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How USA, UK hijack and kill local struggles

Bobi Wine interacting with supporters in Mbale recently

Bobi Wine interacting with supporters in Mbale recently

It cannot be true that the UK or the United States of America were waiting for the #UgandaParliamentExhbition to do something about corruption in Uganda.

That they didn’t know! They have many data collection and intelligence networks. It is also not true that to fight corruption in Uganda, one begins with some fringe newbies in this 38-year-old racket. Why not just down the tree that bears the poisoned fruits? But Agnes Nandutu, Moses Magogo, Anita Among, Amos Lugoloobi, and Mary Goretti Kitutu! Gen. Elweru may get an “honourable mention,” but is also generally a fringe actor.

What is true is that Ugandans are desperate for an end to Museveni’s empty autocracy and his corrupt co-conspirators. This explains our relentless street and online activism symbolised by folks such as Col Kizza Besigye, Bobi Wine, the People Power Movement.

Comrades such as Dr Spire Ssentongo, Agartha Atuhaire, Godwin Toko, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, Kalundi Serumaga, Isaac Ssemakadde and several others.

Sadly, however, the violations of Museveni’s government are heavily funded and protected by the same forces (UK, EU, USA) that are now trying to appear like friends of the resistance. (And this is an old ugly trick). This is a grand hijack. Not support.

Sadly, in the eyes of many Ugandans, the UK and USA have managed to cut a hue as enemies of Yoweri Museveni — as far as human rights and corruption are concerned. Yet, both are on the same team playing against the ordinary Ugandan.

It is only through human rights violations, and grand corruption that the Western world — through their corporations — has managed to sustain its grip on our natural and human resources. Sadly, as a country, we are yet to develop the intellectual tools and public culture to confront them directly.

But what then do these antics and pretensions of sanctions mean? (a) It is leverage. When the Western powers appear to be fighting their worker, YKM, they are negotiating for something higher.  They want Museveni to do them a bigger job.

They thus jump onto the struggles of ordinary Ugandans and use them as bargaining chips. They will appear to embrace Col Kizza Besigye or Bobi Wine. They will reward Spire Ssentongo and Agartha Atuhaire and appear to push the same struggles. But it is all game.

(b) In other cases, embarrassed by their very committed worker YKM (as is the case of those working under YKM), they will force him to clean house to save them of the associational embarrassment. To this end, in appearing to sanction him or his workers, they are harassing Museveni to either change course himself or recruit new workers.

Indeed, it is arguable that sanctions are on the one hand a distraction, and on the other, a smart effort to ‘shock-absorb’ and reduce the impact of the activism itself. But they have to do so publicly by appearing like friends of the resistance.

One may ask: Ever since Western powers started sanctioning people that work for Museveni — past and present — what has changed or improved in the life of an ordinary Ugandan? Nothing.

When the field negros revolt

It is my old position that Uganda, taking the image of an enslaved colonial enclave, is in the hands of quintessential House Negros entrusted by the masters in the Western world. The rest of us are the Field Negros. But I need to tell this analogy from the very beginning.

In American anti-slavery discourse, there is the image of a house negro and a field negro. While these two negroes are slaves to a master, who exploits and abuses them, the house negro lives a more comfortable life. As implied by their naming, they live in the house of the master and do not toil in the field.

The work in the house is lighter and cleaner than dirt and snakes in the fields. Oftentimes, the house negro could be put in charge of the field negroes and sometimes, gets to pass instructions to the folks working in the field.  

During the anti-colonial struggles, we had two camps of Africans: revolutionaries and compradors or collaborators. While folks in the Mau-Mau regiments or FRELIMO fought the coloniser, the comprador was happy to work with the coloniser — for small things such as being friends with a coloniser’s wife or promised travel to a European capital. Indeed, anti-colonial struggles had to fight colonial collaborators at the same time.

After independence, when the coloniser left, many African countries rightly fell in the hands of revolutionaries (1955-1985). But this did not last long as the late 1980s saw colonial-sponsored coups and so-called liberation wars, which ended in the return of comprador leaderships. Compradors are the House Negroes of the modern time.

The masters learned that indirect rule is even more effective when you do not appear on the continent at all. But tightly, remotely control the comprador African leader.

Sustained in power by the masters — who are hidden from the public view — who are sending guns and giving crumbs from their extraction of the country ($1 for every $24 extracted), the house negroes see themselves as having reached the Promised Land. Their lives are much better than the rest of the other wretcheds.

When they fall sick, they are treated in capitals in the Western world. They buy and wear designer clothes from the Western world. In all this, their wretched compatriots are endlessly finding ways of removing them. When the struggle against the comprador leaders intensifies, the European master comes to their rescue — cleverly, tactically.

They begin by joining the desperate fight of the wretcheds: they thus reward the ringleaders (Spire Ssentongo, Agartha Atuhaire) and bitterly sanction their workers. But in truth, they are negotiating with their workers to reform, and stop embarrassing them.


The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University.


-1 #21 Remase 2024-06-11 08:20
Akot, I love you so much. You and I have consistently shared the same view, which is finding unity as Ugandans and act in unison and concert in order to bring change to Uganda.

However, Kyagulanyi, Besigye and certainly M7 are hell bent on keeping us divided along political parties which they have designed as their business to share taxpayers money!

Kyagulanyi went to the extent of buying his political parry, NUP, from Kibalama and now, Kyagulanyi is building a NUP school that teaches nothing but how to Kyagulanyi and NUP could get their hands deeper into the cookie jar of taxpayers money!
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