Land Matters: Who is Thinking for Teso?

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This week, the Commission of Inquiry into the Effectiveness of Law, Policies and Processes of Land Acquisition, Land Administration, Land Management and Land Registration in Uganda chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire commenced public hearings.

So far, a number of prominent citizens have appeared before it and given very insightful information regarding the land issues in this country and for some, their areas of origin. When I schemed through the list, none of them (so far) comes from Teso or is articulating land matters from the sub-region. I have seen Lawyer Peter Mulira, Robert Kalundi Serumaga, MP Alex Ruhunda (and other elders from Tooro) and heads of government entities.

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Commission Chair Hon Justice Catherine  Bamugemereire (Photo: Judiciary Website)

This triggered my mind to wonder who is thinking for my Teso sub-region. Here is why. Of recent, land conflicts in Teso have escalated thus creating huge social rifts among individual community members, families, clans, religious bodies, and public institutions. Just like in other parts of the country, most of the criminal cases (domestic violence, murder, assault, criminal trespass, etc) in the justice system stem from or are connected to land. We have lost people because of land conflicts. I know of families that have been broken down because of land.

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The Commission’s Terms of Reference

This begs the question: Is someone thinking for Teso? Are any of our leaders organizing themselves to appear before this Commission and share the Teso experience on land matters? What of the NGOs in the sub-region? What is the Iteso Cultural Union planning? Are the rural Iteso (most of whom are victims of land conflicts) even aware that this process is on-going?

The Commission still has time, I just need to be sure that something is being done and if not, what can be done in the remaining time. We need to discuss this matter and plan how to represent the sub-region on such an important platform which may form a basis for future legislation or policy making on land matters.

If you know a leader from Teso, sound them up and ask about this important issue.

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Najjeera Road: The Exception to the ‘Left Hand Traffic’ Rule in Uganda

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Najjera is arguably one of the fastest growing areas surrounding Kampala city. Every passing day, real estate developers advertise countless residential units in the area. However, this rapid growth is not matched with the infrastructural set up in the area especially the main road which connects to the city. The surface of the road is broken (probably by the heavy rains). There are countless potholes on the road and there’s just little space in the middle. There are no lanes on the road. The water ditches have literally eroded away.

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A pot hole (INTERNET PHOTO)

In Uganda, we observe the Left Hand Traffic (LHT) rule which is to the effect that unless a contrary directive is issued, drivers should keep on the left side of the road. This is important for traffic flow. Sadly, as my friend Andrew Karamagi once remarked, Najjeera dwellers do not have the luxury of complying with this rule because they only have one choice – to drive on what is left of the road. How absurd! Additionally, with no lighting, driving at night on this road is nothing short of another nightmare.

Now, this road serves several individuals who work in the city and surrounding areas. Combined with undisciplined road users, mostly taxi drivers and bodaboda riders (even many private drivers), there’s traffic jam at almost any given time of the day (even as early as 6:00am).

Whereas Uganda Police has deployed some traffic cops in the area, this is an insufficient intervention. The root problem, in my view is the terrible road!

It’s urgent that the leadership of Kira Municipality takes the necessary action to address this issue. It’s embarrassing.

 

In Support of Bobi Wine’s Parliamentary Bid

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Last week, popular musician Bobi Wine announced his intention to run for Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East, Wakiso District. The seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal nullified the election of FDC’s Apollo Katinti on grounds that there was non-compliance with electoral laws which substantially affected the results. This followed a petition by NRM’s Sitenda Sebalu.

Bobi Wine’s announcement attracted mixed reactions, especially from social media commentators. For starters, BW has always been political. I hear his family is also politically active. He has associated with the opposition in Uganda. He has been hobnobbing with former FDC party president and presidential flagbearer Col. Dr Kizza Besigye in court, at his home, during the Presidential Debate etc. Recently, things got a bit harsh when he shared a photo of himself with Dr Besigye wherein he seemed to insinuate that the iconic opposition leader had blessed (or endorsed) his candidature. Sections of the opposition-leaning commentators literally threw him away—like a hot potato. This is for another day.

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Bobi Wine*

Today, I want to share why I think BW can make a good MP. Despite the fact that I don’t speak Luganda (fluently), I have listened to and solicited interpretations of some of BW’s songs that discuss issues affecting our society, especially the urban poor. I find BW a competent and articulate exponent of our social issues including unemployment, drug abuse, insecurity, elections etc. Little wonder, Police has used him occasionally to calm down possible riots. He has a studio which I hear is easily accessible to many upcoming ghetto artistes. I hear he runs a number of businesses which means he appreciates the need for an economy that works for all. I have read his Facebook posts about the different speaking engagements he has had or his life story and I can’t help but conclude that he appreciates our problems better than many people including leaders.

Uganda has become a society of whiners. People like complaining about everything but doing nothing or little to address these issues. Some of BW’s fellow musicians are pre-occupied with singing about sex, money, big cars etc. Many use their music for largely self-survival. Of course, even Bobi earns from his music. However, he has always made the poor but of his agenda in his music. He has decided not to sit on the sidelines and lament about issues through music (or Facebook) only but has instead sought to join the institutions that shape decisions on the issues he sings about. One of those institutions is Parliament. His background as a hustler in the ghetto could enrich our leadership with experience. Talking about background; Yes, BW is an entertainer. He may have been (or still is) a weed smoker. He may have dreadlocks. He may walk with a bounce. He may be all the “indecent” things you may talk about in a leader. But what difference does his background make if he has a good head on his shoulders?

Lastly, the political process in the country is and should be to be open to all citizens, including musicians . You can have all types of issues with our Legislature but one thing is constant; for Parliament to function properly, we need to elect good people to occupy it; people who understand our daily struggles. Bobi Wine, in my view is one of them.

The only problem I will is if the basis of his support is his popularity not the ideas he espouses because being a super star doesn’t automatically flood one’s mind with good thoughts.

*photo obtained from his Facebook page