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The Early Struggle for Freedom in Uganda:Wrong Prediction about Musazi

June 6, 2010

The Early Struggle for Freedom and Unity in Uganda:

I. K. Musazi and the Farmers Cooperative Movement

George W. Shepherd Jr.

John Day Company New York  ©1955

Rating: Two Stars – Good (specific interest)

This book was written 10 years before Uganda’s independence.  George Shepard incorrectly predicted that Ignatius Musazi who founded the first national political party in Uganda  would be the first prime minister of independent Uganda. This did not happen. Uganda’s post independence history which has been marred by civil war, international war, massacre and genocide would have been better if Musazi had not been pushed aside by Milton Obote who did become the first Prime Minister with the aid of the foolish Baganda Kabaka, Edward Mutesi.

American George Shepherd who had just completed his PHd at the London School of Economics met Ignatius Musazi in Britain where Musazi had been exiled for political activities in Uganda. Muzazi who was  about to risk  returning to his homeland  invited Shepherd  to advice the Federation of Uganda African Farmers which Musazi lead.   To the reader, half a century later, the need to label the organization as African  may seem bizarre but there were two other groups in Uganda, the white settlers and the Indian  traders. Although much smaller in numbers they had all the influence.

While living in Katwe, Uganda, Shepherd the son of American Missionaries to China faced hardships, which those of us who have worked in Africa have faced.   The issues of family, housing, food, water and electricity are described. The issues of theft, embezzlement, conflict of interest  and personal disappointment which challenge development workers today were also challenges to Shepherd and the Federation of Uganda African Farmers.

Shepard was highly  supportive and an admirer  of Musazi.  Together with great difficulty  they broke the European and Indian  monopoly on the processing of coffee and cotton in Uganda.  Previously the African farmers had only been allowed to harvest these crops but were obliged to  sell them  to the Europeans or Indians for processing.

Musazi and Sheperd twice travelled to Kenya to obtain support for their cause in Uganda, from the Kenyans. They witnessed the oppression of the Kikuyu and other tribes by the White Settlers of Kenya, the rise of the Mau Mau rebellion and the early days of the Kenyan African Union.  Sheperd twice met Kenyatta who later became  the first president of Kenya. He described him as a drunkard and racist.  Ironically  the result of these meetings with Kenyatta  a man Shepherd actually despised  motivated the  US state department to withold his passport when he returned for a short visit to his homeland. This resulted in his virtual exile from Uganda.

Following the success with cotton and coffee Musazi formed the first national political party in Uganda, the Uganda National Conference.  Like the farmers cooperatives the UNC  was multi tribal. It went one step further and was multiracial including whites and Indians.  There was verbal support from the Buganda Kabaka ( Edward Mutesi) for this activity, but history shows that this support was  insincere.  The later political manipulations of Mutesi and Obote lead to the terrible post indepdence history which could have been avoided if Musazi who promoted tribal and racial harmony  had been  the first prime minister of Uganda.

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