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Seasonal Greetings | Letter to a Kampala Friend By Muniini K. Mulera In Toronto

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 01:22

I need your financial help this Christmas
Christmas is here again. The tills and moneyboxes of the merchants ring with joy, not in remembrance of the saviour’s birth but in celebration of the saver’s spending spree.

This Christmas, the average American will spend US$929 (Sh. 3.3 million) on Christmas gifts. The figure for Canada is about US$600 (Sh. 2.2 million); Norway, US$592 (Sh. 2.1 million); and Britain, US$350 (Sh. 1.3 million). These figures do not include spending on decorations, gifts to self, food and other entertainment.

I do not have the current figure for Uganda, but a New Vision newspaper survey in 2014 showed that the average Ugandan respondent planned to spend a maximum of US$22 (Sh.80,000) that Christmas. All these figures represent hefty change, although how much people spend on Christmas is not my business. If you have the cash, have a great time.

However, I ask that you remember me. I really need your help. I mean financial help. Just a fraction of your Christmas budget. Oh, I do not ask you to give me the money. I ask that you support a cause that is very dear to my heart, namely, accessible quality education for the children and young people of Uganda.

All over Uganda are young people who are hungry for knowledge and employable skills. Like you and me who were beneficiaries of the generosity of strangers that set up an excellent education system, these young people need our support so that they too can have a secure future.

Education is a liberating asset that trumps everything else that we consider important. Not even healthcare beats it. Good education enables individuals and communities to live healthier lives and access better health care.

That is why I ask every Ugandan at home and abroad who has a bit of money, to identify a credible not-for-profit education project in their home district and give it a generous gift this Christmas.

The reason I encourage people to give money to education projects in their home area or region is because charity begins at home. Giving back to a community that made you is a joyful obligation.

Second, one is more likely to keep track of the progress of a project in their home area than one that is far removed. Third, the sum total of “locals” giving to their native communities is a simultaneous national investment in a common vision.

Of course you can give to your community and another community of your choosing. What is key is that you give in support of quality education.

This Christmas, I wish to applaud some individuals that have chosen to invest in efforts to build state-of-the-art non-profit education programs in Uganda.

Phoebe and James Gonahasa of Toronto, Canada, have been working very hard to complete the Amazing Love School in Namutumba, Busoga, an underserviced area that desperately needs a good quality school.

Phoebe and James are working with their community to create a school that, in addition to the standard curriculum, promotes good moral values and community service. They need only Sh.250 million ($70,000) to complete this not-for-profit school that offers enormous long-term value to Uganda.

Akello Miriam Atoro, a teacher who, until recently, lived and worked in Canada and the United Kingdom, will open the Gulu Montessori School (GMS) in January 2017. Located in Laroo Division of Gulu Municipality, the mission of the GMS is “to provide an exceptional educational experience that inspires a love of learning and nurtures the young child’s mind, heart and soul through the use of creative Arts and Sciences.”

Miriam, a woman of great faith and integrity, is spending her own savings to create a not-for-profit school that will be open to fee-paying students, but will offer full scholarships to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. To start a fully functioning school, Miriam and her team will need Sh. 970 million ($270,000).

Twesigye Jackson Kaguri of Michigan, USA, the founder of the Nyaka Aids Orphans Project in Kanungu District, continues to receive international acclaim and support because of the impressive results of his team’s hard work.

Central to his work with the Nyakagyezi (Nyaka) community is a major investment in education that has seen the construction of a school with modern facilities. Kaguri and his team serve as an inspiration for those who seek positive transformation of communities, literally one brick at a time.

A small group of Banyakigezi have supported the Kigezi Education Fund (KEF) since its formation in 2003. Through KEF, the flagship project of the International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB), these Banyakigezi who live in Canada, UK, USA and Uganda have funded three fully equipped Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centres (Rukungiri, Kisoro and Nyarushanje Technical Institutes), and an electrical and plumbing college program at Nyakatare Technical Institute.

The Board of ICOB has also approved funding for a brand new ICT Centre at Kizinga Technical School in Kabale District that is expected to be fully operational by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

These and other not-for-profit efforts deserve your financial support. I recommend these four projects without reservation because I know they are led with integrity, transparency and fidelity to accountability.

I encourage every community in Uganda to invest in accessible high quality education of our children and young citizens. The best Christmas gift is one that gives hope and opportunities through quality education for young Okello, Mukasa, Kamure, Gidudu and Rubaganzya.
I wish you a very blessed, happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

Please donate to the Kigezi Education Fund at

Royal Events | The Kabaka To Host The Buganda Diaspora Day Event On 28th Dec 2016 At Lubiri, Mengo

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 18:05

Press Release — The Buganda Diaspora Day 2016 organized by the Buganda Government will be held on 28th December 2016 at 3pm in Lubiri Mengo. This year’s organizing committee Chairman is the Buganda Government Minister of Health, Ow’ekitiibwa Dr. Ben Kiwanuka Mukwaya and will be deputized by Ow’ekitiibwa Bwenvu, Buganda Government Minister of State for Buganda External Affairs.

