Uganda: Acholi Leaders Embrace Bobi Wine and Reject Museveni’s Ethnic Apartheid Strategy

Otunnu and Bobi Wine
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Otunnu shown with Bobi Wine. Photo: YouTube Screenshot

On February 6, 1981, Yoweri Museveni's Popular Resistance Army (PRA) launched a war in the Luwero triangle that claimed the lives of possibly hundreds of thousands of Ugandans by the time it ended in 1986 and launched his dictatorship. 

Today, that Triangle is made of the districts of Kiboga Kyankwanzi District, formerly part of Kiboga, Nakaseke District, formerly part of Luweero, Nakasongola District, formerly part of Luweero, Luweero District, Mubende District, Mityana District, formerly part of Mubende and Wakiso District, formerly part of Mpigi. Luwero Triangle was mainly populated by Baganda, who today make up 14 million of Uganda’s population of about 46 million. 

Museveni chose Luwero Triangle because he felt that many Baganda were hostile to then President  Milton Obote’s regime, due to the 1966 attack on the Lubiri palace, home of Sir Edward Mutesa II. Mutesa was the Kabaka, hereditary king of Buganda—within the nation of Uganda—and Uganda’s president; Obote was prime minister at the time. Obote ordered that attack after a political falling out with the Kabaka.

After Museveni launched the war in 1986, people who weren’t would be radicalized by terror, which would be blamed on the Obote regime. Museveni thus stoked an ethnic hatred separating the people from the “north” from the “south”, after drawing a line in the sand. He then teamed up with ex-president Yusuf Lule's group, the Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF), who were mainly Baganda, and they formed the National Resistance Army (NRA).  

It was a cynical, Machiavellian means to achieving what Museveni wanted—absolute power—and the fallout is still being felt today.  

When the late Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah was being treated in Seattle, U.S., and subsequently after his death was buried in his home village of Ajuri, Lalogi sub-county, Omoro district, in Uganda, these hatreds were distinctly felt. Even though only a handful of Ugandan diaspora community in Seattle protested against Oulanyah being treated in the U.S.—claiming other Ugandans didn’t get preferential treatment—the Museveni regime tried to make it appear as if all 14 million Baganda supported it and were therefore hostile toward people from the north, like Oulanyah. 

This was a classic Museveni ethno-apartheid strategy; state-manufactured hatred. 

The Museveni hate-strategy was exposed when National Unity Platform (NUP) President, Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine, went to Oulanyah’s village and paid tribute to the former Speaker of Parliament while in the company of Ambassador Olara Otunnu, the former Under-secretary General of the United Nations and leader of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party, Kilak South Member of Parliament Gilbert Olanya, and Lina Zadriga, the Vice President for NUP in the Northern Region. 

“Acholi land remains an equal opportunity territory for all political parties to organize, mobilize, and canvas for support,” Dr. Otunnu declared. He further added that the notion of drawing a quasi-demilitarized zone to keep some parties away from the Acholi sub-region for reasons related to ethnocentric biases was “utter-nonsense”, and thus “unacceptable.”

“For evil to thrive, it only takes good people to be silent,” he added.

During church service on Palm Sunday, Bobi Wine, who had been given the Acholi name Odyek Ogeng Lapyem, expanded on the need for unity. He denounced the regime’s attempts to divide Ugandans along ethnic lines and noted that he had many friends from Acholi, in the country, and overseas, including Milton Allimadi, the New York-based publisher and college adjunct college professor. “When I look at them, I don’t see Acholi and when they look at me, they don’t see a Muganda. We look at ourselves as Ugandans,” he said. 

His comments were punctuated repeatedly by supportive clapping from the audience.

He noted that they all agree that Ugandan hospitals are in terrible shape and the government seems unconcerned about this. So when people demonstrate against this, the junta seeks to divide them by labeling them by their ethnicities. 

“It is not true that everybody who wants a better Uganda is a Muganda. It is not true that everybody who demonstrates is a Muganda. Those are Ugandans, regardless of their ethnicity,” he stated. 

“Jesus Christ never segregated, he wanted us all to be together. In Kampala, my immediate neighbor is Leander Komakech and we live as brothers,” he stated. Komakech is a prominent intellectual.  

“I want to encourage our people to avoid dividing our people and avoid creating hate amongst us, I was a personal friend to the late Oulanyah but we disagreed very strongly because he supports the regime while I support the people,” Wine added. 

He also mentioned tacitly about prominent figures in Acholi who have died over time in mysterious circumstances. “We must ask the important questions to get the important answers,” he said, although understandably preferring to discuss that on another day.”

There has been a whispering campaign, most likely started by the Museveni junta, that has been playing up the supposed hostility towards the National Unity Platform from a certain section of Acholi’s leaders. 

According to this nefarious campaign, the Acholi leaders held the leaders of NUP responsible for the protests in America that were aimed at discrediting Oulanyah’s entitlement to state medical treatment and thus they promised retribution against NUP. 

Dr. Otunnu and other Acholi leaders discredited the propaganda. 

In spite of the NUP leader being warmly welcomed by high-ranking leaders from the Acholi community, The Nile Post, which is owned by the First Family, spun another yarn. The Nile Post claimed, instead, that Bobi Wine was “humiliated” at the home of Nathan Okori in Lalogi, Omoro District. 

The Nile Post claimed when Bobi Wine’s entourage reached Okori’s home with a “tiny” goat to show their respect, Okori wanted millions of shillings instead.

Is there hope for the country? 

Yes, there is. The truth, no matter how many guns are ranged against it, will always defeat the greatest fallacies. Time is on the side of Uganda.

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