Yahya Jammeh and how not to be a refugee

Source: nbcnews.com

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh boards a private jet before departing Banjul into exile

BY ALEX TAREMWA

Last week, Rev Simon Feta, my philosophical friend, invited me to a four-day excursion in the West Nile region.

The trip was meant to give Uganda Christian University students of Bachelor of Governance and International Relations a real life field experience of how bad governance breeds conflict and how international players come together to handle its off-shoots.

After visiting the Rhino Camp Refugee Camp in Arua and Bidi-Bidi Refugee Camp in Yumbe District, it became increasingly obvious that the only way not to be a refugee is not to be African.

In fact, former Sudanese and later South Sudanese Senator, Rev Canon Clement Janda, put it more bluntly when he told the students that “as long as you are Africans, we are all potential refugees.”

As I was still grinding his statement, former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, proved him right. He went from being president to being a refugee in Equatorial Guinea in a space of just four hours.

If this is your first encounter with the name, let me take a few lines to explain just how powerful Jammeh was. He took over power when he was just 29 years old and ruled the country with an iron fist for another 22 years.

After losing and accepting defeat in a recent election, he made a U-turn, refuted the election results and threatened not to leave power forcing his opponent, a victorious Adam Barrow to take oath in neighbouring Senegal.

Although Jammeh finally bowed to pressure and relinquished power, he left Gambia into exile after emptying state coffers of a whopping $11million (Shs38 billion).

The similarity between Jacob, a 29-year-old refugee from South Sudan and Jammeh, is not that they are both refugees but that they are both victims of poor governance systems in their respective countries.

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Alex Taremwa engaging three-time refugee and former Senator of Sudan and South Sudan Rev Canon Clement Janda. Photo by Ronald Awany

The total number of refugees at the end of 2016 reached 75.3 million that is to say one out of every 85 people on Earth, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Whether in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi or Syria, only war can account for the massive influx of people from their homes to refugee camps.

Not that conflict represents the absence of a more peaceful and long-lasting solution but rather a mechanism through which governments and those against them across the world strive to maintain and conquer power respectively.

And I have it on good authority that most leaders maintain a tight grip on power not because they enjoy their stay but because they are afraid of prosecution from their opponents when they leave.

In that case, if we shifted political rhetoric from prosecuting corrupt, murderous, long-serving dictators, to forgiving their wrongs and offering them a safe passage to retirement, it would in a way motivate them to peacefully step down and avoid bloodbaths.

The bottom line therefore is that peaceful coexistence and good governance go hand-in-hand. The absence of one automatically translates into the absence of the other, and in that regard, a refugee status cannot be ruled out for anyone.

Alex is the Managing Editor of The Transparent Magazine

What is legacy to a 25 year-old? 2016 in review

3ab7e7604e795b977a9fc6576c09d3eeVery few people – and those are Donald Trump fans – can confidently say that 2016 was an amazing year for them.

 

For the rest of us, it was a lemon cake with sprinkles of icing sugar to cover up the its bitterness. If it was not hunger here, it was a drought there. If there weren’t floods here, there was an earthquake there.

Even at a place oozing nothing short of divine presence – UCU, 2016 left hallmarks of agony when it sent also 75 percent of staff to Allan Galpin Health Centre courtesy of Staff Day food.

But despite the challenges, the hiccups, the lives lost and the targets unmet, we still made it to the end and now, yet again, we are celebrating the beginning of another year – 2017. Ebenezer!

Physically though, there’s nothing different about a new year save for the calendar shift.

Then sun still rises and sets as in the previous year, lunch time is still 1pm and every human being still has 24 hours a day to live.

What the new year offers however is another opportunity to do things right. The prospect to reminisce that time moves progressively and not retrospectively and that every year that passes moves you and me an inch closer to the one we will live last.

The above feeling excites and terrifies me simultaneously. I have to remind myself every day that I can’t afford to make unnecessary yet costly mistakes anymore. That I have work to do in preparing how I want to be remembered.

Legacy is important –  even to a 25-year-old because this world we live in now is an anything can happen environment and we all strive to leave something behind.

It doesn’t matter what I do as long as I changes something from the way it was before I touched it into something that is like me after I take their hands away.

That way when people see this child, book, tree, garden – anything, I am there.

Hence, the significance in celebrating a New Year is not in the fact that we have another 365 to just pass through and thump our chests once gain on December 31 that we made it.

It is in the realisation that we have a fresh page on which to write the stories of our lives.

Before you write anything on that page, stop and ask yourself; is this the story you want stained with blood of an innocent soul, a trip to shrine perhaps to appease the gods, a back-stab of workmate because you anticipate a promotion, a copied coursework?

I told a friend recently that I don’t set New Year’s resolutions but if you are the kind that does, on your list just before visiting Hawaii, getting that first-class degree, buying that dream car, moving into that dream house and learning French, please add doing all the good that you can.

As Ray Bradbury explains in Fahrenheit 451: “the difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. The lawn cutter might as well not have been there at all but the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

So, before you ask what 2017 has in store for you, ask yourself what do you have in store for it?

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

 

Uganda’s sick health sector problem bigger than mere chemistry passes

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Patients at Apac hospital awaiting medical treatment. Credit: World Policy Journal

BY ALEX TAREMWA

In December 2014, my nephew Sheldon was admitted at Holy Innocents’ Hospital, one of the best children hospitals in Mbarara. He was anemic, dehydrated, and he had malaria that forced him to stare death in the eye.

When I arrived, I was ushered into the ward by a nurse who I later learnt was a Uganda Christian University (UCU) Nursing Science student doing her internship. As an alumnus, I left that day feeling safe; I knew my title of uncle would last a lot longer.

When I returned in the morning, I found the nurse babysitting and feeding the baby. Her conduct, discipline, competence and knowledge portrayed nothing short of professionalism.

It is possible that this young lady did not do or pass chemistry at A-level and even armed with her four-year hard-earned degree, the Uganda Nursing and Midwives Council (UNMC) will not register her for practice.

In principle that is the right thing to do, but does it solve Uganda’s health sector problem?

The Ugandan health sector has experienced challenges related to recruitment and retention of qualified staff, mainly due to low remuneration as well as insufficient career opportunities.

According to the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU) in the Ministry of Health report, in 2010 there was a very low doctor to patient ratio of 1:24,725 and a nurse to patient ratio of 1:11,000, way below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation  of 1:439 as the health worker to population ratio.

