Commentary

No African should kill another for ethnic reasons

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By Augustine Ruzindana

Posted  Friday, July 11  2014 at  01:00
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Thankfully, the Brazil vs Germany semi-final match found me in the village, otherwise I would not have liked to watch the whole humiliation of Brazil at home. There are certain nationalities, e.g. the Americans and the Germans, who when competing against other countries, do so with such confidence that winning comes as a matter of course.

There are others with the psyche of the underdog all the time. Brazil was already whining about the absence of Neymar so much so that they lost long before they entered the stadium. British teams suffer from the same negative psyche, whether in cricket, rugby or football. I dare say that this is Uganda’s problem in sports as well.

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I do not know the causes of the uprisings in the Rwenzori region leading to so many deaths but if they are linked to ethnic issues, then it is indeed very sad. No African should kill another because of ethnicity as all these Africans, especially in the Interlacustrine region, are in one way or another related, if linguistic closeness is anything to go by.

All languages in this region are 40 to 80 per cent intelligible across the board. That’s how you find the word for a “person” umuntu, omuntu, mtu, muntu, mundu or nyumba or enzu, enju, inzu for a house and many other similar words across the region. This is because there were continuous movements of peoples across the region. For example, whenever there were slave raids from the coastal regions inwards, this caused mass movements of the young further away from the raids.

Thus, many people in southern Uganda trace their origins to regions now in Tanzania. Similarly, many people in Kivu regions and western Uganda also have links with the people of the Congo/Angola regions. That is why the inland Interlacustrine regions are more densely populated than the east and western equatorial coastal regions. Thus, if people reflected a little more deeply, no one would go against another because of ethnicity. If there could be a DNA mapping of these regions, it might be found that people are more related than they think.

Then there is the problem of a state whose intelligence system is more focused on political ‘enemies’, otherwise how can the type of operations that took place move from the planning, preparation and execution stages and the ubiquitous security system did not detect anything? The only explanation is that the focus of regime survival is a diversion from real national security as these attacks have shown. That regime leaders can boast of killing so many people whose identity and purpose they did not know, is a shame and a sad commentary on the regime.

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In a letter to the media dated May 25, 2014 on “election rigging in Uganda 1961-2014”, President Museveni made specific reference to “stolen” Luweero Woman MP by-election and also questioned the credibility of elections in Uganda and the independence of the electoral commission (EC).

However, in an interview with the spokesperson of the EC, carried in the Sunday Monitor of June 6, the said spokesperson attacked only Dr Kizza Besigye as a “liar” for making a similar accusation as Museveni against the EC. Everyone agrees that the EC and the electoral institutional and legal frameworks need reform. Even the EC itself has proposed reforms. What is required is to agree on the required reforms. But the EC spokesperson asserts that everything is ok.

He also made so many unfounded allegations against the Opposition that his partisanship was made quite clear. For example, where and when did the Opposition declare any by-election they won to have been under “free and fair elections”?

This EC spokesperson reminded me of Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Saddam Hussein’s Information minister, who claimed that the Iraq army had retaken Baghdad airport from US troops whereas not. Some people in public offices conduct themselves as if there is no tomorrow. Otaryebwa nyentsya (don’t forget that there is a tomorrow), history will judge you. As a by the way, the judge who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death was recently executed by Sunni insurgents.

Mr Ruzindana is a former IGG and former MP. a_ruzindana@yahoo.com