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Opinion | Parasitic Uganda National Diaspora Policy: Remit Your Earnings and Shush!

Uganda Diaspora - Mon, 10/10/2016 - 02:37

Ugandans gather in Boston at one of their annual Conventions held at the Park Street hotel

By Dr. Daniel Kawuma — The Diaspora was once ignored and characterized as a stain on the motherland. A symbol of the tragedy surrounding Uganda’s economic stagnation, social despondence and political malfeasance. Diasporans represent Ugandans that excised the umbilical cord from a nation continuing to bake bread while leaving crumbs for the populace.

As the dispersed seeds of Ugandans in the diaspora began to sprout, the fields that once looked barren demonstrated potential to bear fruit. Harvesting season was indeed imminent with remittances growing exponentially to become Uganda’s second largest source of external financial inflow.

Uganda currently boasts over $1 billion in annual remittances with the highest current recorded growth of any country at 21% according to the World Bank. The reversal in fortunes led to crafting of a National Diaspora policy. This entailed an effort by the government to forge a partnership with Ugandans in the Diaspora to harvest nectar from the bloom for the purpose of national development.

The increasing visibility of government in the Diaspora has been characterized by sections of Ugandans in the Diaspora as cynical and conveniently coming at a time when foreign aid is drying up, a consequence of Uganda’s negative credit outlook. They argue that like a parasite, government is strategically feasting on the Diaspora yields to slow the bleeding from a gaping national economic wound.

“Government footprints in the Diaspora have contributed to the fragmentation of the Ugandan community”

The push back has gained momentum as financial resources from the government in form of donations to Diaspora organization and travel allowances for government officials continue to weigh heavily on the backs of Ugandan tax payers. Government footprints in the Diaspora have contributed to the fragmentation of the Ugandan community as voices of decent argue that resources should be spent improving livelihoods of struggling Ugandans and not funding weekend party escapades of Diasporans.

Ugandans in the Diaspora are not a monolithic group politically, socially or economically and as a result, injection of partisan politics in the fabric of community organizations creates inevitable confrontation. Tension between the Diaspora and the government has been building for decades as many Ugandans choose to preserve a degree of political engagement from a far. This was evident from numerous protests by Ugandans in major cities including London, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, Amsterdam and Cape Town among others following the disputed Presidential elections.

In order for Uganda government officials to craft a constructive National Diaspora policy, they have to acknowledge that a relationship with the Diaspora doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The unspeakable struggles and perseverance of Diasporans to deliver for their loved ones back home who are tragically ignored and politically disenfranchised still triggers endless trauma. Speaker of Parliament Ms. Rebecca Kadaga’s war of words with the Diasporans demanding that we stop criticizing government missteps and instead engage in nation building discourse is classic pivoting towards nationalism to seek refuge from voices of despair.

To win the hearts and minds of Ugandans, outreach effort through the National Diaspora policy has to go beyond rhetoric. In fact the National Diaspora policy is currently in limbo without the political will to execute legislative measures that give voice to the Diaspora. Though it’s important for Diasporans to have a formal relationship with their government, the partnership has to be mutually beneficial.

The government has committed resources on measures of the National Diaspora policy that aim at siphoning off Diaspora capital towards Uganda in form of direct investment, philanthropic resources, remittances, tourism and trade among others. With the government thriving and our communities floundering, the Diasporans have been left asking – what do we get in return?

Diaspora consulates are underfunded and don’t offer a comprehensive range of consular services, legal assistance for Ugandans in the Diaspora is inexistent and often left to volunteers, repatriation is severely lacking, and Ugandans are falling victim to human trafficking, labor exploitation and abuse without refuge.

“The $100,000 annual government donation to UNAA and other diaspora associations are asinine in the court of public opinion”

The marriage between Diaspora associations and the governments has alienated sections in the community. Financial donations in the realm of $100,000 to UNAA and other diaspora associations are asinine in the court of public opinion especially at a time when Ugandans at home lack healthcare, food, livable wages and basic social services. Financial ties with the government create a chink in the armor of Diasporans who can be agents of change in Uganda by advocating for democracy, human rights, tolerance, equality, individual liberties and justice.

Ugandans in the Diaspora have predictably failed to forge a united front that would make numbers totaling over 1.5 million people count. The prevailing factions in the Diaspora often have competing agendas rooted in political, religious or tribal sentiments. Lack of unity, tolerance and a cohesive strategy to mobilize and address issues affecting the livelihoods of Diasporans has been one of the greatest failures of our associations in the last decade considering the economic muscle of the Diaspora.

“Opening the doors of political inclusion would involve giving Diasporans access to the ballot”

With the government continuing to hedge their bets on the Diaspora, it’s an ideal moment for Diasporans to spread their wings from a position of strength and demand more tangible community building concessions. These would include tax breaks on remittances through minimizing front and back end costs, legal support, cultural centers, tax treaties, labor and human trafficking protections and the right to participate in the national political process. Opening the doors of political inclusion would involve giving Diasporans access to the ballot. Having both economic and political leverage, the Diaspora would be better equipped to mobilize, hold public officials accountable and demand competing visions for a mutually beneficial partnership.

Diasporans need to recognize the value of the associations and communities that we have built. These islands of change symbolize our villages and small towns but in an environment that offers tremendous opportunity and individual liberties. While contributing to the national wallet and livelihoods of families and loved ones is of great significance, we should also build the capacity to elevate our voices to shape the direction of the country. Ugandans in the Diaspora should remit and also speak up to demand change.

Dr. Daniel Kawuma
Maryland (U.S)
busuu001@gmail.com

OPED | US Newspaper Endorsements | The Editorialists Have Spoken; Will Voters Listen?

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 10:02

The Atlantic magazine has made only two presidential endorsements in its 159-year history: one for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and one for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

The third comes Wednesday afternoon, when the magazine posted an editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton for president and dismissing Donald J. Trump as “the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.” For good measure, it calls him “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing and a liar.”

One day earlier, the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter wrote, in his editor’s letter for the November issue, “Through word or action, Trump has promoted gun violence, bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, lying, and just about everything else that can be wrong with society.”

That came after USA Today made the first presidential endorsement in its history — or, more accurately, a “disendorsement,” as it came out against Mr. Trump (“unfit for the presidency”) but not for Hillary Clinton or some other alternative.

This is the time in the election cycle when media columnists write about whether endorsements have much to do with the outcome. The answer is usually, if not always, “no.”

But the question takes on another dimension this year because of the sheer weight of the endorsements against Mr. Trump. They are overwhelmingly against him, and they just keep coming, in language that is notable for its blunt condemnation of the candidate and its “save the Republic’’ tone.

The endorsements are coming not only from the usual mainstream media suspects but also from newspapers that either never before supported a Democrat or had not in many decades — The Dallas Morning News, The Arizona Republic, The Cincinnati Enquirer — or had never endorsed any presidential candidate, like USA Today. The Wall Street Journal has not gone there, at least not yet, but a member of its conservative-leaning editorial board has: Dorothy Rabinowitz, who called Mr. Trump “unfit.”

What’s most striking is the collective sense of alarm they convey — that Mr. Trump is a “dangerous demagogue” (USA Today) whose election would represent a “clear and present danger” (The Washington Post, The Cincinnati Enquirer), or, as The Atlantic editor Scott Stossel said in an interview Tuesday, “a potential national emergency or threat to the Republic.”

That’s the same base line the magazine used when it decided to break its founding vow to be “the organ of no party or clique” and endorse Johnson in 1964 and, more dramatically, Lincoln in 1860.

And yet, for all the pan-ideological dismay in America’s editorial boardrooms, a huge portion of the country just doesn’t see it the same way at all.

National polls aren’t great for predicting the final outcome in the Electoral College. But they do capture the sense of the country. And right now The New York Times’s polling average — of various national surveys — shows that 41 percent of the country would choose Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton if the election were held now. (With 45 percent, she still holds an edge.)

The split between editorial opinion and a significant portion of voters, especially Republican voters, has been around for decades. But this campaign takes that schism to a whole new level — not just because of the mix of publications weighing in against the Republican nominee but also because of the contrast between their apocalyptic view of a Trump presidency and his supporters’ belief that he will indeed “make America great again.”

Then again, as the language of the editorial warnings hits ever-higher decibel levels, so does the language of the attacks against the mainstream media. Mr. Trump is stoking those attacks, depicting the media as among the “special interests” that have “rigged the system against everyday Americans,” as he put it in New Hampshire last week.

