By Andrew Baba Buluba
Growing up in the post war times in rural Kamuli in the late 1980s, through the 90s, into the 2000s, things were not specifically what one would call good, particularly for our family.
As a District Chairperson of the then opposition Uganda Patriotic Movement -UPM of Yoweri Museveni, who later morphed into a rebel leader of the National Resistance Army, my late father was, certainly going to be a key Target for repression by the regime. At the climax of the revolutionary offense against the Milton Obote II government in the early 1980s, regime forces turned our home into their military bases, turning everything up and down, and my father, in particular escaping by the hair’s width.
At the end of the war in 1986, it had been a daunting task for my, then economically incapacitated Dad to collect members of his family from wherever they had scattered for safety. My mother had sought refuge at her Uncle’s in Bugiri ( which continues to be my residential home todate), two of my brothers had been killed by the army which accused them of being children of a rebel collaborator.
The years that followed were practically complex. A home where practically everything had been destroyed by the fleeing UPC forces. Furniture burnt for firewood, the walls of the house ripped out by gun action, animals eaten for food in their hundreds, and cooking and eating utensils burnt down out of malice.
But this was to be our new home. My mother, at the time of the war carried me in her womb. I was born a months after the war had subsided. I am the eleventh born in a family of 21, meaning I was born into the middle of the post war misery in our home. All that is what I was told by father, mother and other people that had witnessed the events that preceded, proceded, during the war itself.
In the 1980 general elections, my late father, Mr. Dison Paul Buluba had been the official UPM parliamentary candidate for Busoga East Constituency, which was won by Dr. David Kantaale Kazungu of the Democratic Party.
1994 is when I started school, and perhaps, marks the period when I can vividly remember things. Lwanyama Primary School, the only Primary School in the area was about five Kilometers from home. I remember Mom escorting me and my elder sister for about 2kms before she could return home to go to the garden, and other day’s chores.
All through this trauma, Mzee Baba- as we usually referred to him, remained a proud member of the system. Although he had been a social worker before becoming the District Chairperson under the Uganda National Liberation Forces- UNLF short-lived government from 1979-1980, he never returned to government until his death in 2014.
On the day I started school in 1994, sitting by the fire in the kitchen, I recall asking my father whether President Museveni- the hero of the family at the time,had also been in Primary one at one time. Our entire family, despite the hardship we had been going through, idolized him. Locals treated us with exceptional dignity since it’s through Mzee Baba that they had seen the President in their area during the 1980 campaigns. It almost killed my old man with pride.
At school, attendance was a luxury despite the fact that we used to pay as little as Ushs. 400 in fees. The biggest majority of our peers in the village went fishing since we lived by the River. Then in 1997, I was 10 years, and in Primary Four when the Government introduced the Universal Primary Education- UPE. This brought an influx of attendance at the primary school I went to, and certainly other schools in the country. At 10, I found myself attending lessons with classmates over ten years older than me, and in Primary Four.
Nonetheless, it helped cut the levels of illiteracy in the country, despite the numerous challenges that have bedeviled the intervention.
Besigye and the influence of opposition politics on me
I first came face to face with opposition politics in 2005 while at Busoga High School, the biggest Secondary School in Kamuli, and the oldest in Busoga. FDC iron lady Salaam Proscovia Musumba was challenging for the District Chair in a by election after late Kaugu Mugainho’s victory had been overturned by court.
Salaam lost to the NRM Candidate but her eloquence had greatly impacted on most of us when he visited my school for the campaigns. I took it upon myself to mobilize my fellow student to vote for her since I was a student’s leader. She too loved me later. I think so.
Mzee Baba, an ardent worshipper of NRM, and Museveni had warned us against voting for anybody not endorsed by the party. Me, and my siblings defied him. We voted, and lost with Salaam Musumba.
2006 was the first general election for me to cast a vote. I voted for Besigye, and Daddy, obviously never liked it. He would enumerate reasons why, despite all the shortcomings, he still felt Museveni was better placed to run things in the country. I never understood him untill more than a decade later.
THE BESIGYE INTOXICATION
With all due respect, leaders in the Opposition need to revisit the methods they employ to woo support for their cause. Telling lies for the sake of winning souls can only be sustainable in the short run. Over time, the victims of the toxic propaganda will, on their own come face to face with the truth, and make judgement.
I was told that over the years that the movement system had been in power, things had only moved from good to bad, or bad to worse. That education was on a down turn, hospitals worse than they had been before, that there was political persecution than seen before, and at times that the current leadership was worse off than all the previous ones combined. Ridiculous!
After 2016, I took time to revisit our past while growing up in Kamuli. The only dispensary in a Constituency of seven Sub Counties – Nankandulo was about 20 Kilometers away from the farthest point of the Constituency.
By that time, however, besides the sprouting private health facilities at almost every village, government had made attempts to set up a health center Ii in every parish, and a health center III at every Sub County, while those at the level of a Constituency had been upgraded to Health Centre IVs with capacity to handle major surgeries.
These interventions had greatly facilitated improvement in health, kicking out common diseases that had made life hard for the population, such as polio, Bilharzia, Cholerae, among others.
In education, enrollment at both Primary and secondary school levels had skyrocketed, improving the quality of labor, and standard of living of the general population. In my village for instance, there are over ten primary schools, away from just the one we used to go to.
Back in the days, Buzaya SS, which was only established in 1984 served all the eleven sub counties of Buzaya. Currently, I would fail to count how many secondary schools are there in that particular Constituency, and so is the case everywhere in the country.
Listening to recounts from elders that lived during the previous administrations, one would seamlessly realize that the issue of security had been the country’s most perennial shortcoming since the colonial days.
According to President Museveni, never in the last 500 years has this land ever enjoyed relative peace from border to border. Wars between kingdoms and chiefdoms, the religious wars, the Independence wars, civil wars, military coups, all derailing the progress of this country.
These are facts that have been written about by authors long before NRM came to power. Any leader, be it political, religious, or cultural, who intentionally misses giving credit to Museveni for restoring peace in Uganda is one that should be working for Satan.
During the last general election, I chanced to move with a team mobilizing for the President’s re-election. It was an opportunity to catch the finest details of how people have perceived the poison fed to them against the current regime.
While in Teso, Mr. Paul Eseru, who was Coordinator for the President’s campaigns under the Office of the President as NRM Chairperson assured me that the Sub Region would massively vote for NRM with unprecedented numbers since the lies of the opposition had reached the bliss point with nothing more to add on.
He specifically singled out how the fabrication that the government had intentionally opted to keep out Teso from key development interventions had lost steel with the mega investments in the Soroti University, Soroti Fruit Factory, Soroti Central Market, and a mega solar power project, among others. And indeed, Teso, for the first time since 1996, overwhelmingly voted for Museveni, despite the existence of a son of the soil, Mr Patrick Amuriat Oboi.
In Busoga, former Deputy Prime Minister, Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, while speaking to a group of ONC Coordinators for Busoga, on 06th September 2020, faulted the accusation by the opposition that the current government had intentionally ‘killed’ the industries in the region by tabling facts.
For example, he said that at the time of NRM coming to power, there had been less than five industries in Jinja, most of which were operating Bellow capacity after they had been mismanaged by the local managers. He, however tabled surprising figures to the effect that as many as 2001 factories, both large and small had been set up throughout the eleven districts of the region.
The situation seems no different in Northern, Lango, and West Nile, where, despite the earlier resistance in embracing the current regime, the all-inclusive approach to things was the last stroke that broke the camels back, resultantly bringing the country together in accepting the universal rule of General Museveni.
That’s why, I walk with my head high, taking pride in being a true Musevenist, without fear,, or shame.
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