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Hoima tense as police deploys

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th August 2009 03:00 AM

Mazrui calls for compromise as land row escalates

The POLICE have deployed in Kyangwali in Hoima district to thwart violence after Bakiga settlers have been threatened and a businessman attacked.

Mazrui calls for compromise as land row escalates

The POLICE have deployed in Kyangwali in Hoima district to thwart violence after Bakiga settlers have been threatened and a businessman attacked.

Mazrui calls for compromise as land row escalates

By Raymond Baguma and Henry Mukasa

The POLICE have deployed in Kyangwali in Hoima district to thwart violence after Bakiga settlers have been threatened and a businessman attacked.

“In Wairagaza village, which is predominantly occupied by Bakiga, people are threatened with eviction. I had to deploy my policemen to ensure that nothing happens,” Julius Owino, the Hoima District Police Commander, said yesterday.

On Monday, the timber workshop of Hajji Shaban Bitarabeho, a prominent Mukiga trader, was torched. The incident followed an earlier attack on his farm in Wairagaza and his home in Hoima town.

The attack on his home was stopped by the Police and led to the arrest of two king’s guards, privates Deo Byaruhanga and John Barongo. The Police are hunting for four others who fled.

Commenting on the fire which gutted the timber workshop, Owino said: “The fire did not start on its own. It was started by someone. His attempted eviction and burning of the timber store, shared by three other people, is telling. We want to bring to book those involved.”

Asked why the settlers are being targeted, the Police chief said the attackers accuse them of being Bafurukyi (settlers) who should not be on the land belonging to the Bunyoro kingdom.

“We moved in and ensured that nothing happened. The situation is back to normal,” Owino explained.

The Police attribute the emerging tensions to the decision by the Bunyoro kingdom to map out its land and properties, and inform the occupants.

Owino singled out Abarusula (traditional royal guards) as being responsible for the threats. “They send messages to these people saying: ‘We are coming for you,” Owino said.

He, however, observed that not every Munyoro is opposed to settlers because they have lived in harmony for a long time. “Just a few people in the kingdom are agitating for this.”

Top kingdom officials could not be reached for a comment.

Meanwhile, renowned political scholar, Prof. Ali Mazrui, yesterday advised President Yoweri Museveni to re-examine the solution he had proposed to resolve the problems of Bunyoro.

“We must find a way of pulling up the indigenous Banyoro without pulling down the immigrant Bakiga. Let us go back to the drawing board and seek alternative answers,” said Mazrui, speaking at Makerere University where he was being honoured.

He compared the marginalisation of the Banyoro to what happened in his native town of Mombasa in Kenya.

“We, at the coast, were the most advanced part of what later came to be known as Kenya.

We had been literate in the Arabic alphabet for centuries and built cities when the rest of Kenya had not,” he said.

When the British came, they created conditions that led to the marginalisation of the coastal people, he explained.

“Other Kenyans moved into Mombasa and the best land, the best hotels, the best jobs were disproportionately held by Kenyans from outside. We were even looked down upon as less hardworking, less motivated than other Kenyans. We, who were the first to be literate, were the last to be allowed to graduate.”

Mazrui also cited Nigeria where the Igbo and Yoruba moved to the north and outperformed the northern Hausa.

Unfortunately, Nigerians did not find a solution soon enough. There was enormous northern resentment of southern penetration, leading to the catastrophic northern uprising against immigrants in the 1960s.

“I can understand, therefore, why Banyoro feel the threat of being disinherited in the land of their ancestors. We need some kind of solution in Kenya for coastal people. But the solution should not create other forms of injustice. Uganda should try harder to solve problems in ways which do not violate other principles of justice.”

He said to resolve the conflict of Bunyoro, the Government should think of affirmative action to protect the Banyoro, like the way the conflict was solved in Nigeria.

However, the affirmative action should not provide exclusive status for Banyoro because it could create resentment.

Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi, in his reaction to Mazrui’s proposal, pledged to deliver the advice to Museveni.

Nsibambi, who was the chief guest at the function, urged Mazrui to provide concrete proposals on how the Banyoro-Bakiga ethnic tensions should be resolved.

Hoima tense as police deploys

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