Worse still, maternal and infant mortality are still going through the roof, traditional midwives are still delivering babies with their rudimentary tools, clinics and pharmacies across the country are manned by nurses with three months’ training or even less – some reusing syringes for injections and getting away with it.

For Uganda to meet the minimum health standards, the number of health workers must triple.

Attention, therefore, needs to shift from cheap politicking to the core of the problem, which is poor composition of health professionals. According to the 2011 Human Resources for Health Audit Report, with respect to the national level staffing, the proportion of the filled approved positions was found to be only 58 per cent.

Out of the 55,063 approved positions, only 31,797 are filled, leaving 23,321 vacant positions. The situation is worse at the level of health centre IIs. Out of 4,905 posts in 1,321 health centre IIs in the country, only 2,197 (45 per cent) are filled.

I admit that there could be life threatening consequences arising from a health worker’s lack of chemistry knowledge or background, but I submit there are greater consequences from having none at all. Enough of the games, if UNMC lacks the guts to do the right thing; that is waive chemistry only for the degree holding nurses without it so far, for the sake of Ugandans, someone else should.

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Alex Taremwa is the  Managing Editor of The Transparent Magazine

Exploring the Batwa identity, culture and livelihood in Uganda

BY ALEX TAREMWA

A Batwa legend might explain the lowly status of the people found in Uganda, eastern DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. A man, Kihanga, had three sons named Katutsi, Kahutu and Katwa. One day he called his three sons and gave each of them a gourd full of milk. On the next day, in the early morning, he asked them to give him back the gourds for him to place inside a shrine.

A sect of the Batwa in a food gathering process in the  Bwindi forests. Photo: Batwa experience

A sect of the Batwa in a food gathering process in the Bwindi forests. Photo: Batwa experience

Katutsi brought back his gourd and it was still full of milk; Kahutu’s receptacle was only half full while Katwa’s container was completely empty. He had drunk all the milk in the night. Their father then blessed each of his three sons based on how responsible they had been with the gourds of milk. Katutsi was blessed with all his father’s cows which would help him and his children to prosper for generations. Kahutu was blessed with a hoe and seeds which would help him to grow food in his lifetime and for generations to come after him. Katwa was given the forest and all that was in it; he was to survive by hunting and gathering.

Many generations passed and their descendants multiplied. The descendants of Katutsi and Kahutu became so many that they could no longer be satisfied with what they had and ended up encroaching on Katwa’s forest. In the end, they chased Katwa’s descendants from the forest and made them live as beggars and landless people. The fate of Katwa’s descendants in the legend mirrors their situation in real life.

In 1991, the Batwa in Uganda were evicted from the forests they had lived on since time immemorial.  As a result, most were left landless and impoverished and, to survive, resorted to begging and life as labourers on other people’s land.

As in the legend, originally the Batwa were forest dwelling hunter-gatherers, living and practising their cultural and economic way of life in the high mountainous forest areas around Lake Kivu in Rwanda and Lake Edward in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa; today, the Batwa way of life, their cultural, spiritual, and social traditions, are at risk.

After food gathering, an elderly woman returns home to prepare food. Photo: Batwa Experience

The Batwa History

The Batwa are widely accepted as the first inhabitants of the region, later joined by farmers and pastoralists. The Batwa are still to be found living in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with an estimated total population of 86,000 to 112,000.

As their traditional forested territories were destroyed by agriculturalists and pastoralists or gazetted as nature conservation areas, the Batwa were forced to abandon their traditional lifestyle based on hunting and gathering. The Batwa, sometimes derisively to as Pygmies, became squatters living on the edges of society; some were able to develop new means of survival as potters, dancers and entertainers.

The dominant ethnic groups in the region, the Bakiga and Bafumbira, perceive them as uncivilised because of their former hunter-gatherer lifestyle which has led to their discrimination and marginalisation from the mainstream economy. Notwithstanding the numerous problems faced by the Batwa, they continue to value their forest based social system, culture, and traditional practices as an important part of their identity.

This existence on the margins continues to this day. For instance, their customary rights to land have not been recognised and they have received little or no compensation for their losses. The Ugandan constitution provides for the protection of the rights of minorities, yet the situation that the Batwa are living in clearly indicates that their rights are being systematically violated. For example they not only lack access to the health services offered to other Ugandans by the government but also lack access to clean water, shelter, and food.

Not surprisingly, the Batwa have a high HIV prevalence but access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for the Batwa is very hard. Not only do they have to walk for five kilometres (a long distance if you are terminally ill) and more to access them, but even when they reach the health centres, they are often segregated against by everyone, including the health care providers.

Accurate figures are difficult to determine and estimates vary, but the 2015 housing and population census showed that approximately 6,700 Batwa lived within the state of Uganda. They are mainly found in the south-west region in the districts of Kisoro, Kanungu, Kabale, Mbarara, Ntungamo and Lwengo (Katovu township).

An elderly Mutwa climbing a tree to harvest honey. Photo: Batwa Experience.

Not only is the discrimination institutional, it also extends to the social and quotidian. The Batwa are seen as backward and childish, incapable of speaking or representing themselves (the only minority group not represented in parliament). They are presumed to be thieves and are considered dirty, ignorant and immoral. Often they are not allowed to draw water from a communal well, and intermarriage with other ethnic groups is frowned upon.

Faced with all these prejudices, the formation of a Batwa advocacy group was long overdue. So In 2000,the Batwa formed United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU), an organisation which has mainly fought the dispossession of the Batwa from their ancestral land.

After the park creation in 1991, 82 percent of Batwa were left entirely landless, living either as squatters on private, government or church land. In 2004, 44 percent of Batwa had no land on which to build a hut. Data collected in 2007 by UOBDU show that the landless in Kisoro represent 50.4 percent, in Kabale 61.4 percent, in Kanungu 20.9 percent, while all of the households in Mbarara, Katovu and Ntungamo are landless.

The organisation has argued in the courts that the land for the national parks was unlawfully seized from the indigenous people, but the case is yet to be resolved.

Through UOBDU, the Batwa are fighting to secure land rights, the right to education and literacy, sustainable livelihoods, improved healthcare, and institutional development, says Elias Habyar’imana, the Chairperson of the Kisoro based NGO. To supplement all these efforts, their plight received international attention in 2014, when the Oscar-nominated documentary Virunga came out, exposing the existential threat they face.

