Uganda Observer | Opinion | Ssemujju Nganda – UNAA conference shows who is ‘eating’ Uganda

Posted September 6, 2012 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in News ~ 5,624 views


On Friday, lunchtime, I arrived in the US city of Philadelphia to attend the annual Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) conference. I was part of a four-member delegation dispatched from Kampala by the Leader of Opposition, Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, to represent our side at this conference.

Leader of delegation was Philip Wafula Oguttu and the other members were: Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka municipality) and Judith Franca Akello (Woman MP, Agago). All four of us are members of the shadow cabinet. There were two dozen MPs at this conference sponsored by different interests. The Speaker of Parliament also led a delegation. It appears Parliament was overrepresented. Of course some MPs like Gerald Karuhanga and Gilbert Olanya sponsored themselves.

In Philadelphia, I found a different picture of UNAA and the conference as it had been painted by Dr Muniini K. Mulera in his column in Daily Monitor. Although UNAA is 24 years old, it looked like an infant outfit trying to assemble itself. There wasn’t even a clear picture of what we came to attend. Was it a conference where papers would be presented or one big social event where people who have not seen one another meet to talk about everything?

We kept asking ourselves these questions. Wafula Oguttu, my boss at The Monitor for five years, kept asking whether it was worthwhile spending taxpayers’ money on this conference/big party. We went out to have our names registered, but we were told to wait because the team was still assembling computers.

Marriott hotel and the Pennsylvania Convention Centre where this event took place offered magnificent accommodation and hall, respectively. And Philadelphia, the first capital of the US, is a beautiful city. In the end, each one of us tried to extract whichever value there was in this conference. Dr Muniini Mulera played MC and we were treated to some Miss UNAA of sorts which ended up being a mere imitation as just four girls participated and there was a time when Dr Mulera had to go backstage when no girl was showing up.

I eventually drew my own conclusions about UNAA. I may be wrong, but that is how I saw it. Before the opening ceremony, there was a session on Investment. The speakers at this session were: Jennifer Musisi (Executive Director KCCA), Allen Kagina (Commissioner General URA), Henry Ngabirano (Executive Director Coffee Development Authority), Kenneth Kitariko (of African Alliance) and the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, who was drafted in later.

As you may know, I never fear to speak about tribalism. So, I asked my colleagues if the lineup of speakers taught them about public jobs distribution in Uganda. The lineup included Musisi who by the way is more Western Uganda these days than Central. I later learnt Patrick Bitature was also meant to speak at this investment session. The Ugandan diplomats at the opening ceremony completed the picture. There was Perez Kamunanwire (Ambassador to the US) and Adonia Ayebare (Acting Ambassador to the UN).

Even Oguttu who rarely speaks about the Banyankore dominance of our society, wondered if there is no Musamya anywhere who can either be a CEO or a diplomat. Of course not all these people are Banyankore, but they are all from the West. When I met a Muganda who drove me to Boston to attend Ttabamiruka (annual Baganda conference) and declared the UNAA “Banyankore Kweterana”, it didn’t surprise me.

Because our boss Mafabi had also asked us to attend Ttabamiruka, we left for Boston. It was an experience driving through four states; New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. I have never appreciated the US, but the drive convinced me about what good leadership and focus can do.

The road network in the cities and outside is amazing. At the pace we are on, Uganda needs five hundred years to get to where the US was at the start! Of course Museveni featured prominently in all our discussions and how he was now preparing his son to succeed him. I became the defender of Museveni because people who have stayed away for too long have an exaggerated negative view of the man. For them anyone from Western Uganda is a Munyarwanda. Some even think Col Kizza Besigye and Museveni are the same.

What I told them is that it might be impossible for Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed his father. The reason is simple; Museveni has been Mr Fixer throughout his regime. Even in the military, Museveni has not allowed Muhoozi to fix anything. Instead, Muhoozi has been himself fixed. For anyone to successfully take over, you need to be the fixer. Muhoozi is neither a fixer of the military nor of politics. [This article first appeared in the Uganda Observer]

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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.



    Poor Semujju Nganda. He should have checked this analysis out before he got his hopes up about the usefulness of UNAA beyond being a social gathering.

    Violet Tigita

    These kinds of comments are what is keeping Uganda backward. This is absurd. You remind me of the proverbial blind men who touched an elephant. Everyone came away with a totally different description. I attended the same conference and I guess my lens is more nationalistic than yours. I guess because I went to the Northern Uganda forum, I can say that the conference was Acholiland Central. Wake up, people. This kind of divisiveness has no place in our nation.

      Violet Tigita

      At 50, most of you and especially as a member of Parliament, you need to grow up and know that Uganda has always been there, leaders will come and go and Ugand will always be there. I guess you got more out of Ttabamiruka. I wonder who the attendees were and why.

    Kamunanirwe Patience

    You Violet Tigita, u re the one who needs to grow up the guy said its his opinion Not yours he might be wrong or right totukoya.

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