The ICT paradox in Uganda: The convergence of radio and telephony in the power contest between the resurging Buganda Nationalism and the central government
This paper examines the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the power contest between the re-emerging traditionalism and the flagging influence of nationalism in Uganda. The analysis is placed within a globalized information revolution that swept through the African continent resulting in the liberalization of the airwaves and the telephony which effectively ended the monopoly of governments over the primary channels of communication with the population. Specifically, the paper offers an analysis of how the convergence of the Buganda Kingdom FM radio station, the Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) and the now ubiquitous cell phone, have contributed to the resurgence of Buganda nationalism and is leading the kingdom's power contest against the previously all powerful central government over land ownership. Second, the paper presents a brief historical perspective to establish the context and clarify the factors responsible for this power contest between the two previously erstwhile allies. The paper also suggests how the conflict could be resolved and how ICT could be used productively to maximize globalization benefits while minimizing the destabilizations, dislocations, disparities, distortions, and the escalation of disruptions that caused the power contest and threaten to plunge the country into a bloodbath.
While the convergence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) was previously assumed to spawn positive outcomes that would enhance the betterment of humanity, the convergence of the most popular radio and telephony in Uganda has, on the contrary, heightened tensions between the central government and the most powerful and influential cultural institution and is threatening to plunge the country into a bloody political crisis. Drawing from the definition by the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (2000) which broadly refers to information and communication technologies (ICT) as both traditional (e.g., radio, TV, print, video or film, telephone, and cell phones) and newer technologies (e.g., internet, virtual reality, distance education applications, and mind-computer interface technologies), this paper examines the convergence of radio and the cell phone in the struggle between resurgent Buganda nationalism and the central government in Uganda. In addition, this paper draws from the insights by Zembylas and Vrasidas (2005) who view the role of ICT as both a symbol and an aspect of globalization. The authors stated:
They are symbols because they offer the most powerful networking platform for communication, information, education, democracy, culture, and business that is unrestricted by borders. As aspects of globalization, ICTs impact on mobility and communication and cause social, cultural, political, and other changes around the world. (Zembylas & Vrasidas, 2005, p. 81).
Consistent with these insights, this paper operationalizes the ICT definition by examining how CBS radio operators and talk show hosts have achieved a convergence between the radio and the cell phone in Uganda to influence and change the political landscape in the country. Sserwanga (2008) observed that “people in Uganda can call the radio on their cell phones from the safety of their homes and voice their opinions freely without fear of anybody. And this has empowered them and rejuvenated their pride in their culture,” (p. 11).
This paper provides a first step in the process to understand how the convergence of some ICTs can be used to reshape the political landscape in Uganda and contributes to the literature on how nation states are impacted by the global information infrastructure. The current use of ICTs in Uganda underlines how they can be used to challenge the statusquo and undermine its legitimacy contrary to previous observations by Norris (2001) who contended that the globalization of information or informational capitalism (Parayil, 2005) would perpetuate the hegemony of dominant political and social groups and further suppress the rights and voices of ordinary citizens. The study also highlights some of the contradictions, in Africa, that are a result of the ICT-enhanced liberalization of the global economy. Specifically, the government of Uganda enthusiastically pursues neo liberal free market economic policies but curtails the enjoyment of other elements of globalization such as good governance, democracy, freedom of speech and association under the guise of protecting the sanctity of the nation state.
Therefore, through an analysis of the use of the convergence of the FM radio and the cell phone, this paper illuminates one of the main paradoxes of ICTs, “globalization in reverse,” (Friedman, 2006, p. 480), a tendency where local communities contradict and defy the assumed outcome of the global information infrastructure, homogeneity of global cultures, and instead seek to rediscover, rarefy, and celebrate their ethnic or tribal cultural values. Rather than destroy Buganda's traditional cultural values, this case study highlights a scenario where the convergence of ICTs is used to contribute towards a renaissance of neo-tribal nationalism to challenge the hegemony of the central government to near disintegration.
