Land grabbing and ‘independence’ ethos

“Say what?” That was my instant reaction to comments that some so-called political and technical leaders of Uganda made during a forum at the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries Joint Agriculture Sector Annual Review (JASAR) 2016 that discussed sustainable land use management of Uganda’s land.

I was like, who are these people who are discussing Ugandans as though they, the discussants, are foreigners discussing Uganda? Even though they were to have been foreigners discussing Uganda, generally accepted norms of Ugandan societies, at least, and likely of the World, in this modern day and age, do not condone the content, manner and tone of that discourse, surely.

You see, the tendency of the discourse at that forum was generally to firmly locate our people, Ugandans, within paradigms in which it was okay for our people, fellow Ugandans, to be referred to by their fellow Ugandans in derogatory terms and with significant contempt.

One particular such contribution stood out for me, the one which was made by Professor Ogenga Latigo, Member of Parliament representing Agago North Constituency, a constituency which is located in Acholi sub-region, in Northern Uganda.

In essence, Professor Latigo is of the view that the people who elected him to represent them in the 10th Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, Ugandans, need to be removed from Uganda’s land so that more ‘intelligent’ people, I wonder from where, should come and farm Uganda’s land.

Making a spirited ‘scientific’ argument for the dispossession of Ugandans of their land and for state sanctioned land grabbing of Ugandans’ lands here is what Prof. Latigo said:

Some years ago Prof. Rubahayo taught us plant breeding and told us that when the Americans wanted to mechanise, when slavery was banned, and they wanted to mechanise cotton production, they designed a machine and they also designed the crop.

Too many times we talk, we focus on the land and we do not redesign ourselves. You try all your skills to fit the challenge into who we are, without re-designing ourselves. Can we redesign ourselves? What do we want to be? If we want to remain as we are, obviously we are heading for chaos.

All those countries that re-designed themselves, they never increased their land holdings, but they decided that the land that we have, few people will use it to give us the food we need and then we re-direct the rest of the population to something else.

Part of the things you see here are symptoms of that problem. As long as we remain peasants, what option do we have other than to go and fight for that land? We may have to invest more on quality education so that we can have people who can competently use their brains rather than the hoes.

 Eeeeeh! I kid you not. I was astounded. The disdain that Professor Latigo holds for the majority of Ugandans is clearly and easily deduced from his comments. That a member of parliament can think that it is okay for him to publically refer to the people that he represents as less intelligent and less competent because they are farmers who grow the food that feeds the nation is the sad reality of Uganda’s warped political arena.

How is it logical today, 9th October 2016, to assert and celebrate Uganda the nation-state being fully independent for 54 years, when Uganda’s current Parliament consists of persons with mindsets such as of Professor Latigo?

Persons whose minds are obviously still colonised by a perception of Ugandans that was held by the worst of the colonialists – contempt against black Africans and their knowledge systems; yes, the kind of contempt against black Africans that the likes of the Belgian King Leopold II held, for example.

Sadly, those who spew such patronising, elitist, and derogatory points of view of Ugandans in Uganda are often equated to being ‘modern’ or being modernisers. How is it modern or modernising to impoverish one’s people of their land and to push them into being landless, homeless, ‘street rolex-vendors’ who are food insecure slum dwellers?

It is in fact ironic that those who accuse others of being dictators, such as Uganda’s current political opposition party members do, of which Prof. Latigo is among, and should then turn around and advocate for dictatorial tendencies.

Professor Latigo, once the Leader of the Opposition in Uganda’s Parliament, for example, while crowning his argument at the JASAR forum about the need to move the majority of Ugandans whom he deems less ‘competent’ and less ‘intelligent’ off Uganda’s land, argued as follows:

The law can say that Latigo you have your 1,000 acres but because you are a Ugandan and Uganda must export coffee and in your place you can grow coffee, on 10 percent of your land grow coffee. Whether yourself, or you get somebody to grow it but 10 percent of that land must produce the coffee that will transform our country, transform our people and then we can progress.

