Letter from the Editor | Ronnie Mayanja | September 2011

Posted September 1, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 3,006 views


By Ronnie Mayanja | Editor, UNAA Times Online | The very first day of September finds me in the Mile high city of Denver where Ugandans are slowly converging for their 23rd annual UNAA convention starting Friday September 2nd and going on till Labour day Monday. This weekend by far is the biggest gathering of Ugandans outside Uganda. However this year the spotlight is on the UNAA Elections. But the fact that less than 200 members have registered to vote in this year’s elections yet the Ugandan community in North America boasts of over 100,000 members was the strongest indication yet that perhaps UNAA needs to change course before the institution becomes a shadow of its former self.

As an out going member of the UNAA board of directors, I know we did our part in helping to steer the organisation forward but the voter apathy and indifference of some of our regular attendees must have stemmed from somewhere. The new UNAA Board and UNAA Council will need to work on building these old relationships and helped revive attendance and interest in UNAA affairs!

For the 2012 convention, I had my best bet on Dallas, an area that would attract considerable numbers similar to those we saw in Washington DC last year. And of course the argument presented by other board members was that another inland convention coming out of Denver without another boat cruise on the “menu”, would not cut it. And so the board majority position went in favor of Philadelphia one of the cities shortlisted to host next year’s convention.

Historically, ‘Philly’ comes with several advantages including the proximity to both Washington D.C and Boston. A corridor in which so many Ugandans now live. Access to a water body will also mean a lot to those who feel it’s not a convention until they get onto a boat cruise. Therefore, the most important task for future organisers is to devote some serious resources in the marketing and publicity of this and other conventions very early on if we are to see our convention numbers pick up and perhaps exceed what we have witnessed in the past. That is a decision our new leadership on both the executive and the UNAA Council will need to address as part of their new order of business.

Many Ugandans have now settled in the diaspora where they have not only excelled in various disciplines, but have also become movers and shakers in their communities at various levels. I am glad that the outgoing UNAA board of directors chose to award Mr. Kwatsi Alibaruho and Captain Lukiya Mulumba for their outstanding contributions as Ugandans living in the diaspora.
Ands so, by celebrating and recognizing their individual successes, this will inspire others with dreams to never give up in their quest to undergo personal, intellectual and economic liberation.

In an effort to grow this vision further and to celebrate our success stories abroad, for the past 8 months we have been developing the Ugandan Diaspora database modelled around identifying and celebrating sons and daughters of Uganda who are carrying our flag high in their various disciplines. A website dedicated to the cause [] and a Facebook fan page [] are fully operational.

By celebrating these individuals we hope our home government will be able to engage many of these success stories as consultants and perhaps lead to brain gain. It’s against this background therefore, that the very first Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking summit will be held at the Kampala Serena hotel on December 29, 2011. We encourage as many Ugandans as possibly can, to show up in big numbers and build networks that will transcend borders. [] For this special event we are producing a 60 page Magazine that will highlight Ugandan businesses abroad and also put a spotlight on many of these nominees we hope to recognise and celebrate. We are now selling advertising space for this booklet.[]

In other news, Col. Muamar Gaddafi’s 42 year old rule is at its tail end. The African Union is crying foul and blaming double standards by western powers whose pretext for the UN article of 1973 and the NATO air strikes was to protect Libyan civilians. The African Union was sidelined by western powers when it attempted to broker a ceasefire and seek dialogue as a means to end to the conflict in Libya.

More recently South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma at the end of AU’s peace and security Council meeting in Addis Ababa said AU would not recognize the Libyan rebel National Transitional Council as long as fighting continued but instead called for an immediate ceasefire and an all inclusive transitional government. It interesting to note that the only leader from the Western hemisphere to denounce the Libyan rebels was none other than the flamboyant Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, Qaddafi’s close friend and arch nemesis to America and it’s allies.

Qaddafi might have ruled Libya with an iron fist but many countries in sub-Saharan Africa benefited from his Petro and gas dollars. Many of the revolutionary movements on the African continent were bankrolled by Gaddafi’s regime. Countries like Boukina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Chad, Uganda and all the way to Southern Africa, all boast of Libyan holdings that look more like one giant venture capital fund according to some media reports.

In Uganda alone Libyan Arab African Investment Company[LAAICO], investment portfolio was estimated at more than $375 million dollars covering different sectors that range from real estate such as National Housing, Telecommunications where the Libyans now own a big chunk of Uganda Telecom, the Banking sector where they also have a huge stake in Tropical Bank of Africa, and Hotels like Lake Victoria Hotel in which the Libyans also acquired a major stake, to name but a few. Perhaps the greatest influence of Gaddafi’s dollars was felt more with the construction of the Qaddafi Mosque at Old Kampala and the reconstruction of King Oyo’s palace in Fort Portal. Speculation therefore, has been rife on how the freeze on Gaddafi’s assets and investments would impact Uganda’s economy that has seen double-digit inflation in the recent weeks.

Some pundits have argued that the quick recognition of the National Transitional Council in Benghazi by the western powers was an attempt to recolonize and control the nation’s vast oil and gas resources and many have even predicted that Libya could degenerate into another Iraq like stalemate. But love or hate him, Qaddafi believed in the United States Of Africa and also devoted a considerable amount of Libya’s wealth in developing many of those struggling African economies. Western news outlets have claimed that Qaddafi bought his way throughout Africa hence the reason why African mercenaries were willing to fight and die for him.

I do applaud Qaddafi’s contribution in developing and investing in sub-Saharan Africa but I am also cognisant of the fact that when leaders over stay in power, they ruin their legacies. For all his politics of grandeur, Qaddafi declared himself King of Kings after inviting 200 traditional rulers from sub Saharan Africa. This took away from his vision for a single political African entity with a single leader and single currency. But his views had helped shape the new African Union that replaced the OAU that seemed outdated and out of touch with needs of the African Continent.

Therefore as the Arab revolution that started in Tunisia nears it end, the writing is on the wall for those leaders who cling to power and indulge in opulent lifestyles at the expense of the people they lead. The sure thing though is that Qaddafi’s delusional character and comedy shows will be missed on the world political stage. What an end to an era,  fare thee well comrade ‘brother leader’ and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Revolution!

Ronnie Mayanja | UNAA Times Online | |
Ugandan Diaspora Inc | |
Soreel Mayas Grafx Ltd | | UG Media |
USA | +1-978-235-2459 | Uganda +256-773-212-007
Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanja |

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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