1. The Roots, Emergence, And Growth Of The Uganda Peoples Congress, 1600-1985
by Yoga Adhola
The Uganda Peoples' Congress (UPC) was formed on the eve of independence. It was an organization not just to wage the struggle for independence, but also struggle for the due recognition of marginalized nationalities/identities.
The impetus for the formation of UPC was a desire on the part of the minority nationalities (tribes) or identities for recognition. By identity we mean "a person's understanding of who they are, of their fundamental defining characteristics as human beings." Recognition or the absence of it shapes identities.
The withholding of recognition or the misrecognition of other identities can cause identities to suffer real damage. "Non-recognition or misrecognition can inflict harm, can be a form of oppression, imprisoning someone in a false, distorted, and reduced mode of being". Misrecognition can be particularly damaging when the subjects of this misrecognition begin to internalize this distortion of their identity.
The subjects internalize the distorted identity by engaging in self-deprecation. At this point, for the minority nationalities/tribes/identities to liberate themselves, the first task ought to be to purge themselves of this imposed and destructive identity. It is to do just that, that the minority nationalities or identities/tribes formed the Uganda Peoples' Congress.
It is the object of this essay to trace the roots, emergence and growth of the Uganda Peoples' Congress. We locate the roots of UPC in the emergence of Buganda as a dominant power in the area that historians have come to call the interlacustrine region of east Africa. We agree with Professor Kiwanuka that this dominance began around 1600 from then it lasted virtually unchallenged until the eve of colonization when Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro organized Bunyoro to resist Ganda domination.
As the Banyoro were effectively pressurizing the kingdom of Buganda, the British who were seeking to colonize the area, made an alliance with the Buganda and moved on to crush the kingdom of Bunyoro. The Baganda were to be used to subjugate other nationalities as well. They were also used as initial administrators in most of the colony. Thereafter, the development of the colony tended to begin in Buganda, and then radiated to the rest of the colony. All these tended to make the Baganda feel superior. It also made the other nationalities feel the need to engage in action that would improve the status of their respective identities.
The earliest point in history from which we can trace the evolution of this contradiction is around 1600. Up to that point the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (2) had been the most powerful nationality in the region. As a result of Bunyoro-Kitara's preoccupation with an attempted secession on her western borders, a situation, which rendered her eastern frontiers relatively undefended; and Buganda's recovery over a period of time, Buganda was able to accumulate adequate military strength with which to effectively launch an offensive against Bunyoro. (Kiwanuka, M.S.M. 1975: 19-30) Being rather limited, these advantages only enabled Buganda to recover her previously lost territory. However, in due course, from the reign of Kabaka Mawanda (1674-1704), as a result of annexing the tributary of Kooki from Bunyoro, Buganda acquired immense advantage. These territories Buganda had acquired had very important consequences: "until then Buganda had been very short of iron and weapons, and had to buy their iron from Bunyoro. Now, however, Bunyoro had lost not only the rich reservoir of technical knowledge of smiths of Buddu and Kooki." (Kiwanuka, M.S.M. 1968: 607) Controlling these strategic factors, and given the fact that Bunyoro was involved in formidable domestic problems, Buganda went on to defeat Bunyoro battle after battle, and consequently eclipsed Bunyoro as a dominant power in the region.
This dominance was to last unchallenged until the eve of the colonization of Uganda, when during the reign of Omukama (King) Kabalega, Bunyoro regained her military strength and began recovering her territory. In the course of the two centuries that this dominance lasted, the Baganda embraced an acute sense of nationality chauvinism on the one hand, and the nationalities dominated by the Baganda developed deep resentment of the Baganda.