By David Lumu
The United States Embassy Cultural Affairs Officer, Lisa Larson has advised the Ugandan youth to shape the destiny of the country by causing a “positive change” and also dismantle the dependency syndrome.
Speaking at the CEDA International Youth Engaged Program graduation ceremony on Thursday in Kawempe, Larson, who represented Scott, said that: “You the youth of Uganda have the numbers and the energy to be agents of positive change in this country. You also have the responsibility because if you don’t do it, who will? It will be up to you to define a vision of the future, and that vision, whatever it may be, will shape the nation.”
947 youth graduated with certificates in various fields—ranging from crafting, art and design, hair and beauty, tailoring and computing.
The U.S mission in Kampala financially supports CEDA’s Youth Engaged Program, and the youth are taken through a three month intensive training program in practical vocational skills.
At the Youth Center in Kawempe, where the graduation took place, the youth—mostly Muslim—showcased their craft work to the dignitaries. Musa Sserujongi, who emerged the best in the area of art and crafts, said that he can now make jewelry and also use leather to manufacture belts, sandals and bags.
Sserujongi said that he was picked from a dingy place in Bwaise. He has now started a small scale business in his area, which he said, would be used as a ladder for other youth in Bwaise and the country.
“I am excited to be able to own a business. My life has changed totally. I am going to pass on the skills I have acquired from CEDA to other youth,” he said.
Hajat Rehmah Kasule, the founder and President of CEDA said that 75% of the youth who have been trained by CEDA have started their small scale businesses in Kawempe.
“They have become active members in their communities,” she said.
Larson also said that the youth should embrace any job and work diligently in order to shape the future of Uganda.
“Do not get stuck in the mindset of depending on others for your survival. We challenge you to shape your nation positively, supporting a country that values human rights and a free, democratic society with economic opportunities for all Uganda,” she said.
On his part, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, the Makerere University Chancellor, advised the youth to work on how to solve what he called “the African contradiction” that has derailed the continent for many years.
Kagonyera, who praised Rehmah Kasule for starting a project that equips the youth with constructive skills, said that youth must use the knowledge acquired to innovate and used the abundant resources on the continent to solve the problems of Africa.
“In Africa we are the poorest in the world and yet African is the most endowed continent. That is the contradiction. But, why this contraction?” he wondered.
Frank Gashumba, the other motivator that spoke to the youth, implored them to harness the idea of “hard work” in order to unlock the poverty quagmire.
“Ugandans don’t want to work. We are lazy. One Chinese can do the work of 30 Ugandans. The other thing is that Ugandans are not honest. If you cannot be trusted, no one will give you their money so that you can start a business,” he said.