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The Ganda Boys | The Inspiring Story of Musical Group Whose Foundation is Making a Difference!

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 10/25/2016 - 06:50

Q1. Are the Ganda Boys and the Ganda Foundation the same institution? What are the major activities of the Foundation and what are the activities of the Ganda Boys?

Q1a: The Ganda Boys and their charitable organisation, the Ganda Foundation, are distinctly two separate entities and keep their trade and financial activities quite separate. The Ganda Boys are purely a music group, which composes, records and performs our songs, yet contains the inspiration for our social message and creates a beautiful conduit for telling our stories and inspiring people around the globe. The latter, our Ganda Foundation, is a UK registered charity, that is entirely concerned about delivering aid to the needy. We have operated mainly in rural Uganda since 2009, focusing on Kawolo and Mulogo hospitals (medical equipment) and Lugazi Community Primary School (educational materials and computer labs). Recently, in the last couple of years, we have taken on the wider refugee cause in both Uganda and also in Europe. (see questions 9, 10 and 11 below)

Q2. How did you come to the musical scene?

Q2a: The Ganda Boys first met together at the BBC in London in 2008, when our Ganda Boys music director, Craig Pruess, was commissioned to compose the music for a BBC prime time television series called “Moses Jones” — an award-winning drama about Ugandan musicians struggling to survive in London, UK. Former Ugandan popular group, DaTwinz (Denis Mugagga and Daniel Sewagudde) had been living in London for some years and were asked to advise the series production team on Ugandan culture, and ended up assisting Craig in writing four African-fusion songs that became part of the key drama scenes. A feature of the series was a live African band in full swing in a London “African” styled club — expertly constructed by the BBC carpenters and stylists. These scenes and songs became part of the drama. The musical collaboration for this project was so successful, and the music so appreciated (a British Academy Award nomination for Best Original Music for Craig Pruess) that it was quite effortless that Craig, Denis and Daniel would continue to work together. Ganda Boys as a name and new identity quickly followed, as did the first concerts, recordings and then more and more songs. It hasn’t stopped since then!

Q3. Why did you change to another music genre?

Q3a. The evolution from DaTwinz to the Ganda Boys can be described very succinctly as: “message”. From recording music/songs to entertain and catch the public’s ear as good popular music does, to creating songs and stories about social situations and real dreams and wider global issues — this happened naturally with the Ganda Boys. It was the chemistry between the three of us. It felt right, we felt we had a lot to say, and we have always felt that it is bringing the best of African traditional chants fused with meaningful and thought-provoking English lyrics to an international audience. It’s a far broader musical palette than DaTwinz, with a more global flavour, even orchestral string arrangements. The Queen of Buganda, the gracious Nnabagereka, has said often that the Ganda Boys have now helped put Ugandan music onto the international map, creating style and substance for an international listening audience, with direct pointers back to the rich musical heritage of Uganda.

Q4. You have been nominated for the IMA Music Awards; what impact does this nomination have on the group?

Q4a: It is similar as with the BAFTA nomination, and the Royal Television Society Awards nomination, and now being listed for a GRAMMY nomination — it is very auspicious for our international stature, especially in that it gives us a wider platform for our message to be heard. And wherever our message is heard and people resonate with the songs and feelings, it paves the way for the Ganda Foundation to have more members and more volunteers to step forward and make a difference in other people’s lives. This is a very satisfying process to witness.

Q5. How many awards have you been nominated for and how many have you won?

Q5a: In addition to those mentioned above, we have also been nominated for the Arts for Peace Award in Los Angeles. For many of these nominations, we are awaiting the results, but if we win any, you will be the first to know! Just to be nominated is a great honor and gives us greater credibility among future audiences and our peers.

Q6. I know you are a music group, who usually do music for charity, but I see many artists doing music for profit or to earn a living, what is the difference between you and them?