Which brings us to the question of how many minds it all changes. Die-hard Trump supporters will no doubt view the editorials as more evidence for Mr. Trump’s case that the media fix is in. Mr. Trump recently said as much when he celebrated the loss of subscriptions the more surprising Clinton endorsements have caused in some cases, saying in a Twitter post: “The people are really smart in cancelling subscriptions to the Dallas & Arizona papers & now USA Today will lose readers! The people get it!”

(The Fox Business host Charles Gasparino provided one possible motive: “A jealously rooted hate” over his wealth, “his beautiful wives” and his television success.)

A driving question is whether they factor into the mix with truly undecided voters. That is, and will remain, hard to determine. I did stumble upon some interesting data from Google, which can provide a sense of what people look for on its ubiquitous search engine.

Searches for Mrs. Clinton spiked by nearly 50 percent in Dallas County after the Dallas Morning News recommendation in early September, though not as much as they did for the American swimmer Ryan Lochte — after his legal trouble in Brazil — or for the game between the Cowboys and the Giants. She trended in Cincinnati’s Hamilton County after The Enquirer’s endorsement, and in all of Arizona after The Republic’s endorsement, though data from Hamilton County shows she was behind subjects like “Clown Sightings” and “National Coffee Day” on the list.

Mr. Stossel of The Atlantic said he was aware of the divide in the country. “People who support Trump have legitimate grievances and he is speaking to them in ways that clearly resonate,” he said. (The editorial, whose language was shaped by the Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, addresses them by saying that Mr. Trump failed to present “realistic policies to address” their “legitimate anxieties.”)

Mr. Stossel knows that the power of endorsements can be limited. But, he said, “One hopes that our endorsement, along with many of these others, will have an amplification effect that sort of ripples out.”

“If it affects only a few people at margins in a few key states,” he said, “that may make a difference.”

“Given our previous endorsements, we’re two for two,” he noted. The streak will stand or fall Nov. 8.

Source — The New York Times!

Ngamba Islands | Great Apes Giving Day – Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 05:19

Dear Ronnie,

I woke up really excited this morning.  While I’m always passionate about the work I do here at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, there’s something else that’s got me pumped. 

Today, Tuesday, October 4, 2016, thousands of area residents showing their support for their favorite nonprofit during Great Apes Giving Day. Every donation and donor we get will go further to help us claim our share thousands of dollars in prize money.

This is a big event, and everyone is talking about who they’re supporting.  Think “American Idol” and we’re in the try-outs but need your support to make it to the top.

  1. Support by donation at   https://greatapes.razoo.com/us/story/Cswct-Ngamba-Island
  2. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (link to your sites and #greatapesgivingday) and help build the buzz.

Help spread the excitement. Tell your friends and family why you think they should help us with their donation. Please be our champion, and help us see it to the top! We can’t wait to celebrate the difference your generosity will make on Tuesday, October 4, 2016.

Here is a story of one of the chimps at Ngamba.

My name is Ikuru.  I saw my mother die. There was a war in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, that’s where we lived. Gunshots would go off at night and sometimes during day. My mother would always successfully carry me on her back to take me away from the cross fire.

But one day we got caught in the middle of the cross fire and my mother tried to move us away as fast as possible but unfortunately she got hit by a stray bullet.

I remember hearing her pant hoot, louder and louder followed by whimpering sounds and slowly by slowly her whimpers turned into silence.

I looked at her belly and there was a lot of blood. I then tried to touch her eyes and lips but she didn’t move them. I didn’t know where to go so I decided to cling onto her body as she bled to death.

A few hours later a UPDF soldier found us and tried to take me away from her but I couldn’t leave her behind. He tried pulling me away from her but I tightened my grip. I just couldn’t leave her behind until he decided to set her ablaze, that’s when I ran away for fear of burning to death.

This soldier later took me to Arua district in Uganda where he tried to get papers to raise me as a house pet fortunately I was taken away from him by the clearing officer who stated that I was an endangered specie.

I was taken away from him and flown to Entebbe on a chartered plane and later by boat I arrived at Ngamba Island  with a bloated stomach, hair loss and majority of my baby teeth had fallen out.

I have grown up since then and had my name changed from jungle to Ikuru which means happy one.

If you want to see how happy I am lately, find me at Ngamba Island.”

Loud pant hoots!!!

Lilly Ajarova Executive Director Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust 1 Bank Close, Entebbe Town P.O. Box 884, Entebbe – UGANDA Telephone: +256 414 320 662 Mobile: +256 759 221 537, 0772 221 537 Fax: +256 414 321 737 Website: www.ngambaisland.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/lilly.ajarova Twitter: www.twitter.com/LAjarova

FAQs | Green Card Diversity Visa Lottery 2018 Edition Now Open – Register Now till Nov 7th

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 18:13

 

There’s still time to register for the Diversity Visa Program. Registration for the 2018 lottery closes at noon EST (17:00 GMT) November 7, 2016.

Are you in? If you’re still planning to enter, take a look at the most frequently asked questions about the program, with answers from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

What does a diversity visa entitle me to? Will the U.S. government help me find work?

Drawing of woman using computer (State Dept./Doug Thompson)If you are issued a diversity visa (DV), you can seek admission to live and work in the United States. The U.S. government will not pay for your airfare, find you a place to live or find you work. As part of your visa application, you will have to prove that you are unlikely to become dependent on the U.S. government for your living expenses. There is no specific amount of money you must prove you have. The consular officer will consider the totality of your circumstances during your visa interview.

Why isn’t my country eligible for this year’s DV program?

Drawing of woman putting paper in envelope (State Dept./Doug Thompson)Countries that have had more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the last five years are ineligible for the DV lottery. Although the ineligible countries are not permanently ineligible, we cannot speculate as to when they will again be eligible.

If I register for the DV program as the principal applicant, can my spouse make a separate application as the principal applicant? Could this cause our applications to be disqualified?

Spouses may each submit one entry if each meets the eligibility requirements. If either spouse is selected, the other may apply as a derivative dependent. Be sure to include your spouse and children on your entry. If both spouses enter, both should include the other spouse and all children. Not listing your existing spouse or children on the entry will result in disqualification.

Can I use the same photo I submitted in last year’s entry?

No. Entries that include the same photo from the last DV year (DV-2017) will be disqualified. You must use a photograph taken within the last six months in your entry.

Can I apply for a diversity visa if I already hold a U.S. visa?

Yes, you can apply for DV-2018 even if you already hold a U.S. visa.

Is it possible to change the address on my application if I’m selected but have since moved?

Drawing of hands exchanging piece of paper (State Dept./Doug Thompson)

Yes. If you are selected and need to change your address, contact the Kentucky Consular Center.

Why do you run out of diversity visas for people who were selected for the program?

There are 50,000 DVs available for DV-2018. More than 50,000 people are selected in the program because some people selected don’t qualify for the visa or don’t pursue the visa, and we want to make sure all 50,000 visas are issued. Only the first qualified 50,000 applicants and derivative family members will be issued visas. After those visas are issued, the program will end. If you wish to receive your visa, you must act promptly when selected. If you miss or reschedule your appointment or come without the required documentation, you risk a visa being unavailable.

How much does it cost to enroll in the Diversity Visa Program?

Drawing of visa (State Dept./Doug Thompson)There is no cost to enroll in the program. If selected, you will pay visa fees at the embassy when you have your interview. Beware of scams related to payment of diversity visa fees!

Opinion | Ugandan MPs and their demand for VIP funerals — By Munini K. Mulera

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 07:46

Ugandan MPs continue to shock us with their shamefully unquenchable thirst for public cash. In a country where 67 per cent of the population is “vulnerable to poverty”, the legislators are awarding themselves nearly Sh. 68 million ($20,000) each to pay for their funerals. The peasant is expected to pay for this luxury of the dead.

This is vanity that thumbs its nose in the face of helpless mothers who face preventable death because health centers lack basic staff and equipment to assure safe delivery of their babies.

It is a bizarre obsession with self that blinds them to the millions of school-age children whose academic dysfunction would be partly relieved if they received school-funded lunch.

Schools desperate for computer and other IT facilities; health centers unable to offer basic surgery because they lack electricity; towns without public libraries; children and youth with no public sports facilities…. The list goes on. Yet the MPs think of luxury to accompany them on their exit from life.