Review of Literature
Anchored in existing literature on Information and Communication Technologies, the ICT paradox in Uganda that has resulted into the resurgence of the Buganda kingdom is consistent with the observation by Zembylas and Vrasidas (2005) who noted that those who were predicted as potential losers would start to emerge as likely winners. While this paper shows how the convergence of ICTs has been used to internally challenge the hegemony of the state in Uganda, it is also consistent with the literature on globalization. Ebo (2002), Ogounsola (2005), and Nissanke and Thorbecke (2006) observe that, when leaders in developing countries unquestioningly embrace globalization, they unwittingly undermine their personal and government legitimacy because they are viewed by citizens as agents of neo colonialism and globalization but not representatives of the interests of the diverse communities that make up the colonial state. In addition to the foregoing, this paper adds to other examples of classical outcomes of ICT-driven globalization that divide countries between the haves and have nots (Norris, 2001; Parayil, 2005; Warschauer, 2003a, 2003b).
Relevance of ICTs upon Governance and Democracy
Preliminary research on the impact of ICTs upon governance and democracy, consistently suggested that large media corporations and the government had dominated political discourse and were hesitant to orchestrate interactive communications to transform politics and governance (Ebo, 2002; Norris, 2001; Ogunsola, 2005; Parayil, 2005; Robbin, Courtright, & Davis, 2004; Warschauer, 2003a, 2003b). Other researchers noted that because of the dominance of corporations in directing and controlling the global information revolution, nation's states and traditional institutions would economically, culturally, and politically succumb to the forces of globalization and become homogeneous (Giddens, 1990). While the preceding argument is plausible, still other researchers on the role of ICTs in Africa predicted that, because FM radio telephones are relatively cheap to establish in Africa, they would become a necessity in politics and would play a catalytic role in empowering people to eventually shake authoritarian rule (Nyamnjoh, 2005; Van der Veur, 2003).
The argument that the radio and the cell phone in liberalized market economies would bring about changes in the political landscape and even defy cultural homogeneity was advanced by Friedman (2006), Nissanke and Thorbecke (2006) and Zembylas and Vrasidas (2005). This paper advances the latter thread of analysis using the convergence of the Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) radio and the cell phone to resist what the Buganda kingdom considered an attempt to erode the major pillar of its cultural existence. However, it is also worth noting that unregulated use of ICTs especially radio and telephone in African political environments pose the risk and danger of amplifying the already existing tribal divisions in African societies and could lead to dire consequences (Adesida, 2008). Adesida (2008) warned that unless a fair regulatory and policy environment is established to moderate talk shows on radios, resurrection of ethnic hostilities would not be avoided.
The Uganda Situation
There are widespread fears in Uganda that the country could be plunged into another bloodbath if the government and the Buganda kingdom do not stop the on-going bitter war of words in the media over the proposed controversial land amendment bill of 2007 (Land Amendment Bill, 2007) that is currently before parliament. The bill seeks to criminalize landlords who evict tenants without a court order and also aims at amending the land act to enhance the security of occupancy for lawful and bona fide occupants on registered land (Land Amendment Bill, 2007). Whereas the government argues that existing land laws provide that lawful and bona fide occupants should enjoy security of occupancy of the land, there have been wide spread evictions of tenants which the proposed land amendment should stop. The Buganda kingdom has rejected the bill, arguing that the government wants to grab its ancestral land (Among & Tebajjukira, 2008; Buganda Kingdom, 2004; CBS, 2008; Nnyago, 2008; Ssejjoba & Lukwago, 2008; Ssemujju, 2008).
Having failed to agree on a face-to-face meeting between President Yoweri Museveni and the Kabaka (King) of Buganda, Ronald Mutebi, to resolve the impasse, the two sides have taken their contest to the airwaves to appeal to the court of public opinion for mediation of the conflict. But the war of words fought in the media is only inciting sentiments of ethnic hatred and has almost brought the country to the brink of a political crisis similar to that endured in 1966. For example, both CBS (2008) and Akaki (2008) have stated that the government wants to grab Buganda kingdom's land and give it to Bahima pastoralists, scornfully and disdainfully referred to as Balalo and “foreign pastoralists,” a veiled reference to the fiercely resented Rwandese Tutsi pastoralists who are closely linked to Bahima, the ethnic group to which President Museveni belongs.