Q6a: We also do concerts for fees that help pay our way and/or pay for our expenses and personal needs. Sometimes we struggle a little bit. We are not wealthy financiers or businessmen, but working musicians/composers. But we are feeling a bigger calling in our unique position as ambassadors for peace, harmony and goodwill for this Earth! Have you noticed how effective and uniting it is when there are large celebrations? We gladly take part in these types of events. It is important for humanity to realise how celebration and music and uplifting songs can bring people — people who might even be on opposing sides of conflict/idealogy/religion/politics — together as one. Wherever this is happening in the world, we will be there. It is a great honour for us. This motivates us greatly.

Q7. What are the main activities of the Foundation? Where does the Ganda Foundation get funds for all your charity work?

Q7a: Our Ganda Foundation is dedicated to contributing towards sustainable and empowered communities in Uganda. In other words, we want to give aid in a way that helps people to help themselves. A very good example of this is the computer lab we are helping to build for the Lugazi Community Primary School in the Buikkwe District, east of Kampala. By bringing the internet and the wide world of learning to these young minds, we are planting the seeds for a new generation of global citizens, aware and useful members of an informed and effective work force — future leaders. A basic requirement for progress is peace and stability, and luckily this has dawned in recent times in Uganda, and therefore this is an important time to move forward. Basic health needs of the people are also urgent, so our work in the hospitals is on that fundamental humanitarian level: incubators, operating tables, medical supplies. For immediate and important projects, we often dig into our own pockets to meet urgent financial costs like shipment of medical supplies or delivery of computers. We plan ahead and hold fund-raising concerts, plus we appeal directly to our friends, families, supporters, fans and colleagues whenever something important comes up that needs to be done within our Foundation’s objectives. We have regular donations from our Members, too. It’s amazing how much people want to help a good cause.

Q8. What is the major target of the Ganda Foundation?

Q8a: To inform, to inspire and to serve! We are slightly different from other aid agencies because we approach our work from the arts: from film, music soundtracks and communication networks (social media). Because we are all experienced media people, we find it quite natural to document our Foundation activities, frame them in a meaningful way, thereby reaching out to many new people. We have seen many times in Europe that when we screen short films of our Ganda Foundation work during a fund-raising music concert, we have people step forward and actually procure hospital equipment, even doctors booking a flight to Uganda to hold workshops and deliver medical equipment! The nature of heart-to-heart communication is what we excel at and we feel very humbled and grateful that we can do this important humanitarian work in this way. When you look into the eyes of a young person who has grown up benefiting from the Ganda Foundation, life-changing — you feel that deep in your soul — well, nothing can match that experience.

Q9. Recently, you have a new campaign, The Forgotten People, please can you say something about this project, like who are the forgotten people?

Q9a: In the world today, there are over 52 million people who are displaced from their homelands. The reasons are various, from natural disasters to civil war, from famine to military conflict, from forced displacement to ethnic cleansing. But all share the same trait: intense suffering. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to live close to your land for generations, and then find yourself on a road to somewhere else, with few possessions on your back, and little chance to return home. Uganda itself has the fifth largest refugee population in the world, with an influx from Southern Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and the drought in Kenya. The Middle East conflict with Syria has created one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe in recent times with over a million refugees coming into the borders. Even homeless people, displaced within their own communities — a growing problem in the USA — are also the “forgotten people”. People ignore them. Most are not even accounted for or the subjects of aid or shelter. It’s very harsh, and society has become numb to this human disaster.

Q10. How will the forgotten people benefit from this project?

Q10a: Thanks to our international partners and visionary collaborators with the Ganda Foundation, we have identified some very modern and rapid ways that we can deliver direct aid to refugees on the move. What all refugees need are the tools and skills to reintegrate into new communities. In the case of refugees from Syria, many are professional people, and use smart phones or tablets to help navigate across foreign lands in their quest to find a place of safety and stability for their families. Our American partner, UCLA Extention programme in Los Angeles (attached to one of the largest universities in the USA, UCLA — University of California, Los Angeles), has devised effective aid IT packages consisting of 1) job re-training info; 2) language aids; 3) local customs and etiquette; and 4) contacts and local services. This type of aid can have an immediate impact on a traveling refugee. It has been inspiring to see aid organisations offering free SIM cards and data packages to refugees crossing the European borders. Many hardships and uncertainties are there, but this kind of practical aid delivers great hope and support. Refugees receiving this kind of aid don’t feel “forgotten”! For the impoverished and hopeless throngs in remote refugee camps, UCLA Extension has what are called “community based education programmes” — a brilliant concept, designed to engage all age groups to undertake basic projects together, like constructing rain collectors, or creating desert gardens — useful and resourceful activities. This creates a template for setting up education classes in a basic form. But remember, people cannot learn much if they are starving, so basic humanitarian supplies are also required for this level of aid to be effective. All it requires is the will of the international community, and the communication to the masses of affluent societies that “LIVES DO MATTER”. And that refugees, displaced and the homeless are all a human resource that can be nurtured and cultivated with love and care. Talents and rich experiences are all there, but can be so easily wasted. By believing in the future of these struggling people, is how we make this world a better place.

