RECAP: The 23rd UNAA Convention Report Card As Seen From The UNAA Times Lenses!

Posted September 7, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 9,207 views


By Ronnie Mayanja, Editor, Ugandan Diaspora Magazine, UNAA Times ~ By the time you read this article many of us will be back to our homes trying to adjust to business as usual. And the 23rd UNAA convention is now a thing of the past but with new leadership and a new constitution in place. The outgoing UNAA board of directors should be credited for their efforts to host a debt free convention as Denver managed to come out in the black compared to previous conventions with the exception of Washington DC. Perhaps credit here should go to the Immediate Past President Mr. Moses Wilson’s and his board for the fiscal discipline.

There are some areas we could have done better. After lining up a cast of great entertainers, some artists did not get on stage until 1:00am which left revellers with hardly any time to dance to the Dee Jay’s selection. Some artists also abused their allotted time and performed for extended periods inspite of the many speeches people had to contend with. But this being an election year, a lot was added on the menu and as an outgoing board member, I remember people voicing their concerns that we over did it in as far as time management and speeches were concerned. But again, this is an issue Mcees were better positioned to handle. In this regard we had guest Mcees Daniel Wilson and two popular BEAT FM presenters Katongole Omutongole and Lady Wanyana.

This year though, kudos should be given to the ladies who manned the kitchen. The traditional Sunday Dinner was also spot on; not only in taste and variety, but in the portions served that even those who came in late, were able to eat to the their fill.

The line up for entertainment too presented some variety. On Friday, we were treated to Jackie Ssenyonjo’s gospel tunes and later danced away to some oldies music. Saturday saw Uganda’s R&B queen and leading rapper – Keko, GNL Zamba, Zani, Vanessa, Nandujja, Diesel and Boston comedian Muvawala do their thing.

However it was Sunday during the dinner that left many of the convention attendees in awe when Uganda’s very own Kenny G, Isaiah Katumwa took to the stage with his saxophone and gave the performance of a lifetime! By the time Katumwa was off stage he had two boxes of his CDs already sold at $20 dollars a piece and was offered gigs across the US and Canada including Uganda’s 50th independence celebrations in Washington DC.

The Ugandan Denver based traditional dancers also gave their best in representing tradition dances from other regions of Uganda. But who can forget Nandujja? She was spectacular too, fusing urban beats with traditional Nankassa beats while wiggling and shaking her the way only Baganda women do.

Other guest performers included the Rocky Mountain’s Salsa dancing group that gave us a taste of Latina moves from South America, the group also featured a Uganda salsa  dancer.

The climax of Sunday evening featured newly wed President of the Ghetto Uganja Republic himself Bobi Wine whose performance got many of his fans on the dance floor. This year it was DJ Benazo and DJ Spoon who did their thing spinning the wheels of steel well into the wee hours of the morning.

Apart from entertainment, this year’s Business forum provided an opportunity to network and a chance for folks to pursue new business ventures. Among the new big timers this year was Tullow Oil and Equity Bank. Tullow Oil also planned to carry out a recruiting drive in Houston to attract Ugandans qualified in Oil and Gas Management to join the emerging oil industry in Uganda. Other big sponsors for this year included Tullow Oil, Western Union, PIBID Banana/Tooke Initiative.

The vending area presented a more organised atmosphere that allowed all participants/vendors the maximum exposure they need for many of their products.

What this convention will perhaps be most remembered for is the Key Note Speaker, UNAA Denver Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Mr Kwatsi Alibaruho, who was the first African American with Ugandan DNA to lead a mission  into space as Flight Director. Mr. Alibaruho gave the most inspiring and motivational speech in the History of UNAA Conventions. He touched on all facets of our lives. He mentioned the importance of networking, relationship building, progressive thinking, working with integrity, presenting ourselves professionally while treating our jobs as if everyday were a job interview.

He reminded his audience that once we are faithful in small things it is always a matter of time before our success and dedication is recognised by our superiors. And as he wound up, he was applauded by a standing ovation by every one in the room that had the Vice President of the Republic of Ugandan as well as the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament among the many attendees. For the rest of that Saturday evening, he remained the “talk of the convention.”

