By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

The Great Lakes Region is a region of many countries, diverse peoples and diverse interests – political, economic, social, cultural and environmental. It has politico-economic arrangements such as the East African Community and the Nile Basin Initiative aimed at promoting socioeconomic development rather than integration, although talk of integration reverberates, especially among some rulers -especially the ruler of Uganda, Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni who never finishes a speech of a regional nature without talking about economic development and markets. The Ugandan President will talk less about freedom and democracy although his book “Sowing the Mustard Seed is premised on the two words.

There are many civic organizations trying to raise the civic education and socio-economic circumstances of the peoples of the Great Lakes region. An example of a regional non-governmental organization(NGO) is the Nile Basin Discourse (NBD), which brings together the majority of civil society in 11 countries under its jurisdiction, and aims to amplify the voice of the voiceless Nile Communities.

The member countries of NBD are: Burundi, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Of these countries, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda constitute the East African Community.

These East African countries are also members of the Economic Block called Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) with headquarters in Entebbe, Uganda, to which Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia also belong. NBI is a politically conceived purely economic intergovernmental group. Until recently Eritrea did not belong to it but only acted as an observer.

There has been a political move  within the East African Community, championed by President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa of Uganda, to expand the East African Community by including Ethiopia and Somalia, ostensibly to expand the market and spur economic activity and integration in Africa in general and East Africa and the Horn of Africa in particular.

The Great Lakes region in general and East Africain particular are faced with the real threat of sociopolitical instability. Some thinkers and knowledge labourers or workers believe that sociopolitical instability is caused by external interests that are after the vast resources in the Great Lakes region.

However, another school of thought reasons that the rising sociopolitical instability is due to the urge of the nomadic-pastoralist rulers of most of the countries in East Africa to appropriate all military, political, economic and social power to themselves and/or closely related ethnic group in order to dominate other ethnicities well in the future.

Of the six East African countries, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda are all ruled by nomadic-pastoralists, with the recent ascendance to power in Kenya of arap Ruto,  a Kalenjin nomadic pastoralist.

Of the nomadic pastoralists in power, the ones believed to be harboring sinister military, political, economic and social designs for the Great Lakes region in general and East African region in particular are the Tutsi rulers of Rwanda and Uganda, who are suspected to be entrenching Tutsi States and power in the two countries in every sphere of life at the expense of other ethnicities.

There is fear that admitting Somalia and Ethiopia to the East African Community would only be expanding the power base of the nomadic pastoralists in the region because power in those two countries is also in the hands of nomadic pastoralists.

If the fears and suspicions are warranted, then civil society in the Great Lakes region, East African region and Nile Basin region, which is absolutely dominated by other ethnicities, is under siege by heavily militarized nomadic pastoralists in power. At present civil society Organization in Rwanda and Uganda are limited by fear and silence and are ineffective.

There is increasing suspicion and belief in DRC and in the United Nations that the Tutsi States of Rwanda and Uganda are supporting the rebellion of Tutsi refugees (Banyamulenge) in the DRC. Tutsi refugees had succeeded in overthrowing governments in Uganda and Rwanda, which had hitherto been led by other ethnicities.

One school of thought holds that the nomadic pastoralists in power in Uganda and Rwanda, while publicly depicting themselves as political adversaries, have one mind in the quest to establish Tutsi sovereignty and superiority in not only the East African region but also the Great Lakes Region.

One increasingly dominant school of thought is that unless President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni leave power in the two countries, it is far-fetched to imagine peace and tranquility in DRC, East Africa, Nile Basin or Great Lakes region. However, the same school of thought argues that the rulers are do no imagine their countries in the hands of others except their families when they leave or die in power.

Accordingly, they have been sowing the seeds of hereditary political culture whereby their children take over the mantle of power. In Uganda, there is a Muhoozi Kainerugaba Project, which PresidentTibuhaburwa Museveni feigns knowledge of but has not outlawed since his son id engaged in politics as a serving soldier and, therefore illegally.

He has, for example, made a political statement that the Banyamulenge in DRC ar fighting for their freedom and democracy yet they are refugees. Meanwhile the President of Uganda is frantically denying support for the Banyamulenge rebels in DRC.

According to one school of thought there has been a long-term plot, conceived since 1960, to establish a new sovereignty of Tutsis in the Great Lakes region. The school reasons that Zaire (now DRC) was identified long ago as the epicenter of the push for Tutsi sovereignty over other ethnicities.

The Rwandese refugees, according to the school of thought, strategically sought refuge in the North Kivu part of DRC area, where they are now called Banyamulenge because the specific area they settled in is called Mulenge.  Many Banyamulenge refugees in DRC and many Rwandese refugees, directly from Rwanda, participated in the wars against Idi Amin as Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) and Apollo Milton Obote as Patriotic Resistance Army (PRA) and National Resistance Army (NRA).

They ultimately captured the instruments of power in Kampala from the Tito Okello Military Junta, which had itself captured the instruments of power from Obote II. Today, they are said to predominate military, political, economic and social power in Kampala, and in the districts as Resident District Commissioners and District Police Commanders.

