FORGET ABOUT FEDERO, HISTORIAN SAM MAYANJA TELLS OFF MENGO
By Mulengera Reporter
To mark his 7 years of service as Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro, Charles Peter Mayiga recently gave media interviews reflecting on what has been accomplished and what he intends to do next including reinvigorating demands for Federo as Buganda’s preferred system of governance. As expected, this much publicized vow by Mayiga sparked debate with Minister Muruli Mukasa, who speaks for Baruli one of the minority groups living in Buganda’s Nakasongora County, scorning the Katikkiro for being insensitive to other minority groups living in Buganda.
Now city lawyer and controversial historian Sam Mayanja has added his views dismissing Mayiga’s renewed demands as “selfish, myopic and unhelpful.” In his latest media release, the controversial law don accuses the Mengo leadership of hiding behind Federo demands to reenact the special status very few privileged Protestant Baganda, leveraging on their proximity to the King, enjoyed under the 1900 agreement.
Mayanja says that Capt Fredrick Lugard (famous for his Maxim gun) used the Buganda Agreement to reciprocate and reward “Baganda Protestant Oligarchs” for their collaboration and support against the joint rebellion Mwanga and Kabalega had mounted against colonial penetration. That the two kings had ably resisted this imperialist penetration only to be betrayed. That the colonial apparatus ensured the Protestant Oligarchs at Mengo got not only large swathes of prime land but also monopolized top positions of influence in the Province of the Kingdom of Buganda.
Mayanja claims the beneficiaries have since that time always fought hard to amplify and consolidate that privileged position and status not only in Buganda but the whole Uganda. That their successful hostility to Buganda participating in the 1922 LEGCO was all consistent with this desire to preserve the oligarchs’ special status. That participation in the LEGCO was resented by the oligarchs because it would fast track integration of Buganda into Uganda and thereby diminish their special position as entrenched under the 1900 Agreement. That this special status is something the Mengo oligarchy has always fought hard to preserve to the extent that the prospect of Uganda being granted independence as one whole in 1962 frightened many of them. He says the resultant nervousness, fearing to lose their privileged status, prompted the Protestant oligarchs at Mengo to demand Buganda’s independence as opposed to being part of independent Uganda. That in December 1960, they declared Buganda independence only to make a U-turn after the governor threatened cracking the whip on them.
Mayanja argues that failure to secede or frustrate Uganda’s independence prompted the Mengo oligarchs to improvise Federo demands in the hope it would be an avenue through which their special status would be preserved so that they keep weakening the central government while keeping Kampala leaders hostage. That to accommodate them, Ugandan leaders in 1962 gave concessions and permitted indirect MP elections for Buganda’s 21 representatives in the national assembly.
He adds this too was detrimental to Uganda’s democratization project because 2m Baganda were disenfranchised as the Kabaka had to hand pick their MPs as the rest of the country directly elected their legislators. Mayanja says that ability to determine Buganda’s 21 MPs gave Kabaka Mutesa II unregulated powers which he unilaterally exercised by plunging the region into the UPC/KY alliance which Obote subsequently used to become a powerful Prime Minister who later cracked the whip on Buganda; abolishing kingdoms too. That because the 21 were his MPs and opposed to being Bagandas, Mutesa found himself acting unilaterally to the detriment of posterity. Mayanja asserts that the oligarchs became blinded by power and special status and couldn’t appropriately advise the king against disastrous decisions such as politically allying with Obote, a thing that pushed him into a dilemma of being both Buganda’s Kabaka and President of Uganda. “What mattered to the oligarchs wasn’t the future of Uganda but securing their special status,” Mayanja contemptuously writers adding “that was their Federo.”
He then celebrates the 1966 constitution which Obote used to successfully stage a revolution ousting President Mutesa and consolidating all executive powers in his own hands as Prime Minister. Claiming Mutesa plotted a coup, Mayanja says Obote was justified to act the way he did. He also celebrates the court decision in ex-parte Matovu’s case that unsuccessfully sought to challenge Obote’s 1966 revolution. Mayanja also celebrates the 1967 Republican constitution that abolished kingdoms and made Uganda republic.
“The naivety with which the oligarchy approached their relationship with the rest of Uganda was the sole tragedy of its leadership which failed the test of the foresight that was required at that crucial time,” Mayanja asserts without any remorse. “The successful revolution of 1966 and the eventual adoption by the people of Uganda of the 1967 Republican Constitution ended the special status of the Mengo Establishment. It was also the end of the oligarchy’s self-appointed posturing as the official spokesperson of Baganda who were now finally integrated within Uganda as equal citizens.”
Mayanja concludes that Mayiga’s decision to renewal Federo demands at this moment in time is meant to blackmail the central government on the eve of a major election besides showing that the current Mengo leadership hasn’t learnt enough from the ugly history such inward-looking demands subjected the entire Baganda populace to. He says instead of renewing Federo demands, which isn’t as priority for the ordinary Baganda whose interests they are supposed to champion, the Mengo leadership should use its clout to support the move by the central government to grant more Cities and Municipalities because such, unlike Federo, benefit everyone and not just a small clique of people desiring to protect their privileged position.
That Mengo should abandon its retrogressive views and rally behind emerging leaders for the new Municipalities and Cities because, unlike Kingdom officials who are mere appointees, such leaders are elected and are accountable as required under the laws governing Uganda. Mayanja says anyone keeping quiet and not stepping forward to contradict Mayiga’s renewed demands would be conspiracy and betrayal against the silent majority.
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