By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

When I was young in the 1950s people called Bararo (also wrongly called Bahima) by the local owners of land, would arrive at night with their big herds of cattle in any village, and occupy any land of their choice.

St Peters Church Ndeeba Which Was Demolished After a Land Wrangle

I later leant that those land grabbers were called Tutsi immigrants from Rwanda. They had spears. The local owners of the land did not even have sticks. They had hoes to till their land. Where the land was occupied by the Bararo became no-go area for the locals.

Even then the Bararo would graze their cattle on the cultivated land they left for the locals. Those roaming migrants would never recognize the owners of the land. All they could recognize was the cow of the local, which was given to them to look after.

The locals that gave their cows to the Bararo to look after were happy getting milk from them. However, sometimes they were told there was no milk for them, or that the calves had died

If time came for the Bararo to migrate elsewhere they would migrate at night, with the cows entrusted to them by the locals. The locals could never take the Bararo to the chiefs or local courts, because they (the Bararo) were no longer there.

They had migrated away Even then, when they entrusted their animals to the Bararo, they never involved chiefs, nor had any written agreement that could be evoked if it was possible to seek court action. But Bararo were more or less free from the By-Laws of Busoga or the laws of the country.

Today there are people who are behaving like the Bararo of long ago. They are different in that while many of them trace their ancestry to the Bararo, they have guns and they have power, or are connected to power.

This time round, they did/do not only grab cows from settled people, or from public ranches, but they grabbed, and continue to grab, community and people’s land, as well as land designated as public land.

They are using guns bought with public money and power bequeathed to some of their kind, to grab land – any land – at will, just like was the case with the Bararo of yesterday.

When it serves their greed for land well, they call public land government land. Yet the role of government is not to own land but to hold public land in public trust and to make necessary laws to protect community and people’s land.

However, without such government manifestation, people we can call modern-day Bararo have arisen. These are people who did not have land before, are not Bararo, but are using their being in or closely connected to the ruling party or government to grab land. They have been assimilated by the Bararo culture of “grab and take”.

They have protection by people armed with guns, or even by government They also have ill-gotten money or wealth. If they do not stealthily acquire titles over land, which belongs to settled communities or people, they use their ill-gotten money or wealth to buy land from the impoverished Ugandans. The impoverished are compelled by poverty to sell their land to “the modern-day crooks (with stolen money, with power and with the gun).

If impoverished Ugandans do not sell their land, they will not educate their children, pay hospital bills nor send their children to the Middle East to engage in slave labour. It is as if impoverishment is a project to conquer the locals and squeeze them out of the affairs of the country ultimately.

Increasingly, the young people who seek slave labour domestically and in the Middle East are University graduates. This reflects an economy, which has no jobs for the graduates. Yet the economy’s education system is massively producing graduates at all levels.

While we see other people, many with no cultural, biological and ecological attachment to the land anywhere in Uganda, graduates are every year joining the chain of slaves migrating to distant lands in the hope that they will make ends meet outside our country.

What we are seeing is a volcano waiting to explode. The grabbed land belongs to Ugandans, not grabbers. Tomorrow Ugandans will grab their land back to themselves from those pretending to be the owners of the land.

The graduate slaves, will one day come to the realization that their generation has been cheated, exploited and wasted. It will be like the slaves of USA who struggled to free themselves. The land and Uganda will come back to the rightful owners. God is on their side. And time, the ultimate judge, will judge in favour of Uganda and Ugandans. Ugandans will be reintegrated with their land and their country and re-own both.

The laws that protect land grabbers and those that captured and occupied the country will be recanted. Uganda and Ugandans will be free to repossess again and own again what is theirs. When that happens, genuine liberation will obtain. I am writing like a prophet.

For God and My Country.

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