4. Defending and consolidating National Independence
Some may assert that this is superfluous as Uganda became independent as per October 9th, 1962. This, however, is not the case. We were supposed to be independent within circumscribed boundaries. Like democracy, we were not supposed to be too excited about this idea of independence. This can be shown in many manifestations in post-independence Africa. Take, for example, the conflict between Tanzania and West Germany on the issue of whether Tanzania its "independence" not-withstanding, could have diplomatic relations with East Germany and, at the same time, remain a recipient of West Germany aid!! This led President Nyerere once to say that there had been a "misunderstanding" between the African patriots and the ex-colonial masters with the former being under the impression of having acquired real independence while the latter advised them not to be too literal in their interpretation of the notion of independence. Nevertheless, the main blame for the failure of African independence must be on the African leaders themselves. It is escapist to merely blame the former colonial rulers or the United States. After all decolonisation —although tactical—was, nevertheless, a retreat resulting from the world wide transformation of relations between the masters and subject peoples. If the African leaders had wanted, they could have exercised their independence. Many of them were, however, not equal to the task—intellectually, ideologically, politically, and particularly morally. They saw independence as a. concession to be used for purposes of self-enrichment by all means including smuggling. Without genuine national independence, however, i.e independence in deciding the future of the country, a country ca experience a lot of problems, or even, be derailed. The history of our struggle alone—i.e. the struggle for democracy in Uganda illustrates this most clearly. We shall start our recapitulation of, this matter in 1971, leaving out the 1966 affairs."
In 1971 Idi Amin staged a coup against the dictatorial government of Milton Obote—just a question of jumping from the frying pan to the fire. Nevertheless, certain leading circles in the West lauded Amin with eulogies about his "native wisdom" and "nobleness” He would save Uganda from Obote's "socialism". Those backing Idi Amin at this time were: the British, American and Israel governments. Of course, none of these would have had Idi Amin as a Police Station Sergeant in their own countries. When it came to Africa, however, a buffoon could be a statesman in spite of being "a bit short on the grey matter"! ! The "good thing was that he was the stupidest"!! Suffice it to say that for us we knew that Idi Ami was not good for Uganda or for Africa. Hence he had to go whatever his outside friends said about him or about us. Those who wanted Amin could take him to their own country to rule them. As the struggle against Idi Amin went ahead, a quarrel developed between Idi Amin and his eastwhile allies: Amin jumped from the Western camp to the Soviet—Libyan camp. Up to that point the Soviets and the African left-wing regimes of the day (most of which are now right wing) had been friendly with us. In fact some of them had even offered troops to use in the invasion of Uganda in order to restore Obote. Since Amin had stopped being an "imperialist agent" and had now become an "anti-imperialist" exhibiting "progressive tendencies", our former friends started advising us to stop opposing Amin and to even "work" with him. The western camp started denigrating their former ally but they, at the same time were supplying his State Research (the dictator's notorious secret police) with necessary gadgets for their trade. In the meantime the toll of Amin's victims was climbing into the hundreds of thousands. This line-up went on until the over-throw of Amin in 1979. In 1980 our long time allies in the struggle for
Democracy—the Tanzanians—deserted from the side of the people to the side of dictatorship. They tried to induce us to work bilaterally with Obote: We told them that that would be tantamount to treason and that we could work with Obote only under the UNLF. Our Tanzanian brothers with whom we were backing our Southern African brothers with the slogan of: "one- man, one vote",, were now de facto agreeing with Ian Smith in respect of Uganda. Our American and British friends, who had been erroneously calling Obote a "socialist" and who passionately called for, democracy in Poland and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan were talking of "giving Obote a chance" as he was now a disciple of the IMF his crimes not withstanding. Now, comes the question: suppose our movement had not had its own line, and we had to listen to the "advice" or pressure of all these friends of ours—all of whom were invariably wrong—where would Uganda be? Of course, even now, Uganda's condition is not particularly endearing to any observer or to its own suffering people. It is suffering, however, with the hope of redemption.. Had-we listened to these advices, we would be suffering without ' any hope and without any capacity for reprisal against our people's decades—old oppressor-Obote. Hence, the importance of an independent line in politics. To have a healthy situation, the people—working through their democratic institutions—must be the basic determinant in, the economy, politics, culture, or even diplomacy. Other considerations, while important, should be secondary. We should always maintain an independent ling in economics, politics, culture and foreign relations. We should judge friend or foe according to how they relate to our own interests irrespective of the social system obtaining in the various countries.
We may add that in the short time we were part of the UNLF government we never encountered any difficulty in dealing with the various foreign interests on account of the independent line we characteristically follow in all national issues. The Americans even promised to "study" our shopping list for arms at the same time as we were heading for Moscow, Peking and Pyonang for different arms purchases; nor did the West-Germans have any hesitation in being ready to sell us hundreds of Mercedes Benz trucks on favourable terms proposed by us including building eight workshops
for repairing the same trucks, and also manufacturing some of the spare parts locally to reduce the continued outflow of convertible currency. They had also agreed to give us all the necessary know-how as .part of the deal. We were also propositing to deal with Canada for the purchase of buffalo transports for the army, with Britain for the purchase of military radio communication sets and with Italy for the Agusta Bell helicopters. They all seemed ready to do business on mutually favourable terms. In fact they looked to be flabbergasted by the corruption of those good-for-nothing traitor who made deals unfavourable to their country in exchange for money put on personal secret accounts in Switzerland. In the non-military fields we found the Belgians who were building wagon ferries across L. Victoria and a_ dry-dock-in effect a second railway line for Uganda to diversify the overdependence on the Mombasa line-more than enthusiastic, and so were the West-Germans building the L. Katwe Salt Factory. Our conclusion was that, provided the national leadership is clear in its own mind, budgets its resources frugally, identifies, the fulcrum-like points in the economy and evolves overall politics that are in consonance with the actual dynamics of the situation (as opposed to subjectivist positions), a country like Uganda with its good soil and -climate, dynamic people with a tradition of relative civilisation and considerable resources can easily overcome its difficulties and deal profitably with countries of divergent social systems: We are not yet convinced that the biggest hindrance to the exercise of real national independence are the external forces " in spite of their obvious interests to keep us dependent.
We are convinced that some of the post-independent African leaders are the ones that are just hopelessly out of depth and have got to look for scapegoats. Africa, since independence has been being tossed between, on the one hand idiotic quislings that are mere "caricatures" of the worst aspects of the European middle class and on the other hand, muddle-headed "revolutionary" ideologies of Fabians, murderers and a variety of other opportunists, who spend more time putting people in preventive detention, when they are not murdering them, and spew out policies and papers that are not within a thousand miles of the real dynamics of the
situation than solving the problems of the continent. That is why African independence has almost begun to look as if it is a non-viable proposition.