Tribe ‘juu’, tribalism ‘chini’ – Part I

Sunday July 21 2019

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba  

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

I am a Mukiga by tribe, and a Munyakigezi and Munyakitara. The origin of our ancestors can be traced west and south of Kigezi.
I love and I’m proud of my tribe and origins, just like I’m sure many Ugandans are.
In my recent publication Unmitigated Humour and Wise Cracks of all Seasons, I observed that no one in the world had a choice about where he or she would be born, who would be their parents, tribe or race.
Therefore, none of us should be mocked, shunned, blamed, discriminated against or disadvantaged simply for what we are.
Any act of discrimination or favouritism based on where we come from is nothing less than a criticism and mockery of God who determined our ethnicity. And to do so is to mock God and nature of creation.
However, just as we acknowledge and are proud of our origins, most of us hate and loathe tribalism with equal, if not more intensity.
Sunday Monitor of May 5 published two opinions, one of Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao entitled “Post-Museveni Uganda can be designed by asking the right questions, Part II” and another of retired ambassador Harold Acemah headed “Tragedy of the scourge of tribalism in Africa”.
Both publications worried me as a son of the Banyakitara of western Uganda. Similar opinions have been raised in the past by distinguished Uganda leaders.
Mr Acemah observes that: “UPDF is a public institution and a State organ which is funded by taxpayers of Uganda who come from all districts, tribes and belong to all religions and political parties registered in Uganda… MPs should, as a matter of urgency, demand publication of the list of all persons serving in UPDF, ISO and ESO, together with details of their ranks, when they were enlisted and which districts they come from.”
Mr Mao wrote: “Hegemony and domination is often a curtain raiser for revolution. Playing with sharks creates conditions that will turn the sharks into monsters.”
It is these comments which frightened me. Most Banyakitara do not have opportunity to read newspapers or access to all the media as I do.
I, therefore, call upon my fellow compatriots to know that tribalism and ethnicity, which incidentally are not exclusive to Ugandans but always tend to be exposed when any leader, especially the head of State, happens to originate from one of our regions, are personalised to ignite hatred and generate visions of despair and doom against our brothers and sisters.
Instead of national unity and harmony, tribalism produces, fuels and ignites disharmony and personalises political leadership.
Tribalism encourages mirages and visions of hatred, jealousies in a culture of primitive instincts. It is a political monster which appears to have been well fed under the NRM rule. Its history goes back to the late 1960s and continues today, becoming a political bomb that exploded in 2016.
Recently, I discussed the Bill on term and age limits and opined that the Bill was not on term and age limits but on who owns, distributes and enjoys the lion’s share of the national cake and should continue playing this role indefinitely.
Those in the committee who understood my remarks were excited and applauded my nationalistic view.
Those who have and continue sharing the national cake kept silent, but kept cool shifting in their seats and betraying their inner feelings and giving proof that I hit their raw nerves.