On August 18th, 2001 the Government of Uganda deployed its army to a small parish in Mubende district. Peter Kayiira – one of about 2000 inhabitants of the community - was brutally displaced from his ancestral land. “Our houses were demolished; properties destroyed and staple crops such as cassava and potatoes were confiscated”.
The land was then given to Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd., which is owned by one of the world’s largest coffee companies, Neumann, based in Germany. In June 2002 the African Development Bank approved a loan of 2,5 million US-Dollars in support of the establishment of the Kaweri Coffee Plantation.
Meanwhile Peter Kayiira became the spokesperson of the displaced, but he paid a high price. In 2005 he was imprisoned on charges of having embezzled government funds in his capacity as school director. Half a year later the court decided to end the charade and acquitted Peter of all charges.
So far, even after filing a court case, the evicted have not been able to retrieve their land nor have they received any other adequate compensation.
Thus they have lost their basis to feed one self.
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People from Mubende tell their story
Peter Kayiira, 44 years
In August 2001 the Government of Uganda deployed its army to our small parish in Mubende district. Like about 2000 other inhabitants of the community I was brutally displaced from our ancestral land. Our houses were demolished; properties destroyed and staple crops such as cassava and potatoes were confiscated.
The land was then given to Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd., which is owned by one of the worlds largest coffee companies: Neumann based in Germany. In June 2002 the African Development Bank approved a loan of 2,5 million US-Dollars in support of the establishment of a coffee plantation.
Meanwhile I became the spokesperson of the displaced, but I paid a high price. In 2005 I was imprisoned on charges of having embezzled government funds in my capacity as school director. Half a year later the court decided to end the charade and acquitted me of all charges.
By now we have filed a court case against the Government of Uganda and Kaweri. So far we have not been able to retrieve our land nor have we received any other adequate compensation.
Elias Mbabazi, 62 years
On the day of the eviction I was at home. Soldiers literally stormed our land, fired some shots in the air and drove us out. They then demolished our house we had been living in for 17 years. We found shelter in the woods nearby. Our livestock ran away and our farmland was destroyed. Two of my children died as a consequence of this forceful eviction.
Before the eviction my family of 12 persons and myself lived on our land as tenants by customary law. We had a simple house with corrugated iron roofing, four rooms and a small kitchen hut. We got our water from a well close by and on 14 acre we grew bananas, coffee and vanilla. We had 16 fruit trees, 12 goats, 6 sheep and 20 chicken. We made a living and could afford to send our children to a secondary school, for which here in Uganda one has to pay school fees.
After the eviction we had to rent a place and I started to work on the coffee plantation. But we had to change even our eating habits as we could not grow our own food any more.
Today we do some farming on a piece of land we have to pay for and the next water well is about six kilometres away. We cant afford the school fees any longer and our children are limited to the primary school, which is free of charge. Before the eviction our life was better.
Deo Kasumba, 67 years
During the eviction soldiers burned our house and destroyed our farmland. We even lost our pigs. I tried to save at least part of our belongings. When I came back to the house for the second time - trying to retrieve some of our property - the house was already in flames.
Since 1980 my wife and me had been living on the land as tenants under customary law. Before the eviction we had our own house and could access a water fountain close by. On 12 acre we grew coffee, bananas, sweet potatoes and peanuts. We had plenty of fruit trees and four pigs.
Today we are living in a rented room. Our landlord pays me as a labourer, so I can pay my rent.
But all the time we are worried if the money is enough for the rent and to buy food. Before the eviction we didn’t have to pay for the food, because we could grow it ourselves. Our life used to be better.
Norah Naggawa, 57 years
What hurts me most is the fact that our Government doesn’t compensate us for the suffering and the harsh conditions we face. Support has been promised many times, but we never received any. Therefore I fight for compensation.
For 26 years my family of ten and myself have been living on the land as tenants under customary law and we had a house with five rooms. We had a water fountain on the land we farmed on only half of our 30 acres. We grew bananas, coffee, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and cassava. What is more we had a plenty of fruit trees, about 150 mango trees, 80 maracuja and 10 avocado trees. We had pigs and chicken as well.
On the day of the eviction soldiers came with guns, destroyed the roof top of our house and ordered me to leave the land. With my children and my grand children I ran away to the forest. One of grandchildren died due to the harsh living conditions we had after being evicted. My husband had to work so hard, he got a pain in his breast and he died as well.
Today we are living on a piece of land we have to pay for and it is not really good for farming. The real fertile land is further away. We build a house again, which is about one kilometre from the next water fountain. But sometimes this fountain runs completely dry.
Jane Rose Namata, 54 years
I will fight for our compensation and I want to have my land back.
I was born on this land and I have married on this land. The land belonged to my husband, who had a land title for two square miles of block 103. There we lived with seven people in a house with seven rooms and we had a clean water fountain close by. On our land we grew bananas, coffee, cassava, peanuts and sweet potatoes. We had plenty of fruit trees, three pigs, seven sheep and ten chickens.
I was at home when the soldiers came with guns and ordered us to leave the land. We ran away. When we came back to retrieve our property we didn’t find anything anymore. For one year we have been forced to live in a forest nearby. My husband died.
Today we don’t have enough land to live off it. On a part of the land, which was not taken, we could build a house again. But it is too small for the entire family. The next water fountain is about one a half kilometres away, but the water is not clean and sometimes the fountain runs completely dry. Our children had to leave school, because we didn’t have the money any more to cover the school fees for the secondary schooling.