Ssemujju Nganda and President Yoweri Vasco da Gam-useveni.

Mid last month, Forum For Democratic Change publicity secretary Hon. Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda likened President Yoweri Museveni to the famous portuguese explorer VASCO DA GAMA. Nganda was highlighting the president’s poverty country wide tours during the months of july and August. The Hon MP said

‘Museveni has turned himself into a Vasco Da Gama, who when he hears there are poor People in Jinja, he makes a trip there to only go and see them and actually leave them the same. Then the same for Bundibugyo, Amuru or any Part of the Country.’

 Hon. Ssemujju as a journalist should know better the history of Vasco Da Gama and his ever lasting influence over Europe, Africa and the world in general due to his tours. But since he demonstrated his lack of this well documented knowledge, let me remind him of the immense history of his travelling and the changes that world faced and still faces in his wake.

Vasco da Gama was born in Sines, Portugal around 1460 and when he was old enough, he joined the navy where he was taught how to navigate in a field in which he went on to be known as a tough and fearless navigator. During the reign of  Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal around the 15th century, a global exploration age was initiated and the aim was to find an ocean route to link europe and Asia in order to find a more proficient way to access the spices and riches of India. The overland route was a long, arduous journey fraught with the dangers of war and pillage. Vasco Da Gama managed to sail around Africa reaching Calicut India on May 20, 1498 bringing an end to the cumbersome overland trade route.

President Museveni too started walking Uganda at early age and discovered that his tribesmen (cattle Keepers) nomadic farming practices were not sustainable and took time to persuade them to settle down, build permanent homesteads and manage their animals numbers and quality.

Fifty years later in 2019, an exploration to districts of Mbarara, Kiruhura, Kazo, Ibanda and Ntungamo will testify that his trips and interaction with pastoral communities paid off pretty big time. Milk and meat production statistics in Uganda will show that this very region produces over 60% of these products.

Vasco Da Gama’s trip to India enhanced the European economy through trade with the east, which was previously dominated by Muslims who were geographically closer. It led to an era of European imperialism in Africa and the East making European countries world leaders and it also marked the start of global multiculturalism.

On the other hand President Museveni’s explorations of Uganda political landscape brought him into contact with African liberation struggles as a young man and these encounters have shaped a major part of his adult life which is dominated by fighting Amin’s dictatorial regime,Obote’s incompetent government, Lutwa’s inept and shot lived government and rebel groups that dotted Uganda till all of them were completely eliminated.

Vasco Da Gama and his crew overcame the challenge of sailing through waters which were previously unknown to Europeans. In April 1498, they became the first Europeans to visit the port of Mombasa in Kenya, which lay in their route to India. His expedition was financially successful beyond his and Portuguese wildest dreams because he brought in cargo that was worth sixty times the cost  of the expedition.

President Museveni’s exploration led him to Luwero jungles in 1980 commanding 47 fighters with only 27 of them armed which was madness to say the least. Nevertheless this didn’t deter the determined National Resistance Army from attaining victory in 1986. This Luwero expedition was and still is Uganda’s most financially successful ever in our history. Uganda’s GDP jumped from 5,199 million US dollars in 1986 to  27.48 billion US dollars in 2018, life expectancy improved from 47.62 years to 60 years. As a result, Uganda’s population has jumped from 15 million people to 42 million. The proportion of the Ugandan population living below the poverty line declined from 31.1% in 2006 to 21.4% in 2017, and in general economic growth has averaged 6% per annum which is among the best in the world.

From these records of both men, their expeditions at world and national stages brought fortunes to not only for themselves alone but also for their mother countries and changed the history of their continents as well. Hon Ssemujju Nganda’s insinuation that Vasco Da Gama trips were not beneficial is false and smacks of acute ignorance of facts at best and total cluelessness at worst. Nganda himself is a perhaps a wealthy man living peacefully in a now respected Uganda due to President Museveni’s dangerous but patriotic expeditions in Mozambique,Tanzania, Luwero, Congo, Sudan, Liberia, Central African Republic and Somalia.