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Museveni’s resume as colonial emissary (Part II)

Sometime back, I argued here that Museveni was perhaps the most accomplished colonial comprador in modern times.

Comprador is a colonial/ slavery related term used to describe folks among the colonised who actually worked for the coloniser. I first met the term in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s novel, A Grain of Wheat. A character called Karanja is so proud to carry the gun of the white man and unembarrassed to use it against his fellow Gikuyu.

This enables him access to little power and privilege – which he sees so much – because they are friends with the coloniser. But while Karanja is enamoured by serving the white man, he is a coward at heart. His only visible power comes from serving the white man.

It remains my contention that more than anything else, Museveni’s comprador credentials explain his long-stay in power and vanity. He is our modern-day Karanja. Part of my ambition was to demonstrate that as natives – since independence – we have never been able to overthrow any government on our own.

From the coups against Obote, the war against Amin, to Museveni in Luweero, foreigners (UK and USA, working either directly or through Tanzania and Kenya, and then Libya) facilitated, funded, armed or simply enabled disgruntled Ugandans to overthrow their governments.

And this support was not given because the sitting governments abused their people but, rather, for failing to cooperate with Mzungu schemes of continuous exploitation.

By the time of assuming power, Museveni had fully appreciated this dynamic. As an immigrant in Kampala, in Buganda (that is how Museveni acts and sees himself, not how Baganda define him), Museveni remained terribly insecure.

With a combination of these insecurities and a good appreciation of the interests of former colonisers, Museveni unreservedly guaranteed former colonisers unlimited access to the economy. He started by returning already compensated properties – even agreeing to burning evidence – that had once belonged to Indians. Thus, he deftly positioned himself as a most faithful comprador.

Presently, foreigners extract lumpsums from the key sectors: banking (of all 24 commercial banks, only three are locally owned, another seven local ones were closed with no due process); telecommunication (MTN, Airtel, oh, there is UTL also); coffee trade (Neumann Gruppe, ED&F Man, both from Germany; Sucafina, Switzerland; Olam, UK; Twin Trading UK).

It is the same with gold, and so with fish. (No wonder, one of the colonial emissaries recently appeared in parliament suggesting Ugandans should be banned from eating a particular type of fish and be left for Europeans. That audacity comes from a strong place).

I want to focus on the education sector and demonstrate a similar viral strain. The education sector we have now serves former colonisers educating labourers, clerks and not thinking individuals as was envisioned under colonialism. When President Museveni proclaims that “the arts are useless subjects,” it is not him speaking. He is only being the megaphone.

One of the core differences between French and British colonialism, British historian Michael Crowder wrote in 1964, was that while the French system cherished creating relations with educated natives, the British were suspicious of these types.

Taking lessons from India, the educated- critical native was a trouble-maker. This explains why colonialists were unwilling to open universities in Africa. And when they did, universities such as Makerere started as a technical college training (cram work and service) plumbers, surveyors, agriculturalists, doctors and nurses, carpenters, electricians and engineers.

These were labourers, not thinking individuals. The church missionaries, on the other hand, would complete the matrix by teaching reading and writing, and producing clerks and other literate natives.

Upon the enforcement of structural adjustment programmes, Professor Mahmood Mamdani has written in Scholars in the Marketplace, the WB and IMF viewed university education as a luxury, “a private and not public good.”

What was important was literacy—reading and writing—and whoever wanted a university education would have to pay for it.

They thus abolished government-sponsored university education, and Makerere University would be left with terribly underfunded “scholarships.” These scholarships, ironically, are also exclusively enjoyed by privileged children of rich parents since good grades are reserved for students studying in expensive private rich schools.

Sadly, while the numbers of primary school-going children exploded because of “free” primary and secondary school education, the quality simply collapsed. But worse than that, persons successfully completing secondary education have no financial capacity for university education.

This means, majority Ugandans are only senior six graduates. To raise the profile of a high school certificate, it became the highest document required qualification for anyone interested in joining political office – including the office of the president.

On the other hand, however, while a high school certificate could allow you to compete for the office of president, it cannot earn you a clerkship in public service. But the net effect of this is that Uganda now teems with literate hands. They can read and write, but cannot challenge the status quo—this gigantic imperial structure.

By a long stretch, Britain managed to persuade co-colonisers (through the WB, which has been in charge of designing curricula across the continent since 2001) that the educated and critical native – trained at universities – was a bad idea.

Twenty years down the road, they have a largely literate but non-critical mass and are exploiting the continent with neither limitation and nor resistance. Wazungu are constantly negotiating major projects with politicians whose main qualification is a senior six certificate.

While there is a sprinkling of educated folks, with big degree and titles in public service and politics, they operate in a mass of literate fishermen, and comprador lackeys. But this is not really Museveni’s making per se but, rather, the work of the masters he so diligently serves.


The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University


+6 #1 Lakwena 2021-11-10 09:48
Thanks Yusuf for taking on and exposing Our Problem of Africa: Dictator, Gen Tibuhaburwa's cowardice, treachery and sabotage (academic subversion) vis-a-vis his Anti Humanities Programmes at Universities crusade.

In other words, Courtesy of Kabaka Mwenda Mutebi during his Birthday Celebration; the Kabaka said that: in cahoot with foreigners (mercenaries) Uganda is being PLUNDERED; ostensibly by self-confessed Author and Master of Violence Gen Tibuhaburwa, who among others, told off Ugandans that he is not their servant of employee.

The man who himself qualifies being a Mega Parasite, on the one hand glorifies his foreign investors (plunderers) and on the other side; insults and demonizes Ugandans as parasites, pigs and idiots.

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0 #2 Akot 2021-11-11 13:49
[I argued here that Museveni was perhaps the most accomplished colonial comprador in modern times.]

Absolutely so as Museveni owns Uganda & Ugandans;

Museveni came a long way from Rwanda on foot! He & Kagame caused terror in DRCongo but Congolese finally woke up & UNITED to say NO!

Ugandans gave Museveni chance to be lifetime conqueror, are at peace ensuring the divisive tribalistic system he put in place, knowing it disempowers them!

Ugandans go for fake elections every 5 years to ensure Museveni rules triballistically, legally, officially, constitutionally!

Fake opposition leaders further divid the tribally divided ruled, to ensure Museveni rigs & rule for life!

Museveni has reduced every section of Ugandans to the same level; NOTHING, SLAVES!

Ah! Ugandans aren't concerned the tribalistic system shuts out the International Community, but locks them with Musveveni!
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0 #3 Akot 2021-11-11 13:57
Lakwena, agreed.

But Uganda situation is senseless as it's Ugandans ensuring Museveni rules for life & pass the post to his son & this, because tribalistically divided ruled, Ugandans know they are powerless!

As it is, Museveni's son will give his dad a National burial & continue with the family business in peace!
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0 #4 Nimwesiga 2021-11-12 16:40
I may need to ask, if you passed through the same education system, how come you are able to analyze this way?

The issue is there are a lot of theories explaining failure (and never success) on both sides and yours is just one of them.

If you know how to wake up and find food food to eat, that is the same way you should wake up and develop your country. All the other theories are useless and they only serve to conditioned you for failure the more.
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+2 #5 Umukosi 2021-11-15 18:11
[quote name="Nimwesiga"]I may need to ask, if you passed through the same education system, how come you are able to analyze this way?

I think you have failed to understand that not every Ugandan got education during M7's dictatorship.

Bevor M7 Uganda had a govt. that cared about education. Now you don't even have a govt and nation but just Musevinstan. One thing that remains a fact is that nomards have never and will never make good leaders and planners! Ask yourself why?
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