By Julius Odeke
It was Uganda’s day. No doubt about that. The traditional dancers who graced the 50 year anniversary celebrations at Kololo Independence Grounds on Oct. 9 gave the ceremony an African touch that excited spectators.
Black, yellow and red were the favoured colors of all who were at Kololo. Even the dignitaries, some who wore the usual sombre black suits and the tradition attires of the Indian community, threw in a few red pins on the lapels and wrappers on the saris.
The independence celebrations at Kololo demonstrated to the whole world that Uganda is a country with extraordinary beauty both in their way of dancing, singing, and culture as all the young, old, thin, and fat Ugandans joined in celebration of 50 years of self-rule.
The main entertainers at Kololo included; Juliana Kanyomozi, Lady Mariam aka Tindatine, and Jackie whose melancholic rhythms ignited happiness in everyone’s heart and caused joyous excitement in the audience. The singers had in their songs creative slogans and artwork that celebrated the diversity and the beauty of Africa, and in particular Uganda.
The Indian community showed unusual solidarity with Ugandans, as they entertained the audience together with youth from both primary and secondary schools while the military, police, prisons, and other security agencies combined their force and exhibited a state-of-art goose March.
Among the heads of state, Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck came majestically in a Nigerian attire trying to fill the missing gap left by the fallen `King of kings’, Col Muamar Gaddafi.
President Robert Mugabe dressed in his dark-blue suit was a favourite of the audience. The moment his arrival was announced the whole congregation cheered in excitement as the renowned pan-Africanism movement and thorn in the neck of western imperialists took his seat.
The Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi quickly rushed to greet his fellow countrymen who were seated at one side of the pavilion that was preserved specifically for them. Thereafter, he took his seat, but the Presidential Press Unit took a peculiar interest in him until security stopped them.
Our very own, the host, President Yoweri Museveni came in an open roof vehicle wife his wife Janet Museveni waving to their voters who had already gathered in big crowds as he commonly says.
The crowds stood up in respect as their leader, who wore his usual hat alighted. President Museveni amused the crowd when he signaled to his wife, Janet, to go ahead and sit as he rushed into his usual elliptical standing point as the crowds burst into happiness. He removed his hat and waved into all directions while looking sideways.
For a second Museveni looked unsure of how to proceed and signaled to ADC, Col. Mbadi, to find out whether he should join the rest of the VIPs who were already seated at the pavilion. The president, who was moving unexpectedly swiftly this time, rushed to greet the visiting heads of state who sat in front. Before, greeting them all, President Emily Mwayi Kibaki of Kenya also arrived.
Memorable moments characterised by a huge dose of eccentrics, oddness, and ostentation punctuated the event as guests roared with laughter as the big-bellied comedian Kawooya came in marching as if he a leader of a parade group. The crowd roared with laughter when Kawooya, while walking in front of the guests, shook his belly.
The day was crowned by the display war airplanes as Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) air force showcased their skills for the public to admire. There was a lot of thunderous noise emanating from the flying Sukhoi airplanes that descended from the eastern side of Kampala city flying above the pavilion towards Entebbe. The helicopters who were under the command of Maj. Charles Okidi, the helicopter formation Commander, then Lt. Col Fred Kiyingi, L39 formation Commander, and then lastly Captain Stephen Kiggundu, who piloted the Sukhoi 30M formation.
Many people, who could not make it to Kololo grounds, showed their excitement on roadside.