We want to thank the international community including African Union and the United Nations as well as some governments for the efforts to end the invasion of DRC by M23. While this effort is appreciated, it must be recognized that it won’t by itself bring about lasting peace and security for all unless the root cause of the conflict which is Nilotic Tutsi domination of Bantu people is recognized and solved so that the two ethnic groups live together in peace and security.
Batutsi have deceptively presented themselves to the world since the 1994 Rwanda genocide as victims in a hostile environment and must defend themselves by eliminating ‘enemies’ and occupying more territory under the pretext of correcting the wrongs of a colonial system of borders that robbed them of land, not realizing or ignoring that they too took land from somewhere else such as 5 thousand square kilometers that Rwanda and Burundi gained from then Tanganyika in 1923. In my attempt to identify the root cause of the problem, I have touched on sensitive areas previously regarded as taboo that have made some people uncomfortable and forced them to hit back hard without supporting evidence. In sympathy or guilt about what happened in 1994 in Rwanda some countries and people have turned a blind eye to the damage being caused by Batutsi in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. For example, in Uganda, Batutsi have marginalized non-Batutsi in education, healthcare, jobs, food security and are rapidly losing land, the only asset the majority possess. Corruption, sectarianism and cronyism have become rampant. It is gratifying that finally the donor community has stepped in to find out where over $30 billion of grant money went as there is virtually nothing to show for it. We hope all the stolen money will be recovered with interest and those involved prosecuted. We appeal to all donors to work together for maximum effect because money has been stolen from every donor since it is part of national budget. Those who argue that cutting off aid will hurt the poor are not correct because the money never gets to them in the first place. Let me restate that I have worked on the Great Lakes region for a long time and I want to share information I have gathered with those that are not familiar or have accessed distorted stories that paint Nilotic Batutsi as superior and Bantu (Bahutu and Bairu) as genetically inferior and bad people, if not barbaric. We have to get to the bottom of Great Lakes problem and find a lasting solution. I strongly believe in justice and equal opportunity for all. Those who want to read more please visit my website at www.kashambuzi.com . I have reported my findings as faithfully as possible and that is why I provide some sources of my information when I feel it is absolutely necessary. Some commentators have asked me to summarize in a user-friendly language the main features of Batutsi and Bahutu/Bairu relations in the Great Lakes region. Let me repeat that I have defined the Great Lakes region to include southwest Uganda (former Kigezi district and Ntungamo district), Burundi, Rwanda and eastern BRC where the two groups have experienced unpleasant relations.
Race and ethnicity
Nilotic Batutsi and Bantu people are different ethnically, not racially. The wrong element of race was introduced in the region by explorer John Hanning Speke and popularized by Charles Gabriel Seligman based on European race theories which stated that black people or Negroes were at the bottom of the race pyramid in all areas of human endeavor. As such they lived in the dark and had no civilization whatsoever. In 1862 Speke and Grant arrived in Buganda. They were astonished to find sophisticated and magnificent civilizations in the form of “highly developed political [and social] organization and comparatively civilized life”. Since blacks could not achieve these civilizations, they concluded that this must have been the work of white and more intelligent people whom they called Bahima derived from the Hamitic myth or Hamitic tribes as descendants of white people. They noted “At its top [of this civilization], the governing class were the Bahima, the Hamitic tribes which swept over Bantu, negroid Uganda, in the seventeenth century” (Negley Farson 1941). Research after research has demonstrated definitively that there is no such a thing as the Hamitic Myth and Bahima tribe. For example, it was written “In this view, all the pastoral dynasties of the region – not only Rwanda and Nkore but also the mythical Chwezi – were originally invaders who brought the idea of the state with them and imposed their institutions by conquest. In fact, this view is simply another misconception about African history that was very heavily influenced by the Hamitic myth. It [Hamitic myth] is now thoroughly discredited”(Philip Curtain et al., 1978). Joseph Greenberg, an expert on African languages concluded that “the stereotype of the pastoral conquering Hamitic must be abandoned” And Roland Oliver added that “So it must, and so indeed it has been”(Roland Oliver 1991). In spite of this conclusive evidence, Batutsi have insisted they are racially different, implying they are superior and born to rule. These sentiments are still heard in southwest Uganda where Batutsi have boasted in public that one Mututsi is the equivalent of 1000 Bairu. To prove their point they use the illustration of a weighing scale where on one side you have a small weight that balances the other side with heaps of beans or chunks of meat. In this regard John Reader writes “This hamitic myth has a long and enduring history … and their [Batutsi] superiority over cultivators [Bahutu or Bairu] of the lakes region, persists to this day. The idea was reinforced by the colonial regimes and since independence the elites themselves [Batutsi] have seized every opportunity to perpetuate it” (John Reader 1997). In his interview with John Nagenda shortly before becoming president, Museveni mentioned implicitly that although linguistically Batutsi are the same as Bairu, they are racially different, a position shared by Ibingira (G. S. Ibingira 1980). In short, Batutsi believe they are descendants of white people. Ipso facto they are superior and more intelligent and born to rule over black people and they believe none should question that and don’t have to prove it. Because of this insistence, the Hamitic myth still lingers on. Consequently, an ethnic group called Nilo-Hamitic (intermarriage between Nilotic and Hamitic people) still lingers on. Those who believe there are no hamitic people dismiss the existence of Nilo-Hamitic ethnic group.
Color of the skin, shape of lips and height
Mentioning these features may embarrass some people or give the impression that the author is mean. To set the record straight these things have to be mentioned. Some people have insisted that Batutsi have light skins and thin lips, features connected with white people. I challenge those who still believe that to take a good and closer look at Batutsi and Bantu people. You will find that on balance Bantu are lighter skinned and have thinner lips than Batutsi and their cousins Bahima, Batutsi/Bahororo and Banyamulenge. “In skin color, the Tutsis are darker than the Hutu, in the reverse direction to that leading to the Caucasoids. Lip thickness provides a similar case: on an average the lips of the Tutsi are thicker than those of the Hutu”(Jean Hiernaux 1975). The shape of the nose is another matter: Batutsi have thinner and pointed noses while Bantu have wider and flatter noses. That all Bantu are short and all Batutsi are tall is false. There are short Batutsi just as there are tall Bahutu. Overall there are taller Batutsi than Bahutu and Bairu. But this is not necessarily genetic. Studies have shown that it could be a nutritional problem. Because Bahutu and Bairu are exploited they do not eat enough of nutritional value as Batutsi. The nutritious food produced by Bahutu/Bairu is consumed by Batutsi such as goat meat and Bahutu/Bairu were prevented from owning cattle that gives milk and milk products and meat. You will find that in Bahutu/Bairu households where diet is adequate and balanced children are as tall if not taller than Batutsi children. Because of changes in occupation and economic standing the stereotypes of short and tall people have become meaningless (John Reader Africa National Geographic Washington DC undated). As an aside, some studies do show that forest gatherers and hunters are not short because of genetic reasons but because of adaptation to a thick tropical forest environment that require short stature to move quickly. More needs to be done on this subject.
Are Batutsi more intelligent than Bahutu/Bairu?
Using Rujumbura and Ankole as case studies, Bairu are more intelligent than Batutsi/Bahima. Although Bairu started school much later in the 1940s and in poor surroundings (poorer homes without even a reading lamp. When in season I burned castor oil seeds for lighting the room), they were able to catch up and overtake Batutsi/Bahororo especially in science and Math subjects. I studied with Batutsi/Bahororo at Kinyasano primary and secondary school, the only school with grades five through eight in Rujumbura County. Bairu were by far more intelligent than Batutsi/Bahororo. If I remember correctly, five Bairu and one Mututsi/Muhororo qualified for senior secondary school (O level) and that no Mututsi/Muhororo continued to higher (A) level. Thus, the stereotype that Bahutu/Bairu people are intellectually inferior to Batutsi is unfounded.