In case you missed it, the MPs’ shopping list for their citizen-funded funerals looks like a comedian’s script, not something written by “representatives” of the people.

Uganda-made coffins are not good enough to contain the permanently dead remains of our friends. It will be an American coffin, thank you very much. You know, one of those things with comfortable white padding, smooth lining made of satin, with pillows that would please the most discriminating among the living in upper class Toronto.

Those things look more comfortable than the decrepit hospital beds on which sick Ugandans rest while patiently waiting for their underpaid doctors and nurses.

According to the Daily Monitor, the American coffin’s price of Sh. 6 million ($1,800) does not include its transportation (Sh. 1.45 million or $ 430), professional services (Sh. 400,000 or $120), pall bearers (Sh.150,000 or $44 per day),

lowering machine (Sh.150,000 or $44) and a tent for the coffin (Sh. 250,000 or $74).

Add to that the construction of what they call a “VIP Grave” at Sh. 1,500,000 ($441), the “VIP grave” itself (Sh. 4 million or $1,200), 15 “VIP wreaths” (Sh.1.5 million or $441) and carnations (on stands, of course), at a VIP price of Sh. 4.3 million ($1,265), and the dead honourable will be ready for a comfortable voyage.

We are not done yet, for the living must be taken care of as well. Video coverage & still photos, to ensure that the world does not forget, will cost the peasants Sh. 1.2 million ($352).

The cost of the church choir adds another Sh.400, 000 ($120). That does not include 1,500 Order of Service books, priced at a sinful Sh. 4.5 million ($1,325), a public address system at Sh.1.8 million ($530), 15 tents for the mourners at Sh. 3.6 million ($1,060) and 4000 chairs for 2 days at a cost of Sh. 4 million ($1,180).

A hired power generator adds Sh.1.6 million ($470) and mobile toilets add another Sh.600, 000 ($177). Of course the mourners, spectators and opportunists must be fed, with a price tag of Sh.15 million ($4,411) and given water worth Sh.1 million ($294.)

The entire thing has to be advertised on TV and radio at a cost of Sh.800, 000 ($235) and secured by police for a fee of Sh. 7.536 million ($2,216).

Asked to explain this madness, an unnamed MP told the BBC last week: “When you die serving the country, they have to take care of you.” It is as though teachers, nurses, doctors, veterinarians, laborers and others doe not serve their country.

The MPs’ madness was highlighted by the news of Valentine Ntandayarwo’s death on Saturday September 17.

Born on August 31, 1939, Ntandayarwo served Uganda as a statistician in the ministry of labour before joining the OAU Secretariat in 1971. He rose to the rank of African Union Director for Labour before retiring in 1999.

His service to Uganda, Africa and humanity surpasses that of most of the MPs whose exact contribution to Uganda’s development is an enigma.

Though Ntandayarwo died at his home in Muyumbu, about five kilometers from Kabale, his body is now in Mbarara. Why? There is not a single facility for embalming and cold storage of the dead in the whole of Kigezi. Yet it is necessary to await the arrival of his children who live and work in Britain and the United States. (His wife died on Christmas eve last year.)

While our MPs are eager to be sent off with carnations and VIP wreaths, they do not seem to care that there are no decent public facilities for safe examination and care for the dead. They hire power generators instead of focusing on provision of reliable electricity for all. They want VIP graves instead of good and accessible health care for all.

What most sensible people care about is what happens to them when they take ill while in their villages and upcountry towns. This is what ought to engage the efforts of the rulers and their subjects. We recall the death of Dr. Stephen Malinga, a former minister of health, whose failing heart might well have been successfully managed had there been a good emergency department at the hospital in Pallisa. He was only 69.

Unfortunately, the MPs are united in this parasitic madness. So far, not a single opposition MP has rejected this sucking of blood from the citizens. There is bipartisan unity when it comes to their inflated salaries, allowances and other freebies. One gets a feeling that they live in a world far removed from the reality of the wretched of the Earth, whom they hope to impress even after they are dead. Ugandans should say no to the madness.

muniini@mulerasfireplace.com

LA Times | ‘You killed my brother!’ | Unarmed Ugandan man killed by El Cajon police was ‘mentally sick,’ sister says

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:38

 

LA Times — Just moments after an African American man was shot and killed by El Cajon police Tuesday, his sister was captured in an eyewitness video as she wept and screamed at officers, saying she told authorities her brother was mentally ill.

In the video posted on YouTube (some explicit language), the man’s sister said she told officers he was sick and needed help. She said she called police three times but instead should have called a “crisis communication team.”

“Don’t you guys have a crisis communication team to talk to somebody mentally sick?” she asked an officer.

“Why couldn’t you tase him? she asked officers. “Why, why, why, why?”

At one point, the woman yelled, “Oh, my God, you killed my brother!” several times.

“I called for help. I didn’t call you guys to kill him,” she told officers as she shrieked.

El Cajon police chief vows transparency amid outrage over fatal police shooting of black man.

Amid outrage and protests over the death of the man — identified by relatives and protesters as Alfred Olango, 30 — El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis on Tuesday urged the public to let the investigation unfold before making any judgments about the shooting.

“Now is the time for calm,” he said. “Now is the time to allow the investigation to shed light on this event and we plan to be open and transparent within the rules of the law.”

Police have yet to officially name the dead man, but Davis said his sister called police and indicated that her brother was “not acting like himself.” The man had allegedly been walking in traffic in the 800 block of Broadway before a pair of officers arrived at 2:11 p.m. Tuesday and found him behind a restaurant, he said.

He ignored multiple instructions from an officer and “concealed his hand in his pants pockets,” Davis said. The man paced back and forth as the officers talked to him, then “rapidly drew an object from his front pants pockets, placed both hands together on it and extended it rapidly toward [one] officer, taking what appeared to be a shooting stance,” the chief said.

The man, he said, pointed the object at the officer’s face.

At that point, the other officer fired a Taser and the officer who had the object pointed at him fired his handgun, striking the man. Davis declined to say the number of shots that were fired. No firearm was found at the scene.

Davis said the object the man was holding had been recovered, but he declined to provide details because it was part of the investigation. Television news footage of the crime scene showed what appeared to be a vaporizer pen and battery lying in the parking lot beside an evidence marker.

After the shooting, officers provided first aid until paramedics arrived and took the man to a hospital.

A witness to the incident made a cellphone video, which was voluntarily turned over to police. The department has so far declined to release the video to the public.

A Facebook page for Alfred Olango identifies him as a head cook at a Hooters restaurant and that he is originally from Uganda. It says he went to San Diego High School and studied at San Diego Mesa College.

Hours after the shooting, protests erupted in the San Diego County city, with friends of the man’s family saying he suffers from a mental illness and did not pose a threat to the officers.

Most of the demonstrators voiced concerns that the shooting was racially motivated. More demonstrations were planned Wednesday, including a rally organized by several activist groups and churches at the city’s civic center to call for change and an end to violence.

At news conference Wednesday morning, community activists called on police to release any videos of the shooting.

The Rev. Shane Harris, president of the National Action Network in San Diego, said his organization met with family members who have called for a federal investigation into the shooting.

“We do not trust local prosecutors to investigate local police,” he said.

 

Bishop Cornelius Bowser, a gang interventionist at Pastor of Charity Apostolic Church, said residents are looking for procedural justice because relations between the black community and police “has been ruined already.”

“We don’t want to see a still picture,” he said. “We want to see the whole story.”

The community, he said, wants transparency.

Activists claimed that the city has a history of racism and targeting young men.

Residents are afraid, said Christopher Rice-Wilson, associate director at Alliance San Diego.

The El Cajon shooting comes amid growing national anguish over police shootings of blacks. Charlotte, N.C., was rocked by days of protests last week after police fatally shot 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott.

The San Diego County district attorney’s office and the El Cajon Police Department are investigating the shooting.

All videos taken of the incident “so far coincide with the officers’ statements,” Davis said.

Police later released a still image from a video showing Olango in a shooting stance as he is confronted by officers.

“It’s important that the facts come out right now,” Davis said. “We are investigating facts as we know them and implore the community to be patient with us, work with us, look at the facts at hand before making an judgment.”

Pastor Miles McPherson, who joined the chief Tuesday at a news conference, urged peace because “we all want the right thing to happen, ” he said. He said the truth must come out, but in “a peaceful way.”