So what is the difference? Isn’t it the case that Professor Latigo is in fact advocating for the return of the enslavement of Ugandans on our own lands? Moreover, in order that we be exploited to produce raw materials for the state, in a similar manner as the English Colonialists did with coffee and cotton.

Has the independence of the nation-state Uganda come full circle? His Excellency Apollo Milton Obote must surely be restless in his grave. His vision on 9th October 1962 was that:

In shaping our new country, (we should aim) to achieve a consolidation in which neither the rapid progress of the recent years nor the age-old customs of our forefathers are lost or diminished, but rather fused into a new national characteristic in which the best is preserved while the worst may be thrown away.

No doubt, Professor Latigo’s advocacy is for us, the nation-state Uganda, to throw out the best of the age –old customs of our forefathers and to preserve the worst of what comes with so-called rapid progress – such as mass dispossession of Ugandans of their lands.

We should never celebrate pernicious attitudes such as held by Professor Latigo, particularly so on this the 54th anniversary of Uganda’s independence from the English Colonialists.

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11 comments

  1. […] HUMANIST VIEW” website. This comment also touches a bit on another article titled “LAND GRABBING AND ‘INDEPENDENCE’ ETHOS” from the same website, in which some character basically blames Uganda’s […]

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  2. Norah, I can’t say enough about this topic. You have touched on a very critical issue that greatly needs deep analysis. In short, it is best put as follows: “Land Grabbing in Africa: The New Colonialism” – http://wordpress.clarku.edu/id125/2016/04/09/land-grabbing-in-africa-the-new-colonialism/

    As noted in the aforementioned article, “The African Centre for Bio-Safety has labelled the plans as a “new wave of colonialism” (Mwesigire, 2014). The plans includes direct foreign investment in agriculture, allows the use of genetically modified seeds, and allows land ownership laws to favor these foreign companies.”

    Why Africa, you may ask. Simple answer is this: “Water” – ‘Huge’ water resource exists under Africa: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-17775211

    Taking charge of (Water + fertile soils + patented genetically modified seeds + Landgrab) = New-colonialism.

    Prof. Latigo is just a pawn on a chessboard, easily discarded, and he knows it, hence the need for him to prove his worth to the big fish to stay relevant. That is why one moment you hear him rumbling that, “We need to urgently enact the biotechnology and biosafety law” – http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/We-need-to-urgently-enact-the-biotechnology-and-biosafety-law/689364-2012254-nu80je/index.html

    Then the next day he is promoting land grabbing. To understand it, one has to look at the big picture, check out who the participants in Africa Landgrab are, why are they involved and where there are. Here are some land grabbers that you may not have expected: “Harvard’s Involvement in Land Grabs” – http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2011/6/24/land-report-juma-investments-oakland-land-grab/

    One of the names that you will see often allover is Prof. Juma who happens to work in a school at Harvard funded by Gates foundation. – http://www.redpepper.co.ug/africa-needs-gmos-harvard-don/

    http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16445-calestous-juma-s-monsanto-connection-exposed

    Always claiming that it is free lunch: http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/africa-s-traditional-crops-under-threat-as-big-ag-gates-foundation-donate-gmo-technology

    Unfortunately what Prof. Latigo wants is legalization of what has already been going on around the country: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/mar/03/ugandan-farmers-take-on-palm-oil-giants-over-land-grab-claims

    The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is helping biotech as well, case in point: http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2015/feb/19-2

    Besides land grab that comes with GM crops, GMO Agriculture uses herbicides and pesticides that wipes out pollinators and that is the reason it has been banned in the U.S. wildlife refuge across the nation: http://refugeassociation.org/2014/08/u-s-fish-and-wildlife-service-bans-gmos-and-neonicotinoid-insecticides/

    So why would anybody push for such extreme agricultural change that not only will surely have negative consequences, but will also keep poor Africans dependent on foreign food aid, you may wonder! As some one said, follow the trail of money, you will find the answer: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/29/gates-foundation-gm-monsanto

    http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2013/05/30/bill-gates-criticizes-zambian-economist-and-she-responds-with-fire/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

    The whole issue of food aid is so complicated with many vested interests, it is high time for agricultural reforms: http://www.humanosphere.org/world-politics/2013/06/is-washington-on-board-with-food-aid-reform-it-should-be/

    But a reform that Prof. Latigo is calling for is not the one that will work for Uganda, besides, as I said, he is just a pawn on a chessboard being used then easily discarded, and he knows it.

