Article by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda On Installation of the King of Bundibugyo and Opening of the Busoga Lukiiko

Friday 30th May 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen.

A human group that must survive has to ensure its security and prosperity. 

This is the acid test to which all political, cultural, economic and social systems must be subjected to in order to determine their usefulness to society. 

This was part of the problem that caused the colonization of Africa.  By 1862, when the first European, Hannington Speke, came here, the peoples of what is now Uganda was organized in Kingdoms, Chiefdoms and clan leaderships.  Some of the Kingdoms had succeeded in uniting dozens of clans. 

Buganda, for instance, had succeeded in uniting 52 clans while Nkore had united 4 big clans with many sub-clans in each. 

Bunyoro was controlling a large territory that included Tooro, large parts of what is now Buganda and with close links with Busoga and parts of the North as well as parts of Congo.

However, the degree of integration was not enough.  There was also a lot of indiscipline on the part of the soldiers of these Kingdoms.  To take just two examples.  Hannington Speke writes about the indiscipline of Mutesa’s soldiers.  On page 254, of his book, The Discovery of the Source of the Nile he writes as follows:

“Each day’s march to Kari was directed much in the same manner.  After a certain number of hours’ travelling, Budja appointed some village of residence for the night, avoiding those which belonged to the queen, lest any rows should take place in them, which would create disagreeable consequences with the king, and preferring those the heads of which had been lately seized by the orders of the king. Nevertheless, wherever we went, all the villages forsook their houses, property, and gardens an easy prey to the thieving propensities of the escort.  To put a stop to this vile practice was now beyond my power; the king allowed it, and his men were the first in every house, taking goats, fowls, skins, mbugus, cowries, beads, drums, spears, tobacco, pombe, - in short, everything they could lay their hands on – in the most ruthless manner.  It was a perfect marauding campaign for them all, and all alike were soon laden with as much as they could carry”.

On the side of Abarusuura of Kabalega, H.M Stanley, in his Book, In Darkest Africa vol. II, he writes as follows on page 239:

“When asked if they ever enjoyed days of sunshine and the snow mountains could be seen clear and bright for three days or four days, or a week, or a month, they replied that they had never witnessed so much rain as at the this time; and they believed that we had purposely caused this in order the more easily to detect people by the tracks along the paths.  They also said that at first they had taken us for Warn Sura: but the large herd of cattle with us disproved that we had taken them from the Awamba, for they possessed none. When we informed them that we had seized them from people who acknowledged Kabba Rega as their chief, they said: Oh, if our people but knew that, they would bring you everything.” “Well, then, you shall go and tell them that we are friends to everyone who will not close the road.  We are going to a far country, and, as we cannot fly, we must use the path: but we never hurt those who do not raise the spear and draw the bow.”

Therefore, the weaknesses of the traditional systems in terms of governance was based on two factors: first, a low level of integration and two, the brutality and indiscipline of the kings and chiefs.

This created unnecessary animosity among the peoples and made it easier for the colonialists to conquer us.

Yet, the African peoples are divided in just 4 groups in terms of linguistic classification:  The Niger-Congo group of languages (Bantu and Kwa languages); the Nilo-Saharan group of languages (Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic and Hamitic languages); the Afro-Asiatic (Arabic and some of the Ethiopian languages); and the Khoisan (the small language groups in Southern Africa). 

Translated into the peoples of Uganda, we only have four groups: the Bantus, the Nilotic, the Nilo-Hamitic and the Sudanic.  Moreover, these groups are also interlinked and connected in language, culture and through inter-marriage. 

Yet chauvinistic groups would not seek to discover these linkages but would, instead, exaggerate the differences.

You notice that when I am holding public or private meetings in the whole of Western Region, Buganda, Busoga and part of Pallisa, I do not use translators because I can understand all those dialects very well although the manner of speaking is different from the way the Runyankore is spoken. 

When it comes to Lusamia, Lunyole, Lugisu and Lukonjo, I pick the words and some of the meanings but not all of it.  With some of the dialects in Tanzania and DRC, the mutual understanding is over 90%. 

That is why H.M Stanley wrote in his already quoted book, on page 386 as follows:

 “By a gradual rise from Amranda southward we escape after a few miles out of the unlovely plains to older land producing a better quality of timber. Before we were 100 feet above the Lake a visible improvement had taken place, the Acacia had disappeared, and the myombo, a tree whose bark is useful for native cloth and for boxes, and which might be adapted for canoes, flourished everywhere. At Bwanga, the next village, the language of the Wahuma, which we had heard continually since leaving the Albert Nyanza, ceases, and the Unyamwezi interpreters had now to be employed, which fact the skeptical Zanzibaris hailed as evidence that we were approaching Pwani (the coast)”.

It is, therefore, amazing that this foreigner could detect that from the Congo forest to near Mwanza in Tanzania, people were speaking the same language with just different dialects and yet the elite of today cannot see that naked fact. 

Instead, they spend a lot of time drumming up differences among the people.  The failure of our ancestors, therefore, was to fail to utilize these similarities and linkages to build strength.

Therefore, our ancestors failed to pass the acid test I set out at the beginning of this speech: “to guarantee our survival, security and prosperity”. 

The indigenous systems failed to do that.  That is why Africa was colonized by 1900 except for Ethiopia.

Yet the traditional system had a lot of strengths in language, culture, foods, medicine and science.

As a Runyankore speaker, I am able to notice that that dialect is much richer than English or Swahili in terms of vocabulary and potential for growth. 

The family ties are very strong.  Some of the herbal medicine is very effective and the foods are incomparable with any in the World.  That is why I supported the restoration of the cultural institutions in spite of their previous weaknesses in governance as well as their negative impact on integration – an indispensable pre-requisite for our survival, security and prosperity.  I was convinced that we could weed out the weak points and sustain the strong points.

I would, therefore, like us to remind ourselves of these parameters so that the cultural institutions do not become new impediments to integration but enrich it by each contributing what they excel in.

In the case of the Rwenzori region and Busoga, I appeal to you to stop the unnecessary rivalries among the cultural heads. 

You should always work out a win-win solution for the diverse communities in the respective regions. 

No community is subservient to the other.  Every community, big or small, was put here by God and must be respected.  Anybody who cannot see this is in the wrong place.

In conclusion, I strongly advise the cultural institutions to be in the lead for equitable integration in Uganda Land and Africa.  None of them should emphasize parochialism at the expense of patriotism and Pan-Africanism. The Government will give them more support when the resources are available.

I thank You.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

President of the Republic of Uganda



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