In the philosophical words of Martin Luther King, Jr, a legendary civil rights activist, the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. That sums up why John Ken Lukyamuzi a.k.a. “the man” has written a new book, Nature’s Talk to Man: 20 Years of Kabaka Mutebi II.
The book, published by MK Graphics and edited by Sam Obbo, was launched by Prince David Wasajja, three days after Kabaka’s 20th coronation. It is an excellent piece of work, containing collection of the author’s poems and essays on federalism, environment and the land, signifying nature’s talk to man. The title of the book correlates to the fact that the Kabaka, to whom the book is wholly devoted, is the unifying symbol for all that relates to nature in Buganda Kingdom.
Some of the tantalising poems include: The significance of Naggalabi; Uganda the Wonders of Africa; Maama, Mummy, Mum; Notorious fires at Kasubi Tombs and the Tribute to the late Kenya’s Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai for her tireless contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.”
Revealing what defines his impeccable knowledge of the parliamentary practice, he alludes to his forthcoming book: Parliamentary Adventure for Justice in Uganda. The book contains 21 topical articles by the author among other award-winning essays. When you read the well-researched essays, you come to a logical conclusion that the author, a prominent politician, a student of law, human rights activist and an ecologist, is in essence, inviting us to think about various questions provoked by investigation of history, and then explores the ways in which these questions have been answered in the past and how the same questions can be answered today.
For instance, the book contains stimulating papers on: The National Federal Demands: A Case for Buganda; Law and the Land Question in Uganda; Alarming State of Kampala Capital City Authority; State of Environment in Uganda: Why there is need to worry; Using the DDT Option to Fight Malaria: Human and Environmental Hazards; and The Public Order Management Bill 2011: A Personal View, among others.
Making a case for federalism
The author draws key lessons from the past and present to argue his case out. In one of his iconic papers, the one he delivered at the Buganda 2000 Convention held in August 1998 in Britain, he contends that the “federal seeds” can grow very well on Ugandan soils. The book discusses Uganda’s readiness for federalism before and after independence. He notes that one of federalism’s success stories is its ability to cause compromise where compromise is ordinarily a nightmare. It also looks at factors which militated against federalism during the Constituent Assembly (1994-1995).
The book faults President Museveni’s government for failing to “warm up” to the notion of federalism and vending baseless “distaste” for a political system that implies “Human Freedom and the Right to be Free”.
The piece also states why Buganda cannot meaningfully survive without federalism. On federalism, the author reminds those against the form of governance that it was scrapped by gun-rule and that since then, the country has never settled and that in the famous Justice Benjamin Odoki’s report, the belief in federal principle constituted more than 97 per cent. On page 87, the author says that federalism is part of the blood veins of the Baganda.
John Ken, “The man” as he is popularly called in Parliament where he represents Rubaga South Constituency, retells how former president Milton Obote, upon poor advice from Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, suddenly developed greed for power during his first semi-federal government arrangement.
The author argues that Obote was uncomfortable with a situation where the Kabaka seemingly commanded greater respect at public functions by virtue of being a ceremonial head of State.
When you read Lukyamuzi’s book, you realise that there are many stories we normally tell about the things we stumble upon in our lives, and come to a conclusion that we are not, perhaps, as free as we might imagine in our choice of which stories to tell, or where those stories end. The book on page 240 further demystifies the fact that history is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalises memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of the distant past.
State of environment in Uganda
In the book – hot off the press, “The man”, a recipient of the East and Central Africa Environmental Leadership Award (1998) and Environmental Alert Award of Excellence, attempts to bring the past into the present, delving into momentous events that have over the years shaped Buganda and the nation called Uganda.
In particular, by virtue of his position as the shadow minister for Environment, he allots adequate space in the book, analysing key issues concerning environmental conservation, climate change and what it means to Ugandans today.
In one of his award-winning essays on environment on page 111, borrowing the words of a renown British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the author, poetically describes Uganda’s environment as a “source of splendour, it is a source of glory, the land of the sun, a wildlife paradise and the Pearl of Africa.”
The book identifies the problem of over-privatisation in policy formulation and over-domination in governance as major impediments to environmental conservation. On page 177, the book castigates the use of DDT in the fight against malaria. Quoting research in other countries, Lukyamuzi says DDT was globally outlawed in the 1970s; it’s not bio-degradable and that it is persistent in the environment with the potential to bio-accumulate in the soil and food chains. The book warns that DDT may cause liver cancer; and some people associate it with brain damage as well as infertility.
From the challenges in the country’s nascent oil sector on page 195 to ecological calamities, the author, on page 129, further advocates development which aims at meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs.
The book is a brain bank for practical legislators, students and environmentalists.