Ugandans consider a Mufuruki T-shirt or make one to show unity

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.

At the Mandela national staduim, Namboole when the Cranes beat Nigeria last year.
At the Mandela national staduim, Namboole when the Cranes beat Nigeria last year.

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,

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

16 thoughts on “Ugandans consider a Mufuruki T-shirt or make one to show unity

  1. So, so true Rosebell that we are all Bafuruki – including those who want to make IDs. Sadly, it is the most prominent mufuruki, who has variously been accused of having come from across the border, that fueled it all!!

    The graduate studies you and I are pursuing aspire to using the mass media not to promote inflammatory rhetoric and diatribes but conciliatory discourse. We aspire to give prominent platform to peaceful rhetors and deny it to war-mongers and ethnocentric ideologues. We want to see every Ugandan realize that what divides us are the structural deep causes of hatred such as corruption, poverty and dictatorship – and not necessarily the region where one comes from. We are all Ugandans with the same destiny: live happily in our motherland until we depart for the eternal homeland.

  2. William that’s spot on. Joachim Buwembo on facebook brought an interesting angle to the elections,
    “A Bafuruki movement/platform would get a considerable share of the vote in 2011”

  3. Hello my dear William,

    Great reading from you after a long time of not seeing you. Hope you are fine and doing well. I’m very disappointed at how many people (led by journalists and editors) are taking this Banyoro-Bafuruki issue. First, the derogation added to the word Mufuruki or Bafuruki is very regrettable. You and me know that Mufuruki or Bafuruki is a simple word used to refer to someone who has shifted or migrated. Even if you shift from one part of your one acre land to another part of the same land, you “Kufuruka”. The same is used to refer to you leaving that Muzigo in Katwe and going to stay in another house in Kamwokya. Kufuruka simply means shifting or migrating. So in that sense, we are all Bafuruki. The derogatory way the word is being used in unwarranted and unfortunate.

    But there is a big problem in Kibaale/Bunyoro that needs to be addressed. First, even if we were to look at Bafuruki to mean people who came to Bunyoro from outside Bunyoro, there are many other Bafuruki from other tribes other than Bakiga. This reference to Bakiga as Bafuruki is therefore inappropriate and used to fulfill selfish intentions by those who call themselves as such.

    I should for the record state that I’m a proud Munyoro from Kibaale. I have lived, studied and worked with Bakiga and other settlers in Kibaale. I have also reported widely on these issues and conflicts as a journalist over the years, until I stopped in 2002 because of the organised (and almost irreconcilable) tribal trends the Banyoro-Bakiga issue took. I recognize the traditional concerns of Banyoro and Bakiga’s past concerns of marginalization in Kibaale (as stated in their memorandum to President Museveni).

    But the main problem (though symptomatic) in Kibaale and increasingly in many parts of Bunyoro is one of tribal voting (tribe based politics) by the Bakiga which Ugandans need to look at with open minds. People in Bunyoro might have overlooked the massive immigration by the Bakiga into the area (despite the historical land problems) had it not been for the obvious tribal voting trend. Wherever you come from, the issue of voting people on the basis of tribe is completely unacceptable.

    There is a verifiable trend showing that Bakiga in areas they settle in, once they become majority vote for only Bakiga. It has been starting from LC1, LC3 chairpersons and councilors, MP constituencies etc. In other words, Bakiga have failed to get integrated in areas they move to. You might want to remember that politics or voting in Kabale has always been sectarian, based on religion. Politics in Kabale has for long been a struggle between Catholics and Protestants. Now this sectarian politics is being exported to other areas, and has to be checked. But before you demonize or victimize the Bakiga for this trend, you need to look at what is happening elsewhere say in Kibanda county of Masindi district. The MP for that area (Otada Amooti) comes from a dominant tribe that is not indigenous. Just like Sam Kutesa and Hanifa Kawooya are from the dominant tribe groupings in their respective constituents, though the area is of Buganda.

