OMISSION of the late Milton Obote's name from the list of
founders of the East African Community caused a stir at the
regional workshop on the EA political federation here on Friday.
Tanzanian and Ugandan delegates, in particular, warned that
the omission of the name of the former Ugandan leader could
set a bad precedent and hamper the current efforts for regional
"This is wrong. This would not be taken lightly by a
section of the Ugandan population and could cause a problem
with the federation," complained Mr Lyelmoi Otong Ongaba,
the secretary general of the Uganda National Organisation
of Trade Unions.
He said he was surprised that Obote's name was omitted by
speakers and videos shown to the delegates at the two-day
workshop that was attended by members of the national consultative
committees on EA political federation from the three countries.
The saga started when old documentaries depicted the late
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta presiding over
functions and addressing crowds, apparently as the only the
founders of EAC in the 1960s with none showing Dr Obote.
This was followed by a recent documentary of President Yoweri
Museveni discussing the importance of EA regional integration
in which he paid tribute to Mwalimu Nyerere and Mzee Kenyatta
as the pillars of EAC with no mention of the former Ugandan
At this juncture Mr Ibrahim Kaduma, from Tanzania inquired
why the name of Obote who found the former EAC with Nyerere
and Kenyatta in 1967, was skipped.
Mr Kaduma, a former minister for foreign affairs in the 1970s
said it was wrong to isolate leaders who played a key role
in the EA integration as this could harm efforts for the desired
Ms Beatrice Kiraso, the EAC deputy secretary general (Political
Federation), who chaired the session, apologised for the mishap
and said Obote played an active role in the formation of the
EAC and its current revival.
Mr Jerry Okungu, a media and communication consultant from
Kenya who prepared a communication strategy for fast-tracking
EA federation, said he did not have time to obtain past documentaries
"I was hired for this job only recently and could not
get enough time to get all I needed from the archives of the
three countries. This would not happen again in future as
I would have ample time," he said.
Obote, who died last year after 20 years in exile in Zambia,
was Uganda's prime minister from independence in 1962 to 1966
and president thereafter until he was deposed in January 1971
by Idi Amin. He bounced back to power in 1980 to 1985 when
he was overthrown again by the military.
Together with the late Nyerere and Kenyatta, they founded
the former EAC, which collapsed in 1977 due to political and
ideological differences between Tanzania and Kenya.
He was the Ugandan head of state in 1984 when the three states
agreed, for the first time since 1977, to explore ways to
resume regional cooperation. This culminated in the revival
of the present EAC in the 1990s.
The executive secretary of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation
Joseph Butiku from Tanzania cautioned the three countries
to be wary of the past mistakes, which led to the collapse
of the former EAC.
- Monitor -