10 October 2012

Uganda: Here's Why It's Not Yet Uhuru


One of Canadian singer Nelly Furtado's famous songs is titled, 'Why do all good things come to an end?'

One of the lines in the song says, 'missed everything daydreaming.'

The much-hyped 50th independence anniversary finally came to an end. A colourful event at the Kololo Independence grounds yesterday was the climax. But like Nelly Furtado sings, might we have missed something daydreaming? A celebratory mood has a way of masking reality. Yet we must not lose sight of reality because all good things come to an end while reality remains with us.

The reality of poverty. The reality of unemployment. The reality of corruption. The reality of wastage of public resources. The reality of road carnage. The reality of a sick health sector.

The political reality is also written on the wall. That Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi decided to go for "community work" in Kalangala district on this day shows that much more needs to be done to bring various Ugandan stakeholders to the same page.

That many opposition politicians, including Dr Kizza Besigye, Erias Lukwago and Mathias Mpuuga had to be locked inside their homes to allow the event pass peacefully underlines the same point.

Yet such a national event would have made better sense if all Ugandans were in position to feel a part of it. As long as some Ugandans are alienated by poverty; as long as Mengo sees no reason to be part of it; as long as opposition supporters feel left out, it's not yet Uhuru!

As one Ugandan writer recently put it, by the time the next 50 years come to pass, a lot of us alive today will be "helping plants to grow" (read dead and buried). That shouldn't worry anyone as most of those who fought for independence were not at Kololo yesterday. What should worry us is carrying the mistakes of the last 50 years into the next 50 years.

Unlike people who expire, Uganda will not disappear and the actions, attitudes and values we adopt today will determine whether the centenary event 50 years from now will be more unifying and inclusive than yesterday's.

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