“This is very painful to me. It’s very personal,” said McPherson, who leads the Rock Church in San Diego. “I am black man and feel the pain on both sides every time this happens in our country.”

At the press conference Wednesday morning, Agnes Hassan, a relative, said she and Olango were in a refugee camp together before they came to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves and their children.

“We suffered too much with the war in Africa… we come here to suffer again,” she said.

Hassan said she was heartbroken.

“What happened yesterday, it wasn’t right,” she said.

On Twitter, the department disputed some of the claims made by protesters: “The investigation just started, but based on the video voluntarily provided by a witness, the subject did NOT have his hands up in the air.”

Michael Ray Rodriguez said he was driving away from the apartment building when he said he saw a shirtless black man with his hands in the air. In a matter of seconds, he said, an officer opened fire.

The officer “shot him again and again,” Rodriguez said, adding he heard five shots.

El Cajon police officers are not equipped with body-worn cameras. The department recently completed a pilot program to test the cameras and ordered some. The equipment has not been delivered, Ransweiler said.

Both officers involved in the shooting have been working in law enforcement for more than 21 years, the police chief said.

As officials continued to investigate the incident Wednesday, at least one use-of-force expert said that that Olango’s use of a shooting stance complicated matters.

Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County, Calif., sheriff’s deputy and legal advisor, said that mental health training for officers may have been of limited value in the situation.

“When those hands come up in a shooting stance, the officer wouldn’t have time to assess whether what is in the hands is a gun,” Obayashi said. “Almost immediately, the officer sees the hands flash up into a shooting stance he must react. A second will be too late if it’s a firearm.”

Source — Los Angeles Times

The Observer | Speaker Kadaga disowns Oulanyah trip to UNAA

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 09/25/2016 - 07:16

The feud between the speaker of parliament and her deputy has taken an intriguing turn with Rebecca Kadaga telling The Observer last week that Jacob Oulanyah travelled to the US without her knowledge.

Kadaga said on phone: “I was surprised to meet him in Boston, USA [for the Ugandan North American Association-UNAA] with a parallel delegation. My intention was not to leave the parliamentary speaker’s chair vacant; and it is not me to explain for his mishap.”

She disputed reports that parliament had sponsored 78 MPs to the convention, insisting that only 26 legislators had travelled. UNAA is the largest community organisation for the Ugandan diaspora, often used as a platform to stimulate fellowship among members in North America, Europe and Uganda. The community, which was founded in 1988, split up in recent years following political disagreements.

Without disclosing the total amount spent on the trip, Kadaga said the money was well spent.

“I think with time each MP will disclose what he sourced from the convention in terms of knowledge or property. I for one tried to source hospital beds which will be donated to various hospitals, including one in Kamuli district, when they arrive here next month,” she said. “There are four other beneficial things I will disclose at a later date; so, the money that took us was not poorly spent.”

The two speakers were each entitled to per diem of $720 or Shs 2,401,950 per day while the MPs were entitled to $520 (Shs 1,734,740) per day. The total per diem cost for both speakers was $1,440 (Shs 4,803,900) per day totalling to $8,640 (over 28 million) for the six days the trip lasted.

Another team headed by Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza attended a parallel convention, UNAA Causes, in Los Angeles, California. Oulanyah left for the convention on August 30, a day earlier than Kadaga who set off on August 31 together with other MPs.

Government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa is reported to have travelled to the same event as part of a government delegation while the clerk to parliament Jane Kibirige led a team of six technical staff mainly from the public relations department to run a stall at the convention, and one legal person, to explain legal issues in parliament.

In his Daily Monitor column of September 6, Dr Muniini K. Mulera, a former member of the UNAA executive, suggested that politicians should in future meet their own travel costs to the convention.

“Are Ugandan MPs’ junkets to Diaspora gatherings worth the taxpayer’s money?” he asked and suggested that though Ugandan politicians should continue to attend UNAA conventions, they should foot their costs.

“The presence of Ugandans from home always adds a welcome dimension. However, the thought that the taxpayers underwrite these junkets is difficult to justify.

Contrary to reports in Kampala papers that UNAA has 120,000 members; neither faction of the organisation has even 1,000 members. Membership in UNAA (Boston) is based on payment of a membership fee. UNAA conventions usually attract about 1,000 attendees, the majority coming to socialise rather than to participate in the social, business and political forums,” Mulera wrote.

Source — The Observer

Queen of Katwe | Homeless Ugandan girl becomes one of country’s top chess players, buys mom a house – New York Times

Uganda Diaspora - Sat, 09/24/2016 - 21:24

The incredible story of Phiona Mutesi, the now 20-year-old Ugandan chess phenom, began in a slum in Katwe, when 9-year-old Phiona and her family were living on the street. “Having been hungry for almost three days, my brother came and told us about the chess program they always had because he wanted us to go and get something to eat,” said Mutesi. There, at the SOM Chess Academy, Mutesi said she transitioned from going there just for food to showing up to play.

Mutesi’s coach and mentor Robert Katende, who uses chess and sports as a means of improving the lives of children living in Ugandan slums, said that while Mutesi’s skill for the game was swiftly apparent, even he was shocked by her win in the women’s junior championship in Sudan in 2009. “That is when I became more serious and said, ‘Now this is now going beyond what I have ever even thought of,’” Katende admitted.

ROBERT KATENDE (L) AND UGANDAN CHESS PLAYER PHIONA MUTESI (R), WHO ARE PORTRAYED IN “QUEEN OF KATWE” POSE AT THE FILM’S LOS ANGELES PREMIERE IN HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016. (REUTERS/DANNY MOLOSHOK)

For Mutesi, the tournament was a surreal experience in more ways than one. “I’m seeing, like, showers for the first time. I’m seeing, like, flushing toilets for the first time. I had never slept in a bed by myself. I always slept by my brothers on one bed,” she recalled. Following her big win, Mutesi went on to compete at tournaments in Russia, Turkey and Africa. But her greatest accomplishment, she said, was when she realized she’d earned enough money to buy her mom some land and a house.

Mutesi is expected to graduate high school this year, and says she hopes to one day become a lawyer. Her story is the topic of a new film premiering this week, Disney’s “Queen of Katwe,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga.

Source — New York Times

The Observer | Bank of Uganda ‘unaware’ of Crane Bank Sale

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 06:46

Bank of Uganda (BOU) is yet to receive official communication on the proposed move to sell shares in Crane bank.Christine Alupo, director for communications BOU, says the central bank has not received any request from Crane bank to approve change in shareholding.

Sudhir Ruparelia, the proprietor of Crane Bank has confirmed that he is in talks with what he calls a “strategic partner” to acquire stakes in the bank. In a statement issued on Friday last week, Crane bank said they had initially wanted to float shares on the stock market but now want private equity instead.

Ideally, the bank said, they are looking for a partner with regional or continental footing. Media reports have suggested that the potential Crane bank partners are South African, although other sources also suggest they may be Ethiopian. Details on the “strategic partner” are not public yet. An entity who did due diligence for an interested party in the Crane bank shares acquisition declined to divulge any details citing confidentiality.

Alupo, in a statement posted on BoU’s website and facebook page, says the Financial Institutions Act 2004 (FIA 2004) as amended in 2016, stipulates that if a commercial bank wishes to dispose of equity worth five percent or more of its shares, the sale must be approved by Bank of Uganda.

Alupo adds that the BOU has not yet received any request from Crane bank, adding that “should such a request be received, the proposed shareholders will be vetted for ‘fit and proper’ credentials and positively considered if they warrant approval”.

According to Alupo, it is normal practice for financial institutions to change shareholding in line with their strategic objectives, and this has happened several times in Uganda.

Crane bank is one of the few Ugandan indigenous banks and one of 25 commercial banks licensed and supervised by BOU. It has one of the largest footprints in the country, with well-built bank buildings in several urban centers. When we visited a few branches in and around Kampala, operations were going on normally.

A staff at the Crane Bank headquarters in Kampala, who declined to be named, said they are not worried because the deal is aimed at capitalizing the bank. Crane bank last year made losses, owing to the spiriting away of more than $18m, equivalent to about Shs 50bn by its former managing director A. R. Kalani.