Q11. Please tell about your experience on working with the less privileged people.

Q11a: This has been one of the most touching and satisfying aspects of our work. One example is: we rescued an HIV/AIDS family that were very desperate, poor and without hope. One of the young teenagers in the family was bed-ridden, with severe spinal problems, and she could not study or go to school. The Ganda Foundation paid for her immediate medical treatment and then her schooling, when she was able to study. She has now graduated, enthusiastic, healthy and desiring to work for our Foundation and its local activities. To see her now is to witness such a transformation, to see the power of the human spirit — if given half a chance.

Q12. What inspired you into charity/ humanitarian work?

Q12a: besides the answer to question 11 and those direct experiences that we have had, there is an underlying principle that comes when one feels connected to humanity. Reel the question back to an understandable level, like our own blood family: Can we really be happy if the people around us are not happy? No, that is very very difficult, and we therefore take responsibility for those that we love and care for. Now, when one feels grateful for all the good things that one has in life, then it is quite a natural step to want to reach out to those less fortunate and make a difference. What made Nelson Mandela so strong inside that he could lead his people to freedom? Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jnr., Mother Theresa! There is something inside that grows and grows. It’s hard to explain, but it happens. Call it “universal love-in-action”, when one feels connected to all of humanity, then true service happens naturally, without effort. It becomes a way of life. We hardly ever talk about this side of things, as there is always so much to do! And we just get on with it.

The Ganda Boys are: Denis Mugagga, Craig Pruess and Daniel Sewagudde

www.gandaboys.com Facebook: Ganda Boys The Ganda Foundation, a UK registered charity, was established in 2009 by the three founders, Denis, Craig and Daniel www.gandafoundation.com

Daily Monitor | Bank of Uganda takes over Crane Bank

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 15:48


All the directors of Crane Bank have been suspended after Governor Emmanuel Mutebile on Thursday announce that Bank of Uganda had taken over.

According to Mutebile, Crane Bank is under-capitalised and poses systemic risk to the banking sector. However, Mr Mutebile noted that the bank remains open to customers under the management of Bank of Uganda.

“Crane Bank has been on the BOU watch list since September 2015 after regular onsite tests and external audit report. Crane Bank capital had fallen below the 50 per cent legal requirement under the law,” he added.
According to him, Crane Bank is the third largest bank in Uganda. Mr Mutebile further noted that BOU is to conduct audit on Crane Bank to determine whether the high NPLs and Bad Debts contributed to the capital erosion.

In a letter addressed to Crane Bank’s Ag. Managing director and dated October 20 read: “This is to inform you that Bank of Uganda has, with effect from today 20th 2016, pursuant to Sections 87 (3), 88 (1)(a) & (b) of the Financial Institutions Act 2004, taken over management of Crane Bank Ltd.

You are accordingly suspended from your position as Acting Managing Director and you are required to make a formal handover of your responsibilities to the Bank of Uganda Statutory Manager, Mr Edward Katimbo Mugwanya,” read part of the statement signed by Mutebile.

Mr Mutebile further said: “You shall, nonetheless, continue to serve Crane Bank Ltd as a principal support of the Statutory Manager.”

Source — Daily Monitor.

