Saturday, September 19, 2009

Uganda News Update: Eyewitness to Riots; Museveni Targets Media

Commentary: Analysis

Eyewitness to riots in Uganda

Riots have ensued in Uganda where authorities have refused the leader of the largest ethnic group, the Baganda, to travel freely. A eyewitness tells of shootings and mayhem.

Saturday, September 19, 2009
by Martyn Drakard

I had gone to an optician in the local mall to collect my new glasses. They told me an employee was bringing them over from the workshop, but had got caught up in a riot. We’ll call you when they’re ready, they told me. Outside in the street, Kampala’s down-town traffic was getting away fast. It was 3:00 PM on Thursday, September 10. By 7:00 PM the streets were deserted; only gun-shots could be heard, and the smoke from teargas and burning tires. Kampalans love music and every night, there’s a drum beat or Lingala rhythm somewhere in the distance. Not Thursday night.

On Friday business didn’t take off; shooting throughout the day. No music on Friday night, the first time in the past 25 years. The whole day everyone was asking each other: would the Kabaka go to this remote corner of his kingdom, Kayunga, and thereby challenge the military and risk more bloodshed or would he cancel the visit for humanitarian reasons? Neither, as it happened. He decided to postpone the visit, but still plans to go.

Saturday morning we heard the Kabaka wouldn’t go. Relief! But no, more gunshots, this time right outside my house. Someone had spread the rumor that the Kabaka had been arrested; others were disappointed he’d put off the visit, hoping for a show-down. Shoot-outs the whole morning. There came a thunderstorm, which dampened spirits. Fighting stopped, just in time for the Arsenal-Manchester City soccer match, live on DSTV. The rioters lay down their rocks and stones. All the same, no music Saturday either. Just in case.

Sunday was peaceful.

Total count: by Monday, over twenty dead and 550 arrested; thirty vehicles and other property destroyed.

Why the riots? Because a head-of-state refuses to allow a local king, whose powers are cultural not political, to travel freely within his own kingdom, a kingdom which the present head-of-state himself restored in 1993. The Baganda are Uganda’s largest “ethnic group”, or as they will tell you “nation”, and are very proud of their tradition. The capital of Uganda, Kampala, happens to be in the center of their kingdom, and where their parliament is. The kingdom goes back 700 years. When the British arrived over one hundred years ago, they were impressed by the kingdom’s organisation and many aspects of the culture of the Baganda, made an agreement with them and used their services for the administration of the rest of the protectorate.

Any national ruler of the Republic of Uganda has to learn how to cope with the “Baganda factor”. One Muganda explained to me that, strictly speaking, the king, being of royal blood, cannot just answer the phone call of the president, who is a “commoner”; he must deal with him through the king’s ministers. For President Museveni, who is a soldier who won Uganda’s present peace through a bush war, this is hard to swallow. But many Baganda gave their lives for this war, and think they should be rewarded for this. The reward was to restore their kingdom and leader, with his cultural powers, and have this enshrined in the constitution. Not to allow their king to travel freely within his kingdom, because a minority group (some 2.7 per cent of the Kayunga population) threatens to endanger his life is a lame excuse, and a betrayal of a promise. The army and police are there to protect the king, not prevent him from travelling because they say they cannot guarantee his safety.

Who were the rioters? The “bayaye”, uneducated, unemployed youth who have drifted into city looking for work or who were raised in the slums, who have nothing to lose, and even welcome arrest, since it gives them publicity; and three nights in a police cell removes worries about where they’ll find food. For them throwing rocks at police and setting vehicles on fire, or roughing up passers-by who refuse to join them in the mayhem is a break from the usual boredom. Besides, lobbing stones at police and ducking the bullets and tear gas, and playing hide-and seek in the ever-expanding shanties within Kampala makes up for the traditional rural initiation they missed out on by growing up in the city’s back alleyways.

