A Letter to My Friend: Mr.Justus Amanya.

by tayebwa

Dear Justus,

I want us to be honest with each other. Before the Europeans came, Africa had political systems. You know it that most of them were largely decentralized. Too fragmented. Most nations with political systems were largely monarchies-headed by Kings and Chiefs. That to me is dictatorship because there was no fairness in the way the affairs of those nations were run. The King was the King. Period. Buganda was a bit organized. But you know the issues of Obugabe in Nkore. You know it very well that certain people would never be appointed chiefs. They actually could not even own land..at one point.  Africa at large was not different.

Then came in the people from the West. They took advantage of our disorganization to entrench their rule. They did not introduce the unfairness in Africa. They did not create family/clan rules. They simple took advantage of them in order to strengthen their rule.

Then they introduced democracy. Democracy is not  perfect. It is the rule of the majority over the minority. But Africa was in some places worse. We had the rule of the minority over the majority: in Nkore, Mpororo,Rwanda,Burundi,Tooro…etc. Anyway, democracy came. Imperfect as it may be,it is the fairest in the circumstances….if you consider the various forms of government. My friend,if democracy is so so western and bad, tell me the available option(s): Aristocracy,Monarchies,Kraterocracy,Plutocracy,Geniocracy,Technocracy,Oligarchy,Authoritarianism…?? Justus, tell me!

While I agree with you that the West contributed to our problems, lets also agree that it was long time ago. Almost every successful country in this world was colonized: India,China,America……etc. How come they aren’t like us??

Its true. Gadaffi did good things for Libya. But he failed to build a system through with continuity would thrive. He made himself the Alpha & Omega of Libya,just like our own is doing here in Uganda. Its true there was confusion in 1980. In 1986,something good happened. But that good thing was destroyed in 2005. You now know the general feeling of the people on the ground. The anger,the frustration,the divided nation…(Mr.Andrew Mwenda prefers to call this radical activism), but I disagree with him.

The problem we have in Africa is that we believe in strong men/women. Museveni,Besigye, Musisi, Muntu,Nyerere,Gadaffi,Mandela,Mubarak..etc. We forget that humans are only mortal.

What we need are systems. We need systems that supplement the weaknesses of individuals. We want continuity. That is where African leaders have failed us. It is very dangerous to concentrate power in individuals. When you concentrate power in individuals,you destroy systems/institutions and create dictatorships. I guess you now see that the definition of dictatorship is simple. Just like that.

Democracy is not perfect. But it has a balance point. The balance point lies in interests. Common interests bring people together. Depending of individual interests,the majority/minority always shift. That is why “Person A” will vote Museveni in 2016, and vote Mao in 2021. Democracy grows. You give it time and entrench the culture, with honesty and transparency. It is not magic. It does not work overnight. People have to believe in the systems. People have to trust the actors: the electoral bodies,the leaders,the institutions of the state, etc. Then acceptable and believable democracy can thrive. That culture is what lacks in Africa. And do not blame the West. I do not think the Americans told Kigundu to delay voting materials for most of Kampala and Wakiso earlier this year. It was our political dishonesty. And his failure in that aspect dented the credibility of the election.

Democracy is not the best,but African leaders have only made it worse.

Good evening!

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