Inspired by the Black Lives Matters protests that swept across the U.S and Europe, a group of imminent persons have launched a campaign to decolonise Uganda’s roads, geographical features and other monuments as they glorify slavery and brutality.
Former Buganda Kingdom deputy Katikkiro (Prime Minister) and Attorney General, Apollo Makubuya has since the outbreak of the Black Lives Matter protests been running an online campaign urging Ugandans to sign his petition to urge Ugandan authorities to rename Kampala’s streets that carry names of former agents of colonialism.
More than 5,200 people signed the petition that Makubuya, in the company of retired Principal Judge, Justice James Ogoola handed to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.
Makubuya told Kadaga that the continued public display of colonial iconography glorifies individuals responsible for the brutalization, subjugation and humiliation of Ugandans and that the continued use of the colonial names is a slap in the face of the many brave people that fought for political independence across Africa.
He said that colonial iconology not only offends fundamental rights and freedom of individuals and groups from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment but reinforces and celebrates a culture of colonial supremacy, domination and impunity.
The petitioners propose that street names and monuments that celebrate and immortalize colonialists such as Trevor Ternan, Fredrick Lugard, Henry Colville, Harry George Galt and the Kings African Rifles, among others, should be removed. They also want Parliament to make comprehensive policies and laws to streamline the naming or re-naming of geographical features, streets and public places.
“Such policies should promote deserving national heroes and heroines as well as contribute to national healing, harmony, heritage and the respect for the protection of human rights and dignity,” said Makubuya.
He recalls that amidst recent global protests on Black Lives Matter, protestors in several parts of the world especially Europe, and the Americas brought down statues and colonial landmarks to challenge an order that has been advantaged by racist systems built on the back of slavery, colonialism and racism.
Justice Ogoola who also chairs the Elders Forum said that it is time to put a representation of the African heritage, among key features that define the country. He adds that although renaming the streets does not change a lot, it is a step towards total decolonization.
The petitioners also want the government to revisit the school curriculum, content and methodologies on Uganda’s struggle against colonial rule and meaning of independence to ensure that the history of Uganda is told.
Kadaga said that the petition reminded her of a recent attempt by the Ministry of Education to eradicate the history of Bunyoro Kitara from the syllabus. She said Uganda needs to rediscover its identity.
“The petition reminds me of a recent attempt to eradicate our history of Bunyoro Kitara from the syllabus. We need to rediscover ourselves and our identity. I shall report to Parliament next week and also write to govt to constitute a multi-sectoral team to consider the matter,” Kadaga said.