Uganda marks 56th Independence anniversary amidst uncertainty

Sunday October 7 2018


By Harold Acemah

On Tuesday, Uganda will mark the 56th anniversary of Independence. The theme for this year’s occasion is, “Standing tall as we celebrate achievements of our 56 years of independence”. The national events will take place at Kasasa, Kyotera District.

Fifty six years ago, the first prime minister of Uganda, Apolo Milton Obote, received the Uganda constitutional instruments from the Duke of Kent at a historic ceremony held at Kololo Independence Grounds.

October 9, 1962, was a Tuesday and found me at Gulu, then headquarters of Northern Province of Uganda Protectorate consisting of four districts, Acholi, Karamoja, Lango and West Nile. I was 15 years old and in Senior 2 at Sir Samuel Baker School, Gulu.

The 56th anniversary of independence is taking place against the background of rampant insecurity, lawlessness, violence unleashed indiscriminately by State operatives against innocent citizens and uncertainty about the future of our beloved country.

The knee-jerk reaction of the corrupt and decadent regime is to address the symptoms rather than root causes of what is essentially a political malaise.

The underlying causes of the deep-seated discontent in Uganda include injustice, selective application of the rule of law, massive corruption, tribalism, nepotism, poverty, youth unemployment and poor service delivery arising from incompetence of public servants who are in most cases recruited and promoted not on merit, but on what Ugandan wananchi call “technical know-who”.


The political malaise which has afflicted Uganda for decades can only be cured by a competent and efficient bureaucracy led by a modern head of government, not a big paramount chief who thinks he knows it all, is entitled to rule forever, is above the law and is not subject to the rule of law.

The violence which the regime’s security agents, especially soldiers and policemen, have unleashed on law abiding, defenceless and hapless citizens of Uganda is indefensible and has been rightly condemned by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, human rights NGOs and civil society organisations, patriots, people of goodwill everywhere and Uganda’s development partners, notably the European Union and USA.

Ugandans have been tortured, humiliated and beaten with sticks as if they are cattle on somebody’s private ranch. Even cattle are treated better than Ugandans.

Violence has no place whatsoever in a civilised and law-abiding country which is committed to the rule of law. What is happening in Uganda is despicable, uncalled for and indefensible.

All men and women of goodwill who cherish a just society must stand up and denounce unequivocally the illegal actions of the NRM regime’s soldiers and policemen who hardly need a reminder about the fact that their victims are Ugandan taxpayers who struggle day and night to fund the operations of UPDF, police and numerous intelligence agencies of the regime.

What the security operatives are doing in Uganda is biting the fingers which are feeding them. It is wrong and unacceptable! The response of government spokespersons to this outrage has been disgraceful and unbecoming of a civilised country which claims to respect the rule of law.

One wonders what Sabalwanyi has up his sleeves for Ugandans on Tuesday. For a man who has a knack for the absurd nothing is off limits.

After bragging openly at a public event at Masindi on January 26, 2017, that he is not anybody’s servant and is fighting for himself and his family, anything is possible. He repeated those incredible remarks in a television interview with Mr Jeff Koinange which was broadcast on Nairobi’s K24-TV network.

The timid and cowardly reaction of most Ugandans to this outrage reminds me of what Jesus told his disciples. “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, but fail to see and ears, but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” (Mark 8 verses 17-18). Uganda deserves better!

My prayer is that Ugandans will not once again suffer the agony, humiliation and indignity of enduring a callous, heartless and unpatriotic ruling elite preside over next year’s independence anniversary. Ugandans have had more than enough. May the Lord have mercy!

Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.