Uganda will be celebrating its 58th Independence anniversary on Friday 9th October 2020. The 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda Hon. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja is one of the senior citizens that were youths by the time the nation attained its independence in 1962 and he shares with us his story. By Anthony Mugabi
He says that;
‘If you want to be independent, it means that there’s someone who is suppressing you’
During the colonial days, the British and other imperialist powers were dominant all over the world and they tried to subdue people in the countries they were controlling. However, in Uganda they found a lot of resistance from our traditional leaders like Omukama Kabalega, Kabaka Mwanga among others.
Hon. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja says that his realisation came after India got independence in 1957 when he was given chance to go there and experience how an independent country should be. He compared the situation in India which was independent to that in Uganda which was still in the hands of the British who were exploiting the natives.
At the time, Uganda had only 500 people with ordinary level certificate in a population of 6.5 million people, only 103 Graduates two of whom were Muslims and he was one of them and the economic structure of the country was not good. The British manned all jobs in the country from the top most to the least at the village levels.
Hon. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja says that;
‘While our people were growing cotton and coffee, the beneficiaries were not them. 1930, the growing of cotton had reached its peak in Uganda and by 1939 they were able to pay for the loan that constructed Mombasa port and the railway line up to Kampala including a branch to Kenya highlands where the British were settlers and by 1940 the British were getting 40million pounds every year’
The construction of the railway line was not an easy task because the Ugandans were forced to work during day and at night they would go back and dismantle the railway line. The colonial masters got a solution of going to India and get all the beggars and idlers from Bombay and brought them to complete the project.
After the construction of the railway line, some of the Indians were returned back but the majority were retained in Uganda as workers and by the time we got independence in 1962, only 5% of the economy was in the hands of the Africans and the rest was manned by the British and Indians.
Hon. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja says that his exposure in India together with other fellows enabled them get courage to return home and start agitating for independence. They used the technologies they had acquired from India to empower the Ugandans and make them ready to run their own country in all aspects of life.
On 9th October 1962, Uganda attained its independence with Kabaka Mutesa 1 as the first President of Uganda. However, Hon. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja and his team were not happy because of being side-lined by the then Prime Minister Dr Apollo Milton Obote after all they did to achieve this dream.
Uganda has since then had a lot of changes in leadership and currently, the NRM government continues to lead the country with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the helm.