Sunday December 9 2012

Banyoro block roads over colonial pay

A tree cut down by the demonstrating Banyoro in Kibaale National Park has cut off road transport between Hoima and Fort Portal.

A tree cut down by the demonstrating Banyoro in Kibaale National Park has cut off road transport between Hoima and Fort Portal. PHOTO by Francis Mugerwa. 

By Francis Mugerwa


The Banyoro staged a protest against government’s alleged failure to release funds intended to compensate them as a result of the injustices they faced while resisting British imperialism.
Organised under the Banyoro-Mubende Committee (MBC), they felled down tree branches and blocked various roads in the region before police broke up the protest on Thursday.

The police removed the barricades along the Hoima-Buliisa Road, Hoima- Fort portal Road and various outlets in Kibaale District. Anti-riot Police patrolled various towns in the region and at times backed by UPDF soldiers.
The Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, met the leaders of the protest in Hoima Town and urged them to call it off and pursue dialogue.

“Use peaceful and lawful means to seek solutions to your concerns. Government is willing to listen to you,” Gen. Kayihura said at a meeting with protesters which he attended shortly after representing the President at the burial of Deo Zabasaija, a former Constituent Assembly delegate for Buhaguzi County.

Gen. Kayihura wondered why people had resorted to violence and blocking roads. “If you cut down a tree, block a road and a bus rams into the tree, killing people, that would be unfortunate. In fact that would be terrorism.” The MBC coordinator, Mr Batwale Dodoviko, had earlier read a petition to the IGP, claiming Banyoro are aware that Britain sent money as reparations to Bunyoro for the alleged injustices the Banyoro faced during the colonial era.

Un-corroborated claims
He claimed to have a communication from the Commonwealth, addressed to the Omukama of Bunyoro confirming that the money was sent from Britain to Bunyoro through the Uganda government. However, Mr Dodoviko could not avail the document to the press.

He said the 700 pounds sterling (about Shs3 trillion) will be invested in petroleum-related industries and kick-start Bunyoro University as part of efforts to transform the region from an agricultural economy to an industrialised kingdom.

During the reign of Omukama Kabalega, the Banyoro resisted British imperialism by waging a nine-year guerilla war. With the support of Buganda which collaborated with the British, Britain defeated Bunyoro in April 1899 and forced Omukama Kabalega to flee to Seychelles. He later died in 1923 on his way back home. Bunyoro claims the British plundered and pillaged its resources during the colonial era. They claim to have lost property and lives during the war. Gen.
Kayihura promised to verify their claims with the relevant government offices.