    The point is that you are looking at a situation where people for one reason or another move into another area, become the majority and start voting only their tribes people. In the case of Bunyoro, do you expect people there to accept to be ruled by Bakiga voting on tribal basis for their own tribal interests? If for some reason the Bakiga find themselves in a situation (marginalized as they claim) where they have to vote one of their own, what do you expect them to do? These are political questions we need to look at as a country and address. If people of one tribe move massively into another area and start (as is happening Bunyoro) voting as one block of immigrants (one tribe), taking over most or all political positions, what do you expect the indigenous people in the area to do? What should a Munyoro faced with the prospect of never winning a political office because the Bakiga only vote Bakiga do? And is any Munyoro going to accept this situation? No. Is any Ugandan going to accept this situation where the right to be elected is cancelled by your minority status as a tribe? No. Even those who can tolerate this situation at a national level, they can not accept this situation to partake in their areas of origin because our indigenous areas are our real homes (in African speak. Even black Americans still say Africa is their home).

    Given this situations, how do we move from here. The President has suggested many good solutions, but I too a Munyoro do not agree with the proposal of ring fencing some political positions to indigenous people. This is denying people a right to be voted on tribal basis, which is the same problem pertaining–only that this time it will be the Bakiga and other immigrants that will be disadvantaged unlike the current situation where the indigenous Banyoro are disadvantaged.

    Apart from the gross unfairness to none indigenous tribes, ring fencing political positions will create a situation where the immigrants will after the proposed 20 years feel a justice to continue dominating the political space in Kibaale/ Bunyoro or any other area where this policy is implemented. In simple political mathematics, this means the indigenous should have their 20 years of undisputed political leadership and handover after 20 years to the immigrant majority as the immigrants seek to get and retain power.

    The major ingredient of the solution as also proposed by the President is to undertake civic education amongst all Ugandans to desist from tribal and other sectarian tendencies. In relation to the problem at hand, there is need to sensitize the Bakiga and any other immigrants to desist from tribal voting and other tribal tendencies in areas they migrate to if Ugandans are to continue to welcome Ugandans from other areas. The indigenous should also be sensitized to desist from tribal tendencies against immigrants.

    But as the president said, “Genuine national integration must include scrupulous respect of everybody’s rights to the land of their heritage, politics, and culture”. First, there must be a recognition of the superior right of indigenous people in any area to determine the affairs of the area. There is a simple logic of knowing that Uganda is a collection of many peoples (tribes) that some commentators seem to negate when arguing on rights of Ugandans to move and be voted in any part of the country. Every indigenous person enjoys natural rights in his or her area and other civil rights (those given by the constitution). But these rights which are also enjoyed by other Ugandans are less superior as recognized in Constitutional articles providing for the right of any Ugandan to move settle and stand for any political office. The articles require following the norms and respecting the way of the people where one moves to.

    We should therefore refine the constitution to limit the rights of voting and being voted by immigrants, by putting a time frame. For example the law could provide that no one will have a right to vote in an area (sub country) in which he or she has not lived for the past three or two years. In the same vein, the law could provide that no one shall have a right to stand and be voted on political positions in an area unless he or she has been the specific area for the past 20 or 10 years (any number). This would allow the process of natural integration and sensitization suggested above (and by the president) to take place. Remember that part of the complaints by people in Kibaale/ Bunyoro is that the Bakiga have a tendency to come from other parts of the country and vote for their relatives or tribesmen in Kibaale (Banyabuzaale). Actually, in some areas it is difficult to know who stays in Kibaale, Kamwenge, Kisoro or Kabale. The time limitation to enjoy political rights in a place is a widely espoused principle in many constitutions worldwide. You can not become a US President unless you were born there. Whether you moved to the US when you are two years and you are now 65, you don’t qualify? That is why some people in the US are still trying to look for evidence that Barrack Obama was not born in the US.

