“Am Diallo from Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills. Rwanda has one tribe, the Rwandans!” Wait; did you make that jaw dropping expression because you don’t believe him? Relax, you read it right and yes, Rwanda has one tribe!
Listening to a colleague introduce himself in a setting where he was under absolutely no obligation to paint glossy pictures that we are so much accustomed to was a defining moment for me as a Ugandan to question who we really are.
I had never taken keen interest in the whole craze around Patriotism lessons in Uganda because they did not appeal to me. Patriotism as defined by the Webster dictionary is simply ‘Love that people feel for their country. ’ To me, this love is a feeling that stands regardless of the circumstances around us. But just out of curiosity, I decided to look out for the course outline for the Patriotism classes promoted in Uganda where upon I got information from a local daily that read thus; “Training in ideological development and leadership skills, science of thinking and decision making, the 1995 constitution, the history of the ancestors of Uganda and tracing Uganda’s social economic evolution.The military sessions include lessons in military science, command, control and discipline, parade drills, field craft stripping and assembling of AK47 assault rifle, marksmanship principals and range shooting.”
Just work with me to align this course to the reality faced daily that has left us questioning our identity which has been portrayed as a collection of tribes and not a nation. Let us tackle this from the basic relations that we hold in our homes, at work and social gatherings. It’s amazing how someone assumes to understand why you have done something in a given way simply because you come from a given part of the country. It’s equally fascinating seeing someone form an opinion of who you are by just reading your name.
Relationships present the hilarious bit because the easiest way to bring an end to raging emotions in a heated argument is by calmly saying ‘little wonder, you are……..(name a tribe)!’ That will earn you not less than a week’s silent treatment or a domestic violence charge. On the social scene, stand-up comedy thrives on tribal mimicry which sounds funny but paints a lasting impression and skews individual judgment. I can go on and on but this will suffice for this discussion.
In your analysis, does the course outline address or aggravate these tensions and perceptions that have eroded the love that we feel for our country?
In my opinion, we need to appreciate who we are as a group of people in the same geographical confines and as well united by a blood bond. This appreciation requires a collective sense of belonging portrayed by genuine proclamation of Uganda as a nation and Ugandans as just that, UGANDANS! I believe we can attain this through a deliberate effort to have all Ugandans speak the voice of oneness! It is possible to achieve this if we show commitment because we at least bear testimony of negative energies devoted to dividing this country which have bore fruits for our leaders; fruits of strife and tribal division that we are struggling with now. We love our history and diversity because it gives us a sense of who we are but it’s time we realize that it has been used conveniently to split us.
As Ugandans, we need to take that first step of proclaiming that we are Ugandans! Can I hear someone say that their next introduction will sound like; “Am Edith from Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. Uganda has one tribe, the UGANDANS!” This is not a reflection that all is well but a realization that we need to MOVE on and that this is the first step. Otherwise, looking at the current state of events, the shooting skills taught in patriotism classes may come in handy.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY: