By R. Ssewakiryanga
The morning after U@50 - is an interesting moment. Like any big event it is always interesting to look at the anti-climax that comes the following morning.
I passed Kololo Airstrip at 7:00am on the 10th October 2012 and what was a beautiful stage and arena full of color and pomp was now arena full of buveera of all kinds and assorted garbage waiting to be cleaned.
Of course a Jubilee celebration does not come every so often for people to enjoy. But as I reminisced over what to take away from this day and related events – I thought that one thing that resonated was that October 9 reminds us of independence.
One of the characteristics of any kind of independence is feeling a sense of worth. When one is independent as a person, one of the clear advantages they enjoy is being treated differently.
If it is a son or daughter that is living independently from their parents, then the parents treat that child as an adult. It is important that we think about independence more in terms of how we treat Uganda, live as Ugandans and enjoy our Ugandanness.
One way of doing this is to actually change what we do on Independence Day in addition to flag hoisting and listening to our leaders making new promises.
On September 17, a select group of civil society leaders got a rare moment to present the idea of turning Independence Day into a Citizens’ Day with the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
We discussed the simple reasoning that – if as Ugandans we recognised October 9, as citizens’ day, then we could start viewing the day differently and indeed how we prepare, celebrate and use it to improve our society.
As a Citizens’ Day, it would be a day when we would all, as Ugandans, do something to celebrate our citizenship in a special way.
We could each do something personal and not wait to have a big function with a huge pavilion built or a guest of honor who comes late and many other paraphernalia that go with a big day.
On this day, we could all read a simple pledge that we can all memorise in our different languages, sing the national anthem and go home. In our homes we would display the flag, just as we do the Christmas tree on Christmas day.
Having a citizens’ day, as a country, would benefit Ugandans a lot especially because many times we spend lots of time speaking about what divides us rather than what unites us. I can think of several benefits that would emerge.
First such a day would help all Ugandans to recognise that we all have rights and responsibilities to participate in decision making and that everyone should have a say in what happens in the future of Uganda.
Second that day would also be used to reflect about our quality of life with the recognition that for any development to be sustainable, it must benefit people in an equitable way, that what our government is about is improving everybody’s lives.
Third, this should be a day to celebrate our diversity through helping all Ugandans appreciate the importance and value of diversity in our lives - culturally, socially, economically and biologically - and that all our lives are impoverished without diversity.
In a country that has gone through colonialism that brought divisions that spilt people between ‘native’ and citizens, we need to find a national experience that overcomes these historical misfortunes.
ED, NGO Forum