Ancestral home of Batutsi and Bantu
In 1854 John Speke and Richard Grant visited Harar of Ethiopia. When they came to Buganda in 1862 and other parts of Uganda they found pastoralists who resembled those in Ethiopia. Speke concluded that pastoralists in Uganda must have come from Ethiopia. Subsequent studies have concluded that there is no linguistic or cultural link with Ethiopia. It is now clear that the ancestors of Batutsi were Nilotic Luo-speaking pastoralists that lived in Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan. The many sources of this conclusion can be found in Kashambuzi book titled “Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century and Related Regional Issues” 2008). Bantu people originated in the border area between Cameroon and Nigeria. When the two ethnic groups met in the Great Lakes region around the 15th century, Nilotic Luo-speaking people adopted Bantu names, Bantu language, Bantu religion and even Bantu king title. Mwami (king) was a Bahutu king title but was adopted by Batutsi kings after they defeated Bahutu, implying they had no kings before.
Who are Bachwezi?
Contrary to available information from credible sources, Batutsi have insisted that they are the descendants of Bachwezi. The truth is that Bachwezi were a Bantu aristocracy under whose leadership the earthen works in central Uganda are believed to have been constructed. Professor Bathwell A. Ogot concluded “Be that as it may, the important point to emphasize is that, according to the historical reconstruction we are outlining here, the Bachwezi were not Bahima or Luo: they were a Bantu aristocracy who emerged in western Uganda in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries”(Bethwell A. Ogot Building On the Indigeneous: Selected Essays 1981-1998. 1999 page 77).
Batutsi economic relations with Bahutu/Bairu
Bantu arrived in the Great Lakes region with short horn cattle, goals, sheep and poultry as well as a wide range of crops and iron technology. “Bantu did not come as conquerors but as farmers with a superior technology, and with cattle, sheep and goats” (Robert O. Collins 2006). With technology they manufactured iron tools including farm implements of hoe, axes and machetes that they used to expand agriculture. Some Bantu specialized in pastoralism in areas where ecological conditions were suitable as in parts of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi “many of the Bantu settlers switched to animal husbandry as a primary source of food, herding cattle, sheep and goats” (E. J. Murphy1974). Therefore Bahutu and Bairu were turned from mixed farmers and manufacturers into cultivators. This therefore is Batutsi made categorization which should be changed because at least in Uganda since the 1960s Bairu have more cattle than Batutsi/Bahima.
Batutsi social and legal relations with Bahutu and Bairu
Batutsi imposed strict marriage restrictions between the two ethnic groups. Even a Mwiru to be seen talking to a Mututsi/Muhororo woman was a serious matter for the man. However, once in a while a Tutsi king would give a Tutsi woman to an outstanding Hutu man to marry and the Hutu man would be tutsified as a junior partner and abandon his kith and kin. After independence when political power switched from Batutsi to Bahutu and Bairu, Batutsi encouraged their women to marry outstanding Bahutu and Bairu men and tutsify them so they promote Tutsi interests over those of Bahutu and Bairu. That is a silent requirement. This was a post-independence revolution because Batutsi women became so aggressive that Bahutu and Bairu men should have wondered at such a transformation but perhaps they thought that was the fruit of independence. Bairu and Bahutu men abandoned their Bahutu and Bairu women thus creating a tremendous problem as Bahutu/Bairu women are complaining that Batutsi women are stealing their men. Batutsi Covenant includes a specific clause which states that in order to control Bahutu and Bairu men Batutsi women should marry them if necessary. This is a marriage of control and political domination. That is why we see in Uganda things turning against non-Batutsi people because some of their representatives in parliament or local councils aren’t supporting non-Batutsi interests. Some people are finding it difficult to accept that their leaders can betray their people. It’s time we accepted this reality and deal with it accordingly instead of dwelling in denial. According to Tutsi tradition a woman is expected to remain a virgin until she gets married. Meanwhile, Tutsi boys were given Hutu women for sexual pleasures. Although Bahutu and Bairu cooked food and brewed beer for Batutsi, the two groups would not eat or drink together because Bahutu and Bairu were inferior. These practices are still in force albeit in a diluted form for political purposes. After they have a drink or a meal with you, Batutsi curse on their way home for sitting at the same table and being seen with an inferior person.