The Batwa case before the Constitutional Court

On February 8, 2013, the Batwa of Uganda submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court of Uganda seeking recognition of their status as indigenous peoples under international law and redress for the historic marginalisation, dispossession and the human rights violations perpetrated against them. As I write this, the petition to the Constitutional Court of Uganda involving the Attorney General, the National Forest Authority and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is yet to be heard in court.

The central issue for the Batwa is their land. To date, the revenues and employment opportunities arising from governmental exploitation of protected areas have not benefited the Batwa. Revenues generated from activities now taking place on the Batwa’s ancestral lands should go into a public purse. However, the Batwa have not seen any of these revenues.

Hunting was the primary source of food for the Batwa. Photo: Batwa Experience

While the courts drag their feet, the Batwa communities continue to suffer violence and discrimination from neighbouring ethnic groups. On Sunday June 7, 2014, Batwa communities in Ryabitukuru, Kisoro District, had their homes burned.

Out of the 14 households in the community, 13 were targeted, leaving many families destitute and homeless. The Batwa households are scattered over a large area of land, yet it took the violent mob only two hours to move from house to house.

Fearing for their lives, the Batwa fled to the Rubuguri Police Post for security. Because the post was small, the Batwa were shifted from there to an NGO building. It is from there that well wishers, including NGOs like UOBDU and Red Cross, have provided them with food, water, utensils, blankets and other amenities.

The Batwa Culture, Language and Livelihood

The Batwa are seen as shy, loyal to the traditional practices which define them as a forest people. Their Practices include hunting and gathering forest resources, eating uncooked food, worshipping gods in the forest, sleeping in caves, guiding forest researchers and tourists, dressing in leaves and animal skins, making fire using dry sticks. Caves, hot springs, rivers, hills, plants and animals are of special significance in their worldview.

The forests are a source of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and before they were gazetted as national parks, the Batwa depended on forest resources for food, medicine, basketry, firewood, marketable items, house construction, tools, rituals, hunting and recreation.

During our interactions, the Batwa spoke fondly about their culture. Jovanisi Nyinakayanje, 42, who was born and raised in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, spoke about knowing nothing else except these conditions: “I was born in the forest of Bwindi and spent about ten years there. My father used to go hunting and leave us with our mother who would go with us to collect fire wood (udukwi) and food (ibyokurya). Outside our home, we had a small hut for worshipping (uguterekerera) which was mainly done by our father who would sacrifice to the gods before and after hunting.”

After food gathering, an elderly woman returns home to prepare food. Photo: Batwa Experience

“When they chased us from the forest, we started living here in Rushaga. We would go back to the forest to look for meat, honey, wild yams, firewood, weaving materials and medicinal plants. But later, we were told to stop going back to the forest. Many of our people died. We tried hard to survive in the challenging village conditions by begging for food from Bakiga,” she spoke in her mother tongue as George Wilson Mpakasihe translated.

Reminiscing about growing up, Steven Serutoke, a guide on the Garama Batwa trail in Mgahinga, said, “When I was a little child, I used to see my parents going to the forest. They used to tell us nice stories about the forest. They told us how they used to eat honey and meat from the forest. They also told us that they used to shift to many places including Rwanda, Burundi and Congo especially when they had conflicts and when food became scarce.”

Housing and Burial arrangements

Traditionally, the Batwa had three main types of houses: caves, omuririmbo and ichuro. The caves and omuririmbo were the main houses where Batwa lived. Ichuro was used for resting and storing food including meat, honey, beans and sorghum, all of which in makeshift grass thatched round huts that can accommodate about five people at a time.

The Batwa also had a special way of burying the dead. When a Mutwa died, he or she would be buried in a hut after digging a small hole and wrapping the corpse in grass. The burial ceremony involved cleansing the corpse with herbs such as omuhanga (Maesa lanceolata), enkyerere (Rubus sp.), and omufumba (Rhumex sp).

The Batwa elders would lead the burial ceremony and encourage all the family members to drink herbal extracts as a way of preventing death from claiming more people from that family. After burial, they would migrate to a far off place and never return.

One of the Batwa huts set on fire in Kisoro. The Batwa are among the most marginalised and discrminated against minority groups in Africa. Photo: UOBDU

Marriage customs

According to Batwa customs, a Mutwa can not marry a non-Mutwa and getting pregnant before marriage was forbidden. Marriage was arranged by the parents. The parents of a Mutwa boy would admire qualities in a certain Mutwa girl and decide that she was the right partner for their son. They would then visit the girl’s family carrying gifts which included pots of honey from stingless bees, beer brewed with honey and roast meat.

During the visit, they would negotiate the dowry to be paid to the girl’s family and the date for the ‘give-away’ ceremony. On the day of ‘giving away’ the girl, the groom would bring many gifts for the bride and her family. Such gifts included beads, new and well-oiled animal skins, roast meat, elephant tusks, honey from stingless bees, beer brewed with honey and sometimes hunting dogs.

The groom would take the bride to his home and then live together while receiving advice from the groom’s parents. After some time, the young family would later migrate to a distant place to establish their new and independent home. When the woman became pregnant, she would be fed on meat, honey and vegetables and would drink many kinds of herbs for boosting her health and that of the unborn baby.

At the time of giving birth, she would be helped by other women who would use pieces of bamboo to cut the umbilical cord. The baby would be wrapped in clean animal skins and brought near a fire place for warmth.

This way of living is under threat or has already vanished. The Uganda Wildlife Authority continues to make millions from tourism annually on their land. For three decades, the Batwa have been struggling to have their rights recognised. The legal case is unlikely to succeed, so the Batwa remain stuck in a legal limbo with unpromising prospects.

This article was originally published in This is Africa (TIA), a leading forum for African opinion, arts and music available through the website thisisafrica.me, mobile phone apps and online radio channels.

How Western media and donor aid have connived to dim the flame of Africa’s development candle

Evidence of ineffective foreign assistance is widespread in Africa. The debate on how aid can be effective and contribute to Africa’s development is ongoing, without any clear way forward. This suggests that there is more to the African problem and that aid is not likely to turn things around, writes  Alex Taremwa.

Can Africa take care of itself? Photo: Department of foreign affairs and trade, Australia

Can Africa take care of itself?  Photo: Department of foreign affairs and trade, Australia

On the day of the African Child (16 June), This is Africa, using the giant search engine Google, conducted a survey to capture the portrayal of African children on the Internet. The result, as always, was that of malnourished, hungry, poverty-stricken and disease-laden children.

This portrayal of Africa directly correlates with how Western media has covered Africa over the years. Often the picture presented is of despair and hopelessness; one that mostly appeals to pity, sympathy and charity.

