Brave men and women fought for our country and we got freedom on October 9th 1962. It is because of what they stood for that we are what we are today. We also in the same way recognize new and unsung heroes of this great country who are making a difference today, showing us the way and above all, making Uganda a better place. We have compiled a list of our hero(ines) who have contributed and achieved where most of us shy away. We begin which those who are dead and conclude with those who are still alive. We apologize for those that we have missed out but we acknowledge everyone making a difference in ensuring that Uganda is a better place. The pictures will tell the stories. Happy Heroes Day Uganda!
Uganda isn’t Kony, Idi Amin or Ebola
You have any non-African friends, right? Ask them what they think of Uganda. The answers you may receive will be related to poverty, AIDS, Ebola, hunger, tribalism or animals. Their faces will turn sorrowful and sympathy might linger in their eyes. They may give an example of how they helped to “Save Gulu” by donating to the “Kony 2012” campaign or dreamed of adopting a “Ugandan orphan”.
Most likely the view of the continent is that it is not a continent at all, but one large country, where everyone speaks the same language, eats the same food, wears the same type of clothing, and creates the same type of art. Yes, in their eyes, “Africa” is a homogeneous place of simple people with simple activities.
Mainstream media and educational system constantly feed our minds with this type of negative information on Africa. As a consequence, the average white person has a very narrow-minded image of the continent, filled with lions, malnourished children, corrupt officials and rebels. We rarely see or hear anything different and therefore see such images as the truth. But, for someone who has never been to the continent, can they be blamed for this ignorance?
There are mainly two sorts of Africa that appear on the media, the human Africa riven with poverty and violence, and the Africa of wildlife documentaries where humans hardly appear. There are the occasional travel documentaries but even here there seems a lot of emphasis on poverty and the primitive nature of just about everything.
The effect of the above perceptions, is that it leaves the world thinking that Africa is a dark continent already lost in the jungles of primitivism and barbarism. It makes Africa at the center of stereo-typing and it also makes us to be branded as an inferior race in the world thereby even affecting our self-esteem.
Because of such, we wonder whether we should be annoyed with non-African journalists who broadcast embarrassing images of poverty in Africa, or at the African governments who tolerate and often create such misery in the first place? Much criticism has been leveled at western media for negative coverage of Africa. They have been accused by some of ignorance and racism. In many cases, this criticism is justified.
But why do many Africans, feel so strongly about how Africa is portrayed in western media? After all, the average Brit or German doesn’t give two hoots how their country is covered in say, Nigerian or Kenyan media. Europeans are not emigrating to Africa in large numbers so they simply don’t need to care how Africans view them.
Perhaps we should ask you, Does the whole of Africa have this demographic problem? Why do you focus on the slums and not on the positive stories? Why search out the most miserable environments to film in and continue propagating negative stereotypes of Africa as a nest of poverty and problems?
But as proud Ugandans, we also know news media in general (African included), tends to focus on the negative and not the positive. Bad news sells well. People feel better about their lives when they hear others have bigger problems than them. A European who’s unhappy he can’t get a mortgage, will, however unwittingly, likely see his life in brighter lights after watching footage of people with no electricity, no running water and little food to eat.
It’s important to challenge the negative images and the perceptions circulated by the media particularly; whether in films, books, news and academic reports. It is vital to report, complain, blog about it. Challenge and object to it with whatever means you have. A pen or a keyboard are the most powerful tools. We are not just rebels or victims awaiting international aid or assistance for our children to be adopted by wealthy celebrity who will parade them. We are – just like every human being – complex characters journeying on this planet who deserve dignity and respect.
Of course there are many different and often positive stories to be told from Africa’s 54 diverse countries. But the continent currently has no microphone of its own on the global stage, no loudspeaker with which to tell its stories the way it wants them told. It has to wait in line hoping others lend it theirs from time to time. That won’t do.
Al Jazeera has succeeded in giving Arabs a voice on the global stage the same way BBC and CNN have succeded in giving a voice to the British and Americans respectively. Where is Africa’s answer to Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN?
More programmes about Africa, made by Africans, is the voice that is missing in this world. We need programmes which will not portray only wildlife, but the beautiful cultures of my country Uganda told by a Ugandan. We need new programmes which will not call Africa a country, but will appreciate that Africa has states like Uganda which are not at war but a pearl of hard working people.
This is Uganda they never show you. This is Uganda of people with dignity and stories changing our society. This is the Uganda the land gifted by nature and not conflict, poverty and diseases. This is Uganda of lovers, beautiful people and not people dying of hunger. This is Uganda they never show you that we want to tell the world about and be the voice of the voiceless.