Batutsi lifestyle not conducive to develop civilizations
Batutsi and their cousins Bahima, Bantutsi/Bahororo and Banyamulenge were and are still basically nomadic people, moving constantly in search of pasture and water points for their cattle, their main source of livelihood. Civilizations take place and thrive in settled communities as towns where they build permanent structures and develop governance systems and institutions to maintain law and order. As Bantu populations grew fast with adequate food and absence of wars, they settled in communities, with leaders such as chiefs and kings or clan heads emerging to provide law and order. In Rwanda and Burundi Bahutu had chiefs called Mwami, a title that was adopted when Batutsi conquered Bahutu. That kings and chiefs existed before Batutsi arrived in southwest Uganda is confirmed in this observation “Elephants were abundant in the forests of southwest Uganda and ivory trade became the monopoly of the kings and chiefs of the region. … and ivory markets were located at the king’s or chief’s palaces” (Bethwell A. Ogot 1976). Therefore state or administrative institutions were already in place when Batutsi arrived.
How Bahutu impoverishment occurred
Batutsi warriors, in some cases with support of Arabs and Swahili that had modern European weapons defeated Bantu and deprived them of their wealth including land as in Rwanda and were reduced to crop cultivators to serve primarily the needs of their new masters in return for so-called protection. From the 15th century to independence in 1962 Bahutu and Bairu were exploited and dispossessed. Let us take as an illustration the case of exploitation under Belgian rule. “Throughout the period of Belgian colonial rule, the Tutsi tightened their grip on every aspect of social, economic and political control. While pursuing colonial government instructions to extract more taxes and labor from small farmers, mostly Hutu, local Tutsi chiefs also used their increased authority to seize cattle and land from rivals and farmers”(John Reader undated). Thus through the process of exploitation and dispossession, Bantu (Bahutu and Bairu) who had been wealthy and engaged in mixed farming of crops, herding and manufacturing and ate well and lived in peace were reduced to crop cultivation to meet food needs of Batutsi first, were also denied education and jobs in colonial administration and religious institutions. With independence in 1962 in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, Batutsi lost to Bahutu and Bairu because of demographic differences that favored Bantu. Since the early 1960s, under the leadership of Museveni Batutsi people have resorted to using military means to restore their domination and exploitation of Bantu people in the Great Lakes region. They have done so in collaboration with western powers many of whom still believe in stereotypes of Batutsi superiority and Bantu inferiority, primitivism and barbarism. Using military tools Batutsi have overthrown governments in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and DRC. To overthrow Obote II government some westerners created stories that Obote soldiers were committing serious human rights violations. Western governments were approached including financial institutions that cut off aid and exposed Obote to a second military coup which occurred in July 1985. It has been reported that Museveni never accused Obote of murdering Ugandans especially in the Luwero Triangle. “It is significant that Museveni never once claims in his autobiography that Obote killed the people in the Luwero Triangle, because Museveni is the one himself who carried out these atrocities”(EIR Special Report 1997 Page 35). Following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Bahutu have been described as genocidaires and bad people who should have no place under the sun as they were being hunted down in Congo forests. Howard W. French reports on this indifference when he observed that “[some] officials had written off the Hutu as a pariah population, and no one had time for questions about their fate [in DRC]. Another official thought “They were the bad guys” (Howard W. French 2004). But when Batutsi committed genocide against Hutu in Burundi in 1972, 1988 and 1993, and in DRC since 1994 and massacres of Hutu in Rwanda since 1990 the world kept quiet or sided with Tutsi governments in Burundi and Rwanda. For example, in 1972 there were sufficient warnings that genocide was going to take place by Batutsi against Bahutu but was ignored. “As in Rwanda, this African variant of genocide and ethnic cleansing [in Burundi] transpired amid an attitude of relative indifference on the part of the international community”(William R. Keylor 2001).
