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What Is Africa’s Problem

Yoweri K. Museveni

Publication Year: 2000

Recent seismic shifts in Congo and Rwanda have exposed the continued volatility of the state of affairs in central Africa. As African states have shaken off their postcolonial despots, new leaders with sweeping ideas about a pan-African alliance have emerged-and yet the internecine struggles go on. What is Africa’s problem? As one of the leaders expressing a broad and forceful vision for Africa’s future, Uganda’s Yoweri K. Museveni is perhaps better placed than anyone in the world to address the very question his book poses. In 1986, after more than a decade of armed struggle, a rebellion led by Museveni toppled the dictatorship of Idi Amin, and Museveni, at 42, became president of Uganda, a country at that time in near total disarray. Since then, Uganda has made remarkable strides in political, civic, and economic arenas, and Museveni has assumed the role of "the éminence grise of the new leadership in central Africa" (Philip Gourevitch, New Yorker). As such, he has proven a powerful force for change, not just in Uganda but across the turbulent span of African states. This collection of Museveni’s writings and speeches lays out the possibilities for social change in Africa. Working with a broad historical understanding and an intimate knowledge of the problems at hand, Museveni describes how movements can be formed to foster democracy, how class consciousness can transcend tribal differences in the development of democratic institutions, and how the politics of identity operate in postcolonial Africa. Museveni’s own contributions to the overthrow of Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko and to the political transformation of Uganda suggest the kind of change that may sweep Africa in decades to come. What Is Africa’s Problem? gives a firsthand look at what those changes might be, how they might come about, and what they might mean.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

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Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere

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pp. ix-xvi

Uganda became politically independent in October 1962; Yoweri K. Museveni was sworn in as president of the country at the end of January 1986, after his National Resistance Army occupied Kampala. In the intervening period, six different men (Milton Obote on two separate occasions) had been sworn in as president. ...

Map of Uganda

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pp. xvii-xviii


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pp. xix-xx


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pp. xxi-xxii

Key Political Events in Uganda

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

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Profile of President Ybweri Kaguta Museveni

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pp. xxv-xxx

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni became President of the Republic of Uganda on January 26,1986, after leading a successful five-year guerrilla struggle against the regimes of Milton Obote and Tito Okello. He formed a broad-based government in which formerly hostile factions were brought under the unifying influence of the National Resistance Movement (NRM). ...

I. Ugandan Polities

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1. Ours Is a Fundamental Change

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pp. 3-9

No one should think that what is happening today is a mere change of guard: it is a fundamental change in the politics of our country, In Africa, we have seen so many changes that change, as such, is nothing short of mere turmoil. We have had one group getting rid of another one, only for it to turn out to be worse than the group it displaced. ...

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2. The Price of Bad Leadership

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pp. 10-15

I am very glad to be in Gulu, but I am sorry that I have to speak to you in English. This is because our leaders in the past did not encourage or foster a national language. I sound silly when I talk to my people in English when there are African languages that can be easily learned by all of us. ...

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3. Religion and Politics

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pp. 16-18

We in the National Resistance Movement have no prejudice whatsoever against any religious ideas. Many of us are members of the Christian churches in Uganda. Nevertheless, we cannot escape the historical fact that the church has sometimes been used to serve wrong interests in society. ...

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4. Colonial versus Modern Law

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pp. 19-21

Let me take this opportunity to reiterate what I have said many times before, that the NRM government is fully committed to the rule of law, the protection of individual human rights, and the independence of the judiciary. Our country has gone through a traumatic experience for the last twenty or so years, mainly because Obote and Amin had no respect for the rule of law. ...

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5. Security Is the Key

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pp. 22-30

When we took over power one year ago today, the security situation in the whole country was very bad: 300,000 Ugandans had been murdered in central Uganda; in the west, people had been murdered and lots of property looted; in Lango, the Okellos had created havoc with murder, rape, and looting; in Teso, Ojukwu was using helicopters to locate cows so that ground forces could loot them; ...