They captured the Civil Service and are systematically capturing legislative power and judicial power. People of other ethnicities subserve them. It is claimed that when a person is in a certain office as the boss, the real power and authority will lie in his or her deputy of Tutsi ethnicity These are some of the issues that our academics in the social sciences should be researching since social structure and functions are being distorted.

According to the just mentioned school of thought, Rwandese refugees organized as Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) within the NRA. After overthrowing leadership by indigenes and installing those of their kind in the political governance of Uganda, they invaded Rwanda in 1994, with the support of their military marsupium, NRA, and Uganda Government, and overthrew the Hutu government of Juvenal Habyarimana, thereby putting in motion the process re-establishing a new Tutsi State in Rwanda.

Between 1994 and 1998, some published records show, the Tutsi State of Rwanda pursued and killed millions of Hutu refugees who had settled in the forests of Zaire (DRC). Some records say up to six million people, both Hutu and Congolese, have been killed by Tutsi militarists.

Six million is equivalent to the number of Jews killed in gas chambers in Germany by Adolf Hitler’s men during the Second World War but less than the ten million Congolese killed by Belgian dictatorial King, Leopold II during Belgian colonial rule over Congo, which was about domination and resources.

According to one school of thought, the persistent, continuous occupation of DRC by both Rwanda and Uganda is about domination, resources and Tutsi superiority and sovereignty, not only in DRC but in the whole of the Great Lakes region.

Already, Rwanda and Uganda have fought two wars Kisangani I and Kisangani II superiority over the resources of Congo between 1997 and 1998, DRC took both of them to the International Court of Justice for robbing her resources, killing her people and gross human rights violations while they occupied her territory.

Rwanda was acquitted but Uganda was heavily fined and is paying DRC, although the soldiers who misbehaved are known with enormous resources reaped from Congo and some like Kazini and Mayombo have since passed on. Access to resources is always a big motive for those pursing power and domination of others.

DRC is unlucky because she has the resources and Tutsi refugees who are now causing mayhem on her territory, reportedly supported by the militaries of Rwanda and Uganda -the two countries where Tutsis already dominate power.

The question still reverberates in East Africa and the Great Lakes region: Do the rulers of Rwanda and Uganda want to establish separate Tutsi States in the Great Lakes region, with Mulenge of DRC as part of Rwanda, or do they want to establish one Tutsi State all over the Great Lakes Region?

The Tutsi are a people who began to arrive in the Great Lakes region some 400-500 years ago from amongst the nomadic peoples of Ethiopia. When they arrived in Bunyoro, they locals called them Bahuma because when they sang, they hummed like a bee. When they arrived in Ankole, locals called them Bahima, and they adopted the language, beliefs and customs of the Bantu groups they interacted with, although after establishing their Kingdom (Obugabe), they regarded the Bantu as their slaves.

When they moved further down into Rwanda and Burundi, they emerged as Tutsis and took on the language, beliefs and customs of the Hutu Bantu people. When the Belgians arrived in Rwanda, they favored Tutsi and believed they were superior to Hutu and chose them to rule over the latter.

When they ruled, they established a repressive Tutsi State in which the Tutsis, although foreign to the land, saw themselves as superior and close to the Belgians and began the process of treating Hutus as their slaves.

So, if the Tutsis in Rwanda and Uganda want to establish Tutsi States in Rwanda and Uganda or a Tutsi State in the Great Lakes region, they are just being nostalgic about their past power and glory, which they did not have in Ethiopia but were helped by Belgians to establish in Rwanda. However, this is prone with dangers.

Being a small ethnic group among a sea of naturally peaceful settled Bantu and Luo ethnicities, the nomadic Tutsis are tempted to invest heavily in violence and war. It is not surprising that the national budgets of Uganda and Rwanda are heavily oriented towards violence and war -real and imagined, guided by the dictum “If you want peace, seek war; if you want war seek peace”.

All indications are that if East Africa and Great Lakes region had peace before, this is likely to remain a thing of the past. With military, political, economic and social power concentrated in their hands of the Tutsis are likely to continue to be tempted to use violence and war to keep other ethnicities not only under constant dispossession, displacement fear, poverty, serfdom and slavery so that the indigenous peoples lose connections to land and attendant cultures and manifest more and more as internal refugees in their own countries.

This process of dispossession and dehumanization is very much in earnest. At least in Uganda, indigenous peoples are suffering decreasing quality of education, health and nutrition, and are losing land and futures to the Tutsis, who are protected against them by a number of obnoxious laws such as Political and Other Organizations Law, Terrorism Law and sectarianism Law. These laws are like ropes around the necks of indigenous Ugandans who may want to contemplate liberating themselves from occupation and domination.

The rulers of Uganda have claimed they are master of violence. Besides they have the capacity to initiate violence and stop it. There in lies the violent and chaotic future of Uganda, and may be in the whole of the Great Lakes region.

For God and My Country

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