Uganda: Tarnished Pearl of Africa

Uganda: Tarnished Pearl of Africa

Uganda: Tarnished Pearl of Africa

Uganda: Tarnished Pearl of Africa

Synopsis

Uganda, a landlocked nation in East Africa, was known during colonial times as the "Pearl of Africa," largely because of its pleasant climate and rich land. For most of the postindependence period, however, Uganda was one of the most brutal and violent nations in Africa. In 1986, a new government seized power, promising to restore internal stability and economic prosperity. Since then, Uganda has gradually become a model for other African states struggling to improve the lives of their citizens. In this broad survey, Thomas P. Ofcansky examines the political, economic, and social themes that have shaped Ugandan history. He inspects the impact of British colonial rule, investigates the emergence of the independence movement after World War II, and analyzes the factors that contributed to the collapse and decay of Ugandan society after Idi Amin's seizure of power in 1971. The author then explores the successes, failures, and prospects of Uganda's current government. In his conclusion, Ofcansky considers the difficulties facing a nation divided by ethnic, religious, and regional cleavages and argues that Ugandan leaders must work to establish a society in which all Ugandans benefit or face the possibility of a return to anarchy.

Excerpt

This book provides an overview of Uganda, a country that represents the hope and despair of modern Africa. The study begins with a brief examination of the factors and themes that have influenced Uganda's historical development. However, the book will focus mainly on the postindependence period. During this era, Uganda gained the reputation of being one of Africa's most violent and politically troubled countries. After seizing power in 1986, Yoweri Museveni promised to restore stability, rebuild the economy, and institute political reforms and a democratic form of government. Efforts to achieve these goals have provoked widespread controversy among scholars, government officials, and humanitarian workers.

Those taking a sympathetic point of view argue that the Museveni regime represents a fundamental change in the character of Uganda's political leadership. According to this interpretation, Museveni and his National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) have provided Uganda with its best and most effective government since independence. Pro-Museveni supporters defend this judgment by pointing to the fact that much of the country is at peace, there is respect for human rights and freedom of speech and the press, there is a functioning local government, and the economy is on the mend. Because of these and other achievements, many sympathetic observers maintain that the current Ugandan government could be viewed as a model for other African states struggling to improve the welfare of their peoples.

Critics, however, admonish Museveni for refusing to sanction multiparty elections, failing to stop government corruption, and pursuing an aggressive foreign policy, which many neighboring nations interpret as little more than an attempt to impose a Pax Uganda on eastern Africa. Advocates of this view contend that despite some recent political and economic improvements, Uganda remains a deeply divided society that could easily unravel after the end of the Museveni presidency.

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