Uganda marks 45 years of independence from colonial Britain today with celebrations all across the country. In other parts of the world as well, Ugandans are expected to organize events to mark the day. President Yoweri Museveni will address the nation about continuing the way forward as Uganda continues to implement its independence. However, some Ugandans say the country has little to show for after 45 years of self-rule, especially when foreign donors fund the bulk of the country’s budget.
Honorable Akbar Godi is a Ugandan member of parliament. From the U.S. city of Philadelphia, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Ugandans need to eradicate themselves from mental slavery.
“What we should know is that independence celebration in Africa, and in Uganda particularly at the moment, is just purely ritual. Independence as we know in Uganda, and today as we celebrate it, was in a sense a gift from the British because it came without struggle. What we must know is that of course, we all believed at Uganda’s independence, there was little indication that the country was headed for disaster. On the contrary, it appeared a model of stability and progress. As you very well know, by 1980’s, the Ugandan economy was far better than the one in Malaysia and Taiwan,” Godi said.
He said things should have been better as Uganda at the time of independence did not have to face as many problems as other African countries during their struggles for self rule.
“But unlike neighboring Kenya, Uganda had no alien white settler class attempting to monopolize the worth of the cash crop economy. Nor was there any recent legacy of bitter and violent conflict in Uganda to compare with the 1950’s like the Mau Mau rebels in Kenya. In Uganda, it was African producers who grew the cotton, the coffee that brought the highest standard of living, to finance the education of their children led to the increased expectations for the future. But now, today when we are celebrating independence 45 years down the road, we ask ourselves the essential question, where is all the progress that we saw in the beginning?” he asked.
Godi said the lack of progress on the ground speaks volumes of how the country has lost its potential to become one of Africa’s most successful countries after independence from British rule.
“Well if we are to see whether if we had moved an inch to see that we are really independent, we need to ask ourselves the following questions: For the last 21 years, how many hospitals have been built by this current regime? When Queen Elizabeth commissioned electricity power in 1955 in Jinja, what was the industrial level of Jinja town by then, and what is it today if it’s not a mere ghetto? … Is there a rule of law or freedom of speech? It’s still a myth in Uganda. We promulgated a constitution, and the same constitution is being raped. And let’s talks about the worst human rights record like we have, the Kiboko squad. Men beating people on the street more than slave times,” Godi pointed out.