Uganda

Combatants: A Memoir of the Bush War and the Press in Uganda – Review The Elephant (Nairobi) June 20, 2019

Who is Uganda’s enigmatic leader Yoweri Museveni? Since seizing power 33 years ago, his army has profoundly reshaped the politics of central and eastern Africa, and yet few outside of this region have even heard of him.

To some, Museveni is a visionary strategist who helped topple three brutal dictators, revived Uganda’s economy, fought the AIDS epidemic and played a steady-handed diplomatic role in a volatile region. But for others, Museveni is himself a brutal dictator, who deliberately provokes conflicts within Uganda and in neighboring countries, brutalizes Uganda’s political opposition and feasts on money stolen from Ugandan taxpayers, all the while beguiling naïve Western journalists and diplomats with his signature charm.

Travel and Trafficking in Uganda eTurboNews March 23, 2019

Uganda hopes to welcome four million visitors in 2020, more than double the current number. The World Bank has lent Uganda $25 million dollars to build a new hotel and tourism school, purchase equipment such as buses, game drive trucks, boats and binoculars and hire public relations firms to market Uganda in US, Europe, the Middle East and China. In October, Kanye West boosted the publicity effort by recording a music video in one of Uganda’s fine resorts and also visited Statehouse where he presented President Yoweri Museveni with a pair of his patented sneakers. Then in January, Tourism Minister Godfrey Kiwanda launched a beauty contest to identify Miss “Curvy” Uganda, whose zaftig figure will appear in tourism brochures.

The downside of Uganda’s tourism campaign is that every safari-goer it attracts will pay fees to government agencies such as the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which is currently engaged in a program of violent evictions that have left thousands of people in northern Uganda’s Acholi region destitute, and has also been implicated in trafficking in ivory, pangolin scales and other illegal wildlife products, both inside Uganda and in neighboring countries.

Uganda and the Plague–The Sunday Monitor (Kampala). September 30, 2018

When the nation finally gains its freedom, the battle will be won not in the courts, or in the barracks or even in Parliament, but in the myriad decent actions of thousands, even millions, of Ugandans at home and abroad.

Can Bobi Wine Unite Uganda and Bring Down and Dictator? The Nation. August 30, 2018

[S]lowly, over many years, a force of change has been growing in Uganda, led by a new generation of politicians who don’t fall for Museveni’s lies. In recent years, the opposition has been winning by-elections across the country, energized in part by Wine’s exuberant, rock-concert style of campaigning. This is why Museveni finds Wine so threatening. He embodies that binding patriotic spirit upon which Uganda’s future depends. People identify with Wine not only because of his clarion voice and good looks, but because he speaks frankly and bravely about the suffering that all groups share….

Uganda’s Decades-Long Dictatorship Becomes Increasingly Brazen–VanguardAfrica/Africa Watch. August 17, 2018

Smart dictators understand the power of music.  On Monday, August 13, the immensely popular Ugandan MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Afro-beat musician Bobi Wine, was arrested, along with 35 others in the northern Ugandan town of Arua after a scuffle involving the convoy of President Yoweri Museveni. Police shot dead Kyaluganyi’s driver, Yasin Kawooya, the same evening.  For three days Ugandan authorities declined to inform Kyagulanyi’s family or his lawyers of his whereabouts.  On Thursday, he was finally produced at a military court martial. His two lawyers say they wept when they saw him. He’d been beaten so badly, he couldn’t see, speak or stand…..

The US Turns a Blind-Eye to Uganda’s Assault on Democracy–The Nation. July 20, 2018

One September evening last year, a visitor stopped by the office of 48-year-old Ugandan parliamentarian Betty Nambooze. The man was a ruling-party politician. Nambooze belongs to the opposition, but they were friendly nevertheless. After a few pleasantries, the visitor informed Nambooze that he had just come from a meeting at which government operatives discussed plans to physically harm her. Don’t attend Parliament this week, she said he warned her. “They are going to break your back.”…

What America gets for its dollars and its culpability in Africa–Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2017

I teach and write about public health in Africa. For years, something about Uganda stumped me. Since 2000, health services have improved in most African countries, but Uganda’s progress lags. It’s become clear to me that corruption, combined with the government’s callous indifference to the plight of ordinary people, explains these problems. But why are the U.S., the World Bank and other donors still pouring our tax dollars into this terrible government?…

Dishonouring Uganda’s Refugees–Project Syndicate. June 26, 2017

With more than a million displaced people having found safety within Uganda’s borders, the region’s most willing supporter of refugees is feeling the strain. But a recent UN-backed effort to raise money for the crisis overlooks the fact that Uganda’s president instigated many of the conflicts from which the refugees have fled….

The Cost of Fake Democracy–NYR Daily. May 16, 2016

It’s become fashionable lately to disparage democracy. From the failure of “nation building” attempts in Iraq and Afghanistan to Islamist violence in Egypt, Libya, and other Arab Spring countries, to the rise of Donald Trump, some now see government of the people as a liability in a violent and polarized world. In a recent New York magazine essay on the subject, Andrew Sullivan endorses Plato’s claim that tyranny all too often results from the anarchic nature of democracy itself, rather than from its perversion by anti-democratic forces. Readers who find such arguments appealing might want to consider moving to impoverished, corruption-ridden Uganda, ruled by President Yoweri Museveni for thirty years through a combination of bribery, blackmail, and brute force….

Uganda: When Democracy Doesn’t Count–NYR Daily. January 25, 2016

For a brief period after the cold war, America used foreign aid and other measures to pressure many countries to democratize; some, like Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia, now hold more or less credible elections. But today, our strongest military allies there, especially in eastern Africa, do not.

What the US is Ignoring in Uganda–NYR Daily. July 19, 2011

Since national elections in February, Uganda’s security forces have fired on peaceful demonstrators—killing at least nine people including a toddler—and imprisoned hundreds of others; the opposition leader Kizza Bessigye was shot in the hand and doused with so much tear gas and pepper spray he nearly went blind; soaring inflation, in part due to the looting of the Treasury to finance the ruling party’s election campaigns has caused the number of children hospitalized with malnutrition to triple. Meanwhile, President Yoweri Museveni just spent $50 million of British development aid on a private Gulf Stream jet, described by its manufacturer as “the world’s most versatile and stylish” on the market.