Uganda Now: Between Decay & Development

By Holger Bernt Hansen; Michael Twaddle | Go to book overview

PART FOUR
PROBLEMS OF IDENTITY
& NATIONAL INTEGRATION

FOURTEEN
What went wrong in Uganda?

Christine Obbo


INTRODUCTION

This chapter departs from the tendency in Africa to analyse problems and crises in terms of personalities. This is not to deny the importance of attributing policies that result in human suffering, rampant corruption and political instability to political leaders. The position in this chapter is that in order to understand exactly what went wrong in Uganda, i.e. the causes of the present political, social and economic malaise, it is important to examine the internal dynamics of Ugandan society that have produced it. The entity called Uganda is a result of a colonial policy that sought to transform a 'multiple aggregation' of different groups of people into a viable political state. Colonial policies also sowed the seeds of the weeds that have now overrun Uganda. However, Ugandans must take blame for nurturing rather than uprooting and destroying the weeds.

In public discussions Ugandans express passion for human rights and democratic principles, but in interpersonal relationships infringements upon the personal and civil rights of others seem to be taken for granted. When all is said and done, it will be found that the Ugandan tragedy, which led to the total collapse of the economy and unnecessary losses of human lives, was basically a struggle for human dignity (denied through ethnic chauvinism) and a struggle for a decent share in educational and employment opportunities. There is need to analyse the colonial legacy that had demarcated the southern regions for bureaucratic duties and the North as a source of agricultural labour and military manpower. But, for the purposes of this chapter, it is argued that it is the seemingly mundane daily acts of people that provide the essential material for analysing the Ugandan situation.


ELITISM: BUREAUCRATIC POWER

The system has been unfair if scholarships and chieftainships could only go to bona fide Baganda whereas many counties have

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