UGANDA has been tagged the pearl of Africa and embedded in this name are a number of things that many have set out to explore. The latest was a team of investors from America and Dr. Linell C. King writes about their experience.
February 21, 2004 to March 1, 2004 marked a historical period in the relationship between the nation of Uganda and the United States. Led by Rev. Al Washington, the Africa/USA International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AfUSA) hosted a trade and business development mission to the East African country of Uganda.
At the outset of the journey, Dr. Bill Releford, CEO of Global Integrated Development group and co-coordinator of the trade mission, offered insight to participating delegates stating, â€œThe purpose of this trade mission is to show the potential of linking African-Americans with African countries and leaders. Our goal is to solidify these linkages for the betterment of the African diaspora.â€
The trade mission was an extraordinary success thanks to the planning and coordination efforts of Abbey Walusimbi, president, United African Federation, the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Jimmy Kolker and the U.S. Embassy staff. Due to its strategic location, stable environment, abundant natural resources and a liberalised economy, Uganda offers an attractive setting for varied strata of business ventures.
All members of the delegation found some opportunity for future investment. Some delegates even extended their stay to solidify their business relationships.
Personally, my experience throughout the mission was awesome.
Although the opportunities for potential business investments were overwhelming, I was really consumed with the emotional experience of being within my mother continent for the first time. Given that this was my first trip to Africa, I wasnâ€™t sure what to expect. My only points of reference were derived from western (white) media portrayals of impoverished, starving communities overridden by AIDS and political turmoil. But from the time we touched down in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, I saw a completely different picture.
The Ugandans are a soft-spoken yet proud people full of dignity and a love of their country who welcomed us home. Strikingly there was less homelessness visible in Kampala than in my own nationâ€™s capital. Ugandan children were well mannered and possessed many artistic skills including crafts, song and dance.
As we stopped in various small villages we were greeted with warm smiles as people showed us their colourful fabrics, crafts, and fruits.
Our hotel was a Ugandan owned, five-star resort with a plush tropical landscape, olympic size pool, and activities and business meetings on the premises almost nightly. Along the countryside there were miles of beautiful banana trees, tea and coffee fields. I have never tasted a banana as sweet as the bananas in Uganda.
The experience of visiting Africa is one very difficult to put into words. I was blessed to be among a phenomenal group of people during this experience.
The delegation comprised dignitaries such as Dr. Carol Adams, Secretary of Human Services for the state of Illinois, legendary actor, John Amos, and people of various disciplines including real-estate developers, international bankers, lawyers, doctors, and various business owners. The mission touched everyone in there own special way. The bond that was created between most of us will be everlasting.
John Amos, known for his many roles in both television and film such as James Evans Sr. of Good Times and Kunta Kinte of Roots was a part of the delegation.
Although Amos has travelled to other parts of Africa in the past, this was his first trip to Uganda. Having a deep-rooted love for his mother continent, he found the mission to be a very moving experience, and a great success in yielding enormous opportunity for investment in the field of film making.
Amos stated to the Ugandan people at a reception at Hotel Africana that â€œThe image of Uganda worldwide will be put in the hands of your youth. It will be their responsibility to take the image abroad and let the world know this is a country of industrious, peaceful people who live in a beautiful countryâ€.
By the end of the trade mission, Amos pledged financial support to the Ndere Cultural Centre, one of the culture centres for the arts where he attended an astonishing performance. He also plans to travel back to Uganda to further help with developing the film industry there.
Although I have attempted it here, the complete sensation of the African experience is not one that can easily be described with words. Whether it is for investing or for personal exploration, I highly recommend exploring the many countries of this large and beautiful continent. The small taste with which I was blessed certainly awakened an appetite for Africa that will only be satiated by many return trips to this regal land.
Dr King is a Board Certified Physician of Internal Medicine as well as the publisher of Healthy Choices Magazine. He can be reached at DrKing@healthychoicesmag.com
Uganda Truly The Pearl Of Africa