Peter Wathum is a distant relative of ours who was living in Kabaale – Hoima, the place where an International Airport is being erected. Peter used to be our food supplier at home given the fact that we live in town where we barely cultivate. He would sell to us food at awesome discounts and at times give us free food. This went on until oil exploration started and Peter’s land was acquired by government.
The acquisition of the land of Peter, and many other thousands of people who I believe were producing surplus food and supplying to food deficit areas like town, was not a problem because it was for the good and there was a way out, but the problem came out to the way this way out was created. A duo choice option was given to these people and they were supposed to choose on whether to be resettled or compensated with cash. And obviously, the majority, a whooping 92% opted for “the root cause of all evil”, money.
The whole resettlement and compensation was the genesis of disconnected imageries that authorities had in their air conditioned boardrooms when coming up with these plans. They imagined that upon receiving money, the Peter’s of this world would buy new land and continue cultivating and producing food. Their smart projections never showed them that this money would break families, be used to marry many other women, buy all types and tribes of alcohol and be wasted till the end. And that’s how we wound up with the food supply from that area.
The Runyoro – Rutooro proverb of “eteera omunaku tekya” that refers to the unending plights of a poor man came to play when other predicaments happened to our land. After a very big number of farmers in Masindi moved from cultivation of food crops to sugar cane to meet the demand of Kinyara Sugar Works Ltd, the company opened up a subsidiary in Hoima, now Kikuube district and a bigger problem came up; the eviction from land of over 890 families that were doing well and probably doing food production to pave way for sugar cane growth.
The above meant that the non evicted families that had land and ability would also venture in the seemingly lucrative growth of the sugar raw material and reduce on food crop land. Kikuube district now has a fraction of it given to oil, the refugees and now sugar cane production.
Bunyoro is currently experiencing what one would call an Oil intensity but as for me, it is an excitement. One that is making everyone talk about oil from young to old and has got opinion leaders derailed from what matters now to the hallucination of the benefits of Oil and Gas exploration in the region. They could be right from what Hoima town, the would be Oil City is going through, people flocking in, Sky scrappers being built and the night life going active.
The allure of the grown town is making lots of strong and energetic young people leave their villages and routines of farming to come pursue urban dreams. Due to lack of capital to start a life, they sell off their home land to rich oil staff and armed with smart phones, fake Balenciaga shoes, big shades, they set off to town. Leaving the production of food to their weak ageing parents.
The question of who is going to feed Bunyoro is not only looking at land slipping through the hands of money hungry Banyoro people, but also climate change. The adverse effects of oil exploitation on the environment boosted with the rampant destruction of forest cover is not doing any good to the weather. The dark clouds might get so angry at us and vacate the Omukama’s land and leave us in an arid.
If we do not stand up to a remedy, and continue blabbering about Oil stories that we do not actually know, we are going to sleep hungry and sadly we have very few rich people to run – blame it on the politics and education statistics.