    In relation to Kibaale (which makes this problem and situation quite unique), the land issue should be cleared by paying off absentee landlords and giving back the land to people who were on any particular land by 1983, the period required by the constitution to guarantee bonafide occupancy (12 years before the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution). The indigenous people and any other migrants who will have occupied or customarily owned land by 1983 should be helped to get land titles. Those who came later should be asked to explain where and how they came on land they occupy, and given an opportunity to apply for leases from the district or kingdom (whoever of the two will have been given the other land that had not been occupied by 1983). But this opportunity to apply for such land should be open to all people in the country, including the indigenous Banyoro. This will solve the unrealistic proposal of titles being given to only indigenous Banyoro, since some of the Banyoro might have sold to Bakiga.

    The people occupying forest reserves would be evicted without any compensation The Kiyonga and Ruth Mukama Commission have long made this recommendation. One of the major concerns of Banyoro is that since the colonial government gazzetted almost 54percent of the land in Bunyoro as forest reserves, immigrants have taken advantage to occupy the reserves. Everyone should be able to explain how they came to be where they are now and if they lawfully occupied where they are, they should be helped to get title.

    The ban on selling land for 20 years is very welcome idea, and I’m surprised that the Bakiga (who in their memorandum tactfully call themselves Non Banyoro Community) would oppose the imposition of a ban on land they do not own or have never owned. The ban is important to protect unwarranted land selling that might make the return of land none empowering to the people that get this long awaited land ownership, as well as the possible uneconomic immigration that might result from people getting land only to sell.

    REMEMBER all solutions need to be viewed in the historical realities of Bunyoro especially Kibaale. The British massively killed many of the Banyoro for their resistance and took away most parts of the kingdom’s land as forest reserves or (in Kibaale) given to Baganda collaborators. People there have been advocating for the return of their land since 1918. Despite the results of the 1964 referendum, the land was not returned to the Banyoro. Up to this day, people are still waiting for the land to be returned. Imagine that level of patience and trust in the authorities! But while the waiting has been going on, many immigrants have poured into and occupied most of this contested land. There is also an argument of the absence of willing seller, willing buyer situation in Kibaale where the privately owned land (mailo) belongs to absentee Baganda landlords. The current land law is very clear that no tenant can sell any land without the approval of the landlord, which means any claims that one migrated and bought land in Kibaale has legal loopholes and should not be over relied on.

    Also, it should be remembered that not all immigration into Kibaale have been of voluntary individual (or families) into the area. There have been two resettlement schemes (Rutete in 1968 and Kisita in 1992), which brought more than 5,000 Bakiga families into one district, leave alone the district already having its own historical issues. The latter had been evicted (and compensated) from Mpokya forest reserve in Kabarole district, while the former was to do some depopulation in Kabale. It is these two resettlement schemes (each in a whole sub-country) that Museveni wants to be considered Bakiga constituencies. Remember, some hardliner Banyoro are against anything granting any piece of land or any rights to Bakiga as a group. Many Bakiga came to Kibaale as seekers of refuge or people seeking to work (as hard labourers) and many are still there as such. That is why talk of Bakiga as a hardworking group, a group that is very prosperous (and envied by Banyoro) is as empty as it is riling. This unfortunate view of Bakiga as harbingers of development in Bunyoro and people being envied for their success is just increasing detestation of the Bakiga.

    Therefore, as we seek solutions, let us avoid this labeling of people as unfriendly to other tribes etc as it further incites them against immigrants. Also, let us understand the constitution and the spirit of the provision and other democracy principles. For example when article one says power belonging to the people… it does not mean that power in Apac (or any other area for that matter) belongs to the all other Ugandans. All Ugandans beginning from their most basic level of the family have equal inalienable natural rights as a people. Therefore when you go to people in any area, you find them with natural rights and rights given by the constitution that you cannot claim on equal terms. Also, by basing on majority to determine the winner in a democratic dispensation, it does not mean that a tribal majority giving you a victory means your election is democratic. It isn’t since it misses the democratic ingredients of free will based on informed choices. We should be cautious not to build a country based on fallacies which enable one tribe to continue electing itself in power, perpetuate itself in all spheres, etc. Just like Ugandans should stop thinking that being Ugandan means you have an equal right to determine issues in every area. We need to understand these principles clearly and then be able to chart a sustainable way forward. Any attempt to think you as an immigrant will force yourself on the people and community because you are a Ugandan in not sustainable.

