Today, in 1962, Uganda celebrate her first Independence day. At midnight the flag of the Protectorate was lowered, and the new national flag of Uganda was raised. And these were the emblems put on the gates of Parliament (not sure when exactly). It was a hopeful time. I had always believed that the road to Independence was an easy one, and we started that journey in 1962 as one nation. As I have grown older I have began doing research on Uganda, and reading the history of Uganda as told by Ugandans about Ugandans. In school it was often told from the perspective of the colonialists. We learnt about Speke and Stanley and Lugard. We did not learn about I.K. Musaazi, and Apollo Kironde and Abubaker Mayanja and a many of other Ugandans and how they lobbied for independence. The fact that the political parties were split on ethnic AND religious grounds even as the new flag was raised was underplayed. Maybe it was hoped that somehow we would transcend the divisions…
The fact is that these divisions have played such a central role in our lives. People have received cars, jobs, education, opportunities because of their ethnicity or religious allegiance or the political party which they supported. People have lost lives, lost hope, resources have been depleted because if truth be told, while we are ‘Proudly Ugandan’ on one level, when push comes to shove we remember that ‘he or she is not a Muganda /Itesot/ Acholi/Mukiga/Muhororo … or whatever. Or that ‘these Catholics/Muslims/born-agains… . And our politics sometimes stoop to the level of the colour of the clothes we wear!! Do you remember a time when during elections people consciously chose to wear or not to wear particular colours? I am not sure if it is still happening now. Green meant you were for DP, Red for UPC, Yellow for NRM and who knows what else.
My dream for the next 50 years and more is we remember that a healthy ecosystem thrives on diversity! We remember that life is healthy, challenging, beautiful, stimulating because of diversity. We live in the belief and understanding that the mind works better when there are questions asked, when ideas do not sit quite well together, when people see things differently and are willing to listen to each other, to meet each other. That is how it was meant to be. My dream is that for the next 50 years we use our differences to our advantage. That we weave such a beautiful tapestry of national identity that is bold and strong and we hold that before us, so that when we start to get petty about our differences we can look at it and remember it is because we are different that we are so beautiful, so strong, so able to do what we do.
Thanks Pips. We need that very much and to stay focused on the important things that will take us forward. Happy indepwndwnce