MYTHS AND REALITIES: OBOTE’S 1968 LETTER TO A LONDON FRIEND-Part five

 

The reality of the situation on both counts is that the Government of Uganda is neither a one-man Government nor a Government dominated by the Northerners.

I realize, of course, that the offices of the President, Commander of the Armed Forces and Chief of Police are held by Northerners, but I don’t see any substantial difference between the present and what was obtaining before the Revolution of 1966.

Latter in this letter I will question whether an Army which behaves constitutionally is to be regarded as an element of domination. My question will be on the form of explaining to you why and how the Uganda Army got into a position of being discredited.

I believe that the Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) has now done enough to show that no part of the country is in a position to hold others at ransom. Somehow, however, two new myths which are contradictory are being advanced both by friends and detractors to the effect that the Government of Uganda is a one-man Government, and secondly that it is a Government of the Northerners (Nilotics), which Government, according to our detractors, is resented by the Bantu. The reality of the situation on both counts is that the Government of Uganda is neither a one-man Government nor a Government dominated by the Northerners.

There are five Cabinet Ministers from the North in the Government, and the full composition of the Cabinet is twenty. There are six Permanent Secretaries from the North and the full composition of the office of Permanent Secretary is twenty-five. There are three Heads of Departments from the North and we have about forty Departments. I realize, of course, that the offices of the President, Commander of the Armed Forces and Chief of Police are held by Northerners, but I don’t see any substantial difference between the present and what was obtaining before the Revolution of 1966.

The Office of the President was then held by Sir Edward (Bantu) without executive powers and I, as Prime Minister then, exercised the same executive powers I now exercise. The Chief of Police today is the same man who was the Chief of Police when Sir Edward was President. The Minister of Defense of today is the same man who was Minister of Defense before the Revolution. The present Commander of Armed Forces was Deputy to the Commander before the Revolution. He is, perhaps, the cause of the alleged domination of Uganda, because all others were there before the Revolution.

Latter in this letter I will question whether an Army which behaves constitutionally is to be regarded as an element of domination. My question will be on the form of explaining to you why and how the Uganda Army got into a position of being discredited. They were discredited because they refused to obey unconstitutional orders and their refusal had nothing to do with any idea of assisting me or a group of Northerners to dominate the politics of Uganda or to make Uganda a domain of the Nilotics.

Those who advance this view of Nilotic domination of Uganda have, at times, shown not only ignorance but also lack of seriousness and integrity in what they say. Some of them have written in reputable newspapers asserting that Uganda is ruled by the “Os” and that the “Os” are Lwos of Uganda. The same writers, therefore, attempted to connect the “Os” of Uganda with the “Os” of Kenya. The degree of ignorance and the ease of employing myths rather than realities is illustrated by the fact that at a conference last year, even Professor Ali Mazuri included Sam Odaka, the Foreign Minister, as a Lwo merely because his name starts with an O. And yet Odaka is very much a Bantu. The same degree of ignorance was brought up again in the “Sunday Nation”, a paper published in Nairobi where both Odaka and Onama were represented as Lwos, while neither of them is a Lwo.

With the five Northern Ministers and the high-ranking Northern officials I have mentioned above, the composition of the Government of Uganda in 1968 is very much the same as it was before the Revolution of 1966. To say that it is I alone who rules Uganda is to expose ignorance of the provisions of the Uganda Constitution. Equally, to represent that the Northerners dominate in the Government Public Service, is to say something which does not correspond to facts, or alternatively to assert that they should not be there at all. That alternative would be the only way to prove that Uganda’s Public Service is not dominated by the Northerners. Northern domination of Uganda is a myth. In the same way, with equal emphasis that the Government of Uganda is civilian and that any suggestion that the Government is being directed by the Army or Police, to do this or the other, is another myth.

 In our next series next week, we shall see how Dr. Obote says about myths that he is set to destroy “Bugandaism”.

 

 

NPG x73138; Sir Edward Frederick William David Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Mutesa II, Kabaka of Buganda by Bassano

NPG x73135; Sir Edward Frederick William David Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Mutesa II, Kabaka of Buganda by Bassano

 

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