Under a normal political situation, a nation’s day of independence should be euphoric: citizens and leaders alike join together to celebrate their triumph overcolonialism, remembering the day when they became a nation led and governed by their own with their mandate.
Frankly, Uganda’s independence heroes had a natural and legitimate right to free Uganda from a century of British dominance. Colonialism had many unacceptable effects that took away many citizenship rights; political rights to determine who governs them, economic rights to determine who controls their resources and use them equitably and have control over state institutions that served the rulers than the people. The most pernicious effect of colonialism was the control of the mind and distortion of our culture creating in the people a slave mentality.
In 1962 however, we inherited a functioning, though enclave, economy with an effective transport (road and rail) system, sufficient hydro electric power supply, a sizeable extractive and manufacturing industry, a strong agricultural sector and functioning social services.
Post colonial Uganda has however not only maintained the inherited political system that denies citizens the fundamental rights and freedoms and maintained the slavery mentality maintaining a master – slave relationship , it has also destroyed the enclave economy, destroyed agricultural production , infrastructure, social services and the extractive and manufacturing industry. It also introduced and entrenched corruption, nepotism, tribalism, cronyism etc. As a result, Uganda’s 54 years have been marked by : Political instability (no leader has handed power to another leader), violence, a failed economy and social strife. The duty of our people now therefore to reclaim the country to get back our rights, freedoms and resources through struggle and hence the DEFIANCE CAMPAIGN; the people’s non violent struggle. This will lead to a post NRM transition in which we shall carry out Constitutional Reforms, Rebuild State Institutions, engage in Truth Telling, Accountability and Reconciliation followed by Free and Fair elections.
As Ugandans, we have a solemn duty to reverse the plunder and destruction of our country. We must realise though that this call to national duty is not a call to an easy task. It has to start with changing people’s mindset and perceptions about national and state power relationships. The process can only be difficult if people submit. We have to defy and refuse to cooperate with the dictator. The more we cooperate, the more he enjoys the use of tools of coercion and maintains the illegitimate rule over us.
Luckily, like it has been in all societies where people have had a demand for standing up for their rights to defy and defeat dictatorship, Ugandans are resiliently focusing their energies on dismantling NRM and Mr. Museveni dictatorship. I see many organised groups of Ugandans that have taken on the call to bring about change in our country. We can only join them. Then Ugandans will truly celebrate independence.
Col.(Rtd) Dr. Kizza Besigye