The response from the developed nations has been a massive transfer of financial and other forms of aid to African governments. In 2013, Africa received about US$135 billion in loans, foreign and development aid, according to the BBC.

Over the past 60 years, Africa has been the recipient of over $1 trillionin development-related aid, mostly from Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark, the most generous nations as of 2014, and of course, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Although this could have boosted the per capita GDP growth of several nations, the livelihoods of most populations in sub-Saharan African haven’t changed much. The million-dollar question then is: What has all this money done?

What has aid done for Africa so far?

Dambisa Moyo, a World Bank economist, former consultant at Goldman Sachs and author of, among other books, Dead Aidargues that money from rich countries has trapped many African countries in a cycle of corruption, slower economic growth and poverty. “The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment. It’s increased the risk of civil conflict and unrest (the fact that over 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 24 with few economic prospects is a cause for worry). Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.”

In her book, Moyo highlights the destructive nature of aid in Africa's development. Photo: oneVillage Initiative/ Flickr

The African continent is indeed debt-laden, suffering from massive unemployment figures, poor housing and infrastructure systems, rotten health and education structures, power-hungry dictators, war and conflict, disease, famine and poverty, among other problems. Is aid to blame for this mess? Renowned Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda agrees – to some extent.

“The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. In the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative,” Andrew Mwenda.

Mwenda admits that although despair, civil war, hunger and famine are part of the African reality, they are not the only reality. In fact, they are the smallest reality.

“The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. What should we do with it? We should give food to the hungry. We should deliver medicines to those who are ill. We should send peacekeeping troops to serve those who are facing a civil war. And in the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative.” “The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. In the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative.” Andrew Mwenda 

 

Is all aid destructive?

For decades, Africa has failed to engage the rest of the world in tangible partnerships that promote trade and create markets for its exports. Africa, previously the biggest exporter of coffee and cotton, among other produce, has been overtaken by the Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia.

Under the Cotonou Agreement, formerly known as the Lomé Convention, African countries were given an opportunity by Europe to export goods, duty-free, to the European Union market. Uganda, in particular, had a quota to export 50 000 metric tons of sugar to the European Union market. Not even a kilogram has been exported.

Uganda, like most African countries, now largely imports and consumes more than it produces. Although this trend should have changed, aid, according to Andrew Mwenda, is the wrong instrument to help Africa turn the corner. African countries would benefit if they concentrated on building and strengthening internal institutional policies, through empowering their citizenry and encouraging local investment.

Governments in Africa have been given the opportunity by the international community to avoid building productive arrangements with their own citizens. They accept advice from the IMF and the World Bank on what their citizens need. “In the process, we, the African people, have been sidelined from the policy-making, policy-orientation and policy-implementation process in our own countries,” Mwenda explains.

 

Does Africa need saving?

Akon certainly doesn’t agree. The Senegalese-American musician, songwriter and producer, who recently set his sights on philanthropy, recently told Al Jazeera that the Western world cannot under any circumstances claim to be saving Africa after several years of conning Africa.

Although Akon has participated in celebrity campaigns aimed at mobilising funds for Africa, he argues that Africans must play a central role in promoting and re-branding their continent.

Akon further notes that although Africa would benefit from partnerships with the developed world, it does not need saving by the international cartel of good intentions. He argues that in fact it has always been Africa that was saving those nations.

“Africa to a greater extent has been the anchor to the rest of the world. Every natural resource that is keeping every country running is a resource that has been pulled out of Africa. Everyone benefits but Africa. So Africa doesn’t need to be saved. Africa is the one doing the saving,” the musician said.

A, M-pesa agent in Mwanza, Tanzania. M-pesa, born in Nairobi has become the largest mobile phone based money transfer service in Africa. Photo: Emil Sjoblom/ Flickr

The way out for Africa 

Crispy Kaheru, coordinator of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) told This is Africa that the only way out is for the donor countries to take a backseat and let Africans engineer solutions to their problems.

“I am one of those who contend that local challenges can aptly be fixed by local solutions. And local solutions should emerge organically from within the context of the challenge/problem. The context can be historical, political, cultural, social, economic or otherwise,” he said. 

Rather than throwing billions of dollars at African problems, economists believe it would be beneficial for donors to assist in creating opportunities for innovative African entrepreneurs and the youth, thereby creating employment and, eventually, wealth.

The best illustration of this is M-Pesa, arguably the largest mobile phone-based money transfer service in Africa, which was born in Nairobi, Kenya. It was designed through a student software development project and launched by Vodafone with funding from Department for International Development (DFID) based in the United Kingdom.

Currently, M-Pesa has spread throughout Africa to as far afield as Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Romania and Albania, allowing users to conveniently deposit, withdraw and transfer money and pay for goods and services. If donors could restrict themselves to financing entrepreneurial and innovative projects designed by Africans to provide local solutions to their problems, it would be more beneficial.

With the world’s youngest population – a largely untapped human resource – and a growing, vibrant informal sector, Africa has the potential to take the big leap. Rather than sink billions of dollars into charity, donors can instead look to invest in developing a skilled force among Africans, thereby empowering them to create wealth and employment which will eventually spur sustainable development.

 

This article was originally published in This is Africa (TIA), a leading forum for African opinion, arts and music available through the website thisisafrica.me, mobile phone apps and online radio channels.

Youth unemployment in Uganda and the deadly relationship with illegal migration, human trafficking and modern slavery.

Uganda has been plagued by high numbers of cases of human trafficking of young people to the middle east. Due to a lack of stringent laws and minimum government intervention, it continues to be a large problem. Alex Taremwa explores the high youth unemployment rate in Uganda and how it feeds this dangerous form of modern slavery.

Domestic-Workers1-protesting-Photo-Answers-Africa-cover

Domestic Workers protesting Photo:Answers Africa.

Since 2005, approximately 25,000 Ugandan men and women have supported US-led operations in Iraq. While many have returned, thousands of Ugandans are still in Iraq and have been scattered all over Middle East countries, choosing to scratch out a livelihood in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In July 2015, Saudi Arabia and Uganda  entered into a  5-year bilateral agreement that would see the recruitment of one million Ugandan domestic workers to the Gulf Kingdom. 

The agreement set the minimum wage for Ugandan workers at 700 Riyals ($200) a month, lower than the minimum set for Filipino, Indian, and Bangladeshi domestic workers. While the agreement has received little attention in the press, reports indicated an unjustifiable optimism in Ugandan officials’ expectations of recruitment procedures and employment conditions in Saudi Arabia. Statistics put the number of Ugandan housemaids in Saudi at 500 housemaids since the deal took effect six months ago.