The Baganda factor won’t go away. It’s as deep as “roots”, even among the young generation; it gives them an identity they would otherwise not have. The present regime has just acted rashly, and lost Baganda goodwill. The presidential and general elections are due in eighteen months’ time, and every presidential move is judged in this light, especially this latest one.

President Museveni should be reaching out to the Baganda, not alienating them. The fact that four Luganda radio stations have been closed will alienate even further, including Radio Sapienta, a Catholic one, and a radio talk-show host charged with sedition will only add oil to the flames. These are the radio stations public taxi passengers listen to while going to work; they are a forum for debate. The riots may have stopped, but a further thoughtless, stray spark could start off another fire.

Martyn Drakard is a freelance writer based in Africa

Kampala riots: What angered the State

Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi

AT the height of the two-day riots in different parts of Buganda that left 21 people dead and hundreds more seriously injured, the Uganda Broadcasting Council suspended four radio stations plus one TV programme, for allowing ill-intentioned individuals to use their airwaves to mobilise rioters to disrupt public peace.

The radios are Central Broadcasting Services (CBS), Kaboozi Ku bbiri, Radio Sapientia, Ssuubi FM, plus Kibazo On Friday, a programme on WBS TV. Of these, only Radio Sapientia has been cleared to resume broadcasting. Below, Sunday Vision brings you some of the statements aired on different radios and the TV programme, which may have prompted their suspension.

CBS September 10, 2009 Moses Kasibante’s programme
Lubaga Councillor Ssalongo Lukanga called on all people of Lubaga to assemble at Bulange to escort the Kabaka to Kayunga but advised them to come well prepared to engage the enemy who might attack the Kabaka.

Special Announcement on CBS FM
The councillor of Rubaga III and also the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) Chairman of that area, Emmanuel Lwanga and Joseph Mujuzi, called upon all the people, most especially the youth and well wishers of the Kabaka and Buganda to go and be with Kabaka in Bugerere during the time of oppression that Buganda was going through.

They were advised to go dressed in canvas shoes and jeans. They had to arrive in Bugerere on September 11 so that the Kabaka finds them there on Saturday 12. They were all requested not to work on Saturday but instead go and fight for the throne and Buganda.

“Buganda has been in existence for more than 100 years when Uganda is just 47 years old and the current government is just 23 years. Buganda existed, still exists and will forever exist,” they said.

Sheikh Mugenyi Asooka Kyabaggu asked Kizza Besigye to command them and all opposition political parties to raid State
House and oust the dictator.

In response, Besigye urged Buganda to come out and show that it is not there to be used, even when the people used by government are Baganda like ministers, the vice-president who he saw and heard say that he does not want federo.

On September 6, Mengo Deputy Minister for Information Medard Seggona Lubega said:
“Kimeze has been loyal to the Kabaka of Buganda and he even bought certificates from Buganda government but we know that it is the government of Uganda that is making him disobey his king (Kabaka)”.

Radio Sapientia
September 11 Press Review phone in programme
Maurice Nakayima said: We at Kisekka Market are ready to die for the Kabaka and we are ready to go to Kayunga.

Angel said: I read the Observor, they said Museveni has bought all the strong Members of Parliament to be on his side to fail the Kabaka and when I heard Tamale Mirundi abusing Buganda I wondered because he first abused the President of Uganda. Iam a student but am going to abandon my lectures and go to Kayunga, if I die, it will be God’s wish’.

Buuka in Mukono said: Maybe this is a plan by this government to make history by killing a lot of Baganda at the same spot which is what is going to happen in Bugerere because we are not going to give up.

Ssekasamba from Kibuli said: Let people be patient and wait for tomorrow because the President once said that bloodshed leads to peace (ensi egula milambo) and he has already killed many of our people, so we will not fear death.

