I have been irked by various comments about Abasoga that I hear now and again. At times you think that they are made as a joke but in actual sense the majority of those who make them do mean it. Some of these are very popular on WhatsApp and they are demeaning to the people of Busoga. A few examples are; whenever the martyrs ‘day celebrations end, you get satirical message saying the Basoga are in Mabira coming to an event that has ended! The same thing happened when the Pope came to Uganda in 2015. Some de-meaning messages went round indicating that a group of Basoga were on their way to attend events that had already closed!
There’s a common joke that to find Amusoga who’s sensible he should be at the age of 45 and above. Today, Swengere the comedian is an entertainer, but I have found people who say that his comedy is real. They say it actually depicts how the Basoga think and act! There are many more alleged negative affirmations about Abasoga. Below are some;
1. That a Musoga was selling pancakes “kabalagala” at old Kampala Taxi Park and the conductor was calling passengers “Ggaba, Kabalagala, Ggaba, Kabalagala” the Musoga decided to distribute the pancakes to the passengers in the taxi after he went to the conductor “mmaze okugaba kabalagala sasula ssebo”!
2. Supporters of Uganda Cranes from Busoga region are in Nambole waiting for the Match between Uganda vs Ghana! Aye munna Twalumbye
3. Alex Ngobi from Namulesa Busoga bought a new laptop and he got a notification “open windows” so he opens all his windows and waited, he fell asleep only to wake up when the laptop is taken away through the window kiri Busoga.
Abasoga it is time for us to wake up and find the rightful position in the Ugandan society. Indeed Abasoga have many outstanding personalities both present and in the past. They have achieved a lot and made contributions to this country. They deserve better Busoga had an administrative system of kings in different parts of Busoga. It what the British used to rule it. Because the British never wanted anybody from poor countries in Africa and elsewhere to be seen as an equal, they didn’t allow the usage of the word King. Instead it became Chiefs who ruled over chiefdoms rather than kingdoms. We continue to use those words today. We do so with confidence and happily.
Busoga led the way in the country’s educational system putting many outstanding Basoga nearly in all professional positions. With Madhvani establishing the industrial establishment in Kakira, Busoga became Uganda’s economic power house. The decline in the Madhvani fortunes due to the Iddi Amin policies of 70’s led to the economic decline of Busoga. The changing fortunes from coffee and cotton especially cotton also led to the decline of economic prosperity of the Busoga region.
The general economic malaise in the country in the 1970’s and 1980’s led to decline of Busoga’s fortunes! The high population density coupled with the increasing growth in the population has increased poverty not only in the country generally but in Busoga in particular. Busoga is now poor and backward!
As the country changes economically, Busoga is failing to match the demand for that change and the growth that is coming out of that change. Consequently Busoga is lagging behind in comparison to other areas of the country.
The low level of education and the poor performance in all national examinations and the poverty in the sub-region is hair raising. Given the fact that Busoga is part of the face of Uganda, has a main highway goes through parts of it, it is easy to see the poverty in Busoga because it is visible. It is poverty and low level of education among people in the sub region that is making Busoga laughing stock.
Busoga must rise up and meet this challenge of improving lives of Abasoga. True government is doing something for the entire country but the Basoga need to do something for themselves. Drawing analogy, an individual who wishes to progress can wake up and do something that is productive or can wait for government to do something the government etuyambe syndrome or wait for donors or sit and beg.
Ugandans generally love begging. Many don’t work. Of course now and again when they see those that get things without work they too expect to be in the same position. Unfortunately this cannot work for everybody, there will only be a few people who benefit in that manner, the rest of the people have to work. So Abasoga we have a challenge, we need to get out of work, we are in a better environment than many other parts of Uganda. There’s no excuse for us not to work. I recall a meeting I participated in at Jinja town hall where a national leader asked the Basoga what they wanted.
During the meeting I sought an adjournment of the meeting and talked to the group of Basoga that was being addressed saying it’s an opportunity for us to ask for improvement in our infrastructure especially the educational infrastructure, I was booed ‘I cannot forget this’. They said I was preventing them from getting money and taking a kaveera home. I abandoned the meeting and I gather they went away with shs.3000 each. The Chinese proverb teach a man to fish he will eat for life. Give him a fish he will eat only one meal. Looking back, I had wanted us to have a vocational institution and a business incubator in Jinja. It never came to pass’. Such is the nature of our people.
Abasoga have cultural institutions and Kyabazingaship is the only legitimate one that can get things done. Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa Busoga (OKBB) should initiate programmes to mobilise Abasoga to get up and work. It should also use the top brains of Busoga to think through Busoga’s challenges and make recommendations to put where Busoga wants to go to compliment the effort of central government and also the effort of local governments. Busoga can address the following areas either on its own or in partnership with central government. These include family planning, afforestation, town planning, education at different levels, health services among others. A very important area is poverty eradication. OKBB can plan to have Abasoga in schools, plan for training them in production, entrepreneurship so that they can improve their production capacity and address poverty. The effort by government will be complimented by the effort of OKBB.
Dr. Muvawala the ball is in your court.
Prof. Waswa Balunywa is the Principal,
Makerere University Business School (MUBS)