However, there have been several reports about the violation of the rights of Ugandan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. As a result, after a recommendation from parliament, Uganda’s minister of gender, labour and social development, Wilson Muruli Mukasa, banned the recruitment and deployment of Ugandans as domestic workers in any foreign country with effect from January 22, 2016. 

Uganda becomes the fourth country after Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines to ban their nationals from travelling to Saudi to work as domestic workers over concerns of abuse.

While the Ugandan Government had put in place legal and institutional mechanisms upon which more robust measures for detecting, monitoring, controlling and preventing illicit labour export, there still exist over 60 licensed and illegal agencies dealing in this trade.

In an exclusive interview with This is Africa, Ashaba Richard, 26, a returnee from Iraq where he was part of a joint US-Uganda mission for two years, narrated an awful ordeal of how some of his Ugandan co-ethnics had died in unclear circumstances in Iraq “fighting a war they weren’t a part of.” 

“Such information is kept away from the media for ‘security reasons’ but some of our people are stuck there earning pennies and doing mundane jobs,” he says.

In yet another ordeal, Betty Nakanwagi (real identity protected) resigned two weeks after she started work as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia due to unbearable work conditions. She narrated:

“I would wake up as early as 4am and work throughout the day and night till 2am and my body ached a lot. My colleagues and I were subjected to endless work without rest, not even breaking off to sip water moreover feeding on only one meal of dry rice without any sauce a day,” she narrated in vernacular as tears rolled down her cheeks. 

In another interview published in The Observer, a local tri-weekly, another Ugandan Sarah Naigaga explains how she escaped captivity in yet another Kuwait home. 

Sarah Naigaga (L) and the coordinator of the national anti-human trafficking task force, Moses Binoga at the ministry of Internal Affairs. Photo: The Obsever

“Since we don’t have an embassy or consulate in Kuwait,  I managed to escape and went to a Kenyan embassy and reported my case…and I was rescued. There is an 18-year-old who was taken to Kuwait by a one Matovu agency but she is currently missing and suspected to have been sacrificed by the family she was sold to. At times these Arabs kill Ugandans who go to work as maids and remove their organs and sell them to rich Arabs,” Naigaga narrated. 

Naigaga adds that it is more difficult to escape because their passports were confiscated by their agencies.

The local authorities have advised job seekers to use licensed job agencies. Experts, however, argue that this will not address the root cause of migration. 

The rise in illegal immigration across Africa

In Uganda, the Iraq mission opened doors to a massive influx of human resources to Arabia, Europe and the U.S in pursuit of a better life. Although some of this labour force is exported through legally binding means, the number of illegal immigrants from Africa to several parts of the world cannot be underestimated.

Away from Uganda, a recent report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), estimated that at least 137,000 people had successfully crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe during the first six months of 2015. 

Between March and August 2011, more than 40,000 sub-Saharan Africans arrived on Lampedusa and, to a smaller degree, on Sicily and Malta. Many had been forcibly expelled by the Gaddafi regime and a large number of them applied for asylum in Italy. With the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in August 2011, the flow of migrants again almost stopped entirely  But began again in 2013 with the reorganisation of human smugglers.

Youth unemployment – the Ugandan twist

The Ugandan story is, however, somewhat unique. Unlike most countries like Mali, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya et al where citizens flee the oppression and repression of their governments or prevalent political situations, Uganda has barely had a significant political uprising since 1986. Why are Ugandans fleeing their country in large numbers?

According to the National Housing and Population census 2014, Uganda’s has a total population of 34.6 million people – 78% are below the age of 30, while 52% below the age of 15. It has the youngest population in the world and the second most dependant population after Niger.

The International Labour Organisation defines youth unemployment as a share of labour force age 15-24 without work but available for and seeking employment. 

In Uganda, a total of 400,000 youth are released into the job market annually after graduating at university into a labour market that has only 90,000 jobs, leaving many unemployed 

The national unemployment rate is reportedly at 3.2% and 22.3% for the youth. The figures are even worse in the urban areas as the unemployment rate in the city is at 12%, seven times more than in the rural areas where it is at 1.7%. 

Kampala, the capital city, accounts for 32.2% of Uganda’s youth unemployment, which translates to 36 per cent for university degree holders according to World Bank statistics. 

It is from these frustrations that the youth opt to try other countries to put food not only on their tables but also for their families. Therefore the journey to Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait is not always voluntary but a product of the prevailing circumstances. 

Youth Unemployment in Uganda Photo: Chimpreports.com

What has the government done?

In light of report by African Development Bank (ADB) that put Uganda’s youth unemployment at 83 per cent, the government introduced youth oriented schemes to help alleviate poverty  most of these schemes have been preyed on by corruption and most have either failed or achieved little success. 

These programmes include  the National Agricultural Advisory Services introduced by President Museveni in 2014, a partnership with local banks in 2011 to avail  funds worth Shs25 billion to youth for small scale enterprises. The youth programme was later reintroduced as the Youth Fund as the Youth Livelihood Program with a financial boost of Shs265 billion (about US$ 100 million) to cover a five-year period, after the failure of the previous one.

Despite these interventions, several agencies, licensed or otherwise, are flourishing in the business of exporting youth labour to Arab countries. However, even with horrific tales coming out of Dubai and Kuwait involving prostitution, human trafficking and gang rape and slavery, the government has been reluctant not only to empower its missions abroad to extract it’s suffering citizens but also bargain for better wages, working conditions  and fair treatment. 

In the Migrants’ Right report, a Ugandan columnist David called on officials “to first understand who domestic workers are and the nature of work they do.” 

He warns of the common violations committed against domestic workers such as “restricted mobility, lack privacy, non-payment of their meager wages, verbal, physical, sexual and psychological abuse and work long hours” emphasising their rights to “timely payment, freedom of association and collective bargaining, right to leave, privacy, treatment with dignity, respect, maternity leave and work contract.” 

Human Trafficking:

The 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report by the US Department of State found Ugandan officials complicit in cases of human trafficking. According to report, during 2012, a total of 45 reports of transnational incidents of trafficking in persons (TIP) were registered while 29 similar reports were registered between January and April 2013. 

Over 90 persons were registered as victims of transnational TIP incidents in 2012, while over 38 persons were registered as victims of TIP during the January-April 2013 period. 