    In essence, Prof. Latigo’s proposed changes are about enriching himself as a big farmer through patented GMO seeds which come with many subsides, as opposed to the poor needy who will be made homeless.

    But the worst part of his Land grabbing proposal is that it takes us to “The New Colonialism” – http://wordpress.clarku.edu/id125/2016/04/09/land-grabbing-in-africa-the-new-colonialism/

    Prof. Latigo’s ideas if implemented are bound to fail and are nothing but disastrous, they will teach Ugandans the hard way to repeat the following Ethiopian joke:

    “There is a joke told in Ethiopia that encapsulates the country’s struggle with food aid dependency. In it, two subsistence farmers are talking about the year’s poor rains and the impact on their harvests.

    The older, his face and hands worn from a lifetime of hard work, turns to his younger friend and offers some advice: “It is not the rains in Ethiopia you need to worry about, but whether it rains in America or Canada.” – http://www.irinnews.org/report/58056/ethiopia-struggling-end-food-aid-dependency

    Please Norah, keep this issue at the forefront and in the news. Many poor peasant cultivators who happen to be the majority are counting on people like you to be their voice against hawks in disguise.

    Thanks Again.

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  3. I would summarize all of that utterance of Prof. Latigo as “Mumbo jumbo Agro-economics,” talking of USA’s transformation from being an agrarian economy in simplistic and misleading terms such as “when the Americans wanted to mechanise, when slavery was banned, and they wanted to mechanise cotton production, they designed a machine and they also designed the crop.”

    Prof. Latigo is either ignorant by choice or fails to comprehend that the driving factor of U.S.A’s economy change from being agrarian was not done the way he is suggestion Uganda does by grabbing poor people’s land and kicking them off their land which happens to be their only livelihood without which they can’t survive. The Industrial Revolution Changed American Social, Economic & Political Life, not Agriculture.

    In the USA there was high manpower demand for industrial work that paid better wages with better working conditions than farming that drove young people away from farms, rather than being forced off their land to give it to some rich guy or the government. The key difference here is that in the USA people had choice and it was a free will driven by factors of capitalism, while Prof. Latigo’s approach is by forcing citizens off their land for the sake of the many, as he puts it: ” transform our people and then we can progress.” Note: He didn’t say that “we ALL” can progress. The type of transformation he calls for fails to even fall into communism or socialism ideology, nor is it in any way capitalism, it is simply sheer pure greed and day light thievery.

    Interestingly enough, what Prof. Latigo proposes had already been tried in Britain as here is how a Law maker just like him reported the consequences:
    “A British lawmaker told parliament in 1870 that Englishmen were leaving their country, not because they wanted to, but because they had to. They could not find work at home. He said that even as he spoke, hundreds were dying of hunger in London and other British cities. They were victims of the new revolution in agriculture and industry.

    Small family farms were disappearing. In their places rose large modern farms that could produce much more. New machines took the place of men. And millions of farmers had to look for other work. Some found it in the factories. Industry was growing quickly…but not quickly enough to give jobs to all the farmers out of work.” – http://www.manythings.org/voa/history/135.html

    For those who think that by having humongous farming therefore there will be profits just like in the U.S., don’t have a clue how agriculture works in the States from the very beginning to the present. The truth of the matter as written by Chris Edwards the day before yesterday is, “Farm programs are welfare for the well-to-do, and they induce overproduction, inflate land prices, and harm the environment. They should be ended, and American farmers should stand on their own two feet in the marketplace.” – http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/agriculture/subsidies

    Prof. Latigo’s experiment was tried and failed in Britain in the 19th century with disastrous consequences, that is the one he wants tried in the 21st century on poor Ugandans, but to make it worse for Ugandans, unlike Britain that could say for sure that, “Industry was growing quickly…but not quickly enough to give jobs to all the farmers out of work,” Uganda can’t say the same thing about Industry growing quickly.

