By Dennis Katungi
Today is, Heroes Day. It will be celebrated in Kikandwa, Mityana District. The Theme is Celebrating the Lives of our National Heroes through dedicated service to our Nation.
Giving dedicated service to one’s country is the clearest manifestation of patriotism. It is an embodiment of love, respect, appreciation of the nation’s history and the actors who shaped it.
It acknowledges the nation’s aspirations, successes and challenges as well as hope for the future.
The National Heroes whose lives we are celebrating for the 25th time possessed unlimited love for this country, Uganda. Therefore, celebrating their lives should not be a one day off event. Genuine celebration of their lives demands and calls for our recognition of the cause for their heroic deeds and the fruits of their efforts. It calls for the heroism that exists in you and me, however little, to follow their footsteps in serving this great nation, Uganda. Our National Heroes should be celebrated as pace-setters. We are companions in the struggle of making Uganda a better country to live in, which was the major spirit behind their heroic deeds. It is the cardinal duty for every Ugandan, therefore, to protect, develop and sustain this spirit.
Giving dedicated service to our nation can be manifested in several ways one of which is our determination and ability to uphold and defend our Nation’s common good.
At the turn of the 21st century, while our nation Uganda was deciding to re-introduce multi-party politics, after trying several forms of governance (one party 1969-71), (Military 1971-79), ( Multi-party system 1981-85), (no party /Movement 1986-2001) the Movement Government and several other political parties/organisations held several consultative meetings during which they deliberated on the future governance of this country. This consultative process engendered, among other things, a set of values, principles and aspirations they rightly termed the common good of Uganda, which Ugandans shared in common, irrespective of their religious, tribal or social beliefs. Most cardinal of these values are:
· Peace and security of Uganda and her peoples
· Sovereignty of Ugandans
· Fundamental rights and freedoms of Ugandans
· Unity among Ugandans based on unity in diversity
· Good governance based on constitutionalism and the rule of law
· Patriotism, national identity and pan-Africanism
· Fiscal and monetary discipline
· Well-being of society and fulfillment of the basic needs of individuals
· Social justice and Affirmative Action
· A God- fearing nation
These principles are not listed in order of importance since all of them are of equal value. What is important, however, is that in our efforts to give dedicated service to Uganda as a way of celebrating the lives of our National Heroes, it is imperative that we relate our service to these principles and aspirations.
The NRM Government, on its part, has made commendable efforts to uphold these principles as a strategic foundation of Uganda’s development. Take the example of security and peace: in spite of the insecurity at beginning of its reign, caused by more than 10 insurgent groups, the Government finally established unprecedented peace and security in the whole of the post-independence history of Uganda. Thanks to UPDF, the deserving companions of our National Heroes, the whole country is peaceful and her borders unarguably secure.
As for the sovereignty of Ugandans, our 1995 Constitution, which was the result of mass-based participation of Ugandans, strongly guarantees it. ”The power belongs to the people”, so stresses its first Article. The challenge for you and me is how we use this power, for instance, in voting for people into positions of leadership and responsibilities.
There has been commendable reduction in HIV prevalence, commendable rise in immunisation, etc. The country is much richer than it was 25 years ago. Provision of social services; education, health etc is a clear evidence of the achievement registered by the Government. Even if one does not quote figures the physical developments are enough testimony of Uganda’s trend of development for an inquiring eye.
One of the major areas of development which the Government has strategically emphasised is the creation of wealth both at the household and national level because it is aware that a country can be poor but with rich individuals or that a country can be rich but filled by poor people. This is why the Government put in place a number of interventions and programmes to alleviate poverty as well as creating opportunities for investors through providing conducive atmosphere. “A wealthy people in a wealthy country” is the ultimate aim of the Government. The challenge to Ugandans is to exploit the opportunities that the Government is creating in order to pull ourselves from the otherwise would be scathing and biting poverty. Fortunately, Ugandans have started taking up this challenge. As a result, poverty levels among Ugandans has fallen to less than 20% down from 56% in 1986. Celebrating the lives of our Heroes should be beyond mere words, slogans, songs and drumming. It should manifest itself through actions, strategically carried out for the development of our country, and of course, of our individual selves. This calls for dedication to the Common Good of Uganda. It calls for selfless service. This is what our National Heroes did. They made enormous sacrifices in order to save this country from the doldrums it had fallen in.
Congratulations to all Ugandans upon celebrating the silver jubilee anniversary of our National Heroes’ Day.
The writer is the communications and media relations manager at the Uganda Media Centre.