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INSIDE STORY: How Basongora Were Butchered by Extremist Bakonzo

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Speaking at Ibuga camp in Hima parish, Kichwamba Sub-county, during the burial two of Basongora victims, Kayihura rubbished reports the Rwenzori attacks were acts of a rebellion.

Chimpreports now understands that on Friday night, over 200 Bakonzo youth were handed sharpened machetes to attack the minority Basongora with the view of slaughtering them in broad day light.

It is suspected some leaders in Rwenzururu Kingdom were part of the plot.

According to F Kajura-Bbala IV, the head of Ethnic Minority Rights Initiative, “ethnic Bakonzo extremists descended on Basongora settlements of Kayanja and Ibuga in Kitcwamba Sub-County in Busongora North, Kasese District, and butchered about 20 ethnic Basongora and hundreds have gone missing.”

Police maintains only 11 were killed.

Kajura-Bbala explains that the two settlements are adjacent to 305 (Mountain) Brigade in Hima.

“They – UPDF, like Uganda Police Force, were unresponsive. According to the information we are in receipt of, the situation completely went out of hand for about 3 hours with attackers killing at their own will before police arrived,” he added.

“Even when they did, it deployed to protect the attackers’ settlement of Bigando at the expense of the victims, who continue to feel insecure and prone to more attacks.”

Kajura-Bbala pleaded to government, “especially its security agencies: Be neutral and impartial in this seemingly tribal conflict. The victims’ resolve and capacity to counterattack, given the strong keen sense of injustice, can’t be ignored.”

He further reiterated Basongora leaders’ concerns that, “Many a time, police has been told of (impending) attacks, but fails to act.”

At some point late last year (2013), in a letter written by Ethnic Minority Rights Initiative and addressed to President Museveni, police was accused for siding with the majority Bakonjo.

However, during the burial ceremony on Monday, Gen Kayihura promised an in-depth investigation into the matter with the view of reinforcing security in the region.

He also appealed to the public to volunteer information to enable police swiftly arrest the culprits behind the massacre.

A statement from Rwenzururu Kingdom whose youth have been linked to the so called tribal militia said “before the attacks there were indicators of possible violence” which were ignored.

The statement alleges that some individuals were inciting communities against others. It also says that there had been an attempted attack on the Rwenzururu palace.


According to journalist Habati MUbatsi who hails from the Rwenzori region, the limited land coupled with high population growth, politics of divide and rule and mushrooming cultural institutions are some the reason for the violence witnessed in Rwenzori sub region recently.

“Between 2007 and 2010 there was intense land conflicts between the Basongora cattle keepers and the Bakonzo cultivators in the lower parts of Kasese district. This left tens of people dead. The desire to create tribal districts in Uganda is not helping keep people of different dialects united. It seems each dialect wants a district under its belt. This is brewing trouble and disunity in the region as someone is benefiting from these schemes,” he observed on his blog.

“At the same time cultural kingdoms have been created but people are not sensitized on the exact role these institutions play. While it is within every community’s right to get a cultural institution to promote and preserve their culture some people are demanding for kingdoms for political and economic gain. How can we use different cultures to spur development in our region?” he wondered.

Mubatsi said in some instances some people mistakenly believe their kingdoms have political powers like those of a state. Some perceive marginalization.

He further pointed out that the bad politicians are taking advantage of this to incite the otherwise peaceful but ignorant people to achieve their ill motives. Many of these vulnerable people are youth who are uneducated, semi-educated or unemployed.

“The case of the recent attack in Bundibugyo it believed the youth and some Rwenzururu veterans were brainwashed to believe their fighting for a kingdom which is a state. Our people have been lied to and we must liberate them from this misinformation,” he noted.

In 1960s when the Rwenzururu rebellion was nearly defeated by the central government, it is said its leaders managed to convince the followers that they were creating a state separate from Uganda.

And, the people fought believing that they are defending the Rwenzururu state. But, when the Rwenzururu leader Charles Mumbere, then a young man, accepted to negotiate with the Obote II government in 1980 some Rwenzururu fighters felt it was a betrayal.

The Rwenzururu fighters who disagreed remained in the bush and later merged with other groups to for the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU).

Even when the current central government recognized Rwenzururu kingdom in 2009 some local people were convinced their wish for a state had been granted.

Mubatsi further argues that the Rwenzori people have been lied to and should be told the truth that Kingdoms today are purely cultural institutions without political power people should work for peace and develop themselves.

“Senseless violence is no sustainable solution to any disagreements. Dialogue is the most sustainable solution.”


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