Uganda - Past, Present & Future

When looking at any country in depth it is advisable to look at and understand a little of its history. Uganda is no exception.

Uganda, being in East Africa, on and around the Great Rift Valley is situated close to the cradle of mankind and was probably one of the first areas on earth to be inhabited by Homo Sapiens.

There is evidence in the form of mud walled fortresses enclosing areas up to 300 metres in diameter, of urban civilisation dating from the 10th century.

Constant migrations into the rich country of Uganda have occurred throughout its history, by Bantu peoples (people from equatorial/Southern Africa) followed by Nilotic (people from the Nile delta) and pastoral Hamitic groups (people from Egypt). As a result, many different feudal and militaristic kingdoms sprang up. The Bunyoro and finally Buganda people dominated the country in the 19th Century when Arab traders, European explorers and missionaries began to arrive.

Significant Dates in Ugandan History
1893 Uganda becomes a British protectorate.

1962 Uganda gains independence from Britain.

1971 A military coup brings Major General Idi Amin to power. All political activities are suspended and the army is empowered to arrest or shoot on sight any suspected opponents of the regime. An estimated 500,000 people are killed during his eight year reign.
Idi Amin's expulsion of 40,000 Asians in 1972 was the first step in leading to the economic collapse of the country, as misrule brings increasing dissatisfaction.

1978 Ugandan invasion of Tanzania commits President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania to overthrow Amin. With the help of Ugandan exiles, this is achieved in 1979.

1980 The first elections since independence returns to power Milton Obote to a bitterly divided country. A drought in the north eastern region of Karamoja brings famine. Widespread political killing persists.

1985 A military coup ousts President Milton Obote.

1986 The National Resistance Movement (a guerrilla army formed in 1981) takes control of Karnpala. Yoweri Museveni, the leader, becomes President. Although still troubled by tribal tension, Government under Museveni brings some peace and a modicum of prosperity to Uganda.

1991 Violence remains sporadic all over the country, and corruption has entered many spheres of society. The constitution is under review, and an election is planned for

1995. Coffee, Uganda's main export earner has been decreasing in value, and foreign debt continues to rise, placing the economy under strain. After years of conflict Yoweri Museveni has a country to rebuild.

Listed below are the major problems Yoweri Museveni has inherited:
* The agricultural population had reverted to subsistence farming.
* There were many refugees and orphans after the years of killings.
* There was a near total breakdown of services, health, water and sanitation.
* Traditional family structures were strained.
* AIDS was prevalent.
* There was an external debt crisis of $1.2 billion.
* There is International Monetary Fund insistence on cuts in spending on health and education programmes.
* Attendant high inflation coupled wit low international trust.

Through a complete restructuring of the political system and the ability to rely on a strong agricultural base the country is slowly overcoming its problems. Enormous efforts have been made to re-establish safe water in rural areas and develop health improvement programmes of which the Uganda Scouts Association is at the fore front.

Slowly the Ugandan people are gaining control of their destiny.

Programme Ideas

1. How would you like to see the United Kingdom develop over the next 10, 20 and 50 years? List the major milestones. How do you think young people in Uganda would respond to the same question? Are they very different to us?

2. One of the reform programmes being initiated by the present government is to persuade ex-Ugandan Asians (who were expelled during the years of oppression) to return to the country to participate in its rebuilding. To encourage them to return they are being offered their original houses and businesses back as they have not had the ownership transferred, they have merely been let.

a) What benefit will this policy have?
b) Will the Asians have anything to gain in the short and long term?
c) Should the effort and money be spent directly on Ugandans?

Have a discussion within the Unit around these questions, add others if you wish.

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