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Ugandans speak on 50th Independence Anniversary

By Julius Odeke and Sarah Namulondo

As Uganda celebrates 50 years of independence from Great Britain, The Independent’s Julius Odeke and Sarah Namulondo sought out the views from a cross section of Ugandans on the country’s journey over the years.

Nabillah Naggayi Ssempala, Woman MP, Kampala District

I did not join the festivities, but I commemorated the 50 years of independence by getting involved with different activities such as ‘‘Walk to Freedom.’.

Uganda has achieved its own borders, self-rule from colonialists, the opportunity to determine our own destiny. But Uganda has lost the opportunity to nurture the Pearl of Africa, to transform its communities from peasantry to self-sustainability. We have also lost morals to degeneration, and adoration of ill-gotten wealth.  In the next 50 years, I want Ugandans to re-discover our moral fiber, re-define our culture, identify ourselves and be united. Just like our motto in FDC says, ‘‘One Uganda, one people.’’

Dr. Angelika Klein, Konrad Adeneur Stiftung country representative for Uganda and Southern Sudan

Of course 50 years of independence is a reason to celebrate.  To look at the next 50 years we thought of doing something special by supporting the inter-party youth forum. This way we wanted the youth to come up with vibrant and energetic policies which would capture the future Ugandan vision, mission and plan the way forward for the next 50 years of Uganda.

Billbest Bakirese, Senior Planner, Mulago Hospital

50 years of independence is an achievement and I definitely joined in the celebrations.

In the last 50 years Uganda lost functional government sectors. The government should look into the health sector because a sick person cannot work well. And given the fact that all the sectors are interdependent on each other, it is hard to improve one sector and leave the other.  With good governance, it is easy to say Uganda is going to improve here or there. But if the existing high levels of corruption coupled with redundant policies persist, I think we have a very bleak future.

Proscovia Salaam Musumba, vice president Forum for Democratic Change (FDC)

Many of our fathers fought for and ushered us into independence.  President Yoweri Museveni’s government has rundown Uganda’s economy, education, health and so many sectors in the country.  I as a village girl from Namwendwa in Kamuli, during the time of Idi Amin, I managed to score grades that enabled me to join Namagunga Girls SS and join Makerere University. How many of today’s girls can study in the village schools and make it up to Makerere university?

Sospater Akwenyu, envoy to the UPC

Our elders like Dr Milton Obote, Boniface Byanyima, Benedicto Kiwanuka, Grace Ibingira, Joseph Cuthbert Obwangor and others fought for independence.  It is we Ugandans of today who have wasted it due to wrong leadership, who have run down all the social infrastructure and amenities such as road network, health, education and many others. How can a country endowed with natural wealth fail to pay good salaries to its workers resulting into lecturers leaving Makerere University for a better pay outside, while doctors go out to seek greener pastures in other African countries such as Botswana, South Africa, and even in South Sudan.

Kintu Musoke, 73, former Prime Minister, NRM

Uganda is a better country. Why wouldn’t a Ugandan celebrate the 50 years of Uganda’s independence?  The Uganda of today is better than the one I saw when I joined politics at the age of 10 in 1949. I am seeing a lot of suffering among the youth of today and this is because they grumble a lot yet they don’t want to seek knowledge from their elders (leaders) who have it.  Devote yourselves to seeking knowledge if you want to have a better future otherwise you will get nothing.

Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi, 78, Chairman Uganda’s Land Commission

For those saying Uganda is not well governed today under the NRM government, let them come up and tell leaders in the NRM how to do it better, other than complaining. In my youth we didn’t complain and that is why I left the comfort of Britain to come back here because I knew where to go and what I wanted unlike the youth of today who are full of confusion.  The same confusion will follow you wherever you go since you don’t want to listen to us the elders.

Moses Owori, a former Youth MP aspirant Eastern Uganda from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party

The youth should take total charge of political affairs in Uganda like the youth of those days before Uganda achieved her independence in 1962 did.  The youth of those days took charge of the affairs and liberated Uganda from the white man’s bondage.  Youth ought to be focused and determined, if it calls for us to walk to freedom let us do it, be it in chaos.  That should be the (youth) reflection of the political setting of Uganda.

Col Fred Mwesigye, 62, MP Nyabusozi County

Uganda under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni has transformed the society in various ways like health, education, democracy, to mention but a few.  Many of these achievements like freedom, unity, love and respect have been ushered into Uganda by NRM.  The youth should aspire for the best in their future by engaging in gainful work for national development, promotion of national unity, and harmony.

Goretti Byaruhanga, member UPC

This day will be a day for me to remember and to tell my family how Uganda was before NRM. We had things like better railway network, hospital, schools, and Uganda Airlines where we paid a third of the fair.  The way I am seeing, Uganda would be moving extremely fair but it has stagnated under NRM leadership but the youth must come up like the rest of the youth in other

Remmy Mugumya, 23, a boda boda cyclist

I celebrated the heroic achievement of our forefathers. I appreciate what is happening in the hospitals in Uganda. It indicates that there is improvement since the population has increased, that means there is modernity in Uganda.

Mohamed Kezaala Baswale, Mayor Jinja Municipality

In the past 26 years, Uganda has not realised the objectives that propelled our fathers to fight for Uganda’s independence in 1962.  That indicates our future is bleak. We need to have nationals dealing with the objectives that the fathers looked at as topical issues that forced them to agitate for independence such as; health, education, employment.  When you look at the Maputo Declaration that put 16% in Africa’s health sector, Uganda has not met that.  Agriculture, which used to be the backbone of our economy has totally rundown due to poor leadership in this country. The cooperative movement, which used to make Uganda’s farmers happy is now defunct. Ugandans need a period of reflection.

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