CTO | Commonwealth Candidate Mr. Patrick Masambu elected Director-General of International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO)

Uganda Diaspora - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 20:32

Commonwealth candidate Masambu elected Director-General of International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO).  During his time as chairman of the CTO Council on behalf of Uganda, Mr Masambu presided over important transformations to turn the CTO into a more member-centric organisation

LONDON, United Kingdom, October 14, 2016 — Patrick Masambu, a Uganda citizen and former chairman of the Council of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) (www.CTO.int/) has been elected director-general of the US-based International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) (www.ITSO.int/).

Mr Masambu was the only Commonwealth candidate for the position.He bagged 73 votes while the French candidate got 42. A former communications regulator for Uganda, he brings to the role over 30 years of experience, including over six years as ITSO’s current deputy director-general and director of technical affairs. He is the first sub-Saharan African to be elected to the position.

During his time as chairman of the CTO Council on behalf of Uganda, Mr Masambu presided over important transformations to turn the CTO into a more member-centric organisation.

“The election was exciting with three strong candidates. I am delighted to see Patrick elected. He brings tremendous experience to ITSO and I look forward to working with him,” said Shola Taylor shortly after Mr Masambu’s election.

In his acceptance remarks, Mr Masambu thanked all ITSO members for their support and looked forward to partnerships with international and regional organisations, including CTO, in areas such as capacity building to achieve the objectives of ITSO.

The Honourable Frank Tumwebaze, Uganda’s Minister of Information Technology & Communications equally thanked all the member states and also Mr Taylor SG for the excellent support given to Uganda to improve the ICT sector in Uganda.

ITSO’s mission is to:

  • Ensure the performance of Core Principles for the provision of international public telecommunications services, with high reliability and quality.
  • Promote international public telecommunications services to meet the needs of the information and communication society
    Protect the ITSO Parties’ Common Heritage
  • For the CTO, it is important that Commonwealth values and shared interests are represented at the highest level in international forums, in order to strengthen the position of the Commonwealth.

SOURCE — Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)

See link to learn more about Mr. Patrick Masambu. In 2014 he was a Diaspora Lifetime achievement award recipient and the video featured in this article was his acceptance speech then. Don’t miss our annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala on 30th December 2016 at Kampala Serena Hotel as we recorgnize more notable Ugandans abroad.  http://www.ugandandiaspora.com/mr-patrick-masambu-deputy-director-general-itso-international-telecommunications-satellite-organization

BOU Press Statement | Bank of Uganda Addresses Crane Bank WhatsApp Rumors!

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 05:11

Bank of Uganda Press Statement on Crane Bank — Messages circulating on Whatsapp instructing depositors to withdraw their money from Crane Bank were not issued by BoU.

It has been brought to our attention that messages have been circulating on Whatsapp instructing depositors to withdraw their money from Crane Bank within the next week. We wish to categorically state that these messages were not issued by Bank of Uganda.

The shareholders of commercial banks have the option of selling shares to new investors as they deem appropriate. However, any new investor in a commercial bank must satisfy the regulator that they are fit and proper. The BoU does not comment on any negotiations to sell shares in a bank while these negotiations are ongoing.

BoU monitors closely all commercial banks in Uganda and any actions which it takes are motivated primarily by the objective of protecting the best interests of banks’ depositors.

Christine Alupo, Director Communication

Source — Bank of Uganda website.

Arapapa Goes Global | Coterie New York, An Exclusive Sourcing Event For Fabric Providers

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:49

Taking place every September at Coterie New York, SOURCING Coterie hosts a juried selection of world-class factories and fabric providers. This exclusive sourcing event connects the most influential luxury and designer brands to a curated selection of manufacturers specializing in lower minimums and high-quality production.

Friends, ARAPAPA by Santa Anzo won a contract to showcase their products and pitch to American chain buyers in New York city. According to Santa who says she has relentlessly and passionately displayed her undoubted commitment to promote MADE IN UGANDA clothing. She also believes that this is a much needed AGOA success story that is a big win for Uganda.

On that note Santa wishes to thank the East African AGOA Hub and USAID for successfully representing Uganda to their counterparts in USA.  She also thanked her sponsors for paying the Ugandan booth as well as the marketing representative who manned the booth in New York.