To enable the organizing committee to present a befitting and honorable event, adopted a paid for event with afew distinguished invites. Each adult will be charged US$50. A family of two with one minor (a child under 17 years old) will be charged US$100. Addition children, age between 12-17 each will be charged US$25. The Diaspora subjects are encouraged to bring your relatives.

The Buganda Diaspora Day organizing committee further informed all Buganda Diasporas who plan to attend this year’s event that it would like to identify a youngster/youth (8-17 years) raised in the Diaspora and who can recite or read a simple Luganda poem. The poem will be composed and written by the Luganda Association. Secondly, the organizing committee wishes to identify a youngster/youth, raised in the diaspora, who can share his/her experience (including challenges) of growing up in the diaspora.

This may be presented in English. Anyone (including families) traveling to Buganda for this year’s Christmas holidays who plans to attend the Buganda Diaspora Day event and wishes to propose the identified/capable youngster/youth is requested to please contact any of the Kabaka’s Representatives.

Long live Ssaabasajja Kabaka!

Diaspora Events | UIA – Home is Best Diaspora Summit 2016 – Dec 21st Hotel Africana

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:58

Press Release — Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bank of Uganda, is organizing the Home is Best Diaspora Summit 2016 scheduled for Wednesday 21st December 2016 at the Hotel Africana in Kampala.

The Diaspora Home is Best Summit is one of the major efforts to bring the Ugandan Diaspora into active participation in private investment home, not only as a contribution to the national development, but to provide a ‘soft landing’ for members when they decide to come back home.

The annual summit brings together a cross-section of Ugandans in Diaspora, as well as the public and private sector in Uganda. It takes place in December when most of Ugandans trek home to join their families during the festive season.

The summit focuses on Uganda’s investment opportunities and challenges, as well as the role the Ugandan Diaspora can play in investing back home and in mobilizing the international business community to invest in the country. Each summit pays special attention to priority sectors like agriculture (commercial farming and agro-possessing), services like education, health care and tourism accommodation, mining, ICT, multimedia etc.

Over the years, since 2004, the summits have acted as a platform for the Ugandan Diaspora to present their views and issues to the Government of Uganda on the investment climate and issues to do with the social, economic and political enablers in the country’s quest for development.

The Summits have since been hosted in Kampala, Mbale, Gulu, and Masaka, taking on a regional approach to enable the Ugandans in the Diaspora to appreciate the developments and investment potential all over the country.

This year’s Summit, though held in Kampala, will focus on the investment potential and investment developments in Eastern Uganda. The Summit’s focus this year is on how the Ugandans in the Diaspora can contribute to Uganda’s goal of becoming a Middle Income country by 2020.

UIA expects about 300 participants to attend the Summit with a third of these being Ugandans in the Diaspora. Hon Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, is expected to preside over the Summit.

The Diaspora Summit would not be complete without the annual Diaspora Breakfast and Gala organized by the Ugandan Diaspora Network (UDN). UIA is privileged to partner with the Network, whose Patron is Dr. Maggie Kigozi and we are grateful to Mr. Ronnie Mayanja  for his tireless efforts at ensuring that the scheduled Diaspora events take place as planned every year.

Thank you very much

Mr Lawrence Byensi
Ag Executive Director
Uganda Investment Authority

Diaspora Gala 2016 | Featured Artist Winnie Nwagi — Unveils New Music Video “Kano Koze!”

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 18:21

Winnie “Nakanwagi” Nwagi is a Ugandan singer signed to Swangz Avenue, best known for her award winning single Musawo. She was the second runner-up in the second season of “CocaCola Rated Next” in 2014. She has released a number of songs including Embeera, Katono Katono, Gwenoonya and Kyowulila.

She released her commercially successful single Musawo in early 2016. Musawo was played on both radio and television and attracted attention the Ugandan singer Irene Ntale when she did an acoustic version of the song. We NOW bring you Winnie Nwagi’s latest music video. Catch her LIVE at the Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala — 2016 edition.

Inspiring Stories | Meet the Real King of Katwe — Coach Robert Katende

Mon, 12/05/2016 - 00:58

By Ronnie Mayanja — The inspiring story of Robert Katende, the man behind the success of Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi, begins in a small town in Kiboga District where his teenage mother had to place her son in the care of his grandmother. Uprooted by the Ugandan Bush War insurgency of those years, Robert and his grandmother eventually made it to Kampala.

Later, living in the slums of Nakulabye, he was taken in by two different aunties. Against all odds, he made it to Kyambogo University where he pursued a degree in civil engineering. It was there that he started volunteering with Sports Outreach and two years later, in 2002, he began working for that organization full time.