The bitter war of words is reminiscent of the pre-1966 Uganda crisis when the central government with Apollo Milton Obote as executive prime minister and Edward Muteesa, then ceremonial president of Uganda but also king (Kabaka) of the Buganda kingdom, failed to amicably resolve a political stalemate. The then prime minister Obote dispatched General Iddi Amin Dada, who launched a pre-dawn attack on the king's palace, deposed the king. Prime Minister Obote then abolished all kingdoms and declared Uganda a republic with himself as president (Mulira, 2006). This time, the main protagonists are different. The current president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was then a high school student while the present Kabaka, Ronald Mutebi, son of the late King Edward Muteesa, was only 11 years old.
According to Mulira (2006), when the British declared the Buganda kingdom a British protectorate in 1890, they used Buganda traditional chiefs to spread their rule over what later became Uganda (Independence Day October 9, 1962.) The British then rewarded the collaborating chiefs with large portions of land known as Mailo (mile) land which they would own in perpetuity. Mulira states that most of these lands had Baganda cultivators settled on them. The king was given 350 square miles of land for his collaboration and became the biggest landlord. In traditional Buganda culture, the Kabaka (king) is the most revered individual and according to the current Archbishop of the Catholic Church, Dr. Cyprian Lwanga:
Baganda's love for their king was in their blood. No one could take it away unless by ‘sucking their blood.’ This is why the Baganda use numerous names to describe the Kabaka Ssabasajja (man of all men), Empologoma ya Buganda (lion of Buganda), Ssabataka (owner of all land in Buganda), Magulu-nyondo (one with hammer-like legs), and baffe (the head of all families) (Ssejjoba & Lukwago, 2008, p. 1).
With such reverence, more so expressed by the head of a church with nearly 50 percent of the Ugandan population (Ssejjoba & Lukwago, 2008), the battle lines were drawn and the Kingdom's CBS radio organized live radio phone-in talk shows and worked-up the cultural emotions of the Baganda to take the lead in the power contest between the central government and the kingdom over land. Besides, when the kingdom of Buganda was restored in 1993 by the current government, (Buganda Kingdom, 2004; Land Amendment Bill, 2007), the Kabaka's role was only restricted to cultural functions and, through legal maneuvering, was not allowed to engage in politics as was the case before the pre-1966 crisis. The lack of political power and control over its strategic traditional land in the center of the country has always been a thorny issue between the Buganda kingdom with its headquarters at Mengo, and the central government headquartered in Kampala, also in Buganda. When the Kingdom failed to regain a federal political status at the promulgation of the constitution in 1995, the relationship between president Museveni and Kabaka Mutebi were further strained and suspicions between the two former allies heightened (Ssemujju, 2008).
The Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) Radio Campaign
The bubble burst when the government unveiled plans in 2007 to amend the land act to protect unregistered tenants on mailo land. The Buganda kingdom officials took to the airwaves using their very own Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) FM radio to protest and mobilize opposition to the proposed land amendments. The CBS propounded that the “government had a hidden agenda to grab Kabaka's land and leave all the Baganda landless” (CBS, 2008). The concerted and listener-centered media campaign on the two channels of the kingdom's CBS FM radio fermented open resentment among the Baganda towards the government and proved an instant triumph for the Buganda establishment.
Broadcasting in Luganda, the most widely spoken and understood language in the country, the radio stations live talk show hosts adopted a listener-participatory approach through live-phone-in technique on the two frequencies; 88.8 and 89.2 FM.
“Through the strategy, all levels of the Baganda population were reached; the poor and the rich, men and women, rural and urban, the illiterate and the elite alike. In addition, coverage of the broadcasts was expanded to reach the economically and politically powerful Baganda community in the Diaspora through Web casting. In return, the Baganda in the Diaspora also weighed in by calling directly into the programs. The programs accomplished a phenomenal listener response in both Uganda and in the Diaspora expressing listener opinions, “(Ssemujju, 2008, p. 1).
Thus, the convergence of the FM radio and the wide availability of cell phones elevated radio program participation to unprecedented levels. Talk show hosts implemented a new innovative platform popularly known as “Bimeeza” or “Round Table.” A Moderator with a cell phone takes radio to the people; goes to any public place and engages an audience to participate in a topical discussion which is then transmitted live to the studio and broadcast in real time. Nnyago stated, “The Bimeeza by CBS radio have become the most popular and effective way of participation and resistance to unpopular government policies especially the land amendment bill. Government attempted to ban them but due to fear of a backlash, the bid was dropped” (2008, p. 12).
In order to strengthen its media campaign after rejection of the land amendment by the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament), the kingdom administration established a Central Civic Education Committee (CCEC) composed mainly of opposition politicians. This change was implemented “to educate the people of Buganda through radio about the Kingdom's position and the threat to their cultural inheritance and the only economic source of livelihood,” (Ssemujju, 2008, p. 1). All the radio programs were punctuated by the relentless broadcasts of such promos as: Ettaka lyaffe ligenda meaning “Our land is going;” Abagwira bagenda kubba ettaka Lya Kabaka meaning “The King's land is being stolen by foreigners;” Muveeyo tokuume ettaka lyaffe meaning “Come out and we fight to protect our land from grabbers and foreigners,” (CBS, 2007, 2008).
In the meantime, the print media was awash with banner headlines quoting guests hosted on the kingdom CBS radio talk shows castigating government for its underhanded methods of dealing with the land problem in the country. A review of the three leading Ugandan newspapers, the Monitor (Dartemamann, 2008), the Sunday Vision (Buwembo, 2008), and the Ugandan Observer (Tumusiime, 2008), generated 160 front page and national news stories on the stalemate over land between the central government, Buganda kingdom, and other stakeholders during the period January 2 and June 15, 2008. During this time debate over the land amendment bill reached its peak after Daniel Omara Atubo, minister of lands, housing, and urban development, tabled the bill before parliament (Land Amendment Bill, 2007).
Highlighting the success and impact of the CBS radio campaign in the political contest between the central government and the Buganda kingdom over land, Nyago (2008) observed that:
All the major newspapers in the country; the New Vision newspaper, the Monitor newspaper, and the Uganda Observer have variously reported that the Kabaka of Buganda, the Lukiiko (parliament) of Buganda, the 52 Buganda clan leaders, the association of bankers, the Catholic Church — nearly 50 percent of all Ugandans are Catholics, the Uganda Joint Christian Council, land economists association, all opposition political parties, the Uganda Law Society, parliamentary caucuses from other regions of Uganda such as Acholi, Lango, Karamoja, and Teso have rejected the land amendment bill because CBS radio has made it too risky to support and alienate themselves from their constituents,” (p. 12).
Overall, the broadcasts expressed defiance, an uncompromising stance over the land issue and streamed persistent agitations from across the kingdom to grant the Buganda a federal status to administer itself and effectively take control of its cultural, economic, and natural resources. In extreme cases, the broadcasts demanded total secession of the Buganda kingdom from Uganda. What emerged as alarming to the entire nation in the power contest were the prophesies of doom in the broadcasts. The broadcasts made parallels between the likely outcome of Uganda's land deadlock and the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994 and the bloody ethnic clashes in Kenya after the botched presidential election of December 2007 (Akaki, 2008).
