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.’
Celebrating Uganda’s Single Fathers
“Everyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad” so goes the old adage. Parents are a pillar in a child’s life. Some say that the father is the head of the family but the mother is the heart of the family.
Countless stories have been told about single mothers, but in Uganda the phenomenon of single fathers is slowly creeping in.
What happens when she walks out on you and leaves the kids behind? Or when the unexpected happens and she passes on? The father must stick his neck out, take charge and be a real dad.
This fathers’ day we spoke to two single fathers that are doing a great job raising their children on their own.
Meet Wence Kamugisha, a 39-year-old single father of two, Jeremiah who is Seven and Maria four. Three years after a glamorous wedding, the two got misunderstandings that could not be resolved, they took separate ways, and they agreed that he takes care of the two children. During this time, Wence a data base administrator at Centenary bank fell sick with a rare trigeminal neuralgia and only recently got a surgery in India.
“When I was in India, Maria fell sick because she was missing me. But I made sure that I call them everyday to find out how they are doing” he said.
He is back on his feet but even through the excruciating pain, he did not let go of his babies, and his neighbors accuse him of spoiling his children.
“They are mine, if I don’t spoil them who will? but I would like them to stay connected to their mother as much as possible. So during the holidays they go to see their mother. I don’t want our differences to get in the way of their growth. ”
We also spoke to Moses Abiine a 33-year-old single dad. His wife Diana passed away in 2011, for 4 years now, he has taken care of their kids.
“The last-born was 1 year and eight months when my wife died. I knew from that day that my children were my responsibility. I have always loved children; I don’t want to see children suffer whether they are mine or not. People encouraged me to take my children to the village to their grandmother but I wanted to keep my family together. If I take my kids to the village, I would be disconnected from them. I dropped out of school when I was young. There was no school fees for me; I want my kids to have a brighter future. This is my ivory, My kids are my responsibility. No one will take my kids away from me whether I have a maid or not. My kid’s miss their mother yes, but they are comforted by the fact that I care about them.”
“When I was working as a driver at USAID LEAD, life was good. But when the project phased out, I told them that life wasn’t going to remain the same. I opened up to them to live within their means.”
“My challenges as a single father are very many, I worry about my children a lot, I am always thinking about my kids. About school fees, being a driver, most of the time, I am not at home, I worry about my kids’ hygiene, whether they have gone to school, then I also have issues with maids. I worry about their clothes whether they still fit, and their medication especially when I am in the field. My children are insured over the years, the maids have stabilized and I requested my organization to insure my maid as well. I make sure I pay her well and that the children respect her.”
“I would also love to spend quality time with my children, but work limits me yet the little time we have with them is to make sure that they are working. They now think I am very tough- they know that cleaning the compound is their responsibility. I need to learn daily how to discipline them with out creating a rift between them.”
“Right now I work at International Sweet Potato as a company driver. At work they will not give you special care because you are a single father. I have built a house for my kids, I rear goats and now I have 5 cows. This has taught me to be more responsible and to work harder. By the time I stop being employed, I should be able to be self-employed. I am working towards seeing that I can earn at least 500,000 from my farm every month.”
“My kids must know that I love them; I want them to be people of confidence that will change the world that they live in.”
“My advice to all fathers is that they should aim at a good life for their children all kids are the same. And this is not about the money they must be present in the lives of their children all the time. Right now, my daughter knows that she has to keep herself pure until she is through with school. I give her these life skills, sex education. I make it a point to live an exemplary life to my children. Help them do home work. You must sow in these kids’ lives then you will yield at the end. They will be children that change this country, not to drink And when faced with life’s challenges. We have a choice to make, but men should not turn to alcohol to drown their issues but face the giants. It is not easy but the fruit is worth it.
Today, we celebrate all the awesome dads out there, the dads whose kids call inspiration, the dads who don’t leave it all upon their wives, the dads who never give up through thick and thin, the same dads that never adopted for abortion when the world said it was to early. In a special way, we celebrate the single fathers, you are the rock upon which this country is slowly being built.
Ten Ugandan Historical Sites You Last Saw in Your SST Text Book
Uganda is not only endowed with awesome physical features but also great historical sites. Most of these we last saw or heard about them in our Social Studies (SST) books. Many Ugandans will prefer to go for honeymoon abroad yet they have never visited these amazing sites. Maybe it is time to become tourists in our own home.
1. Fort Pakito
This is one amazing historical site in Uganda which is rarely talked about. The strategically located fort is believed to be 136 years old and stands on top of Ocecu hill in present day Gulu district found in northern Uganda. Re-known explorer Sir Samuel Baker over run the slave habour which had been constructed by Arab traders as a trench to avoid the escape of captives. He expelled over 250 Arabs and fortified the place hence the name it is known today. the fort is enclosed by a 16 feet wide and 15 feet deep and covers about 9.4 hectares.
2. Entebbe War Memorial
3. Nakayima tree
Nakayima tree is 40 meters high and is estimated be 400-500 years old. Located on top of Mubende Hill on Kampala-Fort portal Road. Just a look at the root structure of the tree, will show you four formed wide spaces known to be resting rooms each for Ddahula, Nalongo Jajja Mukasa, Jajja Musoke and Kilunda. People go there to seek blessings especially fertility.
