Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has challenged religious leaders especially in African on the saying that when someone dies, God has called them.
Museveni’s challenge is contained in his letter to Ugandans following the completion of his countrywide wealth creation tour that was aimed at inspiring countrymen and women to exploit opportunities that can rid the nation of poverty.
“You get religious people preaching on how “God has called” the deceased. My question is always: “Why does God like to call Africans more than calling the other people e.g. Japanese?” Museveni wondered.
He added, “It is not God calling Africans; It is Satan calling them on account of the Africans failing to use the “talents” (in the Book of Mathew 25: 14-30) God gave them.
BELOW IS HIS FULL LETTER
To all Ugandans, especially the Buzzukulu
Greetings. I have concluded my countrywide tour of the 20 zones. My idea of using these 20 zones for sensitization comes from the 19 Independence Districts, which themselves had grown out of the 15 colonial districts. The colonial districts were: West Nile; Acholi; Lango; Karamoja; Teso; Bugisu; Bukedi; Busoga; Mengo; Mubende; Masaka; Ankole; Kigyezi; Tooro; and Bunyoro.
This is according to a clockwise movement from West Nile.
At independence, on account of the cultural and linguistic considerations, four new Districts were created. These were: Madi out of West Nile; Sebei out of Bugisu; Kasese out of Tooro; and Bundibugyo (Bwamba) out of Tooro. This brought the total to 19. Kasese and Bundibugyo were created during Amin’s time, responding to the resistance by the Bakonjo and Baamba to the mistakes of the managers of the Tooro kingdom, before the abolition of the kingdoms in 1967. During the NRM time, in addition to further decentralization for ease of service delivery, we also created the Kampala zone out of the colonial Mengo district. Hence, the total of 20 zones. During this sensitization campaign, my staff handled Kampala with Wakiso, out of the former Mengo district.
These 20 zones are convenient for communication on account of the dialects used. In each zone, I either speak in English or in the local dialect if I have good command of it and there is only one translation for most of the zones. However, in a few, we are forced to have multiple translations. In, for instance, West Nile, we must have translations into Lugbara, Alur and Kakwa. In Bukedi, we must have translations into Lugwere, Japadhola, Ateso, Samia and Lunyole. In some areas, like West Nile and Bukedi, I use Swahili.
On this tour, my message was, again, to continue to assault the bottleneck of the archaic tradition of subsistence farming – okukolera olubuto lwokka, okukorera enda yoonka, erikolera erirya riisa, tic me cam keken,aisoamaikin akoik) etc. etc.
In the pre-colonial, pre- capitalist times, Ugandans mainly worked for food, ensuring simple shelter such as the traditional huts (ebifuuha), collecting firewood (okusheenya), collecting water from the well (okutaha amaizi, okussena amazzi), raising cattle or goats for bride price, using cattle or goats to come to the help of a friend in need (munno mu kabi, kushumbuusha), using cattle or goats for empaano (friendship gifts) and using goods (ghee, hoes, pangas, bark-cloth etc.) for barter-trade (okuchurika).
There was very little use of money and families or communities were self-sufficient but at a low – level of technology, as seen above. The families would build their own houses etc, because, technologically, it was possible to democratize the skills of house -building. However, even at that time, the need for specialization (emyooga) was becoming clear. While everybody, together with family members and neighbours, could build the traditional huts, not everybody could be a blacksmith (omuheesi); not everybody could be a mubaizi (carpenter); not everybody could be a munogoozi (clay workers -potters); not everybody could be a mukomagyi (bark-cloth maker); not everybody could be Omutanagyi (the maker of bows and arrows); not everybody could be a omuriimbi (lake men – that operated canoes or rafts – ebiba); etc. etc.
Therefore, even in the pre-capitalist, pre – colonial times, specialization had started. You did not have to do everything that you needed for life yourself. You only needed to have the means to barter or buy for everything you needed. They were using cowrie-shells (ensimbi) as currency.
