Queen built a strong Uganda, but we know who undid it all
One of the glaring truths around these regions is that when the freshly deceased Queen Elizabeth II granted independence to Uganda in 1962, she was not just a weary monarch, throwing up a baby nation in the hands of the natives. She was the quintessential mother who, having prepared her child to face the world, let go – since the child, against the mother’s wishes, was eager to leave.
It was after the Queen’s departure that the problems arose, which only entrenches the rather uncharitable idea that Africans are completely incapable of governing themselves. Why? Because whoever gets the power doesn’t want to let go; they want to consolidate themselves in power, claim absolute power for themselves, control all resources, crush their opponents with all brutality and ferocity, enslave the citizens and stay in power until death comes. Look at Uganda since 1962.
The concept of creating a stable democracy that works for everyone, where power regularly changes hands in a free and fair manner; and an economy that rewards merit and innovation has long been foreign to Africa. It’s only now that a few exceptions to this stupid rule are starting to emerge: look at Ghana, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and probably, after biting the lid of your pen for a minute, carefully add Kenya and l ‘South Africa… in pale ink .
This selfishness, self-centeredness and complete lack of patriotism that afflicts African countries is a big reason why we are still in turmoil, poverty and starvation. The British are very organized people and they think strategically; which partly explains why a relatively small island was able, for ages, to dominate the world.
The Queen left us Owen Falls Dam, opened in 1954 and still standing today. Enter the Ugandans to have their own dams: Karuma Dam is said to crack halfway through construction. The Isimba dam was closed because poor execution caused a disaster, which is just waiting to happen.
When the Queen ruled here, “public transport” meant government-owned transport. So she left us with the Uganda Transport Company and the Peoples Transport Company who provided intercity and intercity transport. And these buses transported people across the country at subsidized fares! Until the National Resistance Movement (NRM) – the “liberators” – came along and sold everything.
Has anyone asked what happened and where did the Ugandan Railway go? This gift from the British was destroyed by NRM. The Uganda Railways Corporation was handed over to the ruling cronies and all they did was loot everything including the railway lines! The NRM did not even add an inch of railway to Uganda. Instead, under their watch, the entire Uganda Railway was dismantled. The queen left serious schools and hospitals that the “liberators” destroyed and replaced with funny schools that make peasants and health centers without drugs.
Jinja’s industries have been devoured by the powers that be; transform Jinja, a once bustling metropolis, into a ghost town.
The queen bequeathed us well-planned cities. And for the past 36 years, the NRM government has presided over the grabbing of land and public houses by powerful people and trashed planning principles to create slums and slums.
In short, Queen Elizabeth built Uganda. When she left, Ugandans began to fight for power and control of resources. After many battles, the “liberators” who won the war, ruled the country for almost 40 years, during which everything the Queen left us was undone.
They flew. They spoiled. They wasted. And here we are today with a country strongly divided along ethnic lines. The economy is not working for 95% of the population. The government has no more money to finance its activities or pay its workers and, more seriously, the leaders have absolutely no idea what needs to be done to turn the country around.
If the queen had stayed in charge longer, we would have been much better off today. Look at countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand where it still ruled! We thought we were smart, now see! Farewell, Queen Elizabeth and God bless your soul.
Mr. Gawaya Tegulle is an Advocate in the High Court of Uganda