Museveni: Triggering a development explosion

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Dec 15 14:30:22 UTC 2005

>>From the Uganda Monitor,

Triggering a development explosion
Yoweri Museveni


Africans are now 850 million people in number. This is heartening because
by 1900, we were only 110 million people yet we live on a continent that
is 11 million square miles in land area. We were, therefore, very much
under-populated then. These 850 million Africans are divided into 4
linguistic groups: the Afro-Asiatic Linguistic group of languages (Arabic,
Amharic, Tigrinya);  the Nilo-Saharan Linguistic group of languages (Luo,
Oromo, Nilo-Hamitic, Somali, Nubian, etc); the Niger-Congo Linguistic
group of languages (the Bantu dialects, the Kwa languages, etc); and the
Khoisan (the small language of Southern Africa).

Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and DRC form a bridge between two of the language
groups of Africa: the Nilo-Saharan and the Niger-Congo groups of
languages. The Bantu group of languages and dialects belong to the latter
group. Many of the peoples that populate Southern Africa speak Bantu
dialects apart from the smaller group that speaks the San languages
(Khoisan). I am very much interested in African languages. As part of that
effort, I am about to publish, along with academicians of Makerere
University, a Thesaurus of the Runyankore-Rukiga dialect that is part of
the interlacustrine groups of Bantu languages of the Great Lakes area.
These interlacustrine Bantu dialects are really one language because they
are nearly mutually intelligible.

When we publish this Thesaurus, it will be our initial step in
demonstrating that some of the African languages are much richer than the
European languages - certainly richer than English. As part of
decolonisation we must preserve, promote and synthesize these dialects and
languages. I am always intensely interested in the Bantu dialects of
Southern Africa.  It is incredible to notice how our ancestors dispersed
over this huge continent and, eventually defended it against invaders by
their numbers, by their presence and their culture, including the very
Bantu languages.  When I hear the brothers and sisters in Southern Africa
use the words:  Sauboona (from kubona - in my dialect, meaning to find
which is lost, but used in Southern Africa to mean to see), inkatha (to
mean engata, enkata), Mufaazi (meaning mukazi), I feel very much elated.

Northwards, deep into Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo, Chad, etc, our
Nilotic people link us with the ancient Nilotic and Hamitic peoples of
Africa.  Why am I saying all this? It is because 11 years ago the march of
Africas political freedom reached the Cape of Good Hope. This meant that,
at least nominally, Africa was independent from Cairo to Cape.  This
nominal independence must be turned into real independence, prosperity and
eternal security for the African peoples. One element of that independence
is language.


In Uganda we have evolved a three-language policy: using our indigenous
languages in their respective areas (Districts or Provinces), while
promoting the use of Swahili and continuing to use English. Swahili is a
Bantu dialect, but a detribalised one that belongs to no ethnic group. It
has got, however, limited vocabulary. The hinterland Bantu and Nilotic
dialects have got richer vocabulary but are limited in geographical
extension. We, therefore, hope to enrich Swahili with the vocabulary of
the hinterland languages so that it really becomes the Black mans
language, if necessary, the globe over. You cannot have people without a
language.  Besides, these languages encapsulated important and unique
social and philosophical concepts which are important, not only for the
Black people, but for the whole of the human race.

The freedom we achieved must, therefore, be used to protect our ancient
heritage and using it to preserve our identity and make a contribution to
human civilisation.  Recovering and preserving our identity, including our
languages, however, will not be enough to preserve our independence and
ensure our prosperity. The imperialists neither care nor respect other
peoples languages or cultures. What they respect is power. The African
peoples, therefore, need to use our freedom to create African power in
economy, science, politics and the military.

Non-African powers have been to space and the Moon. Africans are just
barely able to feed themselves. The main cause of this is ourselves, now
that the imperialists have withdrawn from the African Continent. India has
used the short period from independence (1947) to today to stand up once
and for all time. So has China. Why hasnt Africa done the same?  As you
know, we have been discussing these issues. We are continuing to do so. We
have agreed to work, not only for economic integration of Africa but also
for her political integration.

Where possible we need to amalgamate the present independent states of
Africa to form stronger political and economic units. We have discussed
the advantages in a number of meetings with His Excellency Thabo Mbeki.
What is, however, most threatening are the strategic considerations. There
are those who want to re-dominate the world. Working with other freedom
loving peoples, we shall not allow them to do so.

We must have a more civilised and just world order. The present parasitic
system must end. In order to do this, we must carry out the political
integration in order to plan together, not only for economic and political
matters but also for defence and strategic issues including scientific
research and development.

In East Africa we are working for the East African Federation involving
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. We think that it is easiest to achieve
political integration here in East Africa. This unity will, then, work as
a catalyst for a wider political integration in order to guarantee our
future in this parasitic world.

During the 300 years that slaves were being torn from Africa, there were
Popes and Archbishops of Canterbury. What did they say and do during this
time? We are the only ones that can guarantee our future. In order to
achieve this we need to bring together the liberation movements and
progressive political parties in Africa. We have discussed this issue
exhaustively and agreed on the way forward. On the bilateral side, we have
set up the Commissions to pull our potentials (for Uganda and South
Africa), which are considerable, together so that we achieve rapid
results.  The population of South Africa is approximately 48 million
people. The population of Uganda is now 28 million people, but by 2015, it
will be about 40 million people and, by 2025 it will be about 54 million
people.  The population of South Africa is of course growing.

Therefore the combined potential of Uganda and South Africa both now and
in the future is considerable. This is not including our East African
partners - Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, whereby our combined
population is currently 110 million people. The economy of Uganda has been
growing fast but in low investment, low technology and quick
returns-enterprises such as bars, hair-saloons, houses for offices and
residences, hotels, shops, transport, professional services (doctors,
lawyers, engineers, etc), some processing facilities (factories) run by
Ugandan-Indians and other Ugandans, some farming by plantation-owners, and
large-scale farmers, etc.

We have, however, a serious gap when it comes to medium and large
scale-enterprises that require US$20 million, US$100 or US$500 million.
These are textile mills to use our cotton; coffee roasters and grinders
for our coffee; factories for tobacco, leather, fruits, dairy products,
beef, fish, timber, minerals such as coltan, cobalt, phosphates and
petroleum, railways, power stations, etc. In nuclear Physics there is what
is called binary fusion - putting together two parts that result in
creating a critical mass for an explosion.  Uganda and South Africa, given
our different resource-bases and history, can create that binary-fusion
that will trigger that development explosion.

* This is an edited version of a speech that President Museveni gave on
Tuesday before inviting visiting South African leader Thabo Mbeki to
address the Ugandan Parliament

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