Ugandan Diaspora Editorial | August 2016 | It’s Official Trump vs Clinton Is Game On — Uganda’s Biggest UNAA Conventions Are Here!

Posted August 2, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 12,535 views


ronnie editor

Dear Readers,

Welcome to August, the best part of summer in the Northern hemisphere. For those into politics it is now 100 days to the next US general election. Last month the Republicans held their national convention in the battleground state of Ohio. This was unlike anything we have seen before, from Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech of 2008 to Sen. Ted Cruz’s meltdown and the boycott of key Republican leaders of the Republican National Convention (RNC), a spectacle like no other, in which Donald Trump got the highest ratings for number of viewers– 34.2 million viewers during his acceptance speech. Trump also picked Gov. Mike Pence, a conservative from Indiana, as his running mate, a move that resonated positively with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But Trump’s scorched earth policy and reckless comments which have failed to cause him to lose support have also bewildered many.  With the slogan “Make America Great Again” he has been promoting himself as a the law and order candidate that would safeguard the American borders.

A week later it was time for the Democrats to gold their convention in Philadelphia. Following the email scandals that revealed the DNC executives’ bias in favor of Hillary Clinton, supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders staged protests at the convention, angered over how Hillary had been favored by the establishment. The impasse was later defused by the resignation of the DNC Chair Ms. Debbie Wassermann Schultz and Bernie’s speech that endorsed Hillary as the Democratic Party presumptive nominee, burying the hatchet that had seen the two leading contenders battle for their party nomination for months. There was fear that things would veer off course on the first night for the Democrats as Sen. Al Franken and comedian Sarah Silverman worked the crowd.

Sanders had energized many of the youth voters in a revolution that saw mass registration for the Democratic Party. However equally noteworthy was the fact that many in Sanders’ base had indicated they would note vote Hillary if she became the presumptive nominee. The resistance to the Clinton machinery has been stronger this time round owing to the many  scandals and skeletons in their closet!

It was speeches by the power couple Barack and Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (who has changed party affiliation, going from Democrat to Republican to Independent) that gave Hillary the much needed boost. She also chose a Tim Kaine, Senator of Virginia as her VP pick. Generally considered a centrist, Kaine has described himslf as “old-fashioned liberal…driven by Jesuit ideals”. He spoke both English and Spanish during his acceptance speech. However the final night belonged to Hillary who did well to show the rest of the world that after more that 200 years the glass ceiling had been broken, and movements like those at Seneca Falls and the Voting Rights Act had all yielded fruit, making Hillary Clinton the first woman to win her party nomination. If elected, Hillary would become the 45th US President following in the footsteps of her husband Bill Clinton who was number 42. However the speech came under criticism by some still undecided voters who say she failed to comment or apologize for Benghazi and the email server scandal.

With both candidates duly nominated by their parties the real campaigns begin. Both Trump and Hillary have been the most unpopular candidates to have ever vied for the presidency. But what matters is they both got the votes to defeat their opponents in the primaries. Trump, as an outsider who has never held elective office, managed to overcome 17 seasoned Republican politicians including governors and senators. It was thought by many in the Democratic Party 2016 would be Hillary’s time after having fought a bitter contest with President Barack Obama in 2008, which partly explains why Bernie Sanders stood no chance, even after energizing the youth vote and polling over 13.1 million votes – 3 million less than Hillary Clinton.

However with a population of more than 300 million people and with the Brexit vote still fresh in many of minds, a Trump presidency cannot be ruled out, especially having seen how this reality television star fended off all of the competition to remain the last man standing, getting the party nomination. And so only November will determine which party or personality will prevail the political outsider or the seasoned politician. The battle lines have now been drawn and the election results in the states of Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio could well decide who will be the next President of the United States.

Last month was a special month for the Ugandan community in Boston. We were privileged to host the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State — Bureau for African Affairs, Mr. Todd Haskell, who paid a courtesy call on the Ugandan-American community of Boston. Part of that conversation revolved around human rights abuses back home, democratization and the rule of law, and State Department policy toward the African Diaspora community and Uganda as a whole.

During this visit it was also inspiring to hear remarks by the Mayor of Waltham, a city that is home to many Ugandans. Mayor McCarthy called upon the community and the leadership to start participating the local politics as a way to effect change in their community. She spoke of the need to join school committees and the importance of volunteering in various community roles.

See link to learn more and see full coverage of the meeting:

We are now just a few weeks away from the two biggest Ugandan Conventions, September 2nd to September 4th 2016. Come Labor Day Weekend Ugandans in Boston shall be gathering at Park Plaza Hotel for both business and pleasure. This year the organizers for UNAA Boston have also added the Ebonies to their list of entertainers. 

On the west coast the UNAA Causes group will also be gathering, at the JW Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles. Here they have planned the US – Africa Business Expo and an interesting star-studded lineup of Ugandan entertainers that will include the New York-based supermodel Aamito. Overall this year’s conventions should be a litmus test on what we do as a community beyond the three-day festivities. 

For my part, about two years ago during a meet and greet tour of Boston I brought it to the attention of our Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda that although Boston was one of the largest Ugandan Diaspora constituencies in North America, it did not have an honorary consul for Uganda, even with all the Ivy league universities and technology companies based in Massachusetts. This was two years ago and the then Ugandan Ambassador Olivia Wonekha had promised to look into this and confer with her superiors about the matter. There is a lot we can do for our country, especially as well placed professionals living in the Diaspora. Texas, Colorado, California have longed enjoyed honorary consulates that are big drivers for business if well utilized.

The other aspect that will need to be addressed is our petition regarding the dual citizenship law that is now before the constitutional court for interpretation — for so long we in the Diaspora have been short changed even after making headlines during the Uganda Presidential debates.

The conventions in both Boston and Los Angeles would have been great opportunities for both the Ugandan Tourism Board and Ugandan Wildlife Authority to brand and market Uganda, not only to the Diaspora communities but to Americans residing in those cities. Partnering with Emirates that flies direct to Boston  and Ethiopian Airlines that now flies direct to Los Angeles would have yielded some good dividends compared to the huge sums we pay foreign companies to market our country outside the local communities.  A marketing budget of about 40,000 dollars for the two conventions would help create a media blitz of sorts by helping advertise Uganda on the subway and creating moving billboards on the local buses on why Uganda is “gifted by nature”. During the run up to CHOGM we paid CNN $1 million dollars so why not spend $50,000 dollars to help market Uganda among Ugandans by using such Road Shows with all the political elite present?

The saddest part is that there has been no government outreach to try and engage the Diaspora professionals that could help create this buzz or sell and promote Uganda’s vast natural beauty. In my view those 15-minute tailored presentations during the business forums only appeal to the converted, yet there is so much untapped potential on main street. For example, big government delegations are due in Boston and LA at the end of August. But if you ask how many meetings have been set up at Harvard, Tufts or Yale for exchange students or at the headquarters of the tourism giant Trip Advisor I would be surprised if any have been arranged with them or the many important companies headquartered in Massachusetts.

John F Kennedy once said during his Inaugural Address, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Uganda is for all of us and no one group or party has a monopoly of good ideas on how best to promote Uganda abroad. The onus is on us to make a difference. There is no reason why tourism is not the number one foreign exchange earner for our struggling economy that will soon bail out struggling businesses as the tourism sector continues to suffer from negative publicity internationally. It all starts with empowering the people to market and sell this great republic in the places we live and work in the Diaspora. This is where Rwanda and Kenya beat us hands down!

For God and My Country!

— Ronnie Mayanja

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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.


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