Message for Uganda youth

Why and how I developed reading, listening, writing and speaking skills

My career as university teacher and international civil servant with responsibilities for preparing teaching materials, writing conference reports or representing my employers at national, regional and international conferences provided me unique and strategic opportunities to develop reading, listening, writing and speaking skills beginning in 1969 when I became a university teacher and research assistant in the Department of Geography and later a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of East Africa, Nairobi campus which later became the university of Nairobi and subsequently a lecturer in Economics at the university of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

My training in Geography and graduating in 1968, Economics, Demography and graduating in 1971, International Law and International Relations/Diplomacy and graduating in 1980 from the University of East Africa; University of California at Berkeley; and University of Zambia at Lusaka respectively helped me a great deal.

My exposure to the negotiations with the European Economic Community in Brussels, Belgium in 1973-75, now the European Union, my participation since 1975 in the work of the United Nations including General Assembly, its principal organs such as Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Security Council, Funds and Programs such as UNDP and UN agencies such as Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) helped me to consolidate my knowledge and experience.

Land grabbing has contributed to revolutions and decolonization wars

NRM leaders and those hiding behind them while invoking colonial agreements in independent times to grab land because peasants are currently powerless and voiceless or ignorant of their rights must realize that land grabbing has from time immemorial contributed to revolutions, revolts, rebellions and bloody decolonization wars. Take France before the revolution as a case in point.

France on the eve of the revolution had 26 million people, 98 per cent of them commoners. But see how land was distributed.

The clergy that numbered 130,000 owned 10 per cent of the land. The highest officials of the Church: archbishops, bishops and abbots benefitted enormously from the land while parish priests were as poor as their peasant parishioners.

The nobility that numbered some 300,000 owned up to 30 percent of the land while 98 percent of French who were commoners owned about 60 percent and many of them were landless or had land that was not enough to give them subsistence life. Land shortage combined with rising prices, unemployment and food shortages in 1788 and 1789 contributed to the French Revolution and regaining of land by peasants.

Conflict resolution is a prerequisite to development and poverty eradication

From time immemorial there is ample evidence that countries and societies in conflict situation where human rights and fundamental freedoms are abused experience great difficulties in designing and implementing programs to reduce poverty and inequality. By contrast in stable societies where rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law are respected, poverty has declined much faster. Unstable societies perform poorly in poverty eradication in large part because they don’t have capable institutions and checks and balances due to discrimination, brain drain and corruption.

It has been demonstrated that in fragile or unstable countries, the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 has lagged far behind.

There is also evidence that in societies such as those in the Great Lakes region of Africa that have experienced endemic instability increasing financial assistance is unhelpful in addressing inequality and poverty challenges and their offshoots of hunger, disease and illiteracy because these societies don’t have sufficient absorptive capacity. Ipso facto, availability of large financial donations could promote corruption, waste and mismanagement of foreign aid.

Educating girls will empower women; reduce poverty and fertility in Africa

There is consensus at national and international levels that educating girls will reduce child marriage and fertility complemented by the provision of safe, accessible and affordable contraception; empower women and reduce extreme poverty in the long term in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It has been recognized that educating girls and lowering fertility in Africa have been constrained by school drop out for failure to raise tuition and provide school lunch. In many cases, household poverty forces parents to arrange early marriage for their daughters. Cultural factors including against pregnancy out of wedlock have a similar effect. Early marriage results in high birthrates and rapid population growth especially in poor rural communities where the needs for voluntary, safe and affordable contraception are not met, calling for improved physical and human infrastructure and supplies subsidized by government as appropriate.

To overcome the school dropout and family planning constraints discussions are underway including in the preparation for post-2015 development agenda that governments with support from the international community provide free and compulsory primary and secondary education for children whose parents can’t afford.