Opinion By SSEMUJJU IBRAHIM NGANDA | The betrayal of diaspora conferences

Posted August 7, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in UNAA ~ 10,209 views



Two important Ugandan conferences are taking place in the United States later this month. The 26th annual Uganda North American Association (UNAA) convention will take place from August 29 to 31 in San Diego, California. The Buganda Conference – Ttabamiruka ‘14 – will be staged at Renaissance Woodbridge hotel in New Jersey, between August 28 and September 1.

The latter is organised by Ggwangamujje NY/NJ, described by its founders as a platform for Baganda in America and other countries, to freely exchange ideas about Buganda issues. The most immediate objective of Ttabamiruka, the organisers say, is to ensure that, as long as the hostile conditions prevailing in Buganda persist, Baganda will have an independent platform to freely explore non-violent ways to change the situation.

Many clan leaders in Buganda are headed to New Jersey, where they will be honoured for protecting Buganda during various turbulences. In San Diego, UNAA is focusing, according to information on their website, on networking, business and education fora, as well as political governance debates.

The staging of these two conferences sums up the Ugandan story. And these conferences nearly became four. Part of the UNAA leadership, dissatisfied with the direction the organisation was taking, nearly organised a parallel conference. A State House hand was cited in this disagreement.

The Katikkiro’s much-publicised tour and fundraising in Canada, Chicago and Boston, taking place at the same time as Ttabamiruka ‘14, was being viewed as sabotage. It was also announced on social media that her royal highness, the Nnaabagereka, would be staging ekisaakaate in Canada.

I attended UNAA in Philadelphia in 2012, but it fell short of my personal expectations. I went thinking that debate on the misrule and looting back home would take centre stage. Instead, it was Museveni’s girls – Jennifer Musisi and Allen Kagina – who were given a special platform to shine. Even when debate on the politics finally took place, it was like a by-the-way.

Not to spoil this big social event that UNAA has become, in my opinion, I switched allegiance to Ttabamiruka, which discusses tribulations I go through every day, and tries to suggest solutions. It is the reason New Jersey will be my destination, not San Diego, California.

The diaspora used to be a very big catalyst to our democracy. Many established Ugandans, especially in Canada and the US, had turned themselves into lobbyists. And that is how Canada took a hard stance on the war in northern Uganda. Canada nearly pushed the international community to declare northern Uganda a disaster area.

All well-established Ugandans in Canada were blacklisted by the regime in Kampala. People like Dr Munini Mulera were almost declared persona non grata. Similar campaigns against the regime took place in Europe, especially UK. There was a question on Uganda in the House of Commons, almost weekly, thanks to Sam Akaki. The regime swung into action and some of yesterday’s lobbyists are now working in Kampala. The rest are spreading the red carpet for the emperor who, by the way, will be in the US this week.

That is the tragedy that has befallen our country. The educated and the middle-class have connived with the regime. And credit goes to Museveni; he knows how to conscript. Looted money is now being shared with non-state actors, whose job should have been to check the regime. They have become regime spokespersons. I enjoy reading their postings on The Observer website.

And it is not only the diaspora that has surrendered. Makerere University used to host, almost weekly, public debates on all topics. The likes of Prof Apolo Robin Nsibambi, Prof Mahmood Mamdani, Prof Akiiki Mujaju and Prof Dani Nabudere were key speakers.

Sometime back, I was invited to give a talk to journalism students at Uganda Christian University in Mukono, but the authorities there blocked it. And what befell Prof Gilbert Bukenya on his recent visit to Gulu University is still very fresh.
That is the environment under which diaspora conferences are taking place.

Vice-President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi has now become a permanent guest of honour at the Uganda-UK convention. The discussion here is not the opportunity lost, but seizing opportunities. Almost 80 per cent of our youths remain unemployed, while hundreds are riding boda bodas. As a result, many have fled the country, as economic refugees, and are enduring difficulties wherever they have spread.

I saw them earn a living by helping motorists park in South Africa and cleaning the hot streets of Dubai. Not discussing conditions that drive young people out of their country is a big failure on the part of the organisers. But also hosting and making guests of honour people who have contributed to this misery, or failed to address it, is a betrayal.
The author is Kyadondo East MP.

Source — The Weekly Observer | Please note this is an opinion piece and the views expressed herein are not those held by Ugandan Diaspora News.

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.


    Swaibu Tamale

    Well spoken


    thank GOD uganda still has pple like hon. semujju who can still come out and give such idears to poor ugandans keep it up


    Well articulated, but you missed the wrangles in UNAA and the Issue of Katikiro boycotting
    Tabamiruka which is kind of sad and very unreasonable.


    Than you Sir, You have spoken for so many of us.

    Dan Kutosi

    Thanks Hon. Ibrahim. It’s a pleasure to hear from you because even then you have been, Will still be so informative.

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