While parallels could be drawn between the pre-genocide broadcasts by the Rwanda Hutu radio and those by the CBS FM radio in Uganda particularly with regard to fermenting hatred in the population, the models adopted by either radio differed significantly. The broadcasts by the Rwanda Hutu radio were based on the classic sender-receiver model of communication that focused on one person sending a message to another person or group of persons through a channel. That form of mediated communication common in traditional mass media such as television and radio is basically one directional or linear (Laswell, 1948; Shannon & Weaver, 1949). Broadcasts based on that model, as was done on the Rwanda Hutu radio offered no opportunity for interactive feedback from listeners.
On the contrary, the communication model adopted by the CBS radio talk show hosts in Uganda was unique because it was more interactive, dynamic, and transactional — both the hosts and listeners were simultaneously sending and receiving messages in multiple contexts either through cell phones or on the innovative Bimeeza (round-table) live platforms. The CBS radio model was even more complex in its dialogical encounters between the broadcasters and the listeners. Listeners were afforded the opportunity to engage one another, talk show hosts, and panelists to share and reflect on their diverse fields of experiences to interpret and negotiate meanings with one another to co-construct moments of shared understanding (Pearson, Nelson, Titsworth, & Harter, 2003). Thus, while the thrust of the debate revolved around fears of grabbing Buganda land by the central government, multiple unifying Buganda values were energetically debated and no opinion was privileged except through consensus (Nyago, 2008).
Sensing continuous erosion and undermining of his authority, President Yoweri Museveni took the Kabaka and the Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) radio head on. He wrote a hard-hitting letter, in which he accused the administration of the Kingdom of intrigue, bad faith, seditious tendencies, and incitement of the public by opposition politicians using the kingdom radio to frustrate government programs especially the land amendment bill. He questioned the rationale and veracity of the slogan Ettaka lyaffe ligenda (Our land is going) by retorting: Ligenda wa? meaning “Where is it going?” In the meantime, the effectiveness of newly innovated Bimeeza (round table broadcasts) was not lost on President Museveni. He rebuked those who “waste their time abusing me on Bimeeza and chides them to stop wasting time and go and engage in agriculture to produce more food and take advantage of the rising food prices on the global market,” (Muwanga, 2008, p. 1).
In an attempt to defuse the conflict, the president requested a meeting with the Kabaka but the latter turned down the invitation and insisted that the meeting would only take place on his terms (Ssemujju, 2008; Ssenkabirwa, 2008). Exasperated by the Buganda and Kabaka's parochialism, obstinacy and snub, president Museveni's security agencies swung into action. The police criminal investigation department summoned and interrogated “four Buganda government officials over allegations of inciting violence and promoting hatred against the government in the stand off between mengo and the central government over land matters. The officials included the kingdom's Attorney General, the CBS general manager, and two CBS radio presenters,” (Mwanje & Ssenkabirwa, 2008, p. 1). Next to be arrested and grilled was a female opposition Member of Parliament for a constituency within Kampala district and charged with sedition and inciting ethnic hatred (“President Museveni,” 2008).
To many observers, the battle lines were clearly drawn. During his state of the nation address, President Museveni referred to traditional chiefs as “irrelevant to modern African leadership because they had failed to defend the continent from colonialism” (Muhumuza, 2008, p. 1). He also dismissed their daily claims and agitation for land on CBS radio as false and frivolous (Among & Tebajjukira, 2008). But through their radio, the Buganda kingdom officials returned the salvos and accused the president of using them as scapegoats because his government had failed to deliver basic social services to the population, was the most corrupt of all post independent regimes, and fermented ethnic hatred in the country (Mwanje, 2008). Mwanje (2008) added that one kingdom official charged, “Traditional chiefs were not corrupt. They did not mortgage the country to foreign interests as this government has done. We will not accept to be smeared. We will continue demanding what is due to us. Nobody will intimidate us into submission. We will not stop unless you suck our blood,” (p. 1).
