Let me begin by what Arthur Burt (2000) said that “nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.” Bunyoro must choose either to remain as political or governance spectators or change to become actors. I must say I got this theme from a comment made by one brother Kahigwa Festus in a Whatsapp platform of Bunyoro where almost the cream of the region belongs but naively keep silent and the led celebrate their client. In the same silence, they will dump attacks on Bobi Wine whose innocence has been for just 3 years’ experience but talked about yet some of them have been in parliament for 20 years but not even the village malwa fools talk about them. The reason I decide to have this lengthy but challenging question, WHY BUNYORO SEEM TO BE NAÏVE AND RESORT TO VILLAGE TALK? Bunyoro is talked about more in historic perspectives with the Cwa kabalega and the Bachezi instead of this rich history informing the current and projecting a better future. We want Bunyoro to change the rhetoric from this simplistic to discussing policy, national budget (cake) distribution and share, positions in government, forming government, influencing and pulling government towards its interests, becoming a feared region or nation by the central government, leaders shaping affairs of society in the social, economic and political spectrum of the country.
This piece is rather long as it is aimed at opening our civic mind. You know, a mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open. I write this not as an expert opinion but as an amateur able to inform. I know I am ignorant on some subjects in some way or another. I write this because I know Bunyoro needs some political renewal. Civic and political renewal requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling. For Bunyoro to transform itself, we the leaders must become honest firs to ourselves as leaders then to our people and later to Bunyoro. Real transformation requires real honesty especially if we want to move forward.
Today, as the world is talking about Iran and Trump, Uganda is discussing political transition, the people power movement is replacing the bush movements, Bunyoro is still stuck with discussing empako, village talks, fighting for MPships, district boundaries and mandate between Kikub=ube and Hoima, etc. the other day, I was in Kyabando sub county and when I wrote about it in a Bunyoro social media platform I belong to, I was insulted as having been anti Bunyoro and anti Uganda. One of the members came to my inbox and said, what did NrM do to you to hate it to that extent. And you have achieved from the NrM government. I hear you are even out of the country with NrM support. I only said thank you but I read a minimum of 6 pages per day. It is what makes me different from others who support NRM. Now the answers to the big questions of the day of “why Bunyoro seem to be naïve and resort to village talk?” are summarized as under.
- Addressing fear. One mentor of mine kept telling me that wards die 1000 times before their actual death. She keeps telling me that Bunyoro is a nation of the timid. For this reason, we even vote the most timid to lead us. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. A region of fear can only achieve leftovers of the political national cake. I have always told my mentees to address fear not even professionalism for fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world. Bunyoro expects evil by either supporting ot not supporting my president. It is indifferent. Actually, we have no voice in either opposition or in NRM. This fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil. In all my wittings, I have encouraged Bunyoro to do the thing we fear to do and keep on doing it. Deep in me, I believe that, that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear. Our leaders fear so much that they invest in silencing the brave who talk about Bunyoro and for that matter, make sure that they don’t surface on the decision making table. The reason when Bunyoro meet the president, the leaders identify the most fearful to present Bunyoro issues. I have one time told some MPs and LC 5 chairpersons to identify one brave not necessarily a political elected leader to present their issues to the president they have accepted to be censored by themselves. Like Herman Melvillesaid, ignorance is the parent of fear. We need to invest in addressing ignorance not fear itself as fear is a result of political ignorance. Bunyoro has an alternative choice. To either chose FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) or FEAR (Face Everything and Rise).
- Sponsoring the open minded. I currently work in Lango with frequent travels in some regions and 6 African countries. I recently made a paper to one of the Buganda forum and noted that we needed to invest in the people we call opposition if we need to be heard. Now, the likes of Jackson Wabyona, and the alternative government should be Bunyoro’s touch. Our NrM leaders should use this seemingly growing opposition to tell the national leadership that look, things are falling apart. Let us do A, B, C and D. this is what Lango, West Nile, Buganda, Teso and now Busoga have done. Only 2 opposition leaders will amplify Bunyoro issues like Hon. Lutamagizi has done in Nakaseke and has brought the president to Nakaseke night and day. The opportunity here is enormous. Unfortunately, too many Bunyoro leaders and actually the average voters are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death. Albert Einstein emphasizes that “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
- No influencers at the national level. I don’t want to say that we have now turned to be just given on an affirmative action. I know many people will say that Bunyoro occupy many positions of influence. Well, let me show you that you can be a housewife yet it is the house girl that decides the menu. Some of the leaders are position holders but not influencers. Let me ask my neighbor to tell me the influence of the Minister for Bunyoro. I for sure know that you can be much more influential if people are not aware of your influence. Let us perhaps say that our leaders have influence. But where is it used? On influencing who becomes the LC 1 chairperson, on funding a local sub county councilor? On distributing land deals etc. I know some play influence on deciding who becomes a Local Government civil servant because they have power over the District Service Commission. This is naïve. This is what I call village conversations and minority mentality. If you are an MP, we expect you to influence not at the village or district level but at the national level. We expect you to shape appointments of commissioners, permanent secretaries, CEOs and managers of MDAs, Boards among others. I know you have this influence but we have not seen it being used. I keep telling managers that influence is like a savings account, the less you use it, the more you have got. I want to see Bunyoro influencing NRM and Opposition. I want to see Bunyoro in People power and in civility building. I want to see Bunyoro fighting for the human rights of others. When we see national spaces and Bunyoro is a spectator, we cry both for the nation and country.
