Kihura Nkuba is a lecturer of classical African history, a businessman and financial engineer. The founder of Action on Earth, an organization that brings black people together to discuss African history, he told Elizabeth Namazzi why he regrets having gone to school and what he thinks of the after life
QN: What provoked your passion for Africa and her history?
ANS: I went to England in the 1980s and gave a couple of lectures in some universities. They invited me to study there and I studied about how Europe reports about Africa. I stumbled on a document by Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in America. I read about Malcom X and I woke up to the fact that there are other black people outside Africa. I decided that I had to find a teacher who would teach me who I was. I went to Senegal and became a student of Sheikh Anta Diop and met a Griot who told me about Africa.
QN: Would you call that your turning point?
ANS:It was. Before that, I was the most brainwashed African you could have come across. I thought that white people were gods and goddesses and that Jesus was white. I used to drink alcohol, soda and eat tinned food and chicken. I used to watch football made in Germany, wear T-shirts, suits and ties made in Europe. I went to England because the training I had received in school gave me an appetite for Europe. It had got me interested in the history of Germany, Italy and everything about Europe, but when I arrived in England, the first thing I saw was how poor people lived over there. And when I started reading about black people, I realized that I wasn’t as educated as I thought I was. I started identifying myself as a black person with a history. I developed a great appetite for Africa and my identity as an African. Today, I am allergic to European-tailored clothes and I only eat food that grows in the soil.
QN: Why are your children studying in Kampala yet you are a big critic of our education system?
ANS: I take them to be trained because they need to learn how to read and write. Otherwise, I am ashamed that my children study in Kampala and I am thinking of taking them away so they can study from home. For their education, I take them to Ghana, Egypt and other places where they can see and learn about Africa.
QN: Do you regret going to school?
ANS Totally. I didn’t need to speak English to succeed; the Chinese don’t speak English, but they are the biggest economy in the world, while America that speaks English is the largest debtor on earth. When I think of all those wasted years I spent in school, I wish I had stayed home and grown maize, reared cows and learnt how to make juice from bananas and sell it across the world. I would be an expert.
QN:How would you react if your child married a white person?
ANS: No, no, no… my children wouldn’t. Really, that would be an aberration. I am not saying I would disown him/her, but my child just wouldn’t marry a white person. I understand your wife is from the Caribbean (Grenada).
QN:Why didn’t you marry someone from Africa if you are so in love with everything African?
ANS: Because Africa is not just the continent. There are black people in Brazil, the Caribbean, America, Europe, India… My wife’s parents were taken as slaves and since I had read about slavery and felt the pain and suffering that those people went through, I wanted to connect with an African person who had suffered the indignities of slavery. 7 things about Nkuba I believe… That any religion can work for you and that God is black. I don’t subscribe to any religion because I believe God didn’t give man any religion. I believe in the creator just to avoid arguments with a lot of people. I believe because my father and other brains that were bigger than me believed. On heaven… I am the only person who doesn’t want to go to heaven; go to heaven to do what? What do I need heaven for when I can have heaven here? What will I do when I wake up in the morning? What do I need heaven for? Will there be matooke? Will there be traditional dances?
Why should I live on promises when I already have something guaranteed? I can create heaven here because heaven and hell are right here. When I die and meet God and He has an issue with what I believe, let Him not invite me to heaven at all; I am not interested. My invitation will be wasted because I will not accept it. During my free time… I read. I have a library of 32,000 books, so I have the largest collection of books about Africa; ancient books from original sources that you will never find anywhere and I have read each one of them and I remember what is in each one of them. My best movies… African movies with black people playing good roles. I have a big collection of African movies, but my best movie is called Sankofa, which was made by an Ethiopian called Harry Girma. I also like movies like Malcom X and Do The Right Thing. I hate Kampala… It’s disorderly and chaotic. You find someone selling chicken here, next to him is somebody selling rice and another selling beer. Then someone is driving a small car and a truck is about to bump into him, while another car has just been knocked by a bodaboda. You build a house here then someone comes and builds a toilet next to your door. Everything is chaotic. It’s madness. As a father… I am very hard on my children because I don’t like children who just sit there and look pretty. That is not the type of children I am raising; children who just follow mummy and daddy or sit on a computer and play games.
My heroes are… Cheikh Anta Diop, Zumbi from Brazil who defeated the Portuguese as well as Hannibal, a black man who led an army of 20,000 Africans against a Roman army of 80,000 soldiers and defeated them. I also admire Ramsey of Egypt, Shaka Zulu, Malcom X, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba and Winnie Mandela, who was the true hero of the South African revolution because if it wasn’t for her, Mandela would have died in jail. DR. Kihura Nkuba is a lecturer in classical African history, a writer and broadcaster. He believes Blacks are the mothers and fathers of the world as we know it today, and does not believe, therefore, that Africa is underdeveloped or that Africans are lazy. He told Elizabeth Namazzi why Africa’s future is in the hands of Africans.
QN: Why are you so passionate about Africa?
ANS: I believe in Africa. I believe in African clothes, African righteousness, African culture, African languages. I believe that African people are the chosen people because at the time of creation there was nobody else. We were the only ones and we lived on earth alone from about 5.5 million years to about 20,000 million years ago when African people gave birth to white people as a result of genetic mutation that place during the ice age. At that time, the first African Grimaldi produced the European Cro-magnon. Once you have studied the history of Europeans and Africa, you can’t help but love Africa and who we are. You are the most beautiful person that earth and humanity ever created. There’s nothing greater than you. Nothing. You are black because you have melanin and it is responsible for how you talk, how you walk, how you live. Melanin controls the ageing process. It gives you dominant genes, which assert themselves. The day I learnt about melanin and how black is not only beautiful but powerful is the day I became free.
QN:Do you believe in witchcraft?
ANS: No, I don’t. Witchcraft means a practice that is evil and involves casting spells. I don’t think anybody has that power. If they did, I would buy it from them and throw it at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and all those exploitative agencies. If there was witchcraft, there would no one dictating anything to this country. So what is your religion? I believe that God didn’t give man religion. I believe that I am are here to do good. I believe that when we die, we go into the hole of judgement and our hearts will be weighed against the feather of truth on the scales of judgement. So your heart will be here, the feather of truth will be there and in order for your heart to balance with the feather of truth you have to declare what you didn’t do on earth. I didn’t rob, I didn’t wink at injustice. That’s what the ancient Egyptians believed and taught Moses because according to the Bible, Moses was educated according to the knowledge of ancient Egyptians. Once you know this, then you know the truth.
Africans are the mothers and fathers of major world religions. If religion didn’t come from Africa, it didn’t grow into all major religions. Even Christianity came from Africa. The first five books of the Bible were written by an African — Moses. He was actually a Musoga — doesn’t the Bible say that he was dropped on the Nile in a basket? They don’t say exactly where, but the Nile starts in Busoga and Basoga make baskets. Besides, there’s no doubt at all that Ancient Egypt is in Uganda. Anybody who wants to debate with me on that can step forward. I throw a challenge to any religious leader to prove that ancient Egypt was not Uganda. So some of Moses’ relatives are in Busoga.
QN: How do you perceive Africa was before colonialism and slavery?
ANS: It was a sea of wonders. You would travel for miles and miles unmolested. There was no theft in Africa. People would leave food on the side of the road and no one would steal it. There was no prison in Africa so nobody ever went to one. African people were hospitable to strangers so they would travel for thousands of miles unmolested. They would only run away from lions. Africans were peaceful people, that’s why all our greetings are about peace, not ‘how are you’, ‘how do you do’ or ‘Hi’. We had systems my friend.
QN: Do you agree that Africa is underdeveloped?
ANS: No way. I believe Africa is the first world. Africa was the first in humanity, first in knowledge. This is the first world. But I believe that our politicians and the people who administer Africa are undeveloped. And I believe if there was some kind of extracting of all of them and taking them away, like if God lifted the entire parliament and taken it heaven, He would have done us a big favour.
QN: You say Africa is the first world. Why is it at the bottom?
ANS: We have studied everybody else but ourselves. We have to be able to answer the riddle of who am I. Every other people on earth are able to tell a connected story of their history, from creation to today. Even white people, who are recent people, can tell you their story but we can’t, yet we are the fathers and mothers of humanity itself. It makes me want to cry. So if we knew our connected story of where we came from, we would know where we are going. But we have lost everything — our language, our culture, land — everything. And we don’t like ourselves. Can you imagine I saw a 26-year-old Indian form Kenya bidding to build a road in Uganda. The Government will pay him and he will make a profit of about $20m yet they can’t give you the tender because you are black. We don’t like ourselves. Black people don’t like themselves because they were taught to hate ourselves and love people who don’t love us.
What makes the African unable is that he has been taught to hate himself. He trusts white people more than his own people. He has been told that he was made inferior. But it is well known that Africans are lazy… You get me from my bed at the age of two and take me to sit in class, away from activity and development and you want me to suddenly wake up and become vibrant? NO. All I did was sit! But you were learning useful things to help you get a good job… Do you know what I studied in school? John Speke. I studied that John Speke met Kabaka Muteesa in 1872. And that’s the only thing I know about Kabaka Muteesa. He didn’t have a coronation, he didn’t marry, he didn’t celebrate a battle, he didn’t commission a big lake… the only thing we know is that he met this lonely lost dumb white man named John Speke. Isn’t that sad? And they put his picture in Kasubi Tombs?I am sad Kasubi tombs caught fire, because they were was the pyramids of Uganda. But that picture of John Speke and Sir Samuel Baker… I am glad they caught fire. I haven’t found out if they really burnt them but I hope they did and their ashes can’t be reconstructed. What was they looking for to come and colonise us? To come and they own us? I don’t even know Kabaka Muteesa’s mother. I don’t even know who his chief commander was or the meteorologist who told him about the right season to plant.
All I learnt in school was John Speke. You know, if the legal system was good in Uganda I would have sued the entire education system. What makes the African unable is that he has no confidence. And he has no confidence because of the education system. It’s our education system that teaches people that the degree of knowledge is enough to make you developed yet there are 306 degrees. So you think Africa will develop if Africans get very many degrees? No. Education has to add to existent knowledge instead of just opening someone’s books. I want people to get an education that involves practical application. I want someone to be given a task — say an acre of land that produces 250 bags of maize today and is told to make it produce 500 bags of maize. If you succeed, then you qualify to be called an agriculturalist. The world has moved on and this is the computer age but they are still studying Sthe t. Lawrence Seaway, problems of New York as if I am going to be the mayor of New York. What do I have to do with New York? They don’t even want me there. Isn’t that madness? I wish I could go and remove the St. Lawrence Seaway so they don’t study it anymore. We need to study things that concern us, not the problems of New York but the problems of Rakai. It’s madness that we have the same education system we had years ago. We are doing exactly the same thing in the same way in the same environment yet we expect different results. That’s madness.
QN: Do you want Africa can go back to the pre-colonial times?
ANS: I don’t want it to go back to precolonial times because it had already fallen from glory at about 662. I want it to go back to that time when we had built pyramids though now we can build a bus that doesn’t need fuel; or we can find a way of making a man walk on water. I want our food to be restored, not African people eating rice from Vietnam. I want African people to call themselves African names not James and Barbara because a name identifies you with your language and culture. I want African people to project their Africanness and culture and to use culture to sustain themselves and develop tools and instruments that will take them forward. I want Africa to redesign and control its destiny. I want Africa to be free, and by that I mean the absence of coercion where leaders can choose their directors and ministers. I want our judges to stop taking trips to America — for what? How many American judges have you seen invited to visit Uganda? I want our people to stop thinking that if I go and study in Europe I will be better educated that the person who studied in Kiswera Primary School because it’s the same education system. I want them to wear our African clothes not clothes from Germany or hold bags by Gucci. I want them to dream freedom. I want people to believe in a black God because the first people He created were blacks.
QN: You have such grand plans for Africa! Why don’t you join politics and use it to as a forum to change Africa?
ANS: Do you know that the President asked me to be a minister and I refused? I told him that if you want me to be a minister let us all (ministers) work for no pay so you can know who is really patriotic. But I remember the President arguing that if you take me from Rwakitura and bring me to Kampala you need to give me a house… but I told him that all those people already have houses. They don’t live in foxholes. That’s why Thomas Sankara became an icon. He gave all his ministers old volkswagens because they were lucky to get a job. But the people also have a problem. How do I come and put up a 14-storeyed building and you all keep quiet? You come and ask me where I got the money from. And that CHOGM thing made me angry, but Temangalo made me angrier.
QN: In your opinion, what is wrong with our country and leaders?
ANS: Two things are making Uganda fail: the leadership is a leadership of plunderism. They are thieves. They are not nationalists. They are plunderers. But I believe that the President doesn’t steal because he has his cows. But he’s the only person I can say that for. His problem is that he shelters those who steal. I believe that he’s a genuine Pan Africanist but Europe pulling him. And I am not grateful that he closes his eyes at people plundering the country. The second problem is that they trust white people more than they trust their own people. I met the President in July and I told him that if he died now he would have died as the president of Asians and Europeans. He promised me that they will start giving contracts to the black people in this country. They have failed to build an independent nation, not an imitator nation.
QN: How can Africa get back her lost glory?
ANS: We have to re-orient ourselves. We have to re-learn. We have to get an ideology that suits us, first of all by defining ourselves as to who we are, where we come from. If you are a black person, you need to know nobody else wants you in the world. Nobody wants black people, so it is ridiculous that we black people don’t want ourselves. They don’t want you in India. They don’t want you in China, Russia, Europe and America. So, the best thing you can do is like yourself as a black person, know where you have come from. Know your history. Know your culture. It’s revolutionary. I think that the first step forward is the first step backward.
For African people to say ‘let us discover ourselves.’ Let us first know how unique we are, what distinguishes us from everybody. We have to use an ideology that uses our culture for technological advancement. And I think we can make it, but we have to make it on our own terms to create something in our own image. We can do it, but first we have to love ourselves. IN Runyankore, there is a saying: Tinkukikira mwana webinyoro ngu nyina ankunde (I cannot risk carrying a baby suffering from yaws to please its mother). Democracy which is an incoherent system should be let to die a sort of euthanasia, and if this is not administered, democracy will commit suicide anyway. The so-called mother of democracy Greece had a still born child, for in Greece, democracy was practised by only male Athenian citizens above the age of 21, no women, no slaves and no other states. To call democracy a government of the people is ridiculous for dictators are also people. To say democracy is by the people is also ridiculous and to say, democracy is for the people does not really tell us how many? Let me bring it home. I asked a Bishop recently why after all the prayers before and after elections by Uganda as most eminent representatives of God on earth, the country has experienced post election chaos and his answer was that maybe the President has overstayed. I pointed out that some religious leaders are only elected once by a few bishops and they become leaders for life. Yet they controls billions of dollars and millions of prime acres of land. In Uganda Tumusiime Mutebile has ruled the influential central bank, that controls the affairs of every Ugandan, yet nobody elected him or wants him to leave. Permanent secretaries become permanent, controlling the resources of ministries, but nobody votes them in office and they are not subjected to periodic reselection. Judges also become judges for life, a lawyer is a lawyer for life, a surgeon does not lose the title and the list is endless.
Few would suggest that we elect the King of Buganda or Bunyoro…. Britain is ruled by a Queen, she is not elected and she rules till she dies, her government is known as Her Majesty’s government. Some people claim Britain does not have a constitution, yes it does (It is called a constitutional monarch) and the change from Absolute to Constitutional Monarch was introduced in 1640 during the War With Scotland (Bishopâ€™s War), known as Triennial Act of 1641 which required the king to call parliament once every three years. The king could not imprison people without a fair trial or levy taxes without consent of parliament. When the British had their revolution in about 1640 AD, it took them more than 200 years to organise elections, but even then it was less than 10% of the population that could vote.
The Great Reform of 1832 slightly increased this percentage by five. The elections then were so characterised by vote rigging and buying plus massive corruption that a special law had to be passed to curb this practice. The law was called the Corruption and Illegal Practice Prevention Act of 1883. Even then the women were excluded from the voting process and Europe did not get its first woman MP until 1907, in tiny little, now bankrupt Finland. When America had its revolution, in 1776, it took them more than 23 years to organise the first elections. So what gives these countries a right to criticise African nations who have barely been voting for less than 100 years? How can Britain complain about a leader like Mugabe, or Gaddafi being in power for so long when Britain’s own Majesty the Queen has been in power longest and she is not going anywhere and she is head of a government? Democracy based solely on permanent opposition cannot work. Although, the formula that the NRM was advocating is what is working in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, what is being suggested in Libya, Uganda as new imitator state bowed to pressure from the Euro-American world governments is a good way of describing democracy as a business, where you invest in votes.
In Africa our problem should not be how long a leader leads, as we have said the Pope leads nations bigger than Uganda, but what the leader does with the power he has. The last 25 years of the NRM (as in the rest of Africa) have seen a small privileged educated elite, which the NRM was opposed to in the beginning, hijack the NRM revolution hiding behind the normal economic speak of macro-economic stability, balance of payment deficit and budgetary framework. Most of the taxes collected goes to fund that small group of hijackers. They brag, steal and show off; it is these people that the President must wrestle the privileges from. Look at the opposition leaders; they were in powerful government institutions at one time or another. They then amassed wealth and used it in the so-called democracy. The enormous luxury of the blotted small privileged elite had consumed everything. To supply the pomp of these men of government, earth and sea have to be exhausted. The rarest fur, the costly tissue, the most exquisite furniture, carpets embroidered at great cost and all the riches of the state consumed in fanning the privileges of this arrogant elite, who look at raiding the treasury as a democratic right. They all live in Kampala, and it is in Kampala that the President considers his launch pad. Here the water used in the toilet is far much cleaner than the water that millions of people in Mubende, Sembabule, Lyantonde, Rakai, use for drinking.
Whereas most streets in Kampala have street lights, look at how the majority of people in Yumbe, Nabiratuk, have no oil for their rusty lamps. Squalid schools, referral hospitals without beds and generators and even in Mawokota which is near Kampala, it is not uncommon to find five farmers sharing one hoe. The elite will lead these peasants to protest the rise of food prices, for how dare the poor farmers raise their prices; donâ€™t they know the elite must live? If they dare cause inflation they will sink further into poverty. In a democracy, a government may try to fulfill the demands of the vocal few who can afford good English on radio stations. But, our people are not suffering from lack of democracy. When you go to hospital the patient does no say give me some dose of democracy, nor does a head teacher say give me a book on democracy. Let us kill democracy and replace it with what the majority of our people really deserve” service delivery.
The author is a Pan Africanist broadcaster and a lecturer.
4 thoughts on “Dr. Kihura Nkuba: “I don’t want to go to heaven””
What a great educator to learn from.
We must truly emancipate ourselves from the slavery of the mind, this prejudice that we are weaker than the whites! Until we free our minds, we can never enjoy humanity
Thank you for this important dialogue
Indeed you are Kihura Nkuba.
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