Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | President Yoweri Museveni has asked cultural leaders not to divide people based on tribes and religion.
The President said this while speaking to some clan heads from Buganda at State House Entebbe on Wednesday. The group was led by the State Minister for Information Technology and National Guidance, Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo.
He said his government fought amidst resistance to restore cultural institutions in order to help the government to promote culture and good morals. He said some of those NRM people opposed the restoration of kingdoms saying it would escalate tribalism, but we explained to them how their existence would be of importance.
“We told them that the central government has a lot of work to do in keeping the peace, developing the infrastructure and then kingdoms would concentrate on promoting good cultures and instilling good morals in society,” Museveni said, adding that as freedom fighters, they believed in culture as the core of development if they are well audited to leave out the bad ones.
Museveni recalled a meeting he had in August 1981 with Prince Ronald Mutebi and the late Prof. Lule in which they agreed to restore Buganda’s status like it was before the 1966 crisis.
“On my way to Libya I passed via London and Prof Lule linked me up with Prince Mutebi (now the Kabaka). Culture is good but it must be harmonized with modernity. This has been our message up to now and I thank Hon. Nabbosa for coordinating us,” Museveni said adding that the meeting with Buganda Clan heads (Bataka) is the beginning of a new chapter to have a systematic discussion of harmonizing culture and development.
“I’m happy that you have come. We must survive in the modern world. We should desist from using tribes and religions to divide Africans because we need to rebuild our economy, we need a bigger market both in Uganda and East Africa, and Africa to become prosperous. We don’t want cultures that take us back,” noted Museveni.
The President who boasted as a promoter of good cultures gave an example of the people in Ankole who ended up getting lost after deviating from the new modern cultures.“In Ankole people used to take milk which is not boiled, and it was normal but we later told them it was not as healthy and they changed. If a girl menstruated, among the Banyankore it was a sign that she was ready for marriage, but this was wrong,” said Museveni.
For her part, Ssebugwawo thanked Museveni for meeting the clan heads saying it will go a long way in mending the relationship between Mengo and him after 30 years.“The Bataka are very important people in Buganda in instilling good cultures, discipline and promoting development,” said Nabbosa.
Omutaka Nakigoye of Kinyomo clan, Nabbimba Lukabya Samson thanked the President for inviting them for a discussion. He however, expressed dismay over the dismissal of about 85 per cent of their land in Kyasa by the National Forestry Authority yet the land initially belonged to the Kinyomo clan and asked the president to intervene.“Our people have been arrested several times. Our appeal as Kinyomo clan is, let there be a mechanism to let us keep that land for cultural purposes as we preserve the environment,” said Nabbimba.
In reaction, Museveni said, there is no conflict between culture and the environment.“With discussion, the clans can get permission to go and do their cultural activities without any problem. The forest and culture are not in conflict. There’s no problem at all,” Museveni said adding that he is to set up a liaison office to help coordinate and receive feedback from Bataka.
For his part, Omutaka Walusimbi Mbirozankya, the head of the Ffumbe clan thanked Museveni for the peace not only in Uganda but also in the region. He reminded him of his message to the Somali National Army recently, saying only a peaceful country can develop.“We thank you for the peace in Uganda. For all these years you have been in power, we have not witnessed any war, especially in Buganda,” said Omutaka Walusimbi.
He appealed to the President to help them secure the two and a half acres of land near Bulange Mengo which they need to set up their offices and other developmental ventures to benefit the Kingdom.
Museveni promised to look for USD 2.5 million in the July Financial year and buy land for them. For his part, Ssewava Sselubiri a former minister at Mengo hailed Museveni for standing firm against immoral acts such as homosexuality and promised him support. He also thanked him for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic out of Uganda and his endless messages against HIV Aids.