I remember two portions from the Christian Scriptures. One is from our Lords’ Prayer. The relevant portion I am interested in says: “Thou shall not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil.” The other one is from the Book of Isaiah Chapter 11 verse 6. It says: “the Wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the Leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
The first quotation prays that we should not be led into temptation. Africa should also not tempt the greedy ones by being weak. The second portion talks about the Kingdom of heaven in paradise where the wolf will peacefully co-exist with the lamb. Unfortunately, we are still here on earth. We are not yet in paradise.
Wolves still eat lambs here. I have, therefore, come here today to talk to you about the wolves and the lambs here on earth.
Africa is a continent of 11.7 million square miles or 30 million square kilometers. It is populated by people who are either similar or linked in terms of language and culture. There are four linguistic groups in Africa. These are: the Niger–Congo group of languages (including the Bantu languages and the Kwa group of languages); the Nilo-Saharan group of languages (Cushitic, Nilotic and Nilo-Harmitic languages); the Afro-Asiatic languages (Arabic, Tigrinya and Amharic); and the Khoisan languages. The population of Africa is now 1,033 billion (one billion thirty three million people).
Africa is the origin of man (5 million years ago), the cradle of civilization (Egyptian Civilization); and the three founders of the three great religions of the World (Christianity, Judaism and Moslem) were harboured by Africa in their early lives. These were Moses, Jesus and Mohammed.
Yet, by 1900, the whole of Africa, except for Ethiopia, had been colonized by the British, the French, the Belgians, the Spanish, the Italians and the Portuguese. Why? It was on account of the political fragmentation Africa found itself in, the fact that her people were either similar or linked notwithstanding. The Chiefdoms and Kingdoms that governed us at that time were simply too weak to defend us. In Uganda, for instance, we had 4 Kingdoms and a number of Chiefdoms. The Kingdoms were: Bunyoro, Buganda, Ankole and Tooro. There were Chiefdoms in Busoga, Lango, Acholi etc. The British were able to conquer them one by one, even using one against the other. It was only towards the end that two of our Kings – Kabalega of Bunyoro and Mwanga of Buganda – tried to unite to fight the British. By that time, it was too late. The British working with Local traitors and also taking advantage of the brutality of some of these Kings, gained the upper hand.
Kabaka (King) Mwanga is the one that killed a total of 47 (forty seven) young Christian converts, between 1885 – 1887; the majority were killed in 1886 by burning them at stake (burning them alive). Were our ancestors conquered on account of guns only? I do not think so because other people without guns, but better organized, were able to defeat the imperialists. These were the Chinese and the Japanese. Even the Ethiopians were able to defeat the Italians at the battle of Adua. It is the scale of the organisation and the use of the terrain that mattered.
The ignominious defeat of old Africa was a vote of No Confidence in that old Africa. Our Chiefs tried to resist but they were all defeated.
The African Peoples are, however, a very resilient people. Unlike the Red Indians of America, the Aztecs of Mexico, the Incas of Peru, the Caribes of the Caribbean or the Aborigines of Australia, the European invasion did not lead to our extermination. In spite of the millions that perished in the slave trade, the millions that died in the colonial wars, or the millions killed by diseases brought by Europeans, the Africans survived. By 1956, Sudan, the first African country to do so, had got its independence.
How did we achieve this freedom? What were the factors that helped us? There were three factors that helped us to get our freedom back:
(i) the continued resistance by the African people, this time led by the African nationalists and not by the tribal chiefs;
(ii) the inter – European wars – the so called 1st and 2nd World Wars – in effect inter – imperialist wars for the re-division of the colonial possessions – i.e. ourselves; and
(iii) the support of Socialist Countries – the Soviet Union, China, Cuba etc.
These three factors forced the Imperialists to retreat in Asia (India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.), Africa and the Middle East. That is how we got our Independence, again.
Did we use the Independence to insure ourselves against future recolonization, marginalization and arrogance? The answer is, unfortunately, no. The former Imperialist countries are still messing up Africa by promoting wrong and criminal schemes. In Uganda, they, for instance, helped the coup of Idi Amin in 1971. That mistake cost Ugandans 800,000 people extra-judicially killed between 1971 and 1986. Lumumba in Congo was killed in 1961. That cost the people of Congo almost 50 years of turmoil which they are now trying to conclude. In Rwanda, the meddling by external forces caused the death of 1 million Africans in 1994.