Source — The Weekly Observer

News Flash | Mr. Richard Lackey, Chairman and CEO — World Food Bank Founder For EA Chamber Meet In Dallas

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 09/20/2016 - 08:20

Mr. Richard Lackey, Chairman and CEO the  Global Food Exchange is leading the launch of the World Food Bank.  From leaders at the UN World Food Programme to the world’s largest NGOs and development experts, Mr. Lackey sees the World Food Bank as the catalyzing entity for permanently lifting tens of millions of farmers out of poverty while securing the world’s food supply into the future. He is convinced the East African Community holds the key to a collaborative launch of the World Food Bank.

Mr. Richard Lackey is a serial entrepreneur and an investment manager with decades of diverse experience. His unique background includes several years in international emergency medical response missions as well as nearly three decades as an active trader and fund manager in the United States and Latin America. Mr. Lackey held eight different securities licenses spanning equity, options and futures markets. He has served as the Managing Director for five successful private funds. Over the years he has established himself as a highly regarded expert in the securities trading industry, having appeared in magazines, radio and television.
Mr. Lackey’s expertise in emergency response management as well as the inefficiencies of markets led him, along with a world-class team of experts, to create the Global Food Exchange. The Global Food Exchange is responsible for establishing the world’s most valuable commodities as the world’s newest and potentially safest asset class. Mr. Lackey is passionate about utilizing the Global Food Exchange as a solution for the need in getting critical supplies to disaster victims.

Education:

• 2010 Cornell University: Hotel Finance and Management
• 1989 University of Georgia: Bachelors Marketing and Management
• 1987 Harvard University: Certification in Fund Analysis
• Schools: Real Esta

About The World Food Bank

World Food Bank (WFB) leverages extended shelf-life food storage technologies to resolve the world’s most pressing food security challenges. The World Food Bank™ was created to function as an institutional investment entity that operates much like a traditional bank, but with food as the core asset rather than cash. We utilize our institutional buying power to provide price to support smallholder farmers who we believe are the key to lifting over one billion people out of poverty and ending hunger by sustain-ably nourishing a growing world population.

The key to sustainable food systems lies in an ecosystem where participation from each stakeholder de-risks operational funding for other stakeholders. As an example, the World Food Bank utilizes its institutional purchasing power to provide price guarantees to smallholder farmers who will be paid more for their product when market prices crash. This price support allows smallholder farmers to become “bankable” in the eyes of financiers and insurers as their repayment risk for input finance or crop insurance is decreased considerably when farmers are guaranteed sale of their products.

As a result, farmers are able to use higher quality seeds and fertilizers that increase the quality and quantity of their outputs, allowing their new product to meet global quality standards and access new markets, including that of dried food trade through Global Food Exchange. Domestically, when agro-processors can have dependable supply from an intermediary, like a World Food Bank, who holds product available year-round due to the inherent extended shelf-life properties of their commodities, domestic and foreign direct investment will naturally increase due to dependable reserves of supply.

The presence of a World Food Bank entity creates a considerable amount of food security for the host nation and its people as the food reserves are available in the event imports are cut off, a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis hits, all while providing ongoing market price stabilization measures to local markets facing shortages and spiking prices. Furthermore, the presence of WFB allows for significant opportunities for stakeholders to capture margins throughout the value chain, from farmers to traders, processors, retailers, and investors. The team launching the World Food Bank has built strong relationships with leading relief organizations, and is now primed to address food security needs in emerging markets and is seeking sovereign partnerships to build systematic food security solutions.

Source — World Food Bank –  www.worldfoodbank.org and For Details of the EA Chamber Meet in Dallas – www.eachamber.com 

UK Convention Dispatch | Talking ill about Uganda in diaspora does not improve it – Speaker Kadaga

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 09/18/2016 - 09:19

By Nelson Bwire — The speaker of parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga has called upon Ugandans in the diaspora to speak well about the country, stressing that speaking ill about the nation does not improve it in anyway.

“Uganda is our country and we must talk good about it in the diaspora, besides we do not have any other country. We need to Market our country, talk about the good weather for instance, the beauty of the country, her wildlife and most importantly, the stability,” Ms Kadaga said while opening the 6th Uganda-UK Trade and Investment convention in the United Kingdom on Saturday.

“Talking ill about Uganda in the diaspora does not improve the country because no one will develop Uganda other than Ugandans, so let us talk business, let us invest in Uganda,” she added.

Meanwhile the same event was attended by former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye who maintained that Uganda requires strong institutions for investment to make sense.

Quoting from a book on leadership and institutions, Dr Besigye said that Spain was the first state to colonise countries but they had weak institutions, while the British who came later built institutions. “Today Spain is like the third world country of Europe.”

“Uganda is a fantastic country, but we do not have institutions, why would investors go to state house instead of an investment authority? This fuels corruption since it is Museveni’s brothers and sisters who welcome them, then they each will take a pay cut. Uganda will need to sort out systems first,” he said.

Kyadondo County East Member of Parliament, Ssemujju Nganda also called upon the government to utilise opportunities of investing in agriculture.

“Recently I was in Luwero for campaigns; I saw mangoes on the ground rotting, pineapples are brought from Kayunga to rot in markets in Kampala. We have the potential in agro-processing but are not utlising it. Why would we export coffee to Egypt for processing then buy it later expensively?” Mr Ssemujju wondered.

UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda Lord Dolar Popat, a Ugandan born in Busolwe, Butaleja District and raised in Tororo also used the opportunity to pledge more investment in Uganda. He said the UK is already the largest cumulative investor in Uganda but there is considerable room to grow trading relations between the two nations.

“UK businesses need to respond, grab the economic initiative and play a leading role in Africa’s future growth. Otherwise we will be left behind by the countries that see Africa as it is, rather than how they fear it is,” he said.

State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda ascertained that government is in the process of constructing stop overs after every 100 Kilometres on highways. The stop overs will have a gas station, restaurant, Motels and other infrastructure. He called upon those with interest in the project to invest.

The Uganda-UK Trade convention started in 2011 as a trade and investment forum to engage political leaders, experts, entrepreneurs, institutions in Uganda and citizens in the diaspora. This year’s theme was “Why Invest in Uganda Now? Enhancing Investment for Job and Wealth Creation”

It was attended by among others; His Highness, David Onen Acana II, Acholi Paramount Chief, Mr Amin Mawji OBE, Diplomatic Representative, Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, Cecilia Ogwal, MP/Parliament Commissioner and different members of parliament. Afrigo Band provided entertainment.

Source — Daily Monitor Report and UK Convention Video of Dr. Kizza Besigye

Ugandan Diaspora Editorial | September 2016 | UNAA Conventions – My Recap!

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 09:24

Dear all,

Greetings and welcome back from what was an eventful labor day weekend. Uganda North America Association now in its 28th year of existence held its annual convention in Boston as did UNAA Causes in Los Angeles. On my part I succeeded in attending both events first on Friday during the UNAA business forum before catching a flight to Los Angeles Saturday evening.

The convention in Boston received lots of mixed reactions owing to the presence of the many Ugandan MPs and Ministers who attended the 3 day fete at the Park Plaza hotel. Though the convention enjoyed good numbers there was concern raised over protocol as to why UNAA invited the Speaker of Parliament and his Deputy to attend the same event at the same time albeit at the tax payers expense.

Equally disturbing for some was the cost of travel and per diem for the VIPs and their support teams that came through to Boston. A local daily in Uganda had reported that business at Uganda’s Parliament had come to a stand still as the speaker and his deputy traveled to Boston to attend to the UNAA Convention business at a cost the paper estimated to be around UGX 2 billion shillings. Although I have been one to appreciate the contribution of the Uganda government and Parliament especially the continued support and recognition of UNAA activities I see a clear and present danger as the government has clearly continued to exact influence over UNAA affairs.  http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/08/31/the-observer-parliament-spends-shs-2bn-in-six-days-on-us-convention/

We may recall that it was because of UNAA and the commitment of the leadership then that the dual citizenship law was enacted. In as much as I appreciate the contribution our government in embracing the Diaspora, there is growing concern that UNAA’s agenda is now dictated by Uganda’s political players. I personally recognized more than 15 MPs in Boston and some hardly participated in the major forums that characterized the convention but instead some were seen in the hotel lobby enjoying happy hour while others took to the shopping malls around the theater district!

Of course the use of money to win support has also been prevalent as more continue to question the government funding of UNAA especially the terms and conditions of this support. It would have been interesting to hear or know if during any of the speeches at the conventions the continued police brutality meted at the opposition politicians and the respect for the rule of law was brought up for discussion by our leaders as a way to create a level playing field for all political players back home.