Sadly, Santa Anzo points to the lack of support from the Uganda government for this sector. She wonders why it is always easier for government to financially support foreign owned firms but not we the local investors. As a unique fashion brand this would do well in promoting Uganda’s tourism potential!

Finally Santa is grateful to her crew at Arapapa for believing in her through the years in her very words — these people rock my world.  To you our clients, fans and friends….THANK YOU.

Now we need your every positive vibe and wishes for a great win for Africa, East Africa and ultimately for Uganda.  May the the beauty of our fashion,  intricately tailored bring total satisfaction to all the buyers across the world!

Santa Anzo
Chief Fashion Designer & MD
Arapapa Fashion House & Design Studio

Founder & President
Uganda International Fashion Week
1st Floor, Oasis Mall
P.O.Box 2471, Kampala-Uganda.
Tel;  +256 414 252614 Cell; +256 772 470325
facebook; ARAPAPA by Santa Anzo

London Dispatch | Uganda Convention UK 2016 Post Convention Report.

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 08:01

The Sixth annual Uganda UK Convention 2016, held at the Troxy in London, UK on the 10th September 2016 was an overwhelming success! See digital report below http://www.ugandanconventionuk.org/2016_convention_report.pdf

This year’s programme addressed the essential need-to-know topics most prevalent to Uganda, such as opportunities within the priority sectors; Infrastructure development, Power & Energy, Health-care, Agriculture & Agri-business, Real Estate, tourism, increasing intra-regional trade and developing risk mitigation strategies through collaborations and Private equity, and VC finance access.

Women and youth entrepreneurship and empowerment were taken into consideration as cross-cutting issues in the discussion of all the areas mentioned above.

Some of the high profile speakers included: Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, His Highness, David Onen Acana II, Acholi Paramount Chief, Lord Sheikh, HE Joyce Kikafunda, Hon. Jaffer Kapasi OBE, Mr Amin Mawji OBE, Hon. Winnie Kiiza, Pastor Jessica Kayanja, Hon. Cecilia Ogwal, and former Presidential candidate Retired Col. Kiiza Besigye and Lord Dolar Popat, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda and Members of Parliament.

The Chairman, also founder of the Uganda Convention, highlighted some of the and impact of the Convention since its inception in 2010, disclosing that 3475 delegates had so far attended the Convention; more than 90 Ugandans relocated to Uganda, 31 companies from Uganda had showcased their services and 67 UK companies including SME by Diaspora had also exhibited at the Conventions. On record over 7 companies were in the process of investing or had already invested in Uganda, for example Signature Group which signed an MOU with the government to build over 10,000 homes for the police.

Some of the charitable achievements included; two (2) tractors donated by a delegate at the 3rd Convention to the First Lady, and money donated by the Nagrecha’s to refurbish a primary school in Ntugamo, with over 50 disadvantaged disabled students benefiting from the Convention.

Recently at the Health Forum inspired and co-founded by the Convention Lord Popat donated $100,000 towards a hospital in Busore-Busoga.

Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, appealed to delegates that, Uganda needs to be marketed as much as possible since some people around the world still associate Uganda with the era of Idi Amin and don’t know about its current potential in trade and tourism. Rt Hon said, in the recent years, Uganda has been voted as the leading investment destination within the East African region by various agencies.

Rt Hon said that professionals are needed back home; Doctors, nurses, health professionals, engineers etc. The Parliament, has been pushing for better remuneration of our professionals – especially teachers and health practitioners. Uganda must stop exporting health workers while thousands of Ugandans are dying daily and work toward retention of these very key professionals, she added.

Some of the good news on the day were disclosed by Amin Mawji OBE, Diplomatic Representative, Aga Khan Development Network, he revealed that the Aga Khan is investing in a major world class teaching hospital in Kampala where those living in and travelling to Uganda will be able to access the same health services as those in India, Kenya and the West.

Lord Dolar Popat, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda, revealed that, during his visit to Rwanda, they reached an agreement in principle to start direct flights from Kigali to London, via Entebbe. This was his number one aim as Trade Envoy and it would make a huge difference to increasing trade with East Africa; dramatically cutting the time to get to both countries.

