By Alain Mucyo
An extensive revision of history is underway in Uganda. As Museveni prepares to hand over power to his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba in 2026, efforts are increasingly being placed in framing his father, Yoweri Museveni, as one of the greatest African nationalists to ever live. Andrew Mwenda’s The Independent Magazine this week published an article that compares Museveni to Nyerere “their similarities, differences, ideological convergences.” It’s a comical exercise.
One would be tempted to leave it at that. However, a pattern is quickly emerging. Just last week Muhoozi Kainerugaba tweeted that his father is among “the greatest African nationalists ever,” adding, “Mzee Museveni is without a doubt in the top 5 Africans ever made.” Kainerugaba placed his father in the company of Nelson Mandela Madiba, Kwame Nkrumah, and Samora Machel.”
Mwenda immediately interjected. Not to highlight the absurdity of Muhoozi’s excessively cloying filial puffery of his father, but rather to try to draw some of the sting from the abuse Muhoozi was taking from angry Ugandans whom he had attempted to take for fools.
The cunning operator that he is, Mwenda expanded on Muhoozi’s list in order to provide cover for the target of Ugandans’ vitriol – Museveni. Mwenda also wasn’t fooling anyone. Those commenting on his salvage effort asked him why he had forgotten to add Idi Amin and Joseph Kony to his list. Others wondered why he had omitted John Garang, who Mwenda himself had once reported was killed by President Museveni.
Most importantly, Mwenda and Kainerugaba’s coordinated little charade of pas des deux, published less than a week apart, had fallen flat. What, really, would any reasonable person find comparable – instead of extreme contrasts – between Museveni and Nyerere?
The Independent’s article rightly notes that “Nyerere is not only a revered figure in Tanzania but across many parts of Africa where he is often cited in such pantheon of liberation heroes as Kwameh Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral and Samora Machel.” However, again like in Mwenda and Muhoozi’s tweets, this is a back-door effort to smuggle Museveni into the “pantheon” of Cabral, NKuruma, Machel, and Nyerere. By evoking Nyerere as a compatriot of Museveni, Mwenda and Kainerugaba are trying to sneak Museveni where he truly does not belong.
The article, therefore, is intended to abusively instrumentalise Nyerere, the African icon, as a bridge for Museveni’s entirely undeserved membership in the club of “the Greatest African nationalists.”
Nyerere a “marked failure”?
As if smuggling weren’t criminal enough, the human traffickers even attempt to place Museveni above Nyerere, referring to the latter as a “marked failure.” With extreme audacity, they add that despite Nyerere’s failures, Museveni “has seemingly been willing to overlook” them. If Nyerere is a candidate for sainthood, the only conclusion to draw is that Museveni is aiming for a status above sainthood!
At this point the reader’s mind begins to spin as one thinks of the hilarious claim of Museveni overlooking anyone’s failures, let alone those of Nyerere – as great an African nationalist as they come.
One of the NRM’s “intellectuals”, Professor Tarsis Kabwegere tries to explain why Museveni is better than Nyerere. “Nyerere was more of a ‘constructionist, unlike Museveni who inherited a failed state,” Kabwegere starts his hallucinatory explanation. “Nyerere fought and defeated colonialism unlike Museveni who inherited a failed state beyond the colonial state.”
Museveni is thus sold as better than Nyerere because “Museveni had a bigger problem to deal with because of the collapsed economy. On the other hand, Nyerere has been judged as someone who stifled the Tanzanian economy.”
The comedy continues: Museveni, like Nyerere, has “a disdain for tribalistic tendencies.” The paramount chief of Rwakitura, who has mastered ethnic chauvinism by handing the state to a small click of Bahima, apparently does all this because of his disdain for tribalism!
The strained comparisons between Museveni and Nyerere continue to pile up despite evidence to the contrary. We are told that Nyerere, like Museveni, was convinced a strong East African Federation was needed. Accordingly, “Museveni has committed himself to Uganda and the region,” they write without concern that Museveni is the greatest impediment to regional integration in his capacity as saboteur. “You cannot erase the contribution he [Museveni] has made in uplifting the image people have of the African continent.”
As far as Museveni’s commitment to the region and uplifting its people are concerned, many Rwandans who have turned up from Uganda tortured, limbs broken, or who have had to bury their loved ones can testify to the kind of “uplifting” they have received from Museveni.
Museveni was in Tanzania in the 1960s when Nyerere was preaching Ujaaama or “family hood,” according to the article in The Independent. However, Museveni must have taken “familyhood” literally to mean that the state exists to serve his immediate family.
In 2015, the Kenyan journalist Jeff Koinange asked Museveni, “Do you wake up some time and feel, you know what, this is too much for me?” In one of those rare occasions that the late President Obote must have meant when he observed that “Museveni is a pathological liar who speaks the truth only by accident, here how Museveni responded: “It doesn’t matter because I am working for myself. I’m not working for other people. I’m working for my grandchildren and for my children.” Does that sound like Africa’s great nationalist? It doesn’t.
Now imagine Julius Nyerere as a defendant in a global corruption scandal, accused of receiving a bribe, and the court proceedings referring to him as Exhibit 1510. You can’t? It seems no one can, except Mwenda and Kainerugaba, of course.
Whatever the comical duet, and now Kabwegere are up to, they can’t in all seriousness think that anyone outside their master’s circle of sycophants is buying whatever they are selling.
Museveni is in the company of Mobutu Sese Seko not Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Like Mobutu, Museveni will ride the sunset of his presidency and whatever is left of his life as a reactionary relic of another era whose mention in the same breath with the truly Great African nationalists will remain blasphemous. No amount of revisionist history will change that.