With colonialism, in some isolated instances, technology advanced. More sophisticated houses, using cement, steel bars (mitayimbwa), mabaati, matafaari (bricks), mategura (tiles) etc., were introduced. That meant that not everybody could be a builder. It is the civil engineers, the brick-layers etc. that could build those modern houses. The rest of us, therefore, had to have enough money to pay the specialists to build the modern houses for us. While it is still easy for almost everybody that can walk to go to the well and collect water, or go to the forest and collect fire-wood, it is neither convenient nor efficient. It is more convenient to use gas or electricity for lighting and cooking and to have the National Water and Sewerage Co-operation to bring water to us through pipes and take away sewerage through other pipes. We no longer have bachuura – the people that would come at night in towns to take away people’s faeces that had been deposited in buckets (obulobo). The bucket system in the pre-modern towns all over the world was, of course, some sort of improvement on the open- defecation that was common in villages – just easing oneself in the bushes.
Therefore, with modernity where you no longer build your own house etc., the need for money is accentuated.
You need money for a good house; you need money for some of the foods (sugar, coffee, tea, meat, salt etc.) even when you grow your own food; you need money for the education of the children that do not get Government bursary; you need money for the household non-food needs (clothes, furniture, etc.); you need money for clean water( piped or not); you need money for electricity; you need money to buy a modern means of transport (pikipiki, car, etc.); etc., etc.
Therefore, the traditional way, where you only work for the stomach (subsistence farming), is a disaster for the African families. Subsistence farming in the modern times is like a fish out of water. It cannot survive. It is out of place and in danger.
During the colonial times, the traditional mainly non-money economy had a modest change that mutated it into an “enclave economy”. “An enclave economy” means an island of pseudo – modernity surrounded by a sea of backwardness. The Island of pseudo – modernity was comprised of the 3Cs and 3Ts, as the colonialists themselves described it.
The 3Cs stood for: Coffee, Cotton and Copper; the 3Ts stood for: Tea, Tobacco and Tourism. These represented a very small proportion of the Ugandan families. In Ankole, for instance, only a few families in Ndeija grew coffee and maybe some in the Igara – Sheema area and some families in the Kyamuhunga area grew tea. Certainly, in the two parishes of Kikoni and Nyaburiza in Ntungamo Sub-County, I do not remember anybody (any family) that was engaged in cash-crop growing. They were all, democratically, working for the stomach only. It could be that some coffee farmers in the Buganda area got some reasonable money from coffee. There were a number of good permanent buildings in that area. That must have been on account of getting good money from coffee, most likely. In Northern and Eastern Uganda, where the main colonial cash-crop was cotton, there was some progress especially in paying for education, buying bicycles etc.
However, housing remained mainly the traditional grass-thatched houses. Why? Was it because the people did not want better houses, or was it because the money from cotton was not enough to cover the education costs and improved housing? In 1969 when I made a personally sponsored study tour of the Northern Uganda, some women in Arua town were still walking around with only leaves tied around their waist but, otherwise, totally naked; at Kalongo Hospital, I found about 50 women, waiting to deliver, in the courtyard of the Hospital, all bare – breasted. I do not have to talk of Karamoja because for that area, there was no attempt to introduce any cash crop at all.
With coffee, you can make good money even in a small acreage. With cotton, you can only make money if you have a big acreage. In the North and East, in those years, the populations were still small, and, therefore, the land could not have been the problem. What, then, was the problem? Why were people not building better houses? In the Ankole area, the people were staying in grass-thatched huts because there was no cash-crop production- no coffee, no cotton, no dairy industry, no serious beef industry beyond the monthly cattle auction markets that, again, only catered, where the parents were enlightened enough, for school fees, like in my family’s case. By 1954, I can only remember 3 mabaati-roofed houses in the two parishes of Kikoni and Nyaburiza – two belonged to local colonial chiefs and one belonged to a trader. Apart from the mabaati roofs, the three lonely houses were made of the flimsy wattle, reeds and mud walls (emuli- emiingo and ebikondo). The bricks or the Cement blocs were unheard of. Yet, many families had a lot of land, cattle, big banana plantations etc. It was, however, all for, mainly, traditional purposes of subsistence – erikolera erirya riisa, okukolera ekidda kyonka, okukolera olubuto lwokka, okukorera enda yoonka, tic me cam keken, aisoamakin akoik.
Therefore, by independence, there were two social-economic problems for the population of Uganda: Continued living under the social formation of primitive self – sufficiency at low technological and organizational levels and where cash crops had been introduced, engaging in cash crops for the benefit of the colonial industries such as the textile factories of Manchester in the U.K but without taking the homestead economics as the primary factor. The primary factor, should be to make the family rich and not just the factories rich. Therefore, by independence, many families had no source of sustained cash and the ones that had some sustained sources, the amounts were small except, probably, for coffee.