He disclosed that during his conversations with President Museveni, he agreed to host the summit in Kampala in 2017, which would be a perfect opportunity to showcase Uganda and its economic opportunities to British businesses. Lord Popat would be leading a very large delegation to next year’s summit.

Reflecting on the shift to a more pro-active approach by the UK Government to Uganda, he informed the delegates that they had now broadened their range of products to ensure that UK companies remained competitive and responded to increasing development and infrastructure needs in Uganda. This was a game changer, meaning that the current annual country covers for Uganda had been increased from £100m to £500m. This would allow them to support major projects in Uganda as well as smaller ones, and also a number of large projects were also under consideration.

His Royal Highness Onen David Acana II, Acholi Paramount Chief stated that over the years Acholi had been in the news all over for the wrong reasons. The conflict that characterised the 1980’s, 90’s and part of 2000 closed out this potentially rich region from engaging meaningfully in trade and investment opportunities using its resources. He said that the situation had changed and Acholiland was slowly opening up and getting positioned as a key player in trade and investment in Uganda.

Henry Ngabirano, Managing Director, Uganda Coffee Development Authority, said that Uganda had come up with a national strategy to make its position in the coffee global economy after realizing that the best value in value chain was brand. The new coffee drive was motivated by the fact that in the next five years the market would require 50-60m bags and Uganda was best placed to be a big player. The Big boys like Brazil and Vietnam had maximum production levels and exhausted growth avenues. This was a great indication for investment opportunities.

Dr. Kizza Besigye, former President, Forum For Democratic Change confirmed what others before him had said, that truly Uganda was the best country an investor could come to and he continued to stress the point the description of the “Pearl of Africa” made by Sir Winston Churchill which was something that was deserved and an honest observation by him. He said that he had been at different countries and five continents but Uganda was a truly unique country that one could find endowed with natural resources and great and wonderful people.

However, he maintained that Uganda required strong institutions in order for investment to make sense.

Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda, Minister of State Minister for Tourism, disclosed that the Ministry was giving out concessions to construct lodges and guest houses within the ten national parks to fill the accommodation deficit. He further said that the government was planning to construct national stop-over for tourist along all motor-ways leading to national parks, these would be done at every 100 miles.

The government was also embarking on domestic tourism, a move to boost domestic tourism, the campaign would be a monthly touring programme, which would also be coupled by another programme called “Home Stay”, this was intended to reduce on wildlife human conflict, and in turn it would help residents within the national park perimeter to house tourists and earn a living. The government would help them to improve on their housing facilities.

Hon. Michael Werikhe Kafabusa, Minister of State for Trade and industry. He said that Uganda was a member of the East African Community, COMESA and SADC and the Tripartite Zone. This was a big market of over 590 million people which an investor can tap into directly or indirectly through Uganda. Uganda development corporation was being re-capitalised with 500 billion Ug Shs. to help people who intended to invest in the country and needed to access finance from Uganda.

Hon. Byaruhanga reported that the government was working on establishing a desk at the Entebbe airport, fast tracking Ugandans from the Diaspora visiting and leaving the country.
He also added that the government was looking at changing the ways Diasporas registers their vehicles from the blue number plate which compromises Diaspora security to robbers and thieves who follow them home and rob them.

During the second of the convention at the House of Lords, hosted by Lord Sheikh one of the issues raised by members of Uganda parliament included; the difficulty of acquiring United Kingdom Visa ­ The Lord Popat asked the delegation to write to him officially and raise the concern. He promised to follow up the matter with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Lord Popat informed their counterparts that the break way was the better solution for Britain since it gave her independence and the ability to make her own decisions unlike when she was still under EU i.e. Britain would be at liberty to do business with whomever she choose unlike before where collective responsibility was required and that one of the prospects for Britain was reviving its relations with Africa at her own terms and conditions.

Other issues of concern were; Ease of doing business; the concern was that there were many procedures and processes involved in making investments in Uganda which slowed and discouraged would be investors; Bureaucracy; slowness in decision making process by the responsible authorities which frustrated would be investors; Corruption; this vice could not be tolerated by the British people who wanted transparency at every stage.

