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Grieving with the people of Bududa

Tragedy struck the district of Bududa, yet again. Mother nature pummelled mudslides that swept many to death and destroyed everything along the way.

Bududa is dear to many, including your columnist; it’s part of my ancestral roots. When disaster strikes closer home, the feeling of devastation is enormous.

On behalf of the board of directors and the membership of the North America Masaba Cultural Association (NAMCA), which I am honoured to be its president, I wish to extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved people of Bududa. We share in their grief. We offer our sympathies and solidarity to the survivors of the disaster. These are very traumatic times.

Bududa or what we have always called Manjiya (formerly Manjiya county) is an incredibly gifted land. It is special and serene. Rich and beautiful.

The agricultural returns from land cultivation are arguably unmatched by any other part of Uganda that I know. It’s a fecund land from which just about any organic food can grow in bounds.

More important, though, the people of Manjiya are extremely enterprising and remarkably productive. The area has successively produced some highly gifted individuals who are serving our country and beyond – in academia, in the legal fraternity and the judiciary, and in politics. The brilliant John Baptist Nambeshe, MP, stands way above the current crowd in our otherwise supine national parliament. He is an invaluable resource.

But it has become increasingly apparent that the great blessings of Manjiya are getting heavily weighed down by the vulnerability to natural disaster during times of torrential rains. The same land that is so valuable and on which people derive livelihoods has become a death trap. This is a tough situation.

For many reading about the disasters and imagining matters from afar, there is a reckless temptation to rush to condemn the victims and survivors – ‘why don’t they leave?’‘They were told to leave and get out of harm’s way after the huge disaster in 2010.’ Well, this is the kind of cheap and unhelpful grandstanding that is as insensitive as it is ignorant.

First, one needs to have faced the daunting decision of leaving your ancestral lands for some distant new place, over which you have no attachment, only then can you be informed enough to condemn the people of Bududa.

As The Observer put it succinctly in an editorial piece last week, ‘These are human beings with economic needs, traditional and cultural attachments to their cradle.’ There is more that goes into the calculus than the mere act of running away to safety.

Second, we know that we have a government that is very low on efficient performance yet scores very highly on blatant corruption and financial malfeasance. We have to wonder what can come out of a serious resettlement operation headed by a deputy prime minister in the evening of his life? The results can only be unflattering.

We have had depressing stories of theft of the very resettlement funds meant to give people a start to an alternative settlement. That we are capable of being such a callous lot is no news to Uganda – the Bududa crisis predictably cannot escape the callousness of public officials who run over the lives of the needy to greedily profiteer personally.

We are a country that lacks a collective national consciousness necessary to treat the Bududa situation as a critical national crisis. If we did, then Bududa would have been treated with the collective seriousness it deserves.

Beyond a rushed forced relocation of people, in any event pursued because some officials are plotting to slice off some of the allocated money, how much research has gone into understanding the real ecological and environmental dynamics? And the social milieu?

What’s more, it is now known that Bududa is prone to possible mudslides. When a disaster strikes, it can’t come as a huge surprise; it has to be somehow anticipated. So, what emergency response mechanisms have been built and what resources are set on standby especially when weather forecasts show heavy rains coming up during a certain period?

Right now the people of Bududa need empathy and concrete support, not condemnation and insensitive lectures. They know their situation far better than any ‘expert’ commenting from afar. We should afford them our love and support.

The Baduda, or ‘Bakhulumu’ as we generally call them, are a very resilient people. They are intrepid fighters. The souls of the survivors may be crashed in the meantime by the trauma of tragedy, but they will rise up and fight on. Their spirit cannot easily burn out.

The rest of us, Ugandans, can give a helping hand but we can’t do it with the usual paternalism and disrespect. We have to listen to them and understand their sorrows, their fears and their anxieties. Only then can a serious and sustainable relocation or resettlement plan make sense.

We don’t know enough about the broader landscape in Bududa. We need to do better to know more. Much may not be expected from the current crop of people in charge of our government affairs, but there is far more they can do before buying land in Kiryandongo.

moses.khisa@gmail.com

The author is an assistant professor of political science at North Carolina State University.