Most of the victims are taken out of Uganda or brought to Uganda through fraud, deception or debt bondage in search of employment. The most common route taken is through Nairobi where the covert human trafficking rackets transport the victims in buses, process their visas and passports in Nairobi, and  board them on planes. 

The identities of people claiming to export labour are always hidden; they operate under fake names and fake identification documents without any known physical address or location. So for the victims, most of the communication with these unscrupulous individuals occurs online or via phone. This makes it hard to trace them. 

The anti-human trafficking coordinator in Uganda, Moses Binoga, revealed that government is signing protocols with foreign governments, mostly where Ugandans end up as slaves, so as to ease the task of tracking down the victims.

Bingo beseeches youth seeking employment abroad to use licensed companies as it is easier for the authorities to trace victims and bring them back home in collaboration with the licensed recruiting agencies and to always get enough information about the nature of jobs, where they are going to work and the type of agents involved. 

“Get information from police, ministry of labour, ministry of internal affairs, ministry of foreign affairs, all of which have got desks that handle cases of immigration and labour export,” he concluded. 

Human trafficking. Photo:informafrica.com

What can be done?

The story of youth unemployment, however unique in Uganda’s context, is not limited to Uganda. Most Sub-Saharan countries suffer from this endemic problem which, coupled with the prevailing political instabilities, has not only fuelled the influx of able bodied youth out of their countries but also kept the trafficking and illegal immigration business steadily on wheels. 

The solutions will arise from governments’ desire to create environments suitable for the youth to cultivate their entrepreneurial skills, profitable trading opportunities to accumulate wealth or invest heavily in the creation of well-paying and sustainable jobs to accommodate the growing educated mass.

This article was originally published in This is Africa (TIA), a leading forum for African opinion, arts and music available through the website thisisafrica.me, mobile phone apps and online radio channels.

President Museveni announces new Cabinet

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In the new changes, Nothern Youth MP Ms Evelyn Anite has been named Minister of State for Youth and Children, Muruli Mukasa is now the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Affairs, a position previously held by Okurut.

In a detailed list of the new Cabinet 2015, President Museveni wrote: “I have appointed and re-appointed the Vice President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Ministers.

“I have also restructured the Ministry of Education and Sports to the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology.”

Here’s the Full List:

1. H.E. the Vice President -KIWANUKA EDWARD SSEKANDI

2. Rt. Hon. Prime Minister – RUHAKANA RUGUNDA

3. 1st Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Public Service HENRY MUGANWA KAJURA

4. 2nd Deputy Prime Minister & Deputy Leader of Gov’t Business in Parliament – GEN MOSES ALI

5. 3rd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs – VACANT

6. Minister for Karamoja Affairs – JANET KATAHA MUSEVENI

7. Minister In-charge of the Presidency FRANK TUMWEBAZE

8. Minister in Charge of General Duties OPM – PROF. TARSIS KABWEGYERE

9. Minister of Disaster Preparedness & Refugees – ONEK HILARY

10. Minister of Security – BUSINGYE MARY KARORO OKURUT

11. Minister of Information & National Guidance – MAJ GEN JIM MUHWEZI

12. Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries TRACY BUCHANAYANDI

13. Minister of Defence – KIYONGA CRISPUS

14. Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Sports – MAJ JESSICA EPEL ALUPO

15. Minister of Energy and Minerals – MULONI IRENE

16. Minister of Finance and Economic Planning – KASAIJA MATIA

17. Minister of Works and Transport – BYABAGAMBI JOHN

18. Minister of Justice &Constitutional Affairs MAJ GEN KAHINDA OTAFIIRE

19. Attorney General – RUHINDI FRED

20. Minister of Gender, Labour & Social affairs – MURULI MUKASA

21. Minister of Trade, Industry & Cooperatives – KYAMBADDE AMELIA ANNE

22. Minister of Water & Environment EPHRAIM KAMUNTU

23. Minister of Lands, Housing & Urban Development -MIGEREKO DAUDI

24. Minister of Health -TUMWESIGYE ELIODA

25. Minister of Foreign Affairs KAHAMBA SAM KUTESA

26. Minister of Information & Communications Technology – JOHN MWOONO NASASIRA

27. Minister of Local Government – MWESIGE ADOLF

28. Minister without Portfolio ABRAHAM BYANDALA

29. Government Chief Whip – NANKABIRWA SENTAMU RUTH

30. Minister of Tourism Wildlife & Antiquities MARIA MUTAGAMBA

31. Minister of Internal Affairs – GEN NYAKAIRIMA ARONDA

MINISTERS OF STATE:

Office of the President:

1. Minister of State for Economic Monitoring HENRY BANYENZAKI

2. Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity – LOKODO SIMON

Office of the Vice President:

3. Minister of State Vice President’s Office – NYANZI VINCENT

Office of the Prime Minister:

4. Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness – ECWERU MUSA FRANCIS

5. Minister of State for Northern Uganda – AMUGE OTENGO REBECCA

6. Minister of State for Karamoja – OUNDO NEKESA BARBARA

7. Minister of State for Luwero Triangle – KATAIKE SARAH NDOBOLI

8. Minister of State for Teso Affairs – AMONGIN APORU CHRISTINE HELLEN

9. Minister of State for Bunyoro Affairs – KIIZA ERNEST

Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

10. Minister of State for International Affairs – ORYEM OKELLO

11. Minister of State for Regional Cooperation – MATEKE PHELEMON

Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and
Fisheries

12. Minister of State for Agriculture – SSEMPIJA VINCENT

13. Minister of State for Fisheries – NYIIRA ZERUBABEL MIJUMBI

14. Minister of State for Animal Industry – RWAMIRAMA K. BRIGHT

Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and
Sports

15. Minister of State for Sports – BAKABULINDI CHARLES

16. Minister of State for Primary Education- MUYINGO JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

17. Minister of State for Higher Education, Science and Technology – TOKODRI TAGBOA

Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development:

18. Minister of State for Energy – D’UJANGA SIMON

19. Minister of State for Minerals – LOKERIS AIMAT PETER

Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development:

20. Minister of State for Finance (General ) – JACAN (JALONYO) OMACH FRED MANDIR

21. Minister of State for Planning – BAHATI DAVID

22. Minister of State for Investment- AJEDRA GABRIEL GADISON ARIDRU

23. Minister of State for Privatisation- KAJARA ASTON PETERSON

24. Minister of State for Micro-Finance – AMALI OKAO CAROLINE

Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development:

25. Minister of State for Gender and Culture – ISANGA LUKIA NAKADAMA

26. Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs – ANITE EVELYN

27. Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Industrial – Relations KAMANDA BATARINGAYA

28. Minister of State for the Elderly and Disability- MADADA SULAIMAN

Ministry of Health:

29. Minister of State for Health (General Duties) – BARYOMUNSI CHRIS

30. Minister of State for Primary Health Care- OPENDI OCHIENG SARAH

Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development:

31. Minister of State for Housing – ENGOLA SAM

32. Minister of State for Urban Development -NAJJEMBA ROSEMARY

33. Minister of State for Lands – NANTABA AIDAH

Ministry of Trade and Industry:

34. Minister of State for Trade- WAKIKOONA DAVID

35. Minister of State for Industry- MUTENDE SHINYABULO JAMES

Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities:

36. Minister of State for Tourism – AKIROR AGNES

Ministry of Water and Environment:

37. Minister of State for Water – KIBUULE RONALD

38. Minister of State for Environment – NABUGERA MUNAABA FLAVIA

Ministry of Works and Transport:

39: Minister of State for Transport – CHEBROT STEPHEN
CHEMOIKO

40. Minister of State for Works – KIYINGI ASUMAN

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs:

41. Deputy Attorney General – MWESIGWA RUKUTANA

Ministry of Defence:

42. Minister of State for Defence – ODONGO JEJE

Ministry of Internal Affairs

43. Minister of State for Internal Affairs – BABA JAMES

Ministry of ICT:

44. Minister of State for ICT and Communications – NYOMBI TEMBO

Ministry of Local Government:

45. Minister of State for Local Government – AADROA ALEX ONZIMA

Ministry of Public Service:

46. Minister of State for Public Service – SSEZI PRISCA MBAGUTA

Ministry of East African Affairs:

47. Minister of State for East African Affairs – SHEM BAGAINE

SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER FOR FINANCE (Bretton Woods Institutions) – KIWANUKA MARIA

SIGNED this 1st day of March in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA

He has served the country for 32 years BUTstill wants in

Ex-RDC Kasibante addressing resident while still serving as RDC Apac District.

Ex-RDC Kasibante addressing resident while still serving as RDC Apac District.

 

In 1973, Yasin Dauda Kasibante started his service to the country in then Uganda’s Air force of under the late President Idi Amin Dada. He had a jig to fly helicopters but after diagnosis with a heart problem, he was advised to restrict himself only to mechanics given the fact that he held a Diploma in Civil Engineering (Aviation) from the Ethiopian School of Aviation.

His service however was cut short following the overthrow of President Idi Amin and Yasin was put in detention in Luzira Prison for 4 years from 1979 to 1984 and it was in prison that he met and associated with other political detainees who were being accused of undermining the Uganda People’s Congress government.

“I later realised that they had been recruited by a man called Museveni and had been trained in Munduli (Tanzania) and Oyite Ojok had suspected them and thus had them arrested. They included the Late Lt. Col Frank Guma, the Late Lt. Col Napoleon Rutambika, and Col. Sam Kakuru among others,” he recalled.

Following his association with these political detainees, Yasin later joined them upon his release in 1984 though he didn’t join the army. He was appointed an NRA/M mobiliser Mbarara in 1987 under the very first Special District Administrator Mr Sarapio Karashani but reporting to the National Political Commissar then Dr Kiiza Besigye.

Two years later in 1989, Yasin was transferred to Kalangala District as the In charge of Ssese Islands before he was again returned to Mbarara in 1991 where he trained the first group of the Local Defence Units (LDUs) together with the then District Internal Security Officer (DISO) Major. Rubaramira Ruranga.

In 1994, Yasin Dauda Kasibante contested in a 9 man race to represent Mbarara in the Constituent Assembly Delegation; a race the Eng. Winnie Byanyima won. Other contestants included Asuman Tibesigwa who was Mbarara Municipality’s first Mayor, Hon. John Ntimbo; and then State Minister for Education, a UPC stalwart Abbas Balinda among others.

Still nursing his loss, Yasin met an old Schoolmate from Nyakasura Maj. Gen Benon Biraaro who apparently “recommended” him to the President and I was appointed Assistant Special District Administrator Ntungamo in charge of Rubaare Sub-District.

“I served there for only four months before President Museveni promoted & transferred me now as Central Government Representative to Mubende District to man Mityana Sub-district and here I served for 3 years.”

Yasin continued his service in Mpigi District as an Assistant District Administrator in charge of Kasangati present day Wakiso district before he was shifted now as Deputy Resident District Commissioner to Kabarole District specifically to man Kitagwenda currently Kamwenge District and it was then that the President approved Yasin as full RDC and moved him to Rakai District in 2005 later to Tororo and Apac Districts where he was relieved of his duties in the recently RDC reshuffles.

Key Achievements/highlights from his service:

Alongside UPC’s Woman Member of Parliament for Apac Hon.Lucy Ajok, Yasin managed to improve on the state of roads in Apac District. The duo held a meeting with the then Executive Director of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Mr Peter Selibakita who released resources to the tune of Shs80million through the Northern Uganda regional Offices in Lira under Eng. Sam Muhoozi to work on the roads.

The roads aside, Apac Hospital which was constructed by the Late President Milton Obote in the 1960s had been in a desperate state for a long time but after a meeting with Officials from the Ministry of Health specifically the Permanent Secretary Dr. Asuman Lukwago and the Director Medical Services Ms Ruth Achieng, Apac hospital made it to the list approved for rehabilitation with funding from the African Development Bank.

“I want to brag a little that while I was in Tororo, I led to the first security delegation to Eldoret, Kenya where several matters of national importance were discussed. That should qualify as a highlight.”

Together with the MP for Maruzi county Hon Maxwell Akora, Yasin managed to lobby for investment from Saudi Arabia that will help develop the 68 Square mile Maruzi ranch where they intend to do practice commercial beef farming and exportation. The ranch has been abandoned “redundant” for a long period of time.

Lessons Learnt:

In issues of corruption, Yasin discovered that resources meant for service delivery are often mismanaged by those meant to provide the services themselves. In addition to this observation, government has taken no steps whatsoever to clean up the civil service where corruption is “deeply rooted.”

“The money meant for schools, roads, hospitals is stolen through procurement procedures by some selfish politicians in connivance with some district technical staff and they walk free,” Yasin added.

Having cooperated with several members of the opposition to accomplish some of the projects mentioned above, Yasin says that not all members of the opposition are “anti-development” like many politicians like to put it.

