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The Concept of Federo: a Case Study
This article gives some ideas on what is behind some of the internal conflicts in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and many other places that 'were' colonized.

The Monitor (Kampala)

Federo is a concocted term from the word Federal by politicians from Buganda. Buganda is a nationality along other nationalities in Uganda, which nationalities were each conquered by Britain; beginning from 1890 by a British company called The Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEA) authorised by the then British government.

This conquest is known in history as colonisation. Uganda was made up of these nationalities and became a British colony. Under colonisation, either a country or a group of countries is put together by political ties for economic purposes of that colonising power by force.

The sovereignty of each nationality is automatically conquered. In the same way, the sovereignty of each tribe or nationality in a colonial Uganda amalgamation was conquered.

Eventually, every colony in the world came to understand how wrong the colonial arrangement was. Every colony therefore began struggling for independence but without any tribe or nationality doing it on its own to separate from the colonial amalgamation.

When the coloniser was faced with common, sometimes violent, political bargaining by the amalgamation they would give up their colonial arrangement without disturbing or disintegrating the boundaries of a given colony.

So colonies became independent with boundaries, which were established at the time of being colonised. In May 1963 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed, to unite all independent African states and to support the anti-colonial struggle by African countries, which were still under colonial rule.

But it was also agreed that boundaries left behind by colonial authorities should continue being respected and honoured by post-colonial administrators. That simultaneously meant that each tribe or nationality in a former colonial amalgamation continued losing its own sovereignty under a post independent state.

However, some nationalities still feel sad to have lost their sovereignty. But, unfortunately, this is very much irreversible. If we tried it, the former colonies would find themselves in terrible turmoil.

Buganda is one of the nationalities whose sovereignty was conquered. But it is not alone in this type of conquest. It is part of a Uganda commonwealth and a component of an African union. Society is never static but dynamic. There is motion both in nature and society. Buganda, Uganda and Africa are all in motion.

There are people in Uganda who are opposed to Mailo land rent; Mailo land was a gift to Uganda Kings and chiefs for accepting and collaborating with colonial forces.

The Kings in Uganda today are descendants of those Kings - at the time of colonialism. At the same time they want to restore what colonialism found them with plus what colonialism gave them against the ordinary people.

Their aspiration for a federal structure in the superstructure is based on aspiration for an economic base; restore Mailo land from which they can obtain rent from the ordinary peasants - but not a federal structure for development.

No one can extract money from individuals for personal use and then say he/she is extracting money from them in order to develop them. It is just ridiculous.

Kings in Uganda have no political powers. So, their social and cultural position cannot allow them to assert themselves, as they would have wished to do so economically. Hence this explains the demand for political power, which they can use as an instrument for attaining economic goals.

This makes them ignore the NRM government mechanism of decentralising political power through a council system, which goes down from the centre, down to the village in the hands of peasants from whom they want land rent, claiming that it will be the Federo structure that will develop the same peasants.

Whenever they will fail in achieving these ends, they will always hate any government that will occupy seat of central government in Uganda. They have no friend. They only have a permanent interest.

It is only a Ugandan who has Uganda at heart who should stand firm for what he/she thinks is ideal for Uganda, in whose hands the Uganda state apparatus should fall in order to apply the same apparatus:

- to reflect the social and economic will of the majority; to implement that social and economic will; to suppress the considered incorrect social and economic will of the anti-people elements.

All this should be done with neither fear nor compromising the ideal. But all cadres should undertake educate the population about the extreme pre-colonial conservative, neo-colonial tendencies and about those individuals who are losing direction in terms of class and social analysis so that we can put in place a correct Uganda socio-economic formation based on an objective academic anatomy of society.
Egungun, Egungun ni t'aiye ati jo! Ancestos, Ancestors come to earth and dance! "I'm sick of the war and the civilization that created it. Let's look to our dreams, and the magical; to the creations of the so-called primitive peoples for new inspirations." - Jaques Vache and Andre Breton "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone." -John Maynard "You know that in our country there were even matriarchal societies where women were the most important element. On the Bijagos islands they had queens. They were not queens because they were the daughters of kings. They had queens succeeding queens. The religious leaders were women too..." -- Amilcar Cabral, Return to the Source, 1973
Original Post
Buganda's Goal is Not Secession

New Vision (Kampala)
October 19, 2004

Andrew Kasirye

No one needs to be reminded that Uganda is a nation state founded upon a social contract crafted by the British Colonial government.

The emergence of the sovereign state in Africa was the necessary instrument of Europe's colonial expansion. To achieve that, the British built an entire apparatus of legal institutions to dispossess indigenous peoples of their lands, their native custom, their social organisations and their original powers of self-determination. In so doing, many of the sovereign nations existing in pre-colonial Africa were systematically conglomerated into poorly demarcated political entities.