I will however limit my observations to the events I attended and some of the things I saw. I applaud UNAA for continuing the spirit of the Business forum a concept UNAA adopted earlier on and that has now evolved under new leadership. It is a good forum that should continue to be a corner stone of UNAA activities especially as some Diaspora members prepare for their retirement. Mortgage financing, Diaspora Bonds, Diaspora Insurance, Real Estate Development and Mobile Money Transfers continue to be avenues and areas of opportunity for growth and investment.
http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/04/unaa-boston-business-forum-making-uganda-work-highlights-of-day-one/

During the business forum I was happy to see Mr. Paul Cohen of P.H.G Consults a company that was part of the $1.5 million dollar marketing contract to help brand Uganda in North America and how they planned to do it. But I was quite surprised by the feedback he gave to my question regarding how they hoped to utilize the new movie “Queen of Katwe” in order to get the conversation started. However I got surprised when he said that they would await the movie to come out of DVD before utilizing it. Another question was how the PR firm had hoped to engage the Diaspora and institutions like UNAA to help encourage Diaspora Tourism. http://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Travel/Uganda-hires-three-global-PR-firms-market-tourism/691238-3048424-3911fyz/index.html

Last year in October 2015 I was privileged to help coordinate the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) East Africa Diaspora Investment Conference under the theme – Expanding Horizons 2015 Workshop for Small Businesses among the East Africans and the Ugandan community living in Boston at the invitation of Mr. Spinelli the Deputy Director – OPIC. This one-day workshop provided a unique opportunity for participants to learn about U.S. government resources available for small businesses and how they can expand their business internationally.

However for many Ugandans who attended the Boston conference the challenge was how to access the million dollar credit schemes that OPIC offers. It was therefore great to see Mr. Spinelli and the Massachusetts Government Delegation back in Boston this time engaged with a delegation from Uganda that included politicians and MPs that could be in a position to raise this minimum requirements to attract OPIC funding if they partnered with Ugandans that now hold US. Citizenship.  http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2015/08/11/overseas-private-investment-corporation-opic-october-14th-expanding-horizons-2015-workshop-for-small-businesses-entering-international-markets/

Overall although the turn up in Boston was great, the organizers could have picked a better hotel in my view that could accommodate the numbers and the flamboyancy Ugandans like owing to the financial support that UNAA Boston convention receives from both the government and the high registration costs. I overheard a number of revelers complaining about their hotel rooms and the limited space in the common areas like the main bar and restaurants that they deemed too small to absorb Ugandans.

The rectangular arrangement seemed to have worked best for those with vendor tables as it allowed convention attendees to check out the various products and services on offer. The danger though was there were way too many vendors than the space could accommodate in my view this relegated some to far off spaces with little or no visibility. But I thought there was a wide variety of merchandise on offer, a sign perhaps that this was a Boston convention. It would be interesting to know how much UNAA made from the vendor areas in terms of revenue since this was an overkill.
http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/04/unaa-boston-images-and-highlights-from-the-day-two/

Later we saw several breakout events like what has now become UNAA tradition. The Political forum was extremely heated and featured the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga on the one hand and Dr. Kizza Besigye, Former Presidential Flag Bearer and Martin Byakuleka a Member of the Diaspora league on the other. The Deputy Speaker Hon. Jacob Oulanyah was also present —  A video feed by NTV summarized what transpired at the Political forum that was dominated by heckling from audience members regarding the cost of travel and why so many MPs came to Boston and what if any was the cost benefit to the tax payer! http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/06/ntv-news-video-besigye-mps-exchange-sharp-barbs-at-unaa-convention/

Earlier I had engaged the honorable Speaker during the Q&A for a reaction to our Constitutional Petition now before the constitutional court that seeks to interpret the dual Citizenship law. I had looked forward to engage the Directorate of Immigration on this topic as several of their Board members were among those that traveled to Boston but they too did not know when or what time their Immigration forum had been scheduled(Mrs. Musaazi had reached out to me). However given how central immigration has become to many of us I had hoped for a more public forum with part of the legislators present. If and whether this forum ever took place and some of the resolutions is a story we await. As more and more Ugandans acquire US Citizenship, there is a need to review the dual citizenship law and how it relates and impacts diaspora families and their children. UNAA missed an opportunity to help champion this cause for many of its members with the Speaker of the house present. http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/06/07/uganda-dual-citizenship-law-diaspora-community-petitions-constitutional-court-to-interpret-dual-citizenship-law/

The other missing ingredient of this convention was the annual general meeting or UNAA Town-hall that is meant to discuss UNAA Affairs. This too has become increasingly a watered down affair as little or no attention is accorded to the event. I recall the time the annual general meeting had been scheduled to begin there was a Besigye town-hall that could have forced organizers to push the annual general meeting to Sunday. I later learnt that this too did not happen Sunday as the Northern Uganda and the Women’s forum were scheduled around the same time leading to a lack of quorum per the UNAA Constitution.

UNAA Boston also enjoyed some comedian and ebonies performances an area some felt they scored however when it came to artists it looked like the crowd favorites were on the West Coast.

And so Saturday evening as I headed to the Los Angeles I set out to establish how UNAA Causes continues to survive with little or no government support, maintains lower registration costs, continues to attract better entertainers and hosts festivals in brand name hotels. I realized that theirs was a protest vote of sorts. The group also derived its strength in having a die-hard following that is determined to carry on the spirit for which UNAA was founded.

Although the UNAA Causes leadership is yet to introduce their executive I will say that they did deliver and offered their revelers a great convention with a unique set of entertainers that included Diamond Platinumz, Isaiah Katumwa, Winnie Nwagi, David Lutalo and Fashion icon Stella Atal among others. In as far as the hotel, food and entertainment was concerned UNAA Causes nailed it. However for some revelers the absence of the well advertised business forum could have hurt the Uganda festival that I must add has proved to be a force to reckon with. I was also happy to see that the organizers allowed their attendees to decide where they wanted to go next based on the crowd feedback. http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/06/unaa-causes-the-3rd-annual-uganda-festival-held-at-the-jw-marriott-in-los-angeles/

Overall we applaud the UNAA Boston and UNAA Causes for putting on these two conventions but as we head into another election year with contolled voter registers its paramount that UNAA refocuses on the very reasons why UNAA was established or why the impasse continues that divided the once vibrant institution. While some have profited from the split we await the new faces of Uganda North American Association to emerge as UNAA heads to Miami and UNAA Causes goes to Las Vegas.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other — Abraham Lincoln.

Long Live UNAA and United We Stand!

— Ronnie Mayanja Ugandan Diaspora News | www.ugandandiasporanews.com |
Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | www.ugandandiaspora.com |
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Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanjahttp://www.linkedin.com/in/ronniemayanja

New Movies | The Queen of Katwe Uganda Movie Premier Release Dates 1st – 2nd October 2016

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 09:50

Phiona Mutesi, who grew up at in Katwe slum in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, has become the subject of a Disney movie. The Queen of Katwe tells how she dropped out of school early, but started playing chess aged nine, becoming a grand-master.

It stars Oscar winner Lupita Ny’ongo and British-born Nigerian actor David Oyelowo. The Queen of Katwe Uganda Movie Premier will take place on 1st – 2nd  October 2016. Save the dates! Here is a documentary clip that made Muteesi and earned her the attention of Walt Disney!

Opinion | My first experience at a Ugandan UNAA Convention — JW Marriott By Damalie Namponye, MD

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 08:33

By Damalie Namponye, MD — Two wonderful events occurred over the labor weekend.  In Boston under the auspices of the Uganda North American Association, UNAA, a number of our government representatives attended the annual conference.  Over in Los Angeles we had the Leader of Opposition Hon. Winnie Kizza, the Lord Mayor of Kampala Erias Lukwago and the opposition Chief Whip Hon. Ssemujju Nganda gracing the occasion of UNAA Causes.  Together they joined hundreds of Ugandans in celebration of Labor Day weekend, and networking for more effective individual and community growth.  In Los Angeles, we were reminded by our leaders of the importance of remaining active and involved in the affairs of our native country of Uganda.

At the UNAA Causes conference, it was good to see long lost friends as we celebrated Ugandan women and men who had gathered to have fun, meet new people, and shared accomplishments of being a Diaspora community.