Advices:

“Being in the opposition doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be blind of whatever good the Government has done,” he says emphasizing the need for the Opposition to appreciate what the NRM has achieved for Uganda in order to critically restrain themselves from propagating unachievable philosophies.

He appeals to the incumbent government to understand the need for political dialogue with the opposition parties if meaningful democracy is to be achieved.

We the relieved RDC’s are hoping for the timelypayments of our ex-gratia to enable us start a new livelihood.

 About Yasin Dauda Kasibante:

Kasibante 2

Born on the 24th of December 1956 in Nyamitanga Division, Yasin currently leaves in Isingiro District. He is widowed with four Children. He attended Nyakasura School and after O’level, he was enticed by the lifestyle of his brother the Late Warrant Officer Twaha Bukenya of Para School present day Mengo Lubiri who was a Sergeant Major. His life philosophy is that there’s no loss if you entrust your destiny with God and he believes this is what has kept him going in life.

He holds a Diploma in Civil Engineering from the Ethiopian School of Aviation in Addis Ababa and is said to have had a stint to fly helicopters until when doctors recommended that he remains in the mechanical wing following a heart problem which had earlier seen him taken to India for two years of treatment funded by the President of Uganda; Yoweri Museveni.

He regrets having had to join Amin’s Army yet had successfully passed his O’level with a clear dream to be a surveyor; a childhood dream he perceived from his Late Father who was an Engineer in the then Works Ministry. He thinks if he hadn’t joined the army, then he wouldn’t have been arrested and detained for four years of his youthful life.

Yasin insists that he is still fit and if he is called from retirement back to active duty, he would continue his diligent service. For a small-scale farmer, he says it is difficult to join active politics following their recent commercialisation of politics but in the future, he may consider the option.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

The disguise in NRM’s patriotism; another campaign strategy.

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As we continue to see how to develop a critical mass, it is important that we distinguish between political education and civic education. The political education (Chakamuchaka) that many Ugandans received was designed to serve the specific interests of the NRM organization particularly the political construction that the NRM is far superior and historically unmatched compared to other regimes and that this can be evidenced by their numerous achievements plus their long stay in power.

The people who have undertaken these trainings are proudly referred to as NRM ‘Cadrers’, and because the undertaking involve military drills, party discipline and loyalty are strongly inculcated into the easily impressionable minds of the mostly young people. With this they are very adamant to change or even to any suggestion of reform latter alone transition from the continued 30 year old reign of their dearly beloved leader.

This communist type indoctrination was typical of many liberation movements across Africa that saw a lot of hard lined groups crop up and a lot of blood shed in many useless wars as each group sought to prove its own doctrine (siasa) as superior.

Civic education on the hand involves generally awakening the wider population to their roles, rights and responsibilities as citizens to their duty in the comprehensive development of society irrespective of the political affiliations that prevail, again all achievements are the achievements of the people not those of the regime in power however superior or however fantastically propagandized. It is this sober, objective and critical appreciation of our society that can enable us make the necessary leap into development, a development that will ensure that majority of us are actually moving from a peasantry lifestyle to a modern enlightened one not a development based on unrepresentative statistics generated to depict an outstanding performance by government interested in winning continued favor with our ‘foreign development partners’. While we should appreciate the enormous foreign assistance we have received as Uganda, majority of Ugandans are not aware, not involved in the planning or setting of priorities and not even mindful that this assistance and revenues generated by government are meant for their development not a reward to a sitting government to dispense as suits its political agenda.

People should begin to critically question themselves and their leaders about the general state of their society outside the pretensions of the superiority of the prevailing political construction built on their ignorance of how society evolves over time from scattered peasant communities into a well organized knowledge based society in which people freely interact and engage issues concerning their society’s development and are even able to take appropriate determined action to direct it. When society has grown to a point that it can without fear or favor call its leadership to account on issues that they themselves regard as priority and are able to challenge government’s propaganda justifying otherwise and demand actual performance, then a critical mass has begun to develop.

Much of the African population has by tradition been conditioned to believe that those that occupy their respective governments are an exclusive class of people that are doing the majority of the others a privilege to lead them and as such any objection is regarded as out of order, to be avoided, discouraged or otherwise violently defeated no matter how noble. It is this perception that a critical mass must overcome.

It is no surprise that Africa has remained backward and behind, people are deliberately kept ignorant about how government functions and only conveniently instructed on how to support and vote for the incumbent leadership but not empowered to question its performance or to even compare that performance to their alternative aspirations. The prevailing aspirations of our societies are mainly politicized to the advantage of those who would and can opportunistically manipulate them for their own interests yet what much of our populations require is how to move away from poverty and the underdevelopment we have been associated with for ages and seem not to break irrespective of the many fantastic claims by some of our ‘historically superior’ governments.

Our people must awaken to the fact that they have these long term or that they have developed aspirations which they can no longer allow to be subordinated to the popular politics of the day, either the incumbents or those seeking office will lead us on to development or we get them out or reject them irrespective of their claim of political superiority. This is what a critical mass does as its duty, right and responsibility.

Lessons learned… Season Finale

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By Aruho Marwin Machiaveli  on Monday, May 27, 2013 at 10:20am

Ctd…

I try hard not to remember, like it doesnt even matter. Because so few things do. See, its not the problems we face in life that define our humanity. The unfolding events of my life in front of your eyes is proof enough that i’m insane. But whats insanity though? Einstein defined ‘insanity’ as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. So what does that make me? The only reason i have failed to move on is that am still motivated by the past. I just wish someone could explain to me why destiny can be so cruel, if there’s such a thing as destiny anyway cause am disinclined to follow that logic. I believe what i see and now i see that as much as i would like such a sophisticated reason, it alone wouldn’t be enough to ease the pain of your absense, to hold off this evil that has left a grief in my memory, to supress this sadness i have in my heart and which as you can see is reflected in these words.

…the reality is always hard to take in, especially if you try to find that same kind of love in a different person…

Recent studies on my own self have shown that am a very inpatient person. I also dont have much of a sense of humor and i most definately dont like people or things disappointing my patience. If you are reading this, you will understand.

I LOVE YOU. those three words have my life in them and you took it away from me. See you are a part of me now, and i couldn’t have been a better person without me. I know what all of you are thinking, just don’t call me cute, am hopelessly ‘insane.’

letters don’t take the pain away, but i think they can soften the blow. I don’t know about you but i’m just hoping for a happy ending. I guess its just the writer and me.

The end.

 Dedication…

To the loving A.B

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