Finally, at the house of Lords, a Way forward was agreed that:
• On investment, it was noted that there was a need for closer ties and relations between the two Parliaments. To achieve this desire of building close ties Sir William the Chairman of African Parliament Group (APG) informed the Members from Uganda that they could arrange for meetings through the British Embassy in Uganda, they should also use the avenue of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as well as Inter Parliamentary Union
• Uganda to use the opportunity of the available trade opportunities to revive Uganda airline.
• Establish a Joint Parliamentary group composed of both Parliaments through the Lord Sheikh for future discussions.
• Sir William and Hon. Cecilia expressed the need for a delegation of Members of Parliament from both Parliaments to visit each other’s Parliament.

See complete convention photo gallery here — http://www.ugandanconventionuk.org/2016-conventions-conference-gallery/

Source — UK Convention Chair!

Death Announcement | Dallas Mourns The Loss of Adam Senyonga a longtime Resident of DFW – Texas

Uganda Diaspora - Mon, 10/10/2016 - 06:43

By Samuel Muwanguzi — In Summary: His home had become the defacto ‘community center’ of joy for all Ugandans living within the DFW area. He was a man with a big heart; generous, jovial, welcoming, and easy to love and difficult to hate. He was a man of the people; engaged in all community activities and hosted many social functions at his residence, an open and warm dwelling.

With his wife Aunt Betty, the couple welcomed, fathered, mothered, and grandparented all; young and old. Africans in the Diaspora living in DFW area and many others across racial, class, color, gender, and generational divides found a welcoming space at 2969 Timber creek Trail, Fort Worth, TX 76118.

Uncle Adam Senyonga has gone too soon for the community to comprehend. He simply vanished without warning; no sickness, no goodbye to those he loved and those who dearly loved him. The gap he leaves in the Ugandan community living within DFW area is too huge to fill. To those living, the challenge he has left is to immortalize his legacy, a personable personality that endeared many to him, to his home, and to his family.

No amount of words can express the extent to which the Ugandan community is grieving and enduring the demise of Uncle Adam Senyonga, the man of the people. His sudden death has shocked the entire community into a frantic soul-searching exercise to perfect their own imperfections before their individualized and unknown minute, hour, and day will finally strike. Uncle Adam, you have challenged us, put us on the spot, confused us, beaten us black and blue, and sent us into disarray.

Meanwhile, a daily vigil is ongoing at his residence at 2969 Timber creek Trail, Fort Worth, TX 76118. Plans to raise funds to transport the body of the late Uncle Adam Senyonga to Uganda for burial are also in full swing. An App, Square Cash Send Money for Free has been created to download and send contributions (money) through the phone number of Rita Naiga (817) 986 4221.

A go fund me account to cover funeral expenses for Uncle Adam has also been opened at: https://www.gofundme.com/2tend74y utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=sharing_image&utm_campaign=invite_n

Contributors are requested to make donations and help in spreading the word about this humanitarian cause. We will do what is humanly possible to pay our respects to your remains and emulate your good deeds. We wish we could do a little more or somewhat better. But alas, we, like you, were, and still are, woefully inadequate. RIP, our Uncle, father, Jjajja, brother, and mukwano gwa bangi, Adam!

Fort Worth, Texas—Uncle Adam Senyonga, as he was popularly known, died suddenly Friday October 07 at around 6:00PM. According to a family source, Uncle Adam Senyonga collapsed in the bathroom at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) international airport and was pronounced dead by medical authorities at the neighboring Baylor Hospital in Grapevine where he was rushed by 911. Family sources say he had just dropped a passenger from Lovefield Airport to DFW airport after 5:45PM when he went to the bathroom, threw-up, and collapsed. “This could all have happened within 15 minutes after he had gone through the toll way at DFW International Airport at 5:45PM, dropped the passenger off, went to the bathroom, threw-up, collapsed, and was found at 6:00PM,” a member of the family told mourners who rushed to his residence in Fort Worth Friday night.