    And even for him talking about cotton production, that they designed a machine and they also designed the crop, makes one wonder how he can keep on talking of “people who can competently use their brains,” when we have Burkina Faso right now as evidence of failures the so called competent mind he praises just like his with outcomes like this – http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2987021/burkina_faso_calls_time_on_monsantos_gm_cotton_demands_280m_damages.html

    Last but not least, will Prof. Latigo reveal how much money worth of subsides he and others like him expect to get from the taxpayers without which they wouldn’t be able to compete in agriculture – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-foundation-food-subsidies-idUSKCN0HV1NK20141006

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  4. Norah, when it come to Prof. Latigo, there is nothing that shocks me anymore. Recall this?: “MPs attack Latigo for stand on Apaa women” – http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/MPs-attack-Latigo-for-stand-on-Apaa-women/688334-2723566-kfy1agz/index.html

    Note: Per The online Observer, “Ogenga, a large-scale farmer with up to 1,000 acres, says there should be a way to help farmers who lose crops to animals and drought.” – http://observer.ug/component/content/article?id=25935:elephants-killing-farming-in-north–ogenga-latigo

    Talking of using brains, In the article titled, “Pass the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, Sekandi urges” – Posted in Newvision paper online on Nov. 24, 2015; VP Hon Ssekandi urged the Parliament to pass the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012, so that Uganda could also benefit from GMOs like Burkina Faso has from GMO Cotton.

    http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/676100-pass-the-biotechnology-and-biosafety-bill-sekandi-urges.html

    The speech was basically only about GMO Agriculture and eerily similar to Prof. Latigo’s article posted in monitor paper online, Sept 30, 2013, http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/We-need-to-urgently-enact-the-biotechnology-and-biosafety-law/-/689364/2012254/-/x5sjlc/-/index.html

    From the Title to Argument Content, Prof. Latigo’s article was urguably Vice President’s speech temperate.
    Based on Prof. Latigo’s assertion that “Because a transplanted gene, such as Bt-gene in cotton, will instruct production of only a particular compound responsible for the desired character, and nothing else, no other inherent risk is introduced with the gene,” the Vice President presented Monsanto’s GMO Cotton in Burkina Faso as exemplary Uganda must urgently follow.

    Unfortunately, Prof. Latigo’s article is a template for Disaster. But fortunately for Uganda, the cat is out of the bag: –

    In May 2015 the Director General of the Gourma Cotton Company (a subsidiary of the French group Geocoton) in Burkina Faso announced that the country would reduce GM cotton production across the country, over the next three years, due to “technical problems”.
    The final blow to GM cotton in Burkina Faso was announced the following month in the media, when the cotton industry umbrella body, Association Interprofessionnelle du Coton du Burkina (AICB), which includes notably Burkina Faso Textile Fibre Company (SOFITEX), public sector leader, Faso Coton and the Gourma Cotton Company, announced that they would withdraw from their contracts with Monsanto and phase out GM cotton altogether over the 3-year period.”- http://www.pambazuka.net/en/category.php/features/94939

    Uganda would have been in the same boat with Burkina Faso trying to get compensated for the losses had Ugandans listened to his so called expertise on GMO biotechnology he claims has no other inherent risk : “Burkina Faso seeks $84 million from Monsanto over GM cotton strain”- http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cotton-burkina-monsanto-idUSKCN0X12FE

    From that time after realizing that he was proven wrong about his GMO science of no risks, this is his new approach of 2016 to get the 2012 GMO Bill passed into law: “Me as a scientist would like to give assurance that we would not do anything that is not in the interest of Uganda,” he said.

