During the 70 years of colonial rule over Uganda, the colonial government derived their power from exclusive control and use of coercive forces.
Uganda’s communities lost their political authority and control of their resources to the colonial power; the colonial power made laws and rules to govern and exercised judicial power.
During the 70 years, Ugandan communities lost the knowledge and capacity they had developed to mine iron ore, smelt it and manufacture implements; research on herbs and make pharmaceutical products; make fabrics and leather products for clothing etc.
During the 70 years, the colonial government introduced schools to train auxiliary manpower for their administration; built some infrastructure for processing and transporting our minerals and crops to the ocean for export; built a dam for power to use in processing industry and administration; invested in Agricultural research and extension services to boost production and ensure food security of native producers; founded “modern” health institutions that relied on imported pharmaceuticals…
In short, during the 70 years of colonial rule, there was destruction of indigenous competencies and building of an exploitative system that extracted and exported our wealth and imported products for use by our population- as a market.
The extractive and exploitative colonial system, out of necessity, built some infrastructure and social services relevant to their system. What was built is still a visible part of national “development.”
Today, as Uganda marks 58 years since achieving “INDEPENDENCE” from colonial power, what every Ugandan needs to interrogate is how the above situation has changed.
Has the basis of political authority changed? Why have all changes of government/ leaders been caused by military force and not popular will?
Do the people of Uganda control their wealth and determine its use?
Have the competencies and capacity amongst Ugandans to make what’s needed for our survival changed?
The British colonial government commissioned Jinja (Owen Falls) Dam and bridge in 1954; in 2018, a new bridge, funded by a Japanese loan, was commissioned. Has the content of cargo across the bridge changed?
Many more similar questions can be asked.
The answers to such questions will show you that the situation of Uganda’s communities is worse off in many aspects after 58 years of “independence”
Food security and nutrition has greatly declined. During the last 40 years, 30-40% of all children have been stunted; 50% of children are anaemic; 50% of all women in child bearing age are anaemic!
Wars, insurgencies and internal displacement of Ugandans has left millions dead and created deep internal rifts.
Land rights and land tenure have become more untenable etc.
It’s evident then that liberation from domination and exploitation hasn’t been realized.
This must remain the most important and urgent mission of the people of Uganda.
We must struggle to regain their freedom; the control of resources and democratic control of the state. The military must be fully subordinated to civilian authority.
It’s following such a political liberation that we can earnestly embark on economic liberation and a redress of the distortions built over the last 130 years.
If we don’t get our act together very quickly, we face a very definite existential threat.
It’s a mission all political platforms desirous of “Change” can and should urgently rally together to achieve.
Iam very optimistic that, by the Grace of God and our unceasing effort, we shall soon achieve our total liberation.
I wish you a happy 58th “independence” anniversary.
Besigye, is a former president of the Forum For Democratic Change-FDC