Opinion | When The Critic Became a Convert – On Why UNAA Causes Delivered!

Posted September 11, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Uganda Festival ~ 4,956 views


By Damalie Namponye — On Labor Day weekend, Ugandans in the diaspora got together to celebrate, network and for UNAA Miami, to vote in a new executive.  With an extensive lineup of artists, including international P-Square, attending the UNAA Causes in Vegas event dubbed “Summer’s Ultimate Event” was an easy choice for me.  This was my second attendance of a Ugandan convention, having attended the first UNAA Causes in 2016.    

Last year, I wrote about my first experience attending a UNAA Causes convention and noted some areas that the organization could work on going forward.  I am proud to say that UNAA Causes is a truly dynamic organization that’s committed to growing, and I was impressed with the tremendous organizational skills applied in coordinating and planning the Las Vegas Uganda convention, especially since only four years have elapsed since the organization’s inception.  Although there are several areas that UNAA Causes did exceptionally well in, because of the constraints of space, only a few have been highlighted.

One of the important aspects of the UNAA causes involved collecting money for a water project in Uganda.  In partnership with the Miss Uganda Foundation and Miss Leah Kagasa as the face of the UNAA Causes Clean Water Awareness campaign, UNAA reminded us of our social responsibility to our fellow Ugandans who lack the basics that we take for granted, including clean water.  Models that included our own super model Stacie Aamito Lagum modelled clothes from Paris-based Stella Atal.  Stella donated the $400 sale of the first dress won by Aamito toward the water project.  Going forward, perhaps more information on the water project, especially with an update on the project to date may give us an opportunity to continue fundraising for and donating to the project even after the convention has ended.

  In addition to collecting money for the water project, UNAA Causes also ensured that the attendees paid for what was of interest to them, giving top value for what we paid for.  UNAA Causes listened to its members and created two tiers of payment.  Last year, those who attended the convention paid for food and entertainment (including the grand gala dinner, the pool party) and extra for the boat.  This year’s attendees had an option to pay for entertainment at $ 150 or about $300 for entertainment, the poolside party and food.  I opted for the later to allow me time to truly relax during my mini vacation by minimizing the events I attended plus having extra cash to splurge on those famed Vegas buffets (which incidentally, there was not enough time to go to).  Friends I spoke to who attended the pool party, the barbeque and the grand gala dinner had exceptional accolades for the tasty food and had a great time.  In retrospect, I should have attended, and look forward to paying for the full package in Washington, D.C. 

 At last year’s convention, the business forum that had been planned did not take place because of logistics that were outside the organizer’s control.  To the organizer’s credit, this year’s business forum was open to all, regardless of which tier one had paid for.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend any of the business meetings and events this year.  Because of prior commitments, I did not arrive in Vegas until 5PM, long after the business forum had ended.  However, because such opportunities are worth the investment in time and resources for networking, business ideas inspiration and to learn from other like-minded entrepreneurs, I plan to attend next year’s and would encourage those looking for business networking to consider going.

On Friday, I got to the Aria convention center after 11PM.  Since this was the day most convention attendees had arrived, there were fewer people at the convention, compared to those who attended on Saturday and Sunday.  The small crowd notwithstanding, the DJ was dedicated in playing a good selection of music and a few revelers were dancing on the dance floor.  Nancy Kitaka was the MC of the night and she did an incredible job balancing the flow of the music while updating us on additional events.  Upcoming artist Geosteady worked up the crowd with “Owooma,” and other songs and got the crowd to their feet.  We were also introduced to Malaika, a Ugandan presenter, who was the MC on Saturday.

On Saturday, Lutalo reminded us of why he remained one of the convention attendee’s favorite.  Unlike last year, he opted to perform away from the stage, directly interacting with everyone in his own Lutalo signature way.  For the men, this amounted to manifesting some kind of guy talk with the latter singing, and for the women, lots of dancing and picture taking.  King Saha also did a great job with songs like “Mulilwana” and “Science” that got us on our feet.

The crowning moment we were all waiting for was the performance of P-Square.  Prior to Sunday, I had doubts as to whether P-Square would perform.  My doubts mostly stemmed from recognizing that P-Square is an international group and as such, would require a large amount of money to perform.  Those doubts were dispelled because P-Square truly performed in Las Vegas.  Complete with dancers, and a band with live instruments, we were fully entertained for over an hour.  The curtain raisers that included seasoned and upcoming artists, all of whom kept the crowd on their feet, did an incredible job.  Juliana Kanyomozi, Sheba and Geosteady were some of the artists that sang their hearts out to keep us entertained. 

With the night still young, the party continued with different after party events where we marveled at the superb organization of UNAA Causes to pull off the convention of all conventions.  It was through such interactions that I learned that most of the people who were working at the UNAA Causes are volunteers in unpaid positions.  Knowing that the organizers pay out of pocket for the convention months in advance with the hope that some of the costs would be re-couped through ticket sells, we each can do our part by supporting them.  Most of us give our support by paying for the convention.  However, for those who can afford it, would you consider being a sponsor?  If you have an organization that needs advertising to the Ugandan community, consider pitching sponsorship to them.  And for the wealthy, consider writing a check to off-set the costs.  It’s for the latter that I wished I could do more to support UNAA Causes.  Consider supporting the organization because beyond entertainment, the organization adds value to the diaspora community and Uganda through the safe water project.  On a personal note, I’ve had incredible networking opportunities with viable business plans, and this happened because I met like-minded entrepreneurs at last year’s UNAA Causes convention. 

I applaud David Muwanga and his team for the continued growth of UNAA Causes, for listening to their members to effect growth of the organization and for delivering on all that was advertised.  From the artists that were advertised, to the Ugandan food served at the picnic, no stone was left unturned to give value to the money that was paid.  Thank you for showing us that a Ugandan-run organization can be well-run, and that accountability leads to good delivery.  So if you have not made plans for September 1st 2018, may I recommend you book your ticket to Washington D.C. to attend the UNAA Causes convention.  You will support a good cause, and you will be entertained. 

Damalie Namponye, is a Ugandan American resident doctor based in California, USA


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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