    This does not mean we forget the concerns raised by Bakiga (referring to themselves as None Banyoro Community). They should also never be sidelined on tribal basis at any level unless the democratic principles have obvious impurities as in the present case. Like someone asked recently, where is this trend in Kibaale witnessed anywhere in other parts of the country. How many Banyoro, Baganda, Alur or Basoga are occupying even LC1 positions in Kabale, the cradle land of the Bakiga? How about the clear trend showing that the areas where Bakiga are majority are led only by Bakiga, including sub-counties and counties (i.e. Buyaga and Bugangaizi)? This is not rocket science and can be seen by the barest of eyes. And the unhealthy trend is going to continue unless it is checked.

    There are enough examples in Kamwenge, being almost replicated in Kyenjojo and Kibaale. It is good the highest office in the country has taken time to appreciate these issues and takes them seriously. What we need to see is real action to redress the situation in ways that will ensure peace and harmony as well as more appreciation of each other.

    I appeal to my brothers the Bakiga to learn to be more humble given their situation. They have gained a lot of sympathy because many Ugandans do not understand and appreciate the real situation and issues. But as more Ugandans understand and reflect on the issues, the Bakiga might wrongly be viewed as a bad tribe just because some few selfish people keep organizing them to do everything as a tribe.

    Gerald Businge

    1. Gerald,
      This is a very interesting and important perspective to the issue that most Ugandans are not privy to. I want to hope that you are submitting this as an opinion piece to our national dailies.

      It is quite an education to me as well. This seems to be a rather complex issue that makes me reconsider my previous ambivalence towards the president’s proposal. You paint many important back-to-the-basics scenarios.

      As someone from Mbarara Municipality, I recall the raw nerves when Ngoma Ngime (proper Mufuruki) stood against Winnie Byanyima (local girl). I suspect you were in Mbarara at the time. Anyhow, I think this national conversation is wonderful and it should be brought to conclusion since it has been swept under the carpet for many years. Remain in touch. William

  4. Dear Rosebell,

    I am trying to reach you at, but i am not sure that you received my mail. Anyway, I am from Brazil and I am producer of the Brazilian public television channel. We will be in Uganda next September and I really want to speak with you.
    Please, when you are available, my email is .


  5. William, I agree with Gerald on certain point bu totally disagree on others. I am just packing to get to Costa Rica tomorrow so I can’t really sit down for a good reply but I promise it will be the first response I write once am settled in my new place. Gerald thanks for the long piece. I will get back to it in a few hours.
    Thanks all of you,

  6. Ooh, someone posted on your blog. You know he has to pay you for the rant, no?

    We’re holding a mini symposium in Kagadi this week to discuss media coverage of the Bunyoro Question. Will keep you updated.

    Meanwhile, I am so getting that T-shirt.

  7. This is my reply to Gerald’s statement. Bear with my lengthy reply for this was quite a lengthy comment.

    Gerald: “There is a verifiable trend showing that Bakiga in areas they settle in, once they become majority vote for only Bakiga.”
    “You might want to remember that politics or voting in Kabale has always been sectarian, based on religion. Politics in Kabale has for long been a struggle between Catholics and Protestants. Now this sectarian politics is being exported to other areas, and has to be checked.”

    Politics in Uganda have been sectarian for long in fact since colonial days even in Bunyoro so don’t play innocence. When it comes to being sectarian in politics the entire country is guilty.
    And voting someone of your won tribe doesn’t necessarily qualify one to be sectarian but it is rather when you treat another person with contempt that you think because of their race or religion they are inherently incapable of leading you. And this happens a lot in all parts of the world. It’s this that we should try to deal with instead of saying Bakiga are inherently sectarian.
    When you say Bakiga have failed to integrate, I don’t know what you mean. Do you mean adopting Banyoro culture because that is purely a personal choice? I don’t think Bakiga should be stripped of their culture because they have migrated. In USA now Spanish is a major language and you saw candidates struggle to show their understanding of the Hispanics in order to be voted.
    Indeed even in developed democracies people still vote on race, religion and am not saying this as a justification but to show you how wide spread this is. If this is to change it will take a lot of effort in civic education and statements like one from Museveni does the opposite to the process of mindset change.