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6. The State of the Nation in 1989

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pp. 31-43

I congratulate you all on your election as members of the National Resistance Council. I hope all of us agree that, by and large, the recent electoral exercise was free and fair. I have, however, heard that in a few cases, there were instances of the old practices of sectarianism and other manipulations taking advantage of the ignorance of the population. ...

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7. Why the Interim Period Was Extended

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pp. 44-48

Honorable Members of the National Executive Committee must be aware that Legal Notice No. i of 1986 (the Proclamation) provides as follows in section 14: "The National Resistance Movement Government shall be an interim Government and shall hold office of a period not exceeding four years from the date of this Proclamation." ...

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8. The Interim Balance Sheet

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pp. 49-58

When we took power four years ago, the Ugandan economy had suffered a cumulative decline in GDP of 10.5 percent between 1971 and 1985. The real picture, however, is that GDP per capita had declined by 41 percent because while production had been going down, the population had been increasing all along. ...

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9. Where Is the Public Spirit in the Public Service?

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pp. 59-70

The NRM government lays great emphasis on seminars and all other forms of knowledge-sharing processes because of the importance we attach to the acquisition of knowledge as the foundation upon which all government activities must be based. Government ministers and other officials must have data and they must understand the NRM's orientation in order to execute our various programs. ...

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10. Corruption Is a Cancer

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pp. 71-76

I hope all of you had a happy Easter and peaceful Idd el Fitr. On the occasion of the state opening of the Fourth Session of the National Resistance Council, my remarks will center on the current economic, security, and political situation in our country. ...

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11. Was It a Fundamental Change?

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pp. 77-87

Five years ago today, we established the National Resistance Movement government and ended twenty years of tyranny. We presented you with a program conceived in the bush during those long years of the struggle. It is now time to take stock: has the National Resistance Movement delivered on its program? ...

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12. Building Uganda for the Future

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pp. 88-108

My purpose in coming here is to ensure that, if possible, we can reach a thorough understanding of the problems here and if that is not possible, we can at least identify the areas of our differences. For that reason, I am ready to come here any time you want me to come so that we can sort out any outstanding issues. ...

II. Military Strategy in Uganda

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13. Why We Fought a Protracted People's War

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pp. 111-123

This article aims to explain to our people, as well as friends of Uganda elsewhere, the broad strategy of our struggle. It will also outline the progress we have made so far in the liberation war, and deal briefly with the prospects for its successful conclusion. ...

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14. Who Is Winning the War?

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pp. 124-129

Some people in our army and movement are interested to know how the present balances of forces in the Ugandan situation stands. The question on a number of people's lips is: who is winning the war? ...

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15. The NRA and the People

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pp. 130-131

I want to thank you very much for all the good work you have done since I last saw you at Katonga. Your battalion is the one that fought the Katonga battles. The Katonga battles, fought mainly by yourselves and at times jointly with the Fifteenth Battalion, were great battles indeed in the struggle to liberate Uganda. ...

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16. How to Fight a Counterrevolutionary Insurgency

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pp. 132-140

The cause of the government must be a just one: it must be fighting for right and not for wrong causes. It must be fighting to preserve or bring about democracy, to carry out land reform, to crush tribalism or other forms of sectarianism, to crush banditry like cattle rustling or other forms of gangsterism. ...

III. African Politics

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17. What's Wrong with Africa?

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pp. 143-149

I was not given any particular topic to speak on, so I shall choose a few things I consider important for Africa. With that in mind, I shall put my topic as follows: What is wrong with Africa? What is the problem? This is what I am going to try to establish. ...

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18. Most of Africa Kept Quiet ...

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pp. 150-153

I must state that Ugandans were unhappy and felt a deep sense of betrayal that most of Africa kept silent while tyrants killed them. The reason for not condemning such massive crimes has, supposedly, been the desire not to interfere in the internal affairs of a member state, in accordance with the charters of the OAU and the United Nations. ...

