigging is prevented. So events of having 15 year-olds voting in a little room at a school should not be repeated or having multiple voting which is done mostly in military barracks and other areas where government has deployed their vigilantes in the past.
The return of Otunnu has been the talk of town for the last 3 or so months and The Independent wrote a good story on what Otunnu’s return to Uganda politics means for the political map come 2011.
I may agree with some of Otunnu’s criticism of Museveni’s government but on genocide I don’t know if that charge would stand especially seeing that Omar al Bashir was not charged for genocide in darfur. Of course Otunnu will not bring such charges before the ICC as they have their eyes on Joseph Kony for now. But what the government has refused to do is accept that mistakes have been on their part and the Mukura massacre has never been given due attention.
Daily monitor gave perspective to Olara Otunnu’s BBC interview and what caught my eye was this quote from Lt. Col. Kulayigye, the army spokesperson.
“What he is saying is total rubbish,” said Lt. Col. Kulayigye, the defence and military spokesman, adding “If government forces were committing genocide, how then could civilians run away from rebels to them for sanctuary?” Lt. Col. Kulayigye said Dr Otunnu served in both the Obote II government and Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa junta “that massacred Ugandans”, and he has “no moral right whatsoever to talk against human rights records of the UPDF.”
If you have spoken to Kulaigye as a journalist for him to explain a certain assertion against the army you must have failed to catch what quote him on and the Daily monitor quote says it all. It’s all about rubbish, nosense and God knows we are about to hear some bull….. But above that I feel that Kulaigye in this story sounds like a politician or some sort of historian rather than an army spokesperson. I don’t think he should even be the first person to be quoted because apparently he can’t seem to refute a statement or defend the army without saying rubbish.
Well Afande Kulaigye to show that what you’re saying is not rubbish please stop politicking just provide names of UPDF officers or soldiers who were prosecuted for killing, raping civilians over the course of the war and explain what happened at Mukura at length. We are not asking you about Obote’s sins and deeds for you were not his spokesperson. You are responsible for speaking for the current army so just explain to the nation.
For those of us who are not sure of what really went on you must convince us by going beyond the rubbish word.
Note: I stand to be corrected, was Kulayigye promoted?
Well the best of my Obama collection is Obama is my homeboy. Anyone who has worked in TV knows how excited but very scary this can be if it is to do such an interview but the young man looked really very comfortable and he had his questions well set. Then he got a scoop about the president’s basketball skills. watch and enjoy
The great-grandfather held the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to start primary school, at the age of 84.
To you Mzee, to me you proved that it’s never too late to salvage a dream. And your willing to persevere studying with kids who are your great grandfather leaves many of us in Africa to rethink education.
May the lord see it that u rest in the well deserved place for your search for knowledge was for a good cause (Kimani wanted to learn how to read the Bible for himself)
All of you in Uganda I need you to do just one favour for me. There’s this new T-shirt in town that I love and I hope you can wear it to show cause for a unified Uganda. I would love to be physically involved but am on the road to Costa Rica, the only country in the world whose leader has contracted swine flu (no laughs the man needs prayers). But back to the T-shirt that you must buy it reads 31 MILLION BAFURUKI in front and then the back goes, JUST ONE OF THEM. Please go buy it to show our government and those backing the current ethnic tensions before it’s too late to save the day.
We want them to know that the entire country is full of us Bafuruki and I hear there will be 96 MILLION of us in 2050. (unless we adopt drastic measure)
Since I can’t get that Bafuruki brand for now I have settled for this sweater, TRUE UGANDAN but don’t forget am a Mufuruki too.
However don’t stop on the T-shirt do whatever you can in anyway you can to live above tribalism and yes ethnic stereotyping because,