In comes Idi Amin in 1971. He destroys, almost completely, the small modern economy, the cash economy of the 3Cs and 3Ts. Cotton and copper disappeared completely. It is only coffee that continued to limp on at 2 million, 60kgs bags per annum. Tea declined from 23million kgs per year to only 3million kgs per year. Tourism disappeared. Tobacco continued to limp on but with reduced volumes. By 1986, therefore, when the NRM finally came to power, the economy of Uganda had become more subsistence than it had been in 1971 but, of course, with a bigger population.
This is where the NRM played a decisive role in reviving and propelling forward the economy of Uganda. First, we had to bring back the small “enclave economy”, the small island of modernity surrounded by the sea of backwardness. Tea has gone from the 3 million kgs of 1986, passed the 23 million kgs of 1971 and is now at 60 million kgs. Coffee has gone from the 2.392million bags in FY 1985/86 to 4.305.million bags FY 2017/18. Even cotton has gone from almost zero in 1986 to now 189,444 bales in FY 2018/19. Tobacco is still being produced and in FY 2017/18 Uganda exported 21,393 tonnes. Tourism has grown by leaps and bounds from the 16,950 of 1968 and the almost zero numbers of 1986 to now 1.5million tourists bringing in US$1.5bn per annum. It can and will grow more. Of the original 3Cs and 3Ts, therefore, it is only copper that has not yet been revived.
In addition to reviving the 2Cs and the 3Ts, the NRM has successfully commercialized many completely new products as follows: maize, milk and milk products, beef, fish, timber, bananas, fruit, cocoa, vanilla, palm oil, flowers, sim-sim, sun-flower, cassava, etc. etc. All these are agro-based with factories being fed by them. Many of these agricultural products have been transformed by factories into final products: textiles from cotton, fish products, cooking oils and soaps from palm trees and sun-flower, plywood from timber, juices from fruits, starch from cassava, powdered milk and other dairy products from milk, tyres from rubber, etc.etc. There are other factories that are not based on agricultural products. These are: cement from limestone (einooni); plastics from oil; steel products from scrap and now from iron ore (obutare); fertilizers from phosphates; gold bars from gold ores; batteries from recycled batteries; etc.etc. Some of the factories use imported raw-materials such as PVC.
This spectrum of the sources of the raw-materials – agricultural, forest, fresh water, minerals or imported, as well as the peaceful atmosphere, has already attracted a total of 4,900 factories employing a total of 700,000 workers. Therefore, sector one, commercial agriculture, is already linked with sector two – industries – in some significant ways. Also mining, to a limited extent, is also getting linked to industry.
Then, there is the services sector comprised of the hotels, transport, banking, insurance etc. with a total of 200,000 companies, employing 1.5m persons. This is sector III.
Finally, there is the ICT Sector with 1,200 companies employing a total of about 10,000 persons. These ICT companies include companies like Techobrain, iSON Technology which do BPO operations which involve, among others, linking businesses across the World.
Therefore, the Ugandan economy is one of the fastest growing in the World on account of the NRA/UPDF ensuring peace, the NRM ensuring reconciliation and democratic empowerment of the Ugandans, the NRM ensuring macro-economic stability as well as the NRM ensuring some limited infrastructure rehabilitation and development. It would have grown faster if the 6th Parliament had not delayed the construction of Bujagali dam and if we did not have corrupt actors asking for bribes before delivering services or those corrupt officials doing shoddy jobs and inflating costs. The corruption issue, however, is a software issue and not a hardware one. Given our transparent democratic system, the corrupt always get exposed and, on account of our massive educational system, nobody is indispensable.
In 2006, I put my foot down with the 7th Parliament and we prioritized the roads, defence, electricity, health, education and ICT. With adequate electricity, the economy will roar.