The other recipient of the UNAA Denver Lifetime Achievement Award was Captain Lukiya Mulumba, a nurse in the US Airforce whose philanthropic work in combating the Sickle Cell disease has now earned her world recognition and support in the White house, US military and Uganda were she started and donated land for the Uganda Sickle Cell Foundation. In her acceptance speech Captain Lukiya encouraged all those privileged Ugandans living in the diaspora to support the sickel cell cause or any other cause they felt passionate about. [Lukiya’s work has also been featured in this year’s September Issue of Essence Magazine an upscale African American Magazine]

The next highlight of the convention was the Election of a New UNAA Board of Director and UNAA Council. This year there was a lack of campaign fever compared to recent elections held in San Francisco and Chicago. Coupled with this was low voter turn out and apathy of most of the members who seemed not to bother about the future of this organisation in its 23rd year of existence.

The debates almost flopped when the UNAA transformers team expressed their views to pull out of the election to the EC members. However after some last minute attempts Mr. J.B.M Ssentongo together with his team were encouraged to take their case directly to the public and the UNAA electorate. At issue was the circumstances surrounding UNAA’s existence and registration process that this group claimed had expired.

Though the Elections went on really smoothly as compared to the confusion that marred the process in Chicago, About 115 registered voters participated in the process. The lack of campaign posters and drop down banners associated with the process were indicative of the changing patterns and perhaps the challenges the new constitution faces.

Some people I met during the three day event also expressed dismay for the fees associated with the registration for convention attendance, business forum, membership on top of their travel, accomodation, and upkeep costs. Making the conventions affordable might be issue the new executive and UNAA council might need to address.

By the time we got to Sunday night the new UNAA Executive had been elected with Mr. Francis Ssenoga the previous UNAA Vice President taking over from Mr. Moses Wilson. The UNAA Council too was also elected though the majority of its members run un-opposed for their individual regions.

Effective Denver,  UNAA is now bound by a new constitution that will require some time to work. And to ensure that the ideas that were debated by the Constitutional review commission take root and transform UNAA into the institution that is supposed to lead to increased accountability and regional representation.
Overall UNAA Denver was a great experience and special credit ought to go out to folks in Denver especially the Convention Chair Mr. DC Kiyemba, David Muwanga, Abbas Mulubya and the rest of their team. They put up a spectacular show inspite of all the challenges and hardships associated with convention planning. However the climax for me came when I went downtown Denver and got to see Boyz II Men Live in Concert. This legendary R&B group of all time that sold over 60 million records worldwide were guest performers on labor day Monday at the ‘Taste of Colorado. [Be sure to check back for all the UNAA Denver Kodak moments when we post our photo galleries for the 3 day event!]

As we head towards the Christmas Holiday, we hope to see you in Uganda, at the first Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Event, on December 29th, at the Serena Hotel, from 6:00 pm to 11:00pm. The event is part of the Home is Best celebration and is a partnership with the Ugandan Diaspora Magazine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diaspora Division and the Uganda Investment Authority. We will be sharing in the success and honor of all those Ugandans living abroad who have made an impact in their areas of expertise. Visit the Ugandan Diaspora Website for Details.

By Ronnie Mayanja, Editor, UNAA Times, The Ugandan Diaspora Magazine

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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.


    david anthony kutwala

    This is very good, congs… at least even those of us who missed can see what

    Anne Kiyimba

    Good job Mr Mayanja!

    Pros Katumba

    Ronnie, I am proud of you.
    Thumbs up!!!!
    This is excellent.
    The team deserves a pat on the back.
    Just by reading and reviewing the images of what you posted on
    UNAA gives us the chills..


    Ronnie, thanks so much for sharing all this. I like the photos as well and the idea of a Life Time Achievement Award. I did not know about these Achievers so this is great. I have never attended a Convention so this sharing is very powerful indeed. I hope that Icon Women & Young People’s Leadership Academy (iCON)has a chance to work closely with UNAA in the future. May God Bless all our plans.


    Ronnie, please accept my humble observation that you are the voice of UNAA; thus no Ronnie, no UNAA record – simply stated. Continue to do what you do because this shall in the end be your legacy. You have invested too much of your time thus far – do not abandon it – do not compromise your legacy. may God bless all your efforts and Yourself.

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