It’s a very saddening fact that my country has fallen victim of a land crisis. What I see and seems good to me is what I get – such is the mindset of the rich that seek land ownership.
To exacerbate matters is the fact that the government abets such fellows in the disguise of fronting development and improving land productivity.
In most of Uganda, land equates to history, heritage, identity, belonging, rights and relationships. It creates social security and helps define social, cultural, religious values and beliefs systems.
However, when these collide with the idea of commoditising land, the people who live on and work the land suffer.
The introduction of new but chaotically-administered land tenure policies that encourage land sales and massive commercialised farming, along with fronting Investors’ agenda as key, are leading to land grabs and disputes, which are creating a profound social crisis.
Why should natives suffer for what they rightfully own? Take a look at the sagas surrounding most land acquisitions; the Namulonge crisis, the Kawanda Research Institute predicament, the Amuru incident (in which a Member of Parliament gets incarcerated), and so many more.
I can’t help but think we are still stuck in the colonial times & probably doomed. A friend puts it as “I’m proud to be African – is the most meaningless statement ever”.
I would not seem to agree wholly but sincerely what joy is there in being affiliated to this country, or better still, continent? A place where those around you and your government can barely have your back!
Many will attribute this whole land grabbing issue to ignorance and negligence of land by natives of the land but I say it’s rather naive to think that.
From about 1996 to 2007 nearly 90% of the Acholi population were forced off their land and dumped in displacement camps where they were fed and watered but left to rot in idleness.
This removal from the land into displacement camps followed brutal attacks by the LRA and possibly by the Uganda army.
Removed from the land, the new generations could not learn the traditional cultural knowledge, practices and skills, especially awareness of the land, how it was divided, used and cared for.
Not only was that relationship between people and land distorted but the knowledge about it could no longer be accurately handed down.
Today the same incidences are being brewed in areas like Amuru and Adjumani. The cases of Entebbe or Namulonge can’t be seen as any different because they are in the city’s proximity.
One thing is for sure; our own government under the influence of scrupulous fellows is really willing to go to the extreme to frustrate land owners in Uganda.
Namulonge is one of the agricultural research institutions under National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro).
It has been involved in high yielding and disease resistant crop seed production. For close to 15 years, it has also been engaged in research on genetic engineering. But all this is close to gone!
If we are not careful, we risk crippling our country’s stature in the name of development and impressing foreign investors and the rich. Is this thirst for land really worth that cost?