If we Ugandans do not stand up to tell our own stories and positive stories about Africa as a whole, then we will forever remain misunderstood, misinterpreted and not respected. We will not only be untrue to ourselves but putting the future of our country at risk as the late Bob Marley once said… “ Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery because none but ourselves can free our minds!”
Poetry as an instrument in Ugandan society
Poetry must not be used for social change but CAN be used for social change.
Poetry is the best words arranged in the order to clearly define the poet’s heart based on inspiration, whether hidden or open. Poetry to some has been known as a means to preserving daily life experiences in society. Its like a day to day diary of a writer though not so many people have the talent and passion to scribble down beautiful words in poetic ink.
Writers should have the liberty to express themselves in the best words possible to define their heart, but should welcome criticism of their work.
Poetry is everywhere in every tradition and culture, and is not considered for elites alone. Ugandans just need to work hard like Shakespeare in spreading it and making it something phenomenal by each person regardless of who they are or where they come from.
The lessons for the poets
Poets need to learn the tools of the trade before they go out to claim that they are poets.
Ugandan poets need to know that they are vital people in our society and help us reflect who we are as Ugandans besides helping us to creatively preserve unique societal experiences in living words frozen in ink that speaks.
As Ugandan poets, we need to market poetry to our neighboring countries to kill the monotony of having the same faces at every poetry event, and having a few foreign faces every now and then.
The societies and platforms
There are local poets who have graced Uganda like Paul Kafero, Henry Barlow, Okot P’Bitek, and we who have come after feel that we are on the right track on carrying this torch.
We just need to support the poetry societies that groom writers such as the Lantern Meet of Poets, Femrite, Luminous Sorrels, Bonfire Uganda.
Let’s support the Ugandan poetry platforms in whatever way possible now that its one of the avenues left to preserve our culture and make Ugandan history to be read by the future generations.
Ugandan youth stage historic flash mob during the Women Deliver Conference
Over 5,500 people across the global meet in Copenhagen, Denmark for a four day convention, the fourth global Women Deliver Conference(#WD2016) aimed at sharing experiences, challenges, and lessons and to advocate for improved access to health, education, participation and investment for girls and women.
Young people were welcomed with two day Youth Pre-Conference; which brought together over 600 young people around the world under the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program and the youth scholarship program.
“If we believe that child marriage has no place in our future, we must be daring enough to ask that we have resources” said Yemurai Nyoni, Women Deliver Board Member, and 2013 Women Deliver Young Leader during the opening remarks.
At the youth pre-conference, the Women Deliver Young Leaders used this opportunity to introduce themselves and learn more about each other. Young people are engaged in interactive and participatory sessions that enable them to understand their values as they pertain to various aspects of girls, women, and young people’s health, rights, and wellbeing.
Through the Women Deliver Youth Working Groups, young people took part in small group discussions groups and workshops to build and strengthen skills in Youth Leadership, Coalition Building, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Accountability, Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth-Friendly Services.
The four-day convention, the fourth Women Deliver Conference was officially opened on Tuesday by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Patron of the Women Deliver 2016 Conference.
“When we invest in girls and women, society as a whole benefits because girls and women as the world’s greatest untapped resource” she added
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, the CEO and founder of Afghan Institute of Learning said she has educated thousands of girls in hostile environment in Afghanistan during the opening ceremony.
“Everybody’s has a role to play in protecting girls such that they can reach full potential” said Dr. Babatunde; UNFPA Executive Director during the opening ceremony.
He described the issue of child marriage as one of bad traditional practice that still exist in his country especially among the senators who marry off 12 year old girls.
“We don’t know enough about the barriers holding women and girls back neither do we have sufficient information to track progress against the promises made to women and girls hence making a commitment to invest in better data, policies and accountability,” Melinda Gates said during her keynote speech at the conference.
The Women Deliver Flash mob at #WD2016!!!
Just minutes before the closing ceremony at Women Deliver Conference 2016, Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) with support from Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition staged a creative Flash MOB with nearly 50 young people across the global.
The Flash MOB was aimed at engaging young people into discussion on issues related to reproductive health supplies as well as advocate for increase in access to contraception use.
“Young men dancing for FP rights made my day at #WD2016 #Bold4Her @TriciaPetruney
@RH_Supplies rock as #WD2016 comes to an end! @TakeStockRH @FP2020Global @JuliaBuntingPC
Young people danced to energetic and thrilling dance moves while wearing yellow t- shirts dubbed “Which part of My Right to Contraception do you understand?”. The Flash Mob was led by PHAU Team Leader – Segawa Patrick; an SRH Avenger and Women Deliver Young Leader from Uganda.
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