In Buganda as the eve of their departure drew closer after World War Two, the British hastily put together successive constitutional instruments that would regulate the political association of the commonwealth of nations which they decided to leave behind in the form of the sovereign state of Uganda.

It is an irony of history that the expansion/imposition of the European state system during the de-colonialisation of Africa and so-called Third-World brought into question the very idea of sovereignty. De-colonised people did not fit into the structure of the sovereign state. The result was (and is) extreme social dysfunction, as new states and their patrons tried to coerce peoples and small groups of peoples into sovereign allegiance.

In Uganda, the ultimate outcome was the political crisis of 1966 which politicians find fashionable to blame upon the kingdom of Buganda yet serious political historians account for the event differently. Economic development, an explicit goal of a sovereign state, brought on repeated episodes of violence with highly politicised elites grasping for non-African models of governance that ultimately failed to fit African traditions and cultures.

Today, it is clear that the failure of post-colonial states to be a vehicle for indigenous self-determination is not simply a momentary problem of adjustment to "liberation." It is a matter which requires "bonafide constitutional fabricators" to put right, for the common good, what the departing colonial masters crafted in haste!

The Uganda Government since 1986 initiated dialogue with representatives of the now "non- sovereign nations" within the boundaries of the State of Uganda, in order to correct political and economic structures embedded in the constitutional bedrock which still bore scars of de-colonisation.

This puts into perspective the recent discussions between the Government and officials from Mengo for which the President deserves national commendation.

Unfortunately, many writers and commentators have twisted historical events to create apprehension and fear among Ugandans that Buganda's long- term objective is to secede from Uganda. This is a falsehood perpetuated by politicians who thrive on obstructing the social dynamics of state formation.

Although Buganda is a 'nation' in the general sense of the word, it is domestic and dependent upon the state of Uganda, as is the case with the other 'non- sovereign nations' of Uganda.

Those of us in Mengo recognise that as Ugandans, a sense of equality exists between all the "non-sovereign nations" of Uganda despite cultural, linguistic and social organisational differences.

We are not ignorant about the socio-political factors in Europe which recently precipitated into the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union. we are also aware of what catalysed the unification of Germany during the same period. Being informed by history and experience, secession or the pursuit of self-determination is certainly not the path we in Buganda have chosen to take because we can see the bigger picture.

Universally, other events and ideas are eclipsing the notion of sovereignty and such terms as "internationalisation," "globalisation," and "interdependence" slip easily off the tongue, but defer all the hard questions.

Today, all of us in Uganda should be able to appreciate that the world economy is dominated by multinational corporations, which are entities dependent on the state and yet more powerful than states.

In entering into the realm of the "federo" negotiations, we need to keep in mind that we are travelling in a semantic world created by post-colonial history but we should always want to keep in mind that the reality behind the term is what Buganda is really aspiring for -the economic and social welfare of its inhabitants which was destroyed during the "protracted peoples war' which ended in January 1986.

One might expect local politics to be the most celebrated arena of democracy but why is it that the conventional view denies the possibility of local autonomy, and instead offers suggestions for "citizen participation" in state institutions which do not necessarily deliver the economic and social miracle which Buganda has expected since the end of the 1981-86 war?

In conventional discourse, the idea of local autonomy in Buganda for developmental purposes is flippantly discarded by some politicians - professors and historians serving in government today. The time is now for all our national leaders to let go of premises which are out of place which seek to dissect Buganda's interests from Ugandan interests by amplifying out of context analogies of the 1966 crisis.

It is becoming frighteningly obvious that all over Africa, political events show the overall ecological failure of the system of state sovereignty imposed during de colonisation and the destruction of the bio-sphere in the name of sovereign interests.

For Uganda, unless the questions raised by Buganda are exhaustively discussed during the present constitutional reform process, hiding under the concept of "state sovereignty" offers only a misleading map of where we are and an even less useful guide to where we might be going.

It should be of concern to any political observer that there is strong participation and support for the Mengo team coming from the youth who, at independence, were either not born or were minors. Since demographic records at the Population Secretariat reflect that most of the population of Buganda, are in fact youth, it would be foolhardy to ignore Mengo's proposals especially on issues which survived and outlived the fallen generation.

Finally, it has also become fashionable to insult, publicly ridicule and issue political threats to Mengo and His Majesty, the Kabaka over the kingdom's constitutional proposals but that cannot become the effective substitute for bona fide dialogue.

I would therefore urge the Government to resume and conclude negotiations with the Mengo team, in a civil manner even if eventually it is agreed to disagree on issues for the common good of preserving the sovereignty of Uganda.

The writer is a member of the Buganda Lukiiko representing lawyers

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