The recently-held General Election has taught us a few things: That our leaders can no longer thrive on hoodwinking the public and painting our achievements as stellar, in the eyes of the would-be beneficiaries of these achievements; and that our youthful population is no longer at peace with business-as-usual attitudes and approaches.
No wonder, many of the incumbent leaders fell headlong, while we witnessed a complete riot in Buganda against the NRM candidates.
But what has bothered me for a while, is the dark cloud of fear, uncertainty and threats hovering around, that seems to suggest that some among us have preferred to revisit life in our history books rather than stay away from that horrible past.
I recently read a book by Paul Collier where he attempts to explain why poor countries continue to be poor or get worse off, even when a lot of efforts have been put in place to address inequalities and the poverty gap.
Uganda is one of these poor countries still dwelling among those rated under developed, despite the strides, we have made to set our economy in the right trajectory.
In his book, he highlights some of the root causes of our suffering – as a developing country, one being the recurrence of insurgencies, a curse that eventually wipes out all progress made in these countries and scares away investors and able businessmen and women.
This is not news to us, we have seen it happen in Teso sub-region during the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) rebellion that sent the entire population in to internal displaced peoples camps (IDPs) and sent a yet-to-be-known number to their early graves’ or orphanhood, the persistent Karimojong raids that stripped the Iteso people “economically naked” and made the really of sudden death a new normal in the sub-region.
We have witnessed the wrath of war in the Lango and Acholi sub-regions, when the LRA rebels wreaked havoc, miming, murdering and destroying every form of a livelihood means to the people of these communities. Any thought of a repeat of such chaos is to prove Paul Collier right, that we are poor because we somehow find ourselves failing to address our differences in peaceful ways.
His assertion that these insurgencies occur at around the 50 years mark is a scary one, especially knowing that Uganda has been stable for a while and now heading to this mark.
For a country that aspires to lead on various fronts, to be a beacon of hope in a challenged continent, Uganda and Ugandans ought to work together, settle their differences respectfully and forge a path towards shared success and prosperity.
I want to agree with the President who not so long ago, said African countries are too weak (by not working together and by presenting opportunity for others to interfere with their internal matters) and have endeared themselves to all those who may seek to destabilise these nations for various reasons.
Yet, even with this perfect diagnosis, our actions and rhetoric during and post elections seem to be so “juicy” and attractive to our enemies, foreign and internal.
If we have a constitution and functional arms of government implementing this constitution, why do we still hear about day time kidnaps and disappearances of our people, especially being perpetuated by the very custodians of the law?
If we have law breakers in our midst, why does it appear so complicated to formerly charge these groups or individuals and send them to prison to deny them opportunity to pollute the minds of ordinary Ugandans? Why does it seem that propaganda wars are now more attractive than doing the right things and having that explain our actions?
For the first time in history, let’s deny naysayers a chance to prove themselves right, that we are doomed to fail and it’s a matter of time before that happens. No more witch hunt or bloodshed. Let’s embrace peace and justice.