4. Nyero rock paintings.
The Nyero rock paintings are pre-historic paintings believed to be 765 or more years old (dating back to before 1250 AD!). Located in Kumi district, Eastern Uganda, the paintings were first documented in 1913. Many historians have argued that the paintings are credited to the Batwa (Twa) hunter-gatherers who are of Pygmy origin, and are today, only found in small groups in the far western part of Uganda. Many believe that they (Batwa), once lived in the general area of these rock art sites, probably moving on due to the arrival of the present inhabitants (Nilotic, luo and Bantu groups). These beautiful paintings are a representation of the rich cultural identity of the people of Iteso, Uganda, and Africa as a whole.
Until today, mystery still surrounds who painted them since no one openly has history relating to the actual individuals who painted them. The red and white paintings are believed to represent sacred places of gods according to the current inhabitants of the region, the itesots.
5. Sezibwa falls
These falls lie 35km east of Kampala in the Vanilla growing district of Mukono district. The spectacular waterfalls are believed to have been born by humans many hundred years ago. The falls are one of the most spiritual and cultural centres where many natives flock for blessings, wealth, and fortunes. A traditional healer performs ceremonies for those seeking love, children, a successful business deal or a good harvest.
6. Katereke Prison Ditch
Katereke prison ditch is one of the major symbols of tyranny and dictatorship in the pre-historic Uganda. It represents a history of brutal and vicious incidents in Buganda’s history. It is believed to have been constructed by the late Kabaka Kalema during the late 1880s. He constructed the ditch to be torturing chambers of all princes and princess whom he suspected to be his rivals. Many of these rivals were rounded up and exiled at Katereke for fear that they would one day overthrow him. These prisoners were later slaughtered without mercy.
7. Wamala tombs
These beautiful and spectacular tombs are found on a hill in Nabweru Sub-county, Wakiso district. The dome structure makes the traditional site very attractive from a far. The tombs, are the burial site of Buganda’s King, Suuna II who was the 29th king of Buganda Kingdom.
Ssekabaka Ssuna II is remembered as the first Kabaka of Buganda to be buried with his law intact. The word Kabaka according to Ssebabenge, comes from the phrase: “Kano kaba kani?” (Whose jaw is this?) This is because upon the Kabaka’s death, his jaw would be removed and his widows would be asked whose jaw it was.
8. The Kasubi Tombs.
These magnificent traditional tombs, are the royal burial grounds of the Buganda Kings accredited by UNESCO world Heritage site. They are located just outside Kampala and reaching there is only an hour’s drive from the city. According to the Baganda, it is also considered a spiritual site and center for the kingdom. The recorded former kings of Buganda buried here are four (successive) and they are are the following;
- Muteesa I (1835-1884)
- Mwanga II (1867- 1903)
- Daudi Chwa (1896-1939)
- Sir Edward Mutesa II (1924-1969)
Sadly, the tombs burned in 2010 but are being restored by a campaign led by Buganda’s Prime Minister Mayiga named “Etoffali”.
9. Amabere Ga Nyinamwiru
This site is overwhelmingly spectacular. It houses an many caves, waterfalls and a hot spring. Amabere ga nyinamwiru is located 10 km from Fort Portal in Kabarole district in western Uganda. The site is best described and admired for its rare display of beautiful stalagmites and stalactites in form of breasts which release milky substances almost every after 25 seconds.
Mystery surrounds history relating to this amazing site. Under the Tooro Kingdom culture, it is believed that Nyamwiru, a princess of Toro and Bunyoro Kingdoms never wanted to marry the man her father had wanted her to marry. When she refused, her breasts were cut off as a punishment for the disrespect of her father. There is also a contradicting version which says that she boldly cut off the breasts herself in protest against her father’s wish. Either way as it happened, her breasts turned into rocks dripping with milk and hence the formation of the site
10. Bulange building
This is the traditional seat of the Buganda Parliament standing on the south side of Natete road. It is one of the most impressive colonial era building in Uganda.
Bulange is one of the most significant buildings found in the palace (Lubiri). It hosts the Kingdom`s administration and its Parliament where the Kabaka meets members of the Buganda Lukiiko (Buganda Parliament). Before Bulange building was constructed, members of the Lukiiko used to sit under trees on grass but later, they decided to build the Lukiiko sit which was grass thatched. Later, Sir Apollo Kaggwa who was the then Prime Minister decided to build a new Bulange with bricks. He gave the contract to an Indian Alidina Visram and work was started in 1902 (although other sources say work begun in 1885).
Now you have plot. Next time you are looking for a destination you know where to go.
Sunrise Tales from Uganda
Walking with the rising morning sun,
Along these Kampala streets,
Bright, warm and beautiful,
My mind leaves me,
It travels through my soul and thoughts.
I can no longer feel myself alive,
I walk on, slowly travelling,
Unknowingly counting the steps,
400 to be precise.
But why does this happen to me,
Why does my soul leave me,
Why does this mind travel,
Then it hits me,
Mine is a temple of the Lord.
Photo Credit. Ninno Jack Jnr
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