Are Batutsi superior and born to rule?
Once elected, leaders should govern for all people. They should assemble the best teams to advise them. In Uganda Museveni has failed the test. He hasn’t proved intellectually superior and has favored members of his Batutsi kith and kin through corruption, sectarianism, cronyism and mismanagement. He has been in power for 26 years and what Uganda has reaped is decadence such as the reemergence of diseases that had disappeared, collapse of education, health, ecological and food security systems. Educated people are locked up in the diaspora or marginalized at home or retrenched, food is being exported while Ugandans starve and children drop out of school because they are hungry. Maternal mortality has risen from 527 in 1995 to 920 per 100000 live births in 2005 (APRM 2009). With general conditions getting worse following the current economic recession, maternal mortality must have risen further since 2005. Good education and health services are provided for the rich through private hospitals and schools beyond the means of the majority of Ugandans. The countryside where the overwhelming majority of Ugandans lives and earns their meager livelihood has been neglected as Museveni implemented a version of Singapore model based on the capital city and providing services with Kampala generating some 70 percent of Gross National Income. Income distribution is very skewed because the trickledown mechanism did not work and it is believed that some twenty percent in the lowest income bracket are poorer than in 1986 when Museveni became president. Against this bleak background, donors that continue to praise NRM government for good economic development record must have another criterion for assessing performance.
To sum up
Tthe point being made is that as long as prejudices continue against Bahutu and Bairu as inferior, intellectually bankrupt and incapable of leading in the Great Lakes region and all the favors continue to flow to Batutsi who are the aggressors and have caused major suffering of Bahutu and Bairu, placing troops in the region won’t solve the problem once and for all. Batutsi are intent on creating a Tutsi Empire in the Horn, Middle and Southern Africa starting with the Great Lakes region and using Uganda as the base and therefore sustaining Museveni in power or perhaps supporting another general who will use military style to silence the population by abusing their human rights and freedoms and cover up for him. It is surprising how Rwanda with its bad human rights record including invading other countries could have got a seat in the Security Council for two years starting in January 2013. Apart from a few ambitious people, the majority of people in the Great Lakes region want to live together in peace, security (including freedom from hunger, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity) and happiness. They will not rest until justice and equality have been realized. We have seen what military leaders can do when they get power. They give orders, take or threaten lives of those who raise a finger to ask a question and in the process cause more harm than good, destruction than construction. A disguised feudal system of lords and serfs is being restored in the Great Lakes region with Batutsi becoming lords and Bantu serfs through the latter’s poor education, food insecurity and poor health systems, land dispossession and ecological collapse that is resulting in economic migration into urban slums where crime and disease are taking a heavy toll. The abandoned lands are being taken over by Batutsi already in Uganda with plenty of cash or credit facilities and new ones coming in mostly from Rwanda, and DRC. These developments must continue to be discussed until a lasting solution is found. On the whole the Great Lakes region is less stable today than it was in 1986 when NRM took power in Uganda pledging development and ending suffering and establishing good neighborly relations. Ugandans can’t solve this problem alone and we need a helping hand of development partners, friends and well wishers. Uganda is in bad shape. UDU is now involved in civic education, diplomatic networking and keeping an eye on what is happening on the ground in Uganda. Please join us in this worthwhile crusade. With knowledge about the situation in Uganda and neighbors and the threat gathering on the horizon, Ugandans should gather courage and do their part rather than wait for others to do it for them pleading lack of time. We all have 24 hours a day. It is a matter of prioritizing. We should all do whatever we can so that when dinner is served everyone gets a fair share. I am doing my part. I trust I have simplified the presentation and hopefully this is the last time I am writing on this topic.