There is, however, one structural problem in the society and that is the residual pre-capitalist phenomenon of subsistence farming (okukolera olubutto lwokka, okukolera enda yoonka, okukolera ekidda kyonka, erikolera erirya rissa, tic me cam keken, aisoamaikin akoik) already mentioned above. It is this continued disabling factor that I have been battling eversince 1966 after my A levels. Tropical Africa is very deceptive and dangerous for those that do not sharpen their insight. The good climate means that even the lazy can survive. I used to see two madmen in Ntungamo – Katukuuza and Kaboogyi. They would go round completely naked but they would not die immediately. In the cold climates, you cannot survive like that. In the Tropics, you die slowly and without drama. By not dying dramatically, however, it does not mean that the Ugandans’ quality of life is good; not at all. How do we measure this? We have a number of measurements such as: the infant mortality rate; the average life-expectancy; the percentage of people with stunted growth; etc.etc. Infant mortality rate in Uganda was 122 per every 1,000 infants born alive in 1986. It has now fallen to 43 per every 1,000 infants born alive within the 1st year of life. In Sweden, however, the infant mortality rate is 3 in every 1,000. The average life expectancy in Uganda was 43 years in 1986. It is now 63 years. In Japan, however, it is 86 years. In Finland it is 81 years. Therefore, this abstaining from modernisation has got a cost to the society. Yet, some people refuse to see this.
You get religious people preaching on how “God has called” the deceased. My question is always: “Why does God like to call Africans more than calling the other people e.g. Japanese?” It is not God calling Africans; It is Satan calling them on account of the Africans failing to use the “talents” (in the Book of Mathew 25: 14-30) God gave them.
This inadequate quality of life is on account, in part, to the 68% of our people refusing to get out of the tradition of only producing for the stomach. It is the failure of the leaders that live near these people, to tell them how to improve their lives by going commercial in their production efforts. In 1966, when we confronted the phenomenon of the stagnation of the Banyankore Society, we proposed 4 steps to be taken: step one – stop nomadism. The Banyankore, like the Karimojong, had that additional problem of nomadism that I analysed in the Booklet: “From Obwiriza (grass thatch) to Matafaari”, which captured that campaign. As a result of that campaign, the Banyankore settled down and started fencing their lands and doing semi-modern animal husbandry.
Unfortunately, Amin came in, in 1971 and we had to embark on fighting that lasted 16 years, until 1986.
When I came back in 1986, I found many of the Banyankore settled but still in the phenomenon of only working for the stomach. After some detailed analysis, I proposed 3 steps. Step one, go out of only producing for the stomach and also produce for the pocket (money). Step two, as you work for money, do so with ekibaro (cura, aimair, otita). Step three, once the families have started earning incomes, the new danger is when the head of the family dies and, then, the children descend on the property and destroy it by fragmentation, just like white ants. In step three, we, therefore, de-campaigned inheritance by fragmentation and recommended inheritance by shares (emigabo). In this way, we divide what comes from the property, surplus income, rather than dividing the property. In that way, what the late property owner left will be preserved and it will produce new companies for each of the descendants of the late owner.
On the issue of cura (ekibaro), our recommendation is that for somebody of four acres or less, the following activities are recommended:
- Fruits (oranges, mangoes, pineapples, grapes,
- Pasture for dairy;
- Poultry farming for eggs in the backyard;
- Piggery in the backyard;
- Fish-farming in the periphery of the wetlands
(emiiga), but not in the centre of the wetlands.
Therefore, the aim of my recent campaign is to wake up the sleeping 68% portion of our homesteads to join the transformation efforts. If each of the 8million homesteads of Uganda earned Shs.20million per year, that effort would add an extra US$44bn to our economy. The size of the economy would, therefore, jump to US$74bn by the foreign exchange rate method.
In 1966, before we started the anti-subsistence farming campaign, I had some disagreement with the Banyankore elite. Their view was that the traditional Banyankore could not change. They were “impossible” (tibarikubasika). My question, then, was: “What, then, should we do?” Their answer was: “Obarugyeho”; “okore abyaawe” (“leave them alone; do your own personal things”). I could not believe in this line because I was living with my mother, originally a traditional woman herself, but who had been transformed by the limited Church efforts and oburokore (being saved). She had learnt the hygienic practices of boiling milk instead of drinking it raw; she taught us to abandon the unhygienic Banyankore practice of eating from the same big plate (orusaniya) or a heat – treated (kubabura) banana leaf (olulagala, orureere) in favour of each individual having his own plate, his own cup, his own kyanzi (milk – pot). She had learnt the knitting of sweaters. She could even read the Bible. This was all influence by the two self -sponsored six months’ courses each of oburoonde (baptism and confirmation courses) which, at personal expense and staying with the Katungyis (family friends of my grand-parents), “abroad” at Kinoni (25 miles from Ntungamo). All this was in addition to the great personal discipline of no alcohol, no smoking (okureetsa), no kikaambi (chewing tobacco), no loose living etc. I, therefore, believed that the Banyankore could change; but we had to undertake the efforts. Besides, we had to try.