Having played for Miracle Football Club, Top TV F.C. and Sports Outreach Ambassadors (SOA) F.C. under Coach Aloysius Kyazze, Robert’s ability to help young people with their soccer skills came easily. He also worked with Divine Waters Ministry in partnership with Sports Outreach to drill wells in Gulu. His exemplary and innovative leadership in 15 years of service have seen him as Project Coordinator in Katwe, Sports Outreach Director, Kampala and Nairobi, and more recently Sports Outreach Director for Africa.

He introduced and developed chess programs in the slums of Kampala, Nairobi and in the internally displaced people’s camps (IDP) in Gulu, Northern Uganda, an area severely affected by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Katende helped the young program participants attain the skills needed to become a credit to their communities.

The impact of the chess ministry program has now hit the international scene with the Walt Disney Pictures movie, Queen of Katwe, which depicts the life of Phiona Mutesi and her rise from the slums to become a chess champion. Robert Katende worked on the movie as a consultant, helping in particular with the chess scenes.

After running the chess program in Katwe for two years, Robert reached out to the Uganda Chess Federation to have the kids participate in the National Secondary School Chess Tournament. After being turned down several times, he persisted and they were eventually given a slot as guest participants, since his program was not part of a school.

Their momentous appearance at the National Secondary School Tournament in 2005 simply amazed the Uganda Chess Federation officials and participants. The kids from Katwe had come from disadvantaged backgrounds and were very young, but the chess board was the equalizer, allowing them to prove their abilities.

The Federation made Robert the Chairman of the Chess in Schools Committee and later Director of Development. In 2006 Phiona became National Junior Chess Champion of Uganda, a title she held for three consecutive years. In 2009 the Katwe chess players represented Uganda at the African Children’s International Chess Tournament held in Sudan. It was during this period that ESPN, the sports network, wrote about Phiona and Robert’s successes.

In 2010 Phiona qualified to represent Uganda at the World Chess Olympiad in Russia at the age of 14. After the ESPN article the writer was inspired write a book to tell the story of Phiona Mutesi and coach Robert Katende. Phiona later represented Uganda at the World Chess Olympiad in Turkey and the World Chess Federation recognized Robert’s work that used chess as a vehicle of positive social impact for less privileged children in the slums. He was later appointed the General Secretary for the Social Action Commission of the World Chess Federation.

Robert has been asked to share his formula for success in other African countries. This has taken him to Rwanda, Kenya and Cameroon where he has conducted chess seminars for instructors. Currently Robert runs chess centers in five different Kampala slums and seven centers in Gulu communities. He also travels the world inspiring others to unlock their potential and has spoken at the Women in the World Summit, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation staff conference, Sports Outreach banquets and is a member of the American Speakers Bureau.

With degrees in water engineering, information technology and computer engineering, Robert also volunteers to help secondary school and university students. Robert and his wife Sarah live in Kampala and have three beautiful daughters–Mercy, Hope and Queen. They host other children he now mentors. Next year he also plans to launch the Robert Katende Foundation to help inspire and transform lives by empowering others.

Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi will be Diaspora Lifetime Achievement Award recipients at the annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala Event — Dec. 30, 6:00 PM at the Serena Hotel, Kampala. (

A special thank-you to Coach Robert Katende for granting Ugandan Diaspora News this interview —  This story can only be reproduced by the express permission of the author! 

Inspirational Music | Sinach – I Know Who I am (Official Video)

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 23:40

Sinach, an award winning songwriter, worship leader and recording artist is a key member of the LoveWorld music team of Christ Embassy who started singing at a very young age. She is one of the most famous singers in Nigeria today with her hit gospel albums and hit singles.

One such popular tunes getting crossover appeal and powerplay across Africa is — I know who I am. We at Ugandan Diaspora News proudly present this inspirational video with the hope that it will inspire somebody today!!

Event Video | The Ugandan Diaspora Business Breakfast and Gala Dinner Official TVC

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 22:43

The 6th Annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala will be held at Kampala Serena Hotel on 29th – 30th Dec 2016. We shall also celebrate some notable Ugandan Diaspora Success Stories. We are now pleased to unveil the official TVC for the event. Please share with your networks! Online ticket purchases can be made using eventbrite —

Meet Prof. Dr Steven Kaddu – Diaspora Award Recipient 2016 | Deputy Head of the Dermatopathology – Department of Dermatology, Medical University and State Hospital of Graz, Austria

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 16:58

Prof. Dr Steven Kaddu is currently Professor of Dermatology and deputy head of the Dermatopathology section at Department of Dermatology, Medical University and State Hospital of Graz, Austria.  Prof. Dr. Kaddu was born in Uganda and graduated in Medicine at Makