Sunday, February 26, 2017

From #RPF to M23 - Kisoro under 'fresh attack' - #Uganda

Bufumbira which is present day Kisoro district was initially part of the pre-colonia Rwanda Kingdom. It became part of Uganda at the beginning of the last century and the new Ugandan ethnic community opted to call itself Bafumbira.  Because of Kisoro's proximity to Rwanda's Hutu stronghold of Ruhengeri, the majority of the Bafumbira are Hutu.  To a big extent the emergence of Bafumbira helped to provide cover for the Rwandese imigration into Uganda; beyond Kisoro to deep inside Uganda, the Rwandese identified themselves as Bafumbira.
The predominantly Catholic Bafumbira took advantage of the church provided formal education and excelled in many fields at a very early stage and during the first few years of Uganda's independence, they held vital positions in civil and public service.  Such migrants like John Kalekyezi (father to Gen. Kalekyezi) was expelled from Makerere University and deported to Rwanda-Urundi over communist oriented independence activism.  He sneaked back into Uganda from where he connected to Cairo.  He died in 1960 in a plane crash enroute from USSR and was buried in Kisoro but the Catholic church refused to conduct mass during the burial.  As to when and how he regained his Ugandan citizenship, your guess is as good as mine.
Because of land scarcity in Kisoro coupled by their sound economic muscle, many Bafumbira have over the decades migrated and found new settlements in other parts of Uganda more especially in Buganda and Tooro where Edgar Muvunyi is the Kingdom's Attorney General.  In an attempt to shed off the Rwandese connection, some of them prefer to shorten the Kifumbira names i.e. Kale for Kalekyezi,  Nkurunungi or simply Nziza for Nkurunziza, Nsenga for Nsengaimana, Tonku for Tom Nkuringiye, Nzeyi for Nizeyimana, Sibo for Siboimana, Mahoro for Nyiramahoro, Habyara for Habyarimana, Kalema for Kalemanzira, Mbanza for Mbanzabugabo and others.
Back in Kisoro, the predominantly Hutu Bafumbira retained their roots with the Hutu regime in Rwanda.  Bufumbira acted as a buffer zone between the exiled Tutsi activists in Uganda and the Hutu regime in Rwanda.  Because of its proximity and special relationship with the Hutu regime in Rwanda, Kigezi sub-region did not feel the bite of economic hardships during the Iddi Amin regime.  That is why the Tutsi RPF attack from Uganda in 1990 had to go through the Tutsi strongholds in Ntungamo and Umutara and not the Hutu strongholds in Kigezi and Ruhengeri.
When the Mufumbira Tutsi Catholic Bishop of Kigezi, Bernard Harerimana (Halel'Imana) openly morally and materially supported the RPF invasion, the Catholics in Kigezi revolted against him and he fled the diocese.  In 1994 he took an early retirement and Museveni appointed him the Chairman of the Uganda Aids Commission.
With the Tutsi RPF taking power in Rwanda, the Bafumbira Hutu in Kiroro were at a loss.  The minority Bafumbira Tutsi got  allies in the new Tutsi establishment in Rwanda.  Since 1994 when the Hutu in Rwanda were flashed out of power, the Bafumbira Hutu have helped thousands of Rwandese Hutu to settle and acquire Ugandan citizenship.
However, of recent Museveni is keen on affording the 'Bafumbira' a special status in his regime.
Eastern DRC rebel Banyamulenge strongholds north of Goma are in proximity with Kisoro which has repeatedly borne the brunt of the conflict's spillovers like insecurity and influx of refugees from Masisi and Walikale.  In those areas the majority Congolese Hutu who are the fleeing refugees while the minority Congolese Tutsi are the M23 fighters.  Both ethnic groups speak a language similar to the Bafumbira.  There is a refugee Transit camp at Nyakabande that is supposed to be a temprary holding ground for refugees as they are processed before being taken to refugee camps outside Kisoro district.
However, the regime has allowed refugees to establish residence in Kisoro town. Gun trafficking and mysterious killings have of recent hit the town. The district local government is attributing the surge in insecurity to the uncontrolled presence of M23 rebels in Kisoro.  The District chairman who is a Hutu alleges that some five district councilors are supporting the M23 rebels. He goes ahead to claim that the five were encouraging young Ugandans to join M23 with promisses of pay in form of US Dollars, ivory and gold.  In return the five are threatening to censure him over the 'wild allegations'. 
Arms coaches are intercepted in Kisoro, M23 fighters re-entering Congo via Kisoro, the Congolese army is repeatedly pursuing the M23 fighters upto the border with Uganda and the number of Congolese refugees fleeing Uganda are surging by the day. 
Compared to Ishasha in Kanungu, owing to the impenetrable Bwindi Forest and the mountanous Mgahinga, Kisoro remains the easiest route.  Will the new M23 conflict further split the Bafumbira along
Hutu/Tutsi ethnic lines?
Watch the space.

Source: Change of Guards Blog 
From #RPF to M23 - Kisoro under 'fresh attack' - #Uganda


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