To further give its actions against the radio and other “irresponsible media” the force of the law, the cabinet went into a retreat and set up a sub-committee on the media to: “Study all aspects of media management, including the ownership, media laws, funding, man-power, training and qualifications and then advise cabinet to later come out with a government position,” (Musoke, 2008, p. 1). But other sections of the media were not as charitable calling the move: a crackdown on the media, muzzling the critical media, the death of democracy in Uganda, NRM loses battle for hearts and minds, cabinet to delete “press freedom” from constitution, and press freedom remains elusive in Uganda (Butagira, 2008; Matsiko, 2008; Ssengoba, 2008, Sserwanga, 2008; Ssemujju, 2008).
The ICT Outcomes
Undoubtedly, the convergence and effective use of ICTs e.g., the CBS FM radio, the cell phone, and to some extent web casting, challenged the government establishment to a point of sending it into desperate moves to muzzle the media and suffocate democracy. But the winds of change are not stoppable. The resurgence of Buganda nationalism has seriously undermined the moral authority of the government. It is not clear what the future will look like given the draconian steps the government is taking to stem the tide of a Buganda renaissance and whip up the flagging nation state. The Ugandan CBS radio case is a typical example of the uncertainties, paradoxes, and ambiguities that have characterized research on ICTs in the globalization process to such an extent that no conclusive predictions have been made about the direction of this multi-dimensional process.
Paradoxes in this analysis are evident. First, the paper enhances the thesis against technological determinism and attempts to refute the claim that ICTs lead to a global monoculture. Buganda kingdom's use of ICTs contradicts the globalization narrative because rather than use the symbols and tools of globalization to globalize, the kingdom uses them to defy homogeneity to promote self identity and cultural preservation.
Second, while the Ugandan government pursues a neo-liberal free market policy that has led to the privatization of all previously state-owned corporations and total divesture from business, the same government is still desperately holding a firm grip on the political liberties and freedoms of its population to express opposing views using the very airwaves it liberalized. Don't neo-liberal economics go hand in hand with political liberalism? Third, there is also an apparent contradiction in the Buganda kingdom establishment for its lack of interest and concern to protect the Baganda peasants who are the majority of victims of the evictions in Buganda by rich landlords.
But more importantly, the impact of the use of ICT described in this paper contradicts earlier research on the use of ICTs which predicted that ICT-driven globalization would annihilate traditional cultures and foster homogeneity of global cultures. Instead, this paper suggests that the convergence of ICTs has instead rekindled neo tribal nationalism, undermined the nation state from within, and rendered the argument about total cultural homogeneity a pipe dream. The Buganda government has defied the odds by effectively using tools and symbols of globalization, the radio and cell phones, to re-emerge from oblivion into a major force in Ugandan politics. It is using ICT to reignite a new form of neo-tribal nationalism to fight hegemony and regain its lost power and glory by mobilizing support around unifying cultural symbols, land and the Kabakaship.
Thus, the thrust of the paper has been to highlight how a community once deprived of its values and forced to cohabit with others at the expense of losing its unifying cultural components has used ICTs to champion a popular cause for its people, the Baganda, to orchestrate a resurgence. The revival has witnessed a renewed interest in the local language, traditional dress, food, music, rituals, norms, beliefs, and customs. The reverberations of the budding Buganda renaissance have triggered calls from other parts of the country seeking more government transparency, accountability, and citizen self-determination.
However, besides the confrontations between the central government and the Buganda kingdom, the big rush towards land acquisition has been caused by the symbols and forces of globalization. Since 1987, the government adopted the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, two major international financial organizations, that, together with ICTs and the World Trade Organization (WTO), are the driving forces behind globalization (Friedman, 2006; Parayil, 2005; Ogunsola, 2005). Responding to the SAP economic policies, the Uganda government opened up the economy, pursued sound macro-economic management, created a good investment climate that resulted in investor confidence, increased Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) attraction, stable inflation rates, and an unprecedented economic growth of between 6.5 percent to 8.9 percent since 1995 (International Monetary Fund, 2008; World Bank, 2008).
As a result of these positive and stable economic indicators, Uganda became an investment destination that triggered the scramble for land. In its enthusiastic bid to attract investors and out-compete neighboring countries, the Ugandan government went on a land donation spree to investors that were infamously dubbed by sections of the press as “government land bonanza” (Ssenkabirwa, 2008). To make matters worse, all donated pieces of land are located in the central and strategic Buganda kingdom, where the largest populations of Ugandans, the Baganda, live. The result was that nobody trusted the government any longer as a custodian of public land or any other public institution.
Therefore, the power contest or the struggle for hegemony orchestrated through ICTs has exposed weaknesses in the fragile nation state put together by the British colonial masters and has to some extent, undermined the degree of nationalism in the country. More and more people want to be identified first and foremost with their ethnic groups and not with the national government. This has resulted in a flagging legitimacy and erosion of moral authority of the colonial state that is now negatively perceived as a corrupt, wasteful, monolithic, incompetent, and autocratic institution. It is perceived to have failed to reduce widespread poverty and to deliver basic services to the population and only preoccupied and obsessed with the insatiable desire to hold on to power using coercive security agencies and other state organizations at any cost. But it has also exposed neo tribal nationalism as a movement that is sometimes oblivious to logic and co-existence.
This paper has discussed the role of the convergence of radio, cell phone, and to some extent Web casting as components of ICT, symbols, and aspects of globalization, and how the Buganda kingdom, currently a cultural institutional by law, has effectively used them to challenge the power of the previously all powerful state, and raise a level of traditionalism that has undermined the degree of nationalism in the country and the moral authority of the central government. Using the radio platform and other symbols and aspects of globalization, this paper suggests that those who use ICTs can change the minds of people and win over their hearts. But more importantly, out of this empowerment through the use of the convergence between the radio platform and the telephony, the hitherto gagged Buganda kingdom has contradicted the globalization narrative that predicted the collapse of indigenous cultures through the homogenizing power and influence of the global information infrastructure.
The paper also suggests that the Buganda kingdom is succeeding in defying the narrative of the global village represented by the neo liberal Uganda government that seeks to reform the traditional land tenure system, modernize agriculture, and maximize the benefits of the global market. But, operationalized in the manner as utilized by the NRM government, this method clearly diminishes the role and influence of cultural institutions which the Buganda kingdom has unequivocally rejected and dismissed as simply bunk. However, the collective ethical responsibility of President Yoweri Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Mutebi is to step back from their rhetoric, transcend their assumed differences and become transformative statesmen and leaders of distinction to save the country from degenerating into another specter of bloodshed.
The article presents just one example to highlight how a suppressed community in Uganda has used the convergence of ICTs to set and execute a political agenda to regain its lost glory. It does not, in any way, cast a vote of no confidence in the power of ICTs to foster unity and positive social change. Indeed, ICTs in Uganda have not only been used to challenge the statusquo. They have been effectively used by government to mobilize the population to participate in political programs, developmental activities such as health campaigns against HIV/AIDS epidemic, immunization of children against preventable diseases, promotion agriculture, and by corporations to widen their markets. Civil societies, educational institutions, and individuals have also used ICTS for various activities aimed at improving people's lives.
Recommendations for further research
While this study focused on the radio, telephone, and to a limited extent web casting, only three components of Information Communication and Technologies (ICTs) have been studied in a political realm. Also, since this paper has only analyzed a complex issue from secondary data, and existing literature, there is need to conduct a more empirical study that gives voice to sections of the Ugandan population to clearly understand, clarify, and correlate the extent to which the convergence of radio and telephony have contributed to a resurgence of Buganda tribal nationalism and undermined government legitimacy, and the moral authority of the nation state. It is also recommended that future studies should be conducted to assess the extent to which the same ICTs and other technologies have contributed to the progress or detriment of other national development programs such as health, agriculture, environment protection, education, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, poverty alleviation, good governance, and the fight against corruption. Finally, to effectively anchor this paper into the globalization of information framework, future studies should examine how ICTs in Uganda have unlocked new channels for Ugandans to communicate and collaborate with the rest of the world to innovate and advance their individual, organizational, community, tribal, and national interests.
The author is grateful to the University of North Texas College of Information.