Uncle Adam Senyonga is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years, Aunt Betty Senyonga. Messages of condolences to the bereaved family from relatives and friends continue flowing in from across the United States, Uganda, and elsewhere expressing shock at the abrupt death of this beloved member of the Dallas community.

Source — East African Diaspora Media Watch

Kigali Marriott Hotel | Marriott International Opens Doors for Business, Tourism and Career Opportunities in Rwanda

Uganda Diaspora - Mon, 10/10/2016 - 03:37

Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR) officially opened the doors of its first Marriott Hotel in Rwanda, bringing the signature brand’s welcoming service and world-class amenities to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in its nearly 90-year history.

“Rwanda is going through an economic transformation and we are proud to be a part of it,” said Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson, who attended the Kigali Marriott’s opening ceremony with political dignitaries and executives including Alex Kyriakidis, Marriott’s President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa region. “Coupled with that transformation is a mutual promise for opportunity — both for Marriott as a hospitality company and for the associates and partners who will help us succeed in this market.”

Highlighting the importance of hospitality’s role in Rwanda, the World Travel & Tourism Council says Rwanda’s travel and tourism industry generated 7.1 percent of the country’s GDP in 2015 and predicts it to rise at 4.1 percent annually through 2025. Known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is becoming a popular destination for meetings and tourism.

The 254-room Marriott in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, is creating approximately 500 jobs and will be among the country’s biggest and most luxurious properties, further enhancing Kigali’s reputation as a hub for conferences and conventions. The hotel will offer world-class meeting spaces with modern amenities to cater to the demands of this rapidly growing market.

“I have the privilege of being able to open hotels in one of the most fascinating and fastest-growing parts of the world,” said Kyriakidis. “But there is something about this project that is particularly fulfilling. Every time we open a hotel, we know there is an enormous positive impact on a community. But here, in Rwanda, that impact is magnified by the sustainable approach we have taken to both staffing and supplying the hotel.”

Marriott has been working with community-based organizations to help staff the hotel and supply it with locally produced goods, underscoring Rwanda’s goal of building up its core industries including tourism and agriculture. The hotel, for instance, has partnered with the Akilah Institute for Women to recruit and train Rwandan women for supervisory positions at its Kigali location. The Akilah Institute is an academy that enables young women from Rwanda and other East African countries to achieve economic independence with market-relevant education and training. Marriott International has invited nearly 40 Akilah graduates to work and train in Marriott hotels in Africa and the Middle East. After receiving on-the-job skills and leadership training, the first wave of graduates have returned to Rwanda to join the management team at the Kigali Marriott where they will help welcome guests from the around the world.

“Marriott’s placement of our graduates at the managerial level and beyond exemplifies our mission to enable women not just to find jobs, but to develop their careers with a globally respected brand and community,” says Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, Co-Founder & CEO, Akilah Institute.

Marriott International has also been working with Women for Women International and the Relationship Coffee Institute, both of which are supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, one of the largest investors in the region. The local Women for Women Opportunity Center is equipping Rwandan women with the skills needed to apply for entry-level hotel positions or to supply the hotel with goods such as baskets, cheese and honey. The hotel has hired more than 25 women from the training center.

The Relationship Coffee Institute provides women with a new marketplace for locally sourced premium coffee, including the hotel. The Kigali Marriott’s Question Café serves the locally sourced coffee, grown by local smallholder farmers and served by graduates of this economic development training program.

“The opening of this Marriott hotel is providing long anticipated market activity for Rwandan women. Their café in the hotel provides the global business community with a perfect example of how business, philanthropy and government can work together to improve people’s lives,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Beyond coffee, the Kigali Marriott is weaving in an array of local goods throughout the property, including in the retail store and on menus. The hotel sources locally grown products such as beef, poultry and produce, and incorporates more sustainable materials to ultimately help reduce the hotel’s overall footprint.

The opening of the hotel comes a little over a week after Marriott International completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The transaction created the world’s largest hotel company, with Marriott International operating or franchising more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, in over 110 countries. With the completion of the acquisition, Marriott’s distribution more than doubled in the Middle East and Africa combined.

Source — Marriott International Press Office

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

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