Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | October 2013 | A Happy Independence Day – Uganda!

Posted September 30, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 5,620 views


Greetings Folks,

And welcome to fall. This is perhaps the best time of the year to enjoy New England weather as the trees shed their leaves and change color in what PRESENTS our God as a skillful master creator and artist . Just grab your camera and indulge yourself at the nearest park this fall and believe me when I say that you will not regret the images the fall foliage presents.

Al Shabab strikes  again – this time the whole of East Africa is Exposed!

The September 21st attack by the Al Qaeda offshoot Al Shabab at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi presented a well organised group capable of wreaking havoc anywhere. The terrorists had rented a shop inside the mall complex for 3 months, which allowed them time to study and execute a well planned attack. Kenya like Uganda has contributed peacekeepers to Somalia following Al Shabab attacks that targeted tourists on Kenya’s northern coastline.

For three full days the world watched in horror as the standoff gained world wide attention. By the time the terror attacks were over in Nairobi about 70 people were confirmed dead and 150 were injured. Social Media played a role as Al Shabab kept an active Twitter account, sending updates on the “heroic” performance of their jihadists. As many of us monitored the wires we waited for the news and perhaps pictures of captured and dead terrorists but there were none. It has been reported that they managed to access the close circuit television room[CCTV]  and eventually escaped through sewer tunnels under the West Gate Mall, another embarrassed to the Kenya security apparatus.  And so we join our brethren in Kenya in mourning this senseless attack on innocent civilians and hope that the perpetrators of this crime and those guiding them will be apprehended sooner rather than later!

UNAA’s Looming Constitutional Crisis!

Last month Ugandan North American Association — UNAA celebrated 25 years and in case you missed the UNAA Dallas festivities it was an eventful 3 days in the cowboy city of Dallas. Sad to say, UNAA politics and intrigue are polarizing members with divergent views more than ever before. As someone who served on the UNAA board and thought we had seen the worst of our tumultuous past I must say this leaves alot to be desired. However the outcome of the voting in Dallas was unduly influenced the moment the August 2nd deadline was imposed. While many accepted the outcome in Dallas including the Immediate Past President[IPP] was gracious enough to note in his concession speech that he was leaving a more united UNAA, the new administration seems to be out to prove a point and started off on a wrong foot that has rattled feathers with some UNAA organs in an effort to gain the upper hand.

As a long standing member of UNAA I have also come to the realization that behind the scenes UNAA seems to have an invisible Supreme Leader/Ayatollah and he together with his henchmen dictate the agenda for UNAA’s politics. This small group of individuals has moles in literally every branch of UNAA government. The once vibrant elections now do not even require campaigns because they are ‘engineered’ and decided by a fraction of the UNAA membership on technicalities like the ill conceived deadlines meant to reduce or keep a manageable number of voters. These oversights need to be rectified by the new constitution review commission for a more inclusive and vibrant UNAA!

Today there is a looming UNAA Council constitutional crisis because the UNAA council is split between 2 camps that are seemingly all determined to stand their ground, another reason why we need to elect leaders with the right temperament and good judgement to maneuver out of such murky waters. The crisis comes on the heels of the UNAA Board of Trustees[BoT] decision to annul the election of a UNAA Council representative from Canada that has tipped the balance of power in favor of the group aligned with the newly elected executive president. The interpretation of the new constitutional document has also left some members at loggerheads!

With a new council elected that refuses to recognizes the BoT decision that also helped them win the executive presidency we have grown increasingly surprised as we bear witness on our UNAALIST of the President Elect’s failure to respect the decision of UNAA elders and his inability to build a consensus leadership that would allow the UNAA Council to maintain its independence as a separate branch and start to deliberate on UNAA business. Equally disturbing has been the manner in which two UNAA Council representatives for the same region could have tied and one was declared winner without recourse to a Bi-Election. All these and many other questions have led some UNAA members to petition the BoT after failure to get redress from the UNAA Electoral Commission.

UNAA is in need of some urgent reforms. The new Constitution needs a constitutional review commission. The UNAA Electoral Commission increasingly looks compromised and itself needs to be reconstituted after members appeared on the nominations list who had not even indicated they would be seeking elective office. Let the wheeling and dealing currently going on behind the scenes be a wake up call for members to take a more active role in UNAA affairs, especially during election years. If we do not stand up we shall always be governed by a group whose agenda does not represent the will and spirit of most members.

In the past we have seen the emergency of the UNAA Transformers, the UNAA Clear Direction now defunct, the UNAA Dream Team, many of who attempted to lead UNAA using their own ideology. The fundamental question to ask is what did all these groups accomplish for UNAA and why have some even split up yet they belonged to the same camp? One thing comes to mind;  we are seeing the importation of Ugandan type politics to UNAA — The end will always justify the means….elections are for sale!

At a recent community event in Boston I was approached by a lady in the presence of a member of UNAA BoT who wanted to know the importance of UNAA in our community when the organisation has never transported a body of a deceased member back home. She also wanted to know, apart from annual conventions, what  UNAA had done for its people over the 25 years. I think the new leaders have their work cut out for them heading into San Diego. Are we an organisation that simply holds annual conventions or is there something tangible beyond socializing that we can offer our people?

John F. Kennedy once said, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. UNAA members ought to ask not what UNAA has done for them but what they can do for UNAA. In as much as I applaud the new blood in UNAA I also pray that we shall not ignore the elders within UNAA  who act as the voices of reason needed to help move this great organisation forward, since governing, especially during such tumultuous times, can be a daunting task. In my view an audit of the entire election results might be the only solution to help absolve UNAA from her current problems.

We should continue to oppose special interest groups that attempt to personalize UNAA and the kind of behind-the scenes influence peddling that has caused many to part ways with this great institution in the past. Reforms are also long over due in areas like the composition of committees set up to select and market our conventions hotel, entertainment and forums these ought to be open to the whole UNAA membership which will also help to avoid conflicts of interest.

As the campaigns for 2015 UNAA elections get under way, let us hope that UNAA will not be compromised in the process by those with deep pockets determined to buy elections. Consider this a call to the entire UNAA fraternity to fight for the principles that our founders believed in when they started an organisation that is now the biggest among Ugandans living abroad and through whose efforts the DUAL Citizenship Law was passed.

When will Uhuru/Independence Come For Our Teachers and the Common Man!

Finally we join with all our countrymen both at home and abroad this month [October 9th] to commemorate our 51 years of sovereignty but with the recent strike by our school teachers in Uganda the question remains, when will we attain Uhuru (Independence) for all Ugandans? After 30 years in power our leader ought to steer the nation in a different direction instead of self – perpetuating himself in power.

When University lecturers, school teachers and some civil servants take between 3 to 6 months without pay yet money is handed out to party supporters in sacks, a sign of a regime out of touch with the reality on the ground. Some even worry what the curse of oil will bring if there has been impunity over the small resources we posses as a nation. We in the Diaspora will celebrate in a big way. And so be sure to join us for our Boston Independence celebrations at the French Club in Waltham on October 13th when Zambia’s Mampi — the Swiririri hit-maker, will be our special guest!

Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. –Eleanor Roosevelt

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. –Martin Luther King Jr.

A happy Independence Day fellow Ugandans.

For God and My Country

Ronnie Mayanja
MSc. Comm – Boston University

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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.


    Patrick Nsereko

    Good work bwana Mayanja


    Kiyenje Buyenje


    Perceptive and informative observations about UNAA.

    Thank you.

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