    Prof. Ogenga Latigo, a pest entomologist and MP-elect (Agago North), called upon Ugandans to have faith in the local scientists. – http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1422166/biotechnology-restrictive

    When I challenged him asserting that “Trusting by Faith” is not science but religion or cult, because science is through scientific research findings with proofs and peer reviews, he went bare knuckles on me, among others he stated that “Sam I am just blunt with facts and that is who I am and why I am not a nobody.”

    To which I responded with: Okay Prof. Latigo,

    Since I’m a nobody and you are just blunt with facts and that is who you are. Go ahead and start here:

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200910190243.html

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A15-20&version=NKJV

    Later.

    Sam

    Note: I haven’t heard from him since then.

    Watch out for such characters!

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  5. […] Source: Land grabbing and ‘independence’ ethos […]

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  6. Thank you so much Norah!! You are not alone my sister, even poor Kenyan going through similar problems and its like the leadership reads the same script at that!!! Hope you enlighten more about it because that is against the Human rights perspective. The poor have a right over their own small parcels and can be an aspect of economic development by tapping in their contributions. Let all be part of the land-use decisions. I feel like its all ‘Greed-driven economy’ in the name of development by the *Elites*. Nkt!

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  7. Daniel · · Reply

    The earth provides enough resources for every man and woman and children to live comfortably. However there people in power that choose to hoard it all. Land grabbers are politically supported by the authority. Imagine if a full professor is making such statement on land what will he really support the local. If the land grabbers grabs their land? Land is a natural gift every body should be given a chance to own land, to grow food and settlements. I grew in village my mother didn’t money in house but we never begged food we had a lot of food cause there was land. We cry God to give us wisdom

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    1. Yes Daniel I agree.

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  8. Dokol Steven · · Reply

    Thank you my sister and brethren in the struggle for the betterment of our country Uganda. As a positive thinker,what professor reechoed yes is the way forward for our country. But the query is how are we doing it without inflicting pain unto those who will be affected by the change in humanity to meet their day to day lifes.?

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    1. I can never agree with an opinion that argues for the removal of Ugandans off their lands. That is most certainly not the way forward. Making Ugandans dependent on big transnational corporations for food is not progress…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Mr. Dokol Steven, when you assert that “As a positive thinker, what professor reechoed yes is the way forward for our country,” don’t you think that a positive thinker, especially as an elected official to represent his people would have something positive to offer those he represents when he kicks them off their land, their sole livelihood, and gives it to whoever he chooses, would offer his people better than this: “we re-direct the rest of the population to something else”?

      What is that something else that he can’t even name? Who determines what that something else is and how much its worth is?

      We all have an obligation to each other to make sure that our fellow citizens are not driven off their land and end up in some type of South African homelands where Black Africans were forced to camp (or re-direct the rest of the population to something else) for the rest of their lives and their descendants, all done in the name of progress. This language is dangerous coming from a lawmaker, “All those countries that re-designed themselves, they never increased their land holdings, but they decided that the land that we have, few people will use it to give us the food we need and then we re-direct the rest of the population to something else.”- said Prof. Latigo.

      This is unprecedented coming from an elected official talking about the people he is supposed to represent talking of kicking people he represents of their land so that they can do something else!. Something else like what? Begging on the streets? What is that something else that he himself as a representative of the people he is unable to mention!

      “We may have to invest more on quality education so that we can have people who can competently use their brains rather than the hoes.” – said Prof. Latigo. https://nowaraga.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/land-grabbing-and-independence-ethos/comment-page-1/#comment-930

      Did someone inform Prof. Latigo that Adolf Hitler used his brains rather than the hoes and see what he accomplished! For sure the world would have been better off had he used a hoe rather than his brains.

      “First they came …” is a famous statement and provocative poem written by Pastor Martin … Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. ….

      Mr. Dokol Steven, I would almost say for certain that you are not a peasant cultivator that would be affected by Prof. Latigo’s radical moves because his experiment would entirely affect lives of the majority to the population. The kind of positive thinking I hope you will aspire to is not just a change for the sake of change or without a clear cut plan of how the change will be better than what you are removing, or else you will be re-echoing regrets when it;s too late and too costly like we have seem before and keep seeing – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36018223

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