    Gerald: “What should a Munyoro faced with the prospect of never winning a political office because the Bakiga only vote Bakiga do? And is any Munyoro going to accept this situation? No. Is any Ugandan going to accept this situation where the right to be elected is cancelled by your minority status as a tribe?”

    Banyoro are not the only tribe in Uganda with these problems of representation, for example you have people like Batwa, the Irk in Karamoja area etc so if this problem is to be resolved it should be national coverage but not courting Bunyoro alone because this is Museveni serving himself not our nation. Do you think there should be a sort of affirmative action for these communities? For me I need to hear a national discussion not a Banyoro vs Bakiga discussion. This discussion is being forwarded by the elite and those communities that don’t have much voice will be left behind so the media should go on the ground. I don’t like hearing the likes of Kasaija, Atwooki and their politicking. I need to hear real people.
    Read Andrew Mwenda’s analysis I agree with him. There are many immigrants in Bunyoro and there have been too many intermarriages that for you to say you gazette elective positions for indigenous people it can’t be achieved without you making a genocide kind of classifications. You may need even DNA machines to effect this Museveni proposal.

    While I agree with you that Banyoro are disadvantaged but your assertion that the Banyoro should have superior right to determine the affairs of the area, it’s like accepting the very same superiority you’re trying to fight. That’s not the art of achieving equality and harmony.

    While there are ethnic concerns among Banyoro that “bafuruki” are becoming the dominant group in the land that is “historically” theirs to use Mwenda’s words are real I don’t think their redemption lies in Museveni’s proposal. Like many things that have failed his regime, this proposal is bound to fail and he has his eye on his seat and oil. And calling someone who has lived in an area for more than 20 years a mufuruki, to me sounds negative. Ww called people Bafuruki only for a short time and after they have settled in their land for years they are the same as us. Museveni is last person you would expect to play the ethnic card even in the face of oil revenues because he knows many have always said his from Rwanda even when there’s insurmountable evidence that he was born in Uganda.

  8. Sis R, thanks for the update on the Kagadi event. The post was long and I will let you once the T-shirt person has been in touch. Please let me what goes on in that talk.

  9. Rosebell,

    I think you’ve missed Businge’s otherwise brilliant exposé of the Banyoro-Bakiga issue that is lost on so many of us because we see it through the prism of the newly found oil deposits and M7’s ploys to maintain power (which, need I add, Gerald stays far away from as possible).

    I find Businge speaks as a Munyoro, a[n] (unbiased) journalist, a Ugandan, someone who understands the issue too well and is not tripped by the many constraints surrounding the issue. And boy does he come off smart! I haven’t read many lengthy blog posts (let alone replies).

    Now, I’ll neither pick out Businge’s neat observations as Rosebell has done (only to rebut them) nor will I try to re-point Rosebell to Businge’s arguments has she has missed. I’ll say this though Rosebell; before you extend this issue across the country to show where else it might be found, try to understand it within the boundaries that its currently so prevalent. Some of our country’s problems are going to have to be looked at contextually if they’re to be well resolved.

    (I’ve just had a chat with Rosebell on this issue. Wonder if she’ll think of putting up our exchange for all to see. Over to you Rose).

    1. Hey Gaaki, I appreciate your post and in fact I realised I had misquoted or misread a part of Gerald’s comment on ring fencing political positions but I think there are many land problems in the country and my view was that though every area has unique problems which require unique solutions the whole country needs screening.
      But you can’t fault Ugandans for seeing all this “through the prism of the newly found oil deposits and M7’s ploys to maintain power.” And whoever stays from that point will be burying their head in the sand.
      And as I said all Ugandans whether Banyoro or any tribe should seek solutions that will stand the test of time which I meant way beyond Museveni’s regime. And for me I think Museveni’s interventions so far are not the best. So before Banyoro and Bakiga leaders spend their days addressing press conferences, they should go and hold discussions and see what solutions can be best for them and also the other people with in Bunyoro area.
      And what caught my eye most was Gerald’s assertions on Bakiga being sectarian and saying because Bakiga vote Bakiga in this area’s they are exporting sectarianism. Gerald had raised some genuine issues but to me they are clouded by some assertions necessarily true. And saying Bakiga should be humble I think he assumes that all Bakiga lack humility which is a stereotype that should not be advanced in these matters.

