Countries that have progressed have had citizens that fought for their inalienable (natural or God given) rights and freedoms including freedom of speech. They have also taken risks. When you shy away from them chances are that you will remain behind. Some efforts create quick results – negative or positive – others take a long time. Sometime reversals occur. But a start has to be made.
Uganda has just ended fifty years of independence. The overall assessment is that things haven’t happened the way we wanted them. That means we have to revisit what we did and find out what we need to discard, refine or retain as is.
One of the common complaints in Uganda is the system of governance that has concentrated power in the central government and suffocates efforts for regions or districts to decide what they need to do to improve the quality of their lives. The tier system that Uganda has introduced through decentralization is not sufficient because the central government determines what states/provinces or districts should do and the minister of local government is empowered to take decisions that could frustrate local initiatives.
We have a saying in my culture that a child who does not cry, never gets fed. Those who have taught know that attention of teachers goes disproportionately to students who raise their hands in class or follow the teacher after class with questions. In a world with so many problems, attention is being directed to hot spots. Those who remain silent regardless of the extent of suffering will be sidelined. Going to church to seek God’s help is necessary but not sufficient. Calling for outside help is fine but you have to demonstrate what you have done. From time immemorial, freedom and prosperity have been earned by individuals, communities and nations through sweat and sacrifice. By and large those who succeed work the hardest and longest and sacrifice a lot. They reject what they don’t like and go for what they want. The poll tax was dropped in England in the 14th century because the peasants opposed it and revolted. The poll tax was again rejected in the 20th century because the British opposed it and removed from office the champion who wanted to reintroduce it. The English civil war was waged against the excessive demands and behavior of the king. So was the French Revolution. Americans rejected taxation without representation. So the descendants of these people know the value of fighting for rights and freedoms. History is full of examples in all places on earth that unless you raise your voice and show your presence, you will not get heard and noticed. So the message for Ugandans is clear: organize, raise your hand and your voice, show your presence in the streets and wherever you are sit in front of targeted embassies or capitals peacefully and if necessary silently with placards conveying the message to get international attention! Ugandans in London have been doing an excellent job of demonstrating and we congratulate them. But don’t relax. Others should emulate this noble show of determination to make change happen at home. Museveni (the name will be used in official capacity with no personal criticism) is sensitive about Uganda’s image abroad which is already damaged. That is why he is skipping important conferences. He is afraid of demonstrations and reporters’ questions about rigged elections and when he will step down. In our struggle we should aim at involving everyone willing to cooperate including NRM members because the changes we are seeking will benefit everyone.
Poverty – broadly defined – is a social problem that stifles the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Ugandans need to regain freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity. Today, in 2011, except a few families, Ugandans are absolutely poor (in the sense that they cannot meet basic necessities of life). They are sick, getting insane and selling their children to make ends meet. They are undereducated, poorly fed, poorly sheltered, poorly clothed and unemployed.
Maternal mortality is rising and undernourished women are producing underweight children with permanent physical and mental disabilities thus undermining human capital formation. Maximum brain development is stifled because of poor diet during the first three years of life from conception. And Ugandans have the lowest life expectancy in the whole of East Africa, reflecting the lowest level of the standard of living.
Ugandans still use primitive implements such as hand hoes and machetes. They broadcast seed by hand, weed by hand, harvest by hand and grind the grain by hand as was done in medieval times.
Greetings fellow Ugandans and friends
Although born free and equal in dignity, Ugandans have lost both since colonial days. Independence did not restore our freedom and dignity. The pre-independence constitutional and election arrangements were skewed in favor of a few. Since 1966 Uganda has experienced political and economic crisis.
Economic and political troubles in neighboring countries particularly in Rwanda and Burundi resulted in economic and political refugees that have fundamentally affected Uganda’s demographic, economic and political landscape and further eroded the freedom and dignity of indigenous Ugandans. During Amin’s regime Uganda was ruled by foreigners causing extensive damage in human life, property, institutions and infrastructure because they did not care. When their time was up, they disappeared and left behind a depressing economic and political situation.