Raymond Besiga, a technologist, software engineer, an entrepreneur, a Global health corps alumnus is an agent of social change who is passionate about using technology for social justice and development. He is the founder of Akabbo Crowdfunding, whose goal is to reduce payment friction and create a forum for open rallying of campaigns.
Akabbo has had plenty of success in the past with the Uganda Arts Trust which raised over Ushs1,000,000 in 3 weeks and plenty more open campaigns that are still running. He also-co founded Sparkplug. Besiga encourages the building of ideas, skills and self-development as the future depends on the youth of a nation and social change starts within an individual and in turn spreads to the whole universe and effect social change.
He envisions a sharing economy that would largely depend on utilizing strength in numbers in the absence of strength in monetary form. This would in turn lead to a shift in culture which overtime has become a more selfish and less passionate culture with the passing years. As a technologist, he feels the use of technology in Uganda is not nearly optimum and is not localized enough as most of the technology used is imported and may not necessarily fit our needs.
He therefore sights a need for locally developed technology and development of skills that would be able to accomplish this. This can be done by developing individual ideas which eventually develop into something substantial for example he is currently developing an app that identifies Wi-Fi hotspots in Kampala.
He is a resilient spirit who believes that human beings are on the cusp of something ‘Giving up is too easy’ and in order to achieve all that is intended, public opinions shouldn’t be given as much power and everyone should bask in their freedom to freely express themselves as desired without having the need to impress anybody so as to get content across. Everybody ought to express their true potential which often gets lost in trivialities like appearance and impressions.
He cites lack of integrity as the biggest challenge faced in running business and trying to get it off the ground. And values of people that are so public oriented instead of focusing on their inner formation and the need for the service they can provide and their skill. Besiga urges Ugandan netizens to refrain from falling into the wagon of cyber bullying and shaming, but rather use all platforms of social media for personal and social development, scout new and fresh opportunities for self-promotion and for the betterment and to extend the reach of their services and skills, step out of their comfort zones so they can push themselves to do great.
On whether donor money can make a difference in Uganda, he believes that in as much as it would make a difference, we are plagued by corruption that indirectly affects the rural people that are in dire need of any help they can get.
On the increasing doubts and discontentment of the Ugandan education system, he too believes the system is massively flawed and in turn produces less efficient graduates.This therefore calls for a change in the education system and in the way we learn. What would make anybody stand out in this era is long term thinking and the abandonment of pride. Not to despise humble beginnings and being altruistic in our daily endeavors. It goes a long way. ‘do not let school get in the way of education.’
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.
Meet Uber’s first female Ugandan driver, Fiona Kiberu
The long wait is over, Uber is now in Kampala. Today UberX officially launched its ride sharing service in the city of Kampala during a press briefing at the Kampala Serena Hotel. Fortunately, there is a lady driver part of the Uber team now.
Fiona Kiberu is a simple and down to earth lady who has been in the taxi business for almost eight years. She stays in Kawempe and works at Lugogo Shopping mall. Those that have used a cab from Lugogo shopping mall before know her quite well, he generosity, kindness and politeness. She drives a Noah.
In an interview by Tech Jaja, Fiona Kiberu declared that she will drive Uber for life, she also added a smile to her new recruitment into Uber.
Uber is a service that enables a person/client to get a ride at the tap of a button, it eliminates flagging hands so as to stop a taxi or entering an unfamiliar car which is totally insecure. It’s also the most convenient way to get a safe, reliable, and affordable ride to work, to a party, or back to home. The Uber app detects your location, tells you in advance about your driver, and you can choose to pay with a credit card or cash so it is easy and safer for both riders/clients and drivers.
“Uganda’s famous “Happy City” is well-know for several attractions – its bustling streets, exotic nightlife and dynamic skyline. These are just a few of the many reasons why Uber loves Kampala, and we’re excited to announce that YOU can now request a ride at the tap of a button.”- Uber
With the launch of Uber in Uganda, one can only hope for the best in the transport sector and system which hasn’t been performing to expected standards in the past. To celebrate their launching, Uber is giving all riders the opportunity to enjoy FOUR days of free rides in Kampala.
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