After 17 years of living in the US, at the urging of a friend, I attended my first Ugandan convention.  I would like to applaud the organizers for a great conference.  I enjoyed it and met some wonderful individuals.  Moreover my life was enriched with stimulating conversations of global health, human rights and the challenges that families face while living in the diaspora, and I look forward to my next conference and getting an update on previous ideas discussed by my fellow diasporians, including the convention organizers.

Having worked for an organization that valued new hire feedback, and worked toward implementing those changes that were suggested by new hires, I value the importance of feedback; such feedback is considered valuable especially because when one is a  new hire, they’ve not been affected by the status quo, and can look at the system with less bias.  It’s with such fresh eyes that I write this piece with the hope that effective change will be implemented by UNAA Causes as they head to Las Vegas.  This is especially true since this is only the 3rd year that UNAA Causes hosts the annual Ugandan gathering.  Moreover, I believe that UNAA Causes has great potential, the organizers are working hard to improve and they are open to feedback.  As I reflected on the conference a day after the events ended, how does one determine that a convention has been successful?  What are our (UNAA Causes) objectives?  How do we go on from here and work toward improvement?

Having a theme: beyond having a good time not only benefits Ugandans in the diaspora, but those in Uganda as well.  I applaud UNAA Causes for the water project initiative, which once implemented will go a long way to improving access to water, which is a direct measure of not only economic growth, but also has a direct impact on health.  Along the mission of UNAA Causes of “promoting great values in our community”, in what ways can we promote the great values, and what are those great values that we stand for?  The great values may include health, education, human rights, business, and working on ways the organization can improve.   Along those lines, the following will go a long way in continuing to push a great organization in the right direction.

Timeliness: for an event that was scheduled to begin at 8pm with a festival runway, it was disappointing that the main activity of the night did not start until later.  Although we appreciated the DJ’s music, an update from the organizers as to why the delay occurred would have been appreciated.  Two other areas where an improvement in timeliness would go a long way in the attendees having a more positive experience are the main registration process and the management of numbers on the boat cruises.

I arrived at 8pm and proceeded to inquire about the registration process from the organizers.  I was informed no registration was necessary, but perhaps in the future, wristbands may be provided to ascertain the participants who’d registered previously.  About 3 hours later, I was approached in the bouquet hall and informed that I would indeed need a wristband.  I stood in line for almost 1 hour as people cut in line, and others paid for the Platinumz show.  This, I believed to be poor organization by the leaders of UNAA Causes.  A more efficient way would have entailed having the wristbands ready hours before the start of the convention, and confirming registration of each new participant then.  For those who only wanted to attend the Diamonds Platinumz show, a separate line, preferably behind those who had registered earlier would not only have been efficient, but also not construed to punish those who paid in advance or reward those who were late in paying.
The boat cruise was a positive experience for those who attended.  Per sources who attended, the DJ’s did a great job with the music selection, mixing it up with both old and new music to carter to the different age groups that attended the boat cruise.  Other positives included a three course dinner, and having a selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages since this event was also attended by families.  According to my sources, areas of improvement include making plans for people to pay on time and not at the last minute since late payment contributed to overbooking and failure to seat some guests some of whom had missed their hired chartered buses resulting in a late departure.  The late start left some revelers somewhat disappointed since this shortened the boat cruise from 5 hours to about 3 hours.

There are several areas where the organizers deserve credit for a job well done; I applaud the event organizers for publishing an agenda, which is an improvement from last year as no agenda/program existed, according to a participant who attended the previous convention.  The agenda clearly delineated the particular events that were scheduled.  Personally, one of the events that I looked forward to was the business expo.  I looked forward to networking, and hearing about the different kinds of investment opportunities that exist in Uganda.  I was disappointed to learn that this event did not happen owing to some logistical challenges.  Again, communication would have been appreciated.  Originally, the event was re-scheduled for 2pm the next day (reportedly announced on Friday evening).  Unfortunately, I did not find out until I had showed up for the 10 O’clock event.  Moreover, the hotel screens still showed the business expo for 10 0’clock.  A more effective way would have included not only making an announcement late on Friday night, but updating Facebook page and the official event website.  In this digital age, social media is important and should be utilized to the maximum.

In addition to utilizing social networking, information on which artists will perform should be uniformly updated on the UNAA Causes website and also updated on the Facebook page.  In case any of the featured speakers or artists cancel or cannot make it, updating the convention participants online, by email or Whatsapp is always ideal (this can be through a created database as most people include their contact information during registration process).  Updating the participants will go a long way in continuing to build confidence in the leadership of the organization, and give attendees confidence that the convention leaders are honest even when the plan does not happen as originally mentioned.

Last but not least,  a lot of people I spoke to were unable to find information about the convention online.  Again here, an agenda would enable participants plan better regarding which sessions they wish to attend and what preparation is needed before attending; this is especially important because part of the feedback the organizers received from the participants included giving attendees an option to pay for only those events that they are interested in attending.

All in all, I enjoyed the conference.  I especially liked that there was a lot of networking with like-minded people, some of whom share an interest in global health, human rights and how the lack of democracy, both in the past and in more recent times, has impacted Uganda’s economic growth.  I look forward to the next conference in Las Vegas, and feel privileged to have been a part of such a great and beautiful event.  The Black Tie Dinner and the clean water project were a positive ending for what was a classy entertaining labor day weekend. Well done UNAA Causes for with your limited resources you put up a great event at a magnificent hotel in the center of Los Angeles!

The author is a Medical Doctor based in California. She can be reached directly at dvn102011@gmail.com

Opinion | When Per Diem Becomes Income — By Samuel Sejjaaka

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 07:38

By Samuel Sejjaaka — You would never know what ‘per diem’ means until you got yourself a job with the government. I first came across this term in 1988 when I joined the public service. Like all things public, per diem (latin, meaning per day, or a daily allowance for expenses) was the trick to survival in that space.

Civil servants travelled East, West, South, North and nowhere. I recall the case of one bloke who knew how to ‘work’ the system.

There was a particular time he arrived at Entebbe, picked up a new set of clothing and took off again! Another of my colleagues kept on accumulating ‘air miles’ while living in rented premises. I just wonder why he bothered to rent a house he never lived in. It’s the stuff dreams are made of!

Three recent cases in the media brought out the per diem problem in stark detail. Case one involved a communications boss who had his gory travails or travel details exposed as newspaper fodder.

A tidy sum he must have spent on his travel. Case two involved parliamentarians who were robbed in South Africa, trying to live off two dollars a day.

Case three was the stoppage of parliamentary debate as the recent UNAA conventions took centre stage. All told about 70 odd MPs took to the skies to attend.

I first travelled abroad in 1988 on a government delegation. The journey took us from Entebbe to Cairo, to Paris and back. When we reached Cairo one of us could not attend meetings because it was too hot. He went off to buy silk shirts! He was one of the leaders of our delegation.

In Paris, a boss from a financial institution had to make a presentation, but he had not prepared one. He asked me to make one for him on my computer. I spent the whole night working as a typist. So much for the experience! These guys were there for per diem, not Uganda.

If you are smart enough to save, per diem can significantly change your financial condition, as it becomes income. So in most cases per diem is about making ends meet. Let us say your per diem entitlement is $ 550 per day as an MP. So on a 10-day trip you pocket $ 5,500.

You deny yourself, live prudently and manage to spend $ 1,000 on accommodation and food. That leaves you with $ 4,500 or Shs15,075,000 in today’s money.

That is about five months salary for a permanent secretary. If you can fix two trips in a month you pick up Shs 30,150,000. Not bad for an underpaid and over worked senior fellow.

But per diem is paid from the same pot as the salaries of the said civil servants. I have always argued that if we rationalised and paid civil servants better, we could change this country fundamentally. Because we don’t pay civil servants well, they are either travelling, or supervising their own chattels.

If you collect Shs30 million per month from travelling, you know in your heart of hearts it won’t last. So you work hard in your non-travelling time to complete your hostel, block of flats, or farm.

The only time you go to office is to process your next per diem payment. You never know when you will lose the privilege.

While a few well-connected individuals benefit, Ugandans generally lose out. The few who benefit from international travel enjoy the jet set life, glamour and the capacity to shop on Jermyn Street.

Source — Daily Monitor.