- Political positioning in both sides of the political divide. Bunyoro should be seen to matter both in the current government and set to be in the next government. This is doable if you decide to offer leadership not followership. One time I said that if we have a weak media and weak civil society, we should expect both the opposition and the government to be weak. Therefore, policy and political influencing is a preserve of the media and the Civil Society. For Bunyoro, let me reserve the state of civil society for another day’s discussion. I know most of us are stuck in fearing to annoy both the intolerant opposition and the pretending tolerant NrM on political and policy influencing in Bunyoro. The guys in NGOs are now preparing their verbal arsenals for me. But I know they will not read to this end.
- Local leadership vs national leadership. Bunyoro must decide to define who fits and qualifies to be either at national or local leadership. We cannot have Local Councilors as Members of Parliament and we expect to have leadership of purpose and influence. Our clergy should stop being local too. As rev. father Gaitano Batanyenda is shaping national spaces, we expect our bishops, reverend fathers, sheiks, kadhi’s among others to do so. Let us change the rhetoric from just a petty moral talk to issues that shape humanity and divinity. I know some people will now critique me on this as being fearful to error. Aaron Burr (1961) said that “error often is to be preferred to indecision”. I totally agree since through indecision opportunity is often lost. Bunyoiro has anyway always made her indecision decision and usually against itself through its leaders.
- Leadership. Our problem is leadership and leadership is the solution to it. I will not expound more on this since we are headed to nominations this year. Do we need more of the same? One scholar said that if you want to transform society, invest in quality education and transformative leadership. The big question here is whether other regions other than Bunyoro have leadership. Something is better than nothing. Let there be a deliberate effort to shape leaders of purpose. Leaders in Bunyoro should dare to do things that inspire Bunyoro to dream more, learn more, do more and become more and be heard. Our leaders must just shape how the people think such that we don’t just follow where the path may lead. We expect as leaders to go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Leaders here have to empower the people. I don’t want to victimize any here but we have not done enough. Efforts to create a Bunyoro leadership Forum have always failed partly because leaders want to lead in isolation and get a credit as leaders not to change Bunyoro. I expect leaders to instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals. I don’t know whether we have leaders and or misleaders. Whom do we follow as Bunyoro leaders. If we follow an evil leader then we deliver evil to Bunyoro. And for Bunyoro, the game changer is in who we make leaders. If we want to be great and successful, its high time we chose people who are great and successful and walk side by side with them.
I know most of us don’t want to read. Transformation is in the details.
Bunyoro can resurrect from this political slumber. Leaders must begin to listen to the silent voices of reason. Leaders in Bunyoro must challenge ourselves on achievements elsewhere like the many public universities in Kumi, Muni, Busoga, Arua, Mbarara, Soroti, Gulu and challenge the statuesque with no shame. Work with those with capacity to raise the alarm don’t assassinate them or attack them as being anti or against Bunyoro or Uganda. Sometimes the most influential thing we can do is listen. If you want to understand what I want, look at BUKITARIPA calling people and they are facilitated by the people who believe in their cause but you can’t call your village and you are an MP. What is your influence? Influence is having people follow you because of what you represent not because you have the money to give or vodica. It is time for Bunyoro and our leaders to unleash our influence not authority. Our leaders should start to work with all people with focus not necessarily fellow political leaders. We don’t have to be a “people of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they have taught me. Let us generate an aware, demanding and politically active not just spectators if we want Bunyoro to be the nation we all want. Bunyoro leaders have not deeply made us the people they lead feel important and realize that we can influence. Rather, we have been made to beg, expect to receive from them and act weak. Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It is a dark and murky, painful pushing. We all can make a difference. We need to change Bunyoro for the better. Change can be hard. It requires no extra effort to settle for the same old thing. Auto pilots branded as political parties keeps us locked into past patterns. But transforming your life will require serious purposeful leadership. That requires courage, commitment, and effort. It is tempting to stay camped in the zone of THAT’S JUST HOW IT IS. But to get to the really good stuff in life, you have to be willing to become an explorer and adventurer. We shall withstand the risk only if the leadership commit to lead us not to make us followers.
Hope I have not spoken in tongues.
By Bbiira Kiwanuka Nassa, is the Lead Mentor, for The Next Generational Leaders. He is a junior citizen and a civil and political rights defender. Raised and nurtured by Bunyoro