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19. Self-Reliance Is the Way Ahead

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pp. 154-160

The National Resistance Movement is not a party like UNIP. It is a movement because, by definition, a party is uni-ideological. You, in Zambia, have sorted out your political problems so that you can have a party with one ideology. I congratulate you on that. ...

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20. Political Substance and Political Form

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pp. 161-165

Whenever I have some time to glance through the newspapers, which are quite abundant these days on the streets of Kampala, I always feel slightly uneasy because some of them are still taking political lines that have caused a lot of problems in Uganda. The writers of these papers—and the political pressure groups they represent—do not appear to have any idea of the direction our country should be taking. ...

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21. The Crisis of the State in Africa

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pp. 166-176

When I received the invitation to come and address this seminar, I tried to put some thoughts down, but I shall not read the written speech. I shall summarize what I think are the salient points of this important subject: "The Crisis of the State in Africa." ...

IV. Africa in World Politics

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22. Genuine Nonalignment

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pp. 179-187

Mr. President, we in Uganda have just marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of our independence and yet, for most of those twenty-five years, our people have suffered greatly at the hands of dictators and murderers. It was to put an end to fascism that Ugandan patriots organized an armed struggle that brought down Amin in 1979, and Obote and his successors in 1986. ...

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23. When Is Africa's Industrial Revolution?

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pp. 188-196

One of the Third World's biggest problems is not the absence of natural resources, but the absence of technology. Most of Africa's problems are caused directly or indirectly by our lack of technology, which, by implication, means lack of industry. Europe, North America, and Japan have not always been industrialized. ...

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24. Defending Our Common Heritage

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pp. 197-207

On behalf of the government and the people of Uganda, I wish to begin by stating that we consider it a singular honor and privilege to host this First African Regional Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development, which is a follow-up of the World Commission Report, entitled "Our Common Future." ...

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25. The Economic Consequences of Coffee

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pp. 208-213

This assembly of the Inter-African Coffee Organization is taking place at a critical time for the coffee industry. It is important that the current problems on this subject be discussed in a substantive and serious manner. This will contribute significantly to the resolution of the problems caused by the current collapse in the coffee price. ...

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26. Africa Needs Ideological and Economic Independence

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pp. 214-222

It is with a feeling of deep appreciation that I accept your decision to elect me chairman of the Organization of African Unity for the year 1990-91. The confidence you have reposed in me is testimony to your appreciation of the efforts of the people of Uganda to build a just, democratic, and economically viable future and to advance the cause of African unity under the leadership of the National Resistance Movement. ...

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27. Where Does the East-West Thaw Leave Africa?

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pp. 223-230

I am most grateful to have been invited to address such a distinguished audience. As the title of your institute suggests, you are concerned with strategic studies, which, over the last forty-five years, have been dominated by the East and West ideological and military blocs that emerged after the Second World War. ...

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28. The Need for North-South Cooperation

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pp. 231-246

I would like to begin by thanking the President of the European Parliament for his declaration that from now onward, when Europe is buying aid food for Africa, they will buy it from African countries. As Uganda is a surplus producer of food that we are never able to sell, we are very pleased to hear this declaration. ...

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29. AIDS Is a Socioeconomic Disease

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pp. 247-256

I understand that this is the first meeting on AIDS held in this region, in spite of the fact that the epidemic has been raging here for the last ten years. I therefore wish to thank the Uganda Medical Association for taking the initiative to arrange this conference. ...

Appendix: The National Resistance Movement Ten-Point Program

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pp. 257-262

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About the Author

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Yoweri K. Museveni is president of the Republic of Uganda. In 1979, after several attempts, Museveni's guerrilla forces successfully wrested power from Idi Amin. Museveni then lost the 1980 elections, which he maintained had been a sham. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816689910
E-ISBN-10: 0816689911
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816632787

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2000

Edition: First edition

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Africa -- Politics and government -- 1960-.
  • Africa -- History -- 1960-.
  • Uganda -- Politics and government -- 1979-.
  • Uganda -- History -- 1979-.
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