  10. Hello Rosebell, William and GK. I trust you are fine and doing well. I appreciate your reactions to my views on the Banyoro-Bakiga issue and hope our joint views will inform better discusion for a way foward.

    One thing i dont agree with R is that sectarian voting (polics) is acceptable (just because it happens). I did allude to this trend not just by Bakiga but by other imnmigrant communities who achieve a majority in an area. I did say we need to ask ourselves and answe why is it that people choose to elect on tribal basis. But by justifying tribal voting, you even make the political question at hand more complex? So who really is promoting tribalism. Is it you or Museveni, the bakiga or banyoro? For me, tribal based politics is like cheating. It says ‘consider me on this basisi (tribe), yet politics should be about issues of public interest. ITribal politicis is bad, but some people do it. Like cheating, some condone it.

    That kind of politics becomes dangerous in areas where there is a majority tribe. Can you imagine your right to get public office is cancelled by your being of a particular tribe/ethinicity. It obviously results in differences between on group and another, which many times has catastrophic consequencies.

    Imagine if Uganda had a tribe with a majority and they just decided to elect every leader from that tribe, the president, cabinet, etc. Would you call that democracy? Would there be stability? The experiences of South Africa under apatheid, Northern Ireland and Kosovo (among others) show well how futile it is to organise people on ethnic or religous lines.

    Uganda needs to debate these tribal/ethnic issues and reach at a harmnious code of exisitence that is based on a genuine fiber of respecting everyone’s right and opportunity to partake in public affairs in their locality and country. Or the country shall sure explode. You know what happened in the Buganda riots in Kampala since Thursday to Sunday.

    While we are always quick to point at politics (of course it is involved), the major issues are tribal. On one hand, the Baganda feel they are being threatened and pushed around by ‘foreigners’ in their own ‘land’, while on the other hand the Baruli and Banyala feel they are also not being respected by the Baganda in their own land. After more than 100 years since these people were forced to belong to Buganda by colonialists, they have come up, put up their own cultural institutions and are finding their voices and strenght by the day. So every undertaking based on dominion or unfair advantage is not wise and does come to its end. Let us understand history so that it doesnt repeat itself every now and again.

    Gerald Businge

    PS. William, are you still in the US? Where? I’m at University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism till end of May 2010. U never know i could ‘happen’ on u sometime.

    1. Gerald, I think you got my comments on tribal voting out of context. I believe people’s voting patterns are affected by many things and one of the many is their security. And as long as that insecurity comes from them being of another tribe then they will vote for a person of their tribe. I don’t say it is acceptable I only ask you to understand why people behave or act the way they do. Most people dont vote on tribal basis because the other tribe is incapable or that’s the perception but rather, will that other person guarantee their safety?. In other places voting takes a religious path because of the belief that someone of the my religion will guarantee the the preservation of my values or will not kill me for my values. Everyone votes according to whether that party will provide them basic needs and high on list is safety. So as much as you condemn tribal voting if you dont go deeper to understand why people vote the way they do then we will not be able to change a thing in the current situation.
      For instance I don’t in the way women affirmative action is enforced in elections in Uganda. The ruling NRM will boast of increasing women’s representation but the truth is women of brains who can truly speak out have been sidelines and replaced with women who just follow what the men in that party say. I can never vote someone just becuase they are women for affirmative action’s sake. That woman must prove to me that she can represent me. if I vote for most of these women i see in our parliament I will only be giving gov’t free points (on the surface) that they are fixing the issues of women and access to power. It’s in the same spirit that I don’t agree with the way M7 is proposing to fix the Bunyoro issue. I believe there are issues in the Bunyoro question, a lot of injustices to be fixed but its the means that I dont agree with.

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