Comments

+3 #1 mungu 2018-10-24 09:59
I commend this piece to the two women MPs from Manafwa district namely Rose Mutonyi and Mary Gorretti Kitutu who shamelessly lurched on the tragedy to blame the victims and survivors and went on to make reckless accusations against the local politicians in the district whom they claimed were telling people not to move because their land will be grabbed by the government read Museveni.

I wonder if the two women understand the gravity of their allegations to the lives of their colleagues especially JB Nambeshe in a volatile situation that we are in currently.

There is a better way they can ask Museveni for bigger jobs for themselves or whatever fortunes they dream of.
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+5 #2 Zaitun 2018-10-24 19:26
However much sons of Uganda would wish to see people from Bududa who are enduring horrific tragedy better treated, as long as this sectarian government officials are controlling everything, we ordinary Ugandans will end up nowhere with our wishful thoughts.

These men did not fight to offer a better future for true Ugandans, but to take control of the country and enslave Ugandans, take over people's land... This is exactly what is happening in this devastated Uganda of today.

Who really controls the country if not a group of men from the same village, who do not care an inch about the suffering of the rest of Ugandans? Today, these once refugees have taken over the country and are now imposing their rules to be obeyed.

Happy are those who participated in offering hideouts to bandits who claimed to be Ugandans and were doing everything to make a better Uganda!

Yes, these people do not care about the fate of Ugandans.
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+4 #3 Jama 2018-10-26 02:44
My friend Khisa if this tragedy had taken place in Nyabushozi or in any other area far west,the reaction could have been different.

Those two old men who had gone on tourism while shading crocodile tears,could have mobilized all necessary means to solve the problem as quick as possible.
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+1 #4 Akot 2018-10-26 17:55
Quoting Zaitun:
However much sons of Uganda would wish to see people from Bududa who are enduring horrific tragedy better treated, as long as this sectarian government officials are controlling everything, we ordinary Ugandans will end up nowhere.

These men did not fight to offer a better future for true Ugandans, but to take control of the country and enslave Ugandans, take over people's land... This is exactly what is happening in this devastated Uganda of today.

Who really controls the country if not a group of men from the same village, who do not care an inch about the suffering of the rest of Ugandans? Today, these once refugees have taken over the country and are now imposing their rules to be obeyed.

Happy are those who participated in offering hideouts to bandits who claimed to be Ugandans!

Yes, these people do not care about the fate of Ugandans.


Thanks.
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+2 #5 Akot 2018-10-26 18:06
mungu, agreed,

Whether it's Kampala City executives vs Mayor Lukwago or Bududa tragedy & how it should be handled, it's still Ugandans fighting themselves, while Museveni just goes on!

Why have Ugandans accepted as 'fait accompli' that their country belongs to Museveni & they just serve him, fight one another for posts, stay tribally divided & ruled with no possibility, no chance of another ruler?

Is Museveni going to live forever?
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0 #6 Ocaya pOcure 2018-10-27 00:35
Ndugu Khisa,
Let the whole of us agree and pray for God the Almighty to protect the Souls of our departed folks.

YES, let us hope the Administration in our dear country would work hard to see that the very policy on this touching issue would be corrected for the betterment of the futures of the folks.

For us who are from different areas from Bugishu sub-region are mourning with you folks from the affected region together. The whole of us are grieving with you brother and please stay strong at this touching period brother!
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0 #7 Akot 2018-10-30 15:29
The weather continues to hit hard & the earth will fight back to purify itself of pollution, degradation!

Uganda, USA, England, France, Corsica, Portugal, Nepal, Italy...& its continuing!

It's not Museveni going to protect/help Ugandan, but he will use tragedies like Bududa to make them even weaker as they look to him & not at themselves for solutions!

What ever Museveni's response, it will be to make it clear it's him the solution to Ugandans problems & him alone to rule till he drips dead!

Then what for Ugandans?
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