Banyarwanda seek new  name, cite segregation

Banyarwanda, a community of Rwandan origin living in Uganda, address a press conference in Kampala yesterday.PHOTO/ COURTESY OF FRANK GASUMBA 

Banyarwanda, a community of Rwandan origin living in Uganda, are seeking to rename their tribe on grounds that they are being segregated. 

They say they have been denied certain services and acquiring documents such as passports and Identity cards.

The Banyarwanda are named as number 24 under the tribes listed in the Uganda Constitution. They say the Ugandan Banyarwanda are confused with the neighbouring Rwandans.
They seek to be renamed Abavandimwe, which they say means brethren.

“By the mere fact that the name of our tribe links us to the neighbouring country, many people are mistaken to think we are foreigners. However, there are those, who deliberately use this as a weapon of segregation,” Mr Lawrence Muganga, who read out the statement on behalf of other Ugandan Banyarwanda, told journalists in Kampala yesterday.

He added: “This cruel discrimination is driven by several factors, including a failure to differentiate between nationals of Rwanda and a group of Rwandans who migrated to Uganda as early as 1900 and have since become an indigenous tribe of Uganda.”

According to the Council of Abavandimwe, there are about 260,000 Ugandan Banyarwanda in Uganda.

Other concerns include being systematically locked out of the economy and public service, failure to get SIM cards, open up bank accounts, acquire loans or even exercise their patriotic duty to join the armed forces.

They also claim their research shows that 80 per cent of their young people who have at one point applied for passports to travel, seek jobs or treatment and business abroad, have been denied the services.

They said they would conduct countrywide consultations among their community members to popularise their proposed name and also cause an amendment to the Constitution.

“Our current generation may not be the beneficiary of this initiative, but someone has to save the next generation of our children from this dehumanisation we are being subjected to,” Mr Frank Gashumba, an activist, said.

“The work we are starting today will not stop until all Ugandans can clearly tell the difference between nationals of Rwanda and our tribe in Uganda and the Constitution has been amended to reflect this reality,” he added.


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