The meddling has not stopped. During the Libyan crisis, a plane carrying African Heads of States on the AU mission in that crisis, was stopped by NATO planes over African soil!! The African input in the Libyan crisis was totally ignored. Up to now, Libya is in crisis.
There are even attempts to attack the core African values on the family in, for instance, the matter of homosexuals. Indeed, in the West, they, for instance, criminalize polygamy by law. In Africa it is and has always been part of our way of life. Yet we do not complain. When, however, we legislate against homosexuals, in response to the provocation by Western sponsored NGOs vis a vis our traditional values, we are threatened with sanctions. This is all “tharau” – “contempt” – as we say in Swahili.
Why is Africa still held in contempt? It is entirely our fault. We have not yet used our tremendous, unequalled potential by converting it into strength. This failure has been on account of failing to detect 10 strategic bottlenecks.The strategic bottlenecks are the following:
1. Ideological disorientation;
2. Attacking the private sector;
3. Inadequate infrastructure that causes the cost of doing business to be exorbitant;
4. An underdeveloped human resource i.e. an uneducated population which is also in poor health;
5. Small internal markets that cannot stimulate and sustain large scale production by providing adequate demand;
6. Lack of industrialization and continuing to export unprocessed raw-materials whereby we get much less money than those who convert those raw materials into final products and also export jobs to other countries;
7. An undeveloped services sector which phenomenon under-utilizes our huge potential in tourism, transport, banking, etc, etc;
8. Underdeveloped agriculture – in Uganda, through research, we have discovered that farmers can produce 53 tonnes of bananas per hectare instead of the 10 tonnes the peasants have been getting – in Brazil they are already getting 80 tonnes of Bananas per hectare per annum;
9. Lack of democracy;
10. Lack of ideology creating a Criminal State – a State that, for instance, kills people extra-judicially instead of upholding the dignity of the people and their inalienable rights.
I will only comment on five of these: ideological disorientation; inadequate infrastructure; a small internal market; a criminal state; and lack of industrialization.
Ideological disorientation is caused by failure to accurately define the interests of the people. In the story of the Good Samaritan, in the Book of Luke (10:25-37), Jesus asked his listeners the question you will see in the quotation below:
And a Lawyer stood up and put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “what is written in the Law? How does it read to you? And He answered, “You shall Love your God with all your heart, and with all your Soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And your neigbour as yourself.”
Jesus answered; “You have answered correctly: Do this and you will live”
Verse 29. But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is your neigbour?”
In Verse 30, Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him, half dead. And by chance a Priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise, a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, he passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and he came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an Inn and took care of him.
On the next day he took out 2 denarii and gave them to the Innkeeper and said, “take care of him; and whatever more you spend when I return I will repay you”; Which of these three do you think proved to be a neigbour to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands? And he said, “ the one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Similarly, in Africa you find a lot of ideological bankruptcy by groups that push the line of sectarianism by tribe and religion or by discriminating women. These groups fail to accurately define the interest of the People and push pseudo interests instead.
I always like to use the example of my tribe the Banyankore of South Western Uganda. These people are cattle keepers and farmers. They produce milk, beef, bananas and coffee. Farmer A produces Milk and bananas and so does farmer B. A cannot, therefore, buy from B and B cannot buy from A. What, then, is the value of the tribe to either of them? You find that the saviours of these Banyankore who are stuck with their products are the other Ugandans of Kampala who buy their products.
It is not only the Ugandans who rescue the Banyankore by buying their products; it is also the other Africans in Tanzania, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan who buy what the Banyankore are producing that makes them prosperous. If, therefore, anybody was so narrow-minded as to care only about the Banyankore, he/she would have to first and foremost love Uganda, love East Africa, Love Africa in order to love the Banyankore.
To say that you love the Banyankore but you hate or do not care about the other Ugandans, is to be bogus – fraudulent. You love neither the Banyankore nor do you love other Africans. You only love yourself.
You are a traitor to the interests of the people of Africa. The only way the Banyankore help me as a producer, since they produce similar products, is to aggregate big volumes so that marketing and processing are easier. In that way my tribe helps me.
In the past the tribal organisation also helped us in breeding strong people by encouraging exogamous marriages – not marrying within your clan. Some of these are still relevant. They should be modernized and used. In our recent IGAD Communiqué in Addis, we strongly denounced the bankruptcy of tribalism and sectarianism. It is the cause of suffering of the people in many African countries – South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), Rwanda and Burundi in the past, as well as Uganda in the past.
In Africa we have been asleep on the question of infrastructure – especially electricity, roads, the railway, ICT and piped water, at least for the towns.