Recently, I was in the Sub-county of Kanyaryeru. 70% of the homesteads have food security and are in commercial farming with good ekibaro (cura, otita, aimar) of dairy and bananas. In the 9 Villages around Kisozi, the percentage is 85% for the 1,997 homesteads.
How do the 68% move forward, following the present campaign? My answer is that there are already four funds for Wealth and Job creation. These are: the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) Fund; the Women Fund; the Youth Fund; the Micro-finance fund and the Innovation Fund. This is a total of Shs437.2bn. This money has been there every year, in some cases, even since the year 2001 as NAADS money. The complaints are now that, this money is given to the ones “who already have”. The have-nots do not get. It is the “haves” that access this support. This cannot be a big problem. The big issue is that the money is there. If the routes through which it is passing have a problem, then we shall get better routes.
Besides, we shall add an additional 3 funds: the value addition fund for the 20 zones depending on the locally available raw-materials; the myooga funds; and the leaders’ SACCO fund. We have already supported the youth of Kampala, Rukungiri etc. with metal cutting and bending common-user machine tools, the common-user machines for carpentry etc. We supported some youth with grain-milling and animal feeds’ mixing machines. We are now to aim at the whole spectrum of value addition, area by area. The immediate industry I am about to launch is leather – tanning at Kawumu, Luwero, using the skins of the meat-packers so that Uganda is self-sufficient in leather for shoe-making, making leather-bags, making leather-covered car-seats etc. We shall, then, target the whole spectrum of industries.
There are, then, the myooga. Omwooga (singular) emyooga (plural) are Runyankore words meaning a specialization sector (blacksmithing, carpentry, pottery etc.). We identified the following myooga:
- Boda Boda Association;
- Women Entrepreneurs’ Association;
- Carpenters’ Association;
- Salon Operators’ Association;
- Taxi Operators’ Association;
- Restaurant Association;
- Welders’ Association;
- Market Vendors’ Association;
- Youth Leaders’ SACCO;
- PWDs’ Association;
- Produce Dealers’ Association;
- Mechanics’ Association;
- Tailors’ Association;
- Media Operators’ Association;
- Fishermen’s Association;
- The Performing Arts’ Association.
Each of these will have a district-wide SACCO with branches at convenient points (Parish or Sub-county).
These mwooga – specific and district-wide SACCOs may be better than the katogo (mixed grill) ones that were, moreover, numerous and not covering specific geographic areas. These myooga SACCOs will cover all the miscellaneous activities that are not agriculture. Agriculture is still being covered by OWC and Uganda Development Bank (UDB), the latter for the rich. These myooga SACCOs will also cover some of the social groups: Women, Youth leaders, PWDs and some are suggesting the Elders.
The final and also district-wide will be for the elected leaders of the Local Government or the political Parties. Many of these either get no pay or low pay. Yet, they are not allowed to access the other Wealth funds on the grounds that they are leaders. This is not fair, especially, since they use their time for the benefit of the community and, sometimes, they do not have enough time for their own affairs. The leaders SACCO will fill this gap and they should remain members even when they retire.
All this is choo (waking up) from working for the stomach only (tic me cam keken) using Government money. The people of the parish of Rwengaaju, Kabarole, however, demonstrated that you did not have to wait for Government money. As soon as they got my message in the year 2008, they formed their SACCO and raised money from among themselves starting with Shs.3million from 60 members. You can, on this, contact Mr. Richard Nyakana on telephone who is the leader of these farmers and other wealth creation warriors.
I invite all of you to join in this sensitization effort so that our society is transformed. We cannot go on with a society that still accommodates irrational archaic practices in the modern times when the Americans are celebrating 50 years of going to the moon and coming back. It is suicidal.
I thank you.
Yoweri K. Museveni (Gen. Rtd.)
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
6th August, 2019