UNAA Causes | The 3rd Annual Uganda Festival Held at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 11:55

By Ronnie Mayanja — On the evening September 3rd having attended two days of the UNAA Boston convention I departed for Los Angeles to support another Uganda community gathering this time at the UNAA Causes Convention held on the same labor day weekend at the JW Marriott in downtown LA. As a third convention for this group I was curious to see how best the group had fared from their last convention in New York.

With very few sponsors yet again,  UNAA Causes that is largely funded privately by Ugandans living in North America held another convention at a magnificent hotel in the center of Los Angeles. Attended by special guests that included the leader of opposition Hon. Winnie Kizza, Hon. Semujju Nganda, the Lord Mayor of Kampala Ssalongo Erias Lukwago, Princess Komuntale from the Kingdom of Tooro and a host of other notable Ugandans. It must be noted that this convention lacked any government representation a sign perhaps that the Uganda government does not and will not recognize the group even though it has now held 3 events and enjoys considerable support among some historical UNAA membership. Hon. Kizza did well in recognizing the contribution of the diaspora especially as one of the leading source of foreign direct investment in the country. She acknowledged the remittances but called on the diaspora to actively engage their leaders as a way to end dictatorship back in Uganda. On his part the Lord Mayor also celebrated the Diaspora investments calling upon the diaspora to contribute ideas on how based to plan for and create a modern capital city in the region. They both alluded to the tax payers money spent by the Parliament on Uganda on travel to attend the UNAA Convention in Boston. However this did not deter those who traveled to Los Angeles from enjoying the 3 day labor weekend. For a start the guests were treated to entertainment by Naseeb Najib a.k.a Diamond Platinumz a Tanzanian international artist with a cross over appeal who was the welcome act for Friday evening. However it was the much anticipated Africa Business Forum that did not happen due to some logistical challenges even though the hostess, a celebrated BBC award winner and news anchor from Nairobi Nancy Kacungira was already in town. On Saturday September 3rd the group then held their endless dinner boat cruise party before returning back to the hotel for more entertainment. With seasoned DJs like Karoli Mpoza, DJ Muhenda from Texas and DJ Kalemba from San Francisco it was then time for Ugandans to dance Saturday night away. Unlike last year this time the sound management team led by Mr. Serumagga a former UNAA elder did not disappoint giving the audience a real test of professional sound. However it was the grand finale black tie gala dinner that was perhaps the icing for this UNAA Causes group. From the food to the dinner entertainment that was led by the legendary Ugandan Saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa who wowed the audience forcing some onto the dance floor during their dinner was a major highlight and a touch of class. Fashion led by the Paris based Ugandan designer Stella Atal who together with models who represented Uganda, Kenya,Tanzania and Rwanda did not disappoint based on the reaction of the audience to Stella Atal’s outfits. This particular session was moderated by Miss Robyn Kristie a former NTV login presenter and Miss Sheila Gashumba another presenter from NTV. Not long after the fashion presentation it was then time for the best Ugandan Mcee in the northern hemisphere to take over the microphone and true to her craft — Nancy Mugga from the UK wowed her audience preparing them for headliners of the evening.  Appearing on stage like a real diva Winnie Nwagi asked her audience if they were ready to have good time. The musawo artist took to the stage performing for a full hour before Nancy Mugga invited another darling of the crowd — David Lutalo to the stage amidst the wild cheers of the fans who had waited for these headliners to perform. Soon it was time for the guest DJs to crown the evening treating all the UNAA Causes revelers to the different music genres through the years. The party went on till 3am when the convention finally ended. The group unlike their counterparts in Boston subjected the next convention venue to a vote asking those present to choose between two choices Seattle or Las Vegas. For those who had hoped for a reunion those hopes were dashed when it also became increasingly clear that Las Vegas was the preferred destination of choice from all the wild cheers following the announcement of the group’s next convention. However it will be interesting to see if this was a good choice for UNAA Causes that is now in direct competition with UNAA that will be heading to Miami in an election year. Overall there was an improvement for UNAA Causes based on the feedback I got though some still pointed to the lack of structures and a clear leadership for the group. Others expressed concern especially beyond entertainment what was the real cause for which the group was now existing.  However following remarks made during the gala dinner by the spokes-person and coordinator of UNAA Causes Mr. David Muwanga there was a promise to those who attend their conventions not to be party to partisan politics.  He pledged that UNAA Causes will continue to build on the commitment to keep politics out of UNAA, lower convention costs and put UNAA interests first by focusing on providing first class entertainment the reason why in his view Ugandans gather every year in a thanksgiving spirit and in celebration of their heritage. Although the UNAA Causes team has made it clear that they intend to stay out of politics, the team will need to justify the presence of leading opposition figures at their convention to the UNAA Fratenity and many of their well wishers! Ugandan Diaspora News attended the Gala Dinner at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles and now brings you some of the highlights in pictures. Please note a full critic and report card of both events will follow shortly [See image gallery at www.ugandandiasporanews.com]

NTV News Video | Besigye, MPs exchange sharp barbs at UNAA convention

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 08:03

Former FDC Presidential Candidate Dr Kizza Besigye accused Parliament of wasting taxpayers money to facilitate MPs travel to attend the UNAA convention in Boston. Besigye who attended the Convention fired the salvo in the presence of the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy and Mr. Jacob Oulanyah.

However, there was a backlash as some MPs accused him of running out of steam in his defiance campaign.

Maurice Ocwol reports.

NTV News video.

UNAA Boston | Images and Highlights From The Day Two

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 09/04/2016 - 15:11

The Day two UNAA Boston festivities were underway attracting many activities that included vendors and a Besigye town-hall meet that discussed the post political situation in Uganda. However due to conflicting schedules Ugandan Diaspora News was not able to attend all events at the hotel. In a separate post we shall present the highlights from the highly charged political forum and the all white Boat Cruise.

[See image gallery at www.ugandandiasporanews.com]

UNAA Boston |Business Forum — Making Uganda Work – Highlights From Day One

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 09/04/2016 - 10:40

On Friday September 2nd in one of America’s oldest cities Boston, Massachusetts  UNAA hosted its 28th annual Ugandan North American Association Convention at the Park Plaza hotel. Among those present were both the  Uganda and US private and public sector leaders who discussed various business ideas at the UNAA Business and Trade Investment Forum.

Under the theme — “Making Uganda Work – Translating Challenges into Opportunities”.  The trade summit was opened by our Ambassador to the US Her Excellence Ambassador Olive Wonekha who in turn invited the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda to share Uganda Government commitment to the Diaspora.

Other guest speakers included Helena Fruscio, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Massachusetts, Stephen Pike, Chief Executive Officer of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center,  Mark Sullivan, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment (MOITI),  Dr. Robert Stoner, Deputy Director for Science and Technology MIT Energy Initiative, Mr. Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development & International Trade, Massachusetts, Dr. Lawrence Spinelli: Director of Outreach and Public Affairs at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Mr. Harry Sullivan, Deputy Director for Economic Affairs, US Department of State.

Local speakers from Uganda included Mr. Abel Rwendeirwe Deputy Chair Person of The National Planning Authority,  Mr. Stephen Mukweli, CEO at PostBank Uganda, Mr. Anthony Kituuka — The New Executive Director of Equity Bank Uganda, Representatives from Centenary Bank and the Chairman KASITA.

Some of the sectors discussed included Manufacturing in Uganda — Encouraging innovation, lowering costs of labor and materials, improved supplier networks, Closing the energy gap in Uganda: Affordable Energy. Enabling Socio-Economic Development, Economic Justice: Fostering Inclusive Growth. Financial Access for the Excluded
of Uganda and the Gateway into East Africa.

Ugandan Diaspora News attended the Day One from The Business Forum and now brings you some of the highlights in pictures.

[See image gallery at www.ugandandiasporanews.com]

The Road to 2021 | Beti Kamya Promises to Campaign for Museveni in the Next General Election

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 09/01/2016 - 22:23

Opposition party leader Betty Kamya, who is now the minister for Kampala, could have become the first senior political leader to openly campaign for another term for President Yoweri Museveni beyond 2021.

Kamya told a meeting of market vendors in Kawempe, a Kampala suburb, that President Museveni who is now 72, is still strong and should win another term to take his tenure in power to 40 years. Kamya also promised to vigorously campaign for the president so that he wins over 80% of the vote in Kampala.

 

President Museveni who attended the event did not directly respond to Kamya but cautioned Kampala residents against voting opposition politicians, saying they had not done much for them.

Source — NTV news video.

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