Akaboozi Ku Bbiri
September 11, Kalasamanyanzi programme
Bassajjamivule, the programme host, said I have come out of sick leave to fight for my Kabaka using this radio. A bad singer sings with his people. Museveni blames Obote for having caused the 1966 crisis and yet he is following what Obote did. Bugerere is a well known Buganda territory and when Museveni appoints Ssabanyala in Bugerere, he is trying to set the precedent for the next crisis.

Suubi FM
On September 11, 2009 Suubi FM’s Katende Mukwaba and Tamale as they received and gave updates on the situation in the city said:
“Police which was deployed acted in an unacceptable manner by shooting unnecessarily forcing students who were returning home to flee.”

Isaac Mutyaba said: We in Shauriako have not gone to work. The Kabaka is under arrest and Buganda is in a state of doom. But we, the Baganda, still stand by our Kabaka. Whoever will point a finger at the Kabaka, will be attacked with an axe’.

Eng. Katumba said: Security officers are shooting people with live ammunition and have just killed a person in front of me. So I would like to inform all the people of Kawempe that transport to Kayunga is available and we shall be departing at exactly 9:00am.

The host in studio said: ‘I call on all Baganda to sing the Buganda anthem putting into consideration its meaning and we leave the choice to the people to decide what should be done but for us we need them alive’.

Mutabani wa federo Eric of Lubugumu said: I’m reporting all those people who have not come out to die for the cause of Buganda. Let people rise up and fight for Buganda

Robert Kalundi Sserumaga, WBS TV Kibazo on Friday Talkshow:
I’m sorry to say we are also suffering from what seems to be very poor quality breeding, or very poor quality upbringing on the part of Museveni, ok?

The word Mukopi can be taken at two levels but he has shown that he is incapable of understanding basic good manners; he is not going to tell us that government is so concerned about a cultural minority in Bugerere called the Banyala, when the Bahima and the Bahinda in Ankole have said they also want their kingdom and they were told no.

They were told you can’t have a kingdom in Ankole because you are a minority that the majority of the Banyankole don’t want a kingdom, therefore, you in a minority cannot have one. You see if you are acting in good faith, you create one policy and it applies to everybody...

So my point is this, you might think that am attacking him personally, am not. I’m saying that if you have been brought up in an organised way, you understand systems and processes, you understand how an organised home is supposed to run. If you can’t understand that, you cannot understand the concept of a constitution...

If Museveni, because of his character or his upbringing or whatever have failed to understand organised constitutional processes, that’s his problem….

Kampala Central MP Erias Lukwago on Akaboozi ku Bbiri:
It is high time the Baganda realise that the institution of Buganda is in total crisis and they should get prepared for what is likely to happen. President Museveni has got a systematic plan to weaken Buganda. He started with the appointment of Ssabaruuli, the arrest of three Mengo officials, inauguration of Bibanja holders association on Buganda land and finally the appointment of the Ssabanyala of Bugerere where he never existed before.

The Kabaka’s proposed visit to Bugerere on Saturday will prove to the whole of Uganda that the institution of the Kabaka will stand or collapse. Every Muganda should close his shop or her business to escort the Kabaka to Bugerere. Whoever remains behind will be seen as an enemy of Buganda.

In these moments when the Kabaka is defenseless, whom do you think will defend him and what are the Baganda waiting for?

Owekitiibwa Seggona has told all the Baganda to sharpen their pangas, spears and arrows to defend their Kabaka since the government has removed his security.

Betty Nambooze on CBS FM:
We should all accept that Uganda is now a failed state where all the concerned departments of the government have neglected their duties. Now a few people with power can eat and make a living, leaving the weak to die; that the jungle law is applicable in Uganda.

The habit of killing land owners in Uganda when the Kabaka is the main landlord cannot spare him. Tamale Mirundi should not be blamed because he works on the orders from his master who is President Museveni.

The President sends him on radios to tell people to kill their landlord. After these people have killed the landlords, the Tamales turn against them and arrest them. Their plan is to kill the Kabaka under the disguise of killing landlords.

Published on: Saturday, 19th September, 2009

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