Without good infrastructure, the economy cannot grow and socio – economic transformation cannot take place. Why? This is because the costs of doing business in the economy will remain high and, therefore, profitability for companies will be impossible. In some cases, even costly infrastructure is not available.
There is a good measurement I like to use. This is Kwh per capita. If you look at the internet, you will find that the Kwh per capita for the USA is 14,000 while some of the African countries have as low as 8. How can Africa grow if we do not solve this problem?
Instead, of addressing the problem of infrastructure, you find that the African elite is demanding for higher wages. Since much of the locally generated revenue goes for wages and corruption, infrastructure development is left for the so called “donors”. The “donors” are not seriously interested in African infrastructure. Since independence in the 1960s, I have not seen a single railway project these donors have supported in the part of Africa near Uganda. Yet everybody knows that the railway is the second cheapest mode of transport after water transport.
A business cannot sustainably produce if somebody does not buy what that business produces. Therefore, the market is the greatest stimulus for production. Yet colonialism had ensured that Africa was balkanized into 54 states, many of them small. The North American continent has got only three countries: the USA, Canada and Mexico. Yet Africa has got 54 states.
It was, therefore, correct that our leaders, after independence, saw this danger and in 1980 launched the Lagos Action Plan to integrate all the African countries into regional blocs: ECOWAS, COMESA, EAC, SADDEC, Central African Market, etc. Eventually, we hope to form the common market of the whole of Africa. This is moving in the right direction.
The mistake of continuing to export raw-materials is a type of modern slavery for Africa. I always use the example of Coffee. When we export one kilogram of coffee beans, we may earn one US dollar. The same kilogram of coffee processed by Nestle in London will bring the British in UK, US $ 15. That is why I always say that Uganda has been aiding the UK with, at least, US $ 10 in every kilogram of coffee. This is apart from the jobs that we export – the jobs for roasting, the jobs for grinding and packing the processed coffee. What is true of coffee is true of cotton, wood products, minerals, petroleum etc.
The problem of ideological disorientation sometimes leads to the criminalization of the State. Especially the soldiers engage in extra-judicial killings with impunity. This is most dangerous. If the State does not punish the State agents that kill people, rape women, poach animals in the National Parks, the State may, eventually, splinter. The State agents must be wholly accountable, especially for murder. Without doing this, the Government and the State lose legitimacy even if they are elected initially. In Uganda, since 1986, the Courts i.e. General Court Martial, Divisions’ Courts Martial and Field Courts Martial, have condemned to death 147 soldiers for killing people extra-judicially and 23 of them have been carried out (executed). That is how Uganda has been stabilized.
When we succeed in eliminating the 10 strategic bottlenecks, many of the African countries will be in good shape. That, however, will leave one strategic challenge – that of strategic security. You saw from the beginning of this speech that we were able to regain our independence partly because of the support of the socialist Bloc – The Soviet Union, China etc. As you can see these are very powerful countries – big land area, big populations and technologically capable. However, they cannot always be there for us. As they develop, their priorities change.
During the anti-colonial struggle, they acted as our strategic rear. Who is our strategic rear now? We should have used the freedom of Independence to create that strategic base of our own through political integration. That is why in East Africa we are always working for the Political federation of East Africa. Some of the countries in the World are publically saying that they want to achieve superiority on land, in the air, at sea and in space – the so called four dimensional superiority. Where does that leave us?
That is why we must create our own Centres of gravity. The Federation of East Africa has been the aim of the patriots in that part of Africa led by the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. It would be one such centre of gravity.
I cannot end without mentioning the need for one African language. As I told you, there are four linguistic groups in Africa. These groups are also linked. Fortunately, our people on the East African Coast have distilled a non-tribal language known as Swahili. This language is not as rich in vocabulary as some of the interior dialects. That is why they over borrow from Arabic.
However, its non-tribal structure can be used very effectively if it is impregnated with many of the words from all parts of Africa. We would, then, have one of the richest languages on earth. Up to now, the Swahili language does not have, for instance, one word for national anthem. They use two words. “wimbo wa taifa.” In our Luo dialects in Uganda, however, we have the word, Lubaala – meaning anthem. It can be incorporated in Swahili.
The potential for Africa is huge. The opportunities are plenty. The future is ours if we sort out what needs to be done. Africa should not continue to tempt the greedy by being weak. Unsurprisingly, here on earth wolves still eat lambs.
By HE Yoweri K. Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda.