Retracing the steps to the past in the study of Uganda’s politics and history has in
recent years become a dominant approach. It is a rather simple exercise that on e
can execute in the full awareness that one is safe. Many of the key actors are, after
all, either dead or simply out of power and, therefore, harmless or helpless and,
hence, not in a position to challenge the writer’s contentions. Sometimes this
approach has yielded reasonable accounts of the county’s chequered political
history. But it has also given rise to some very questionable body of literature,
especially when authors have chosen to stand with their “back to the present”, as it
were, and have opted to look instead only at that single lane leading into the past.
The results, as one might expect, have tended to be literature that is demonological
in character and, generally, unbalanced with an undue emphasis on the political
deviltry or evils that certain leaders of the past are said to have committed.
In the measure that attention has been accorded to the present (times), one
often sees in such efforts a tendency toward undue precaution or guardedness, at
best; and, at the worst, equally undue inclination toward sycophancy in favour of
leaders of the time and their deeds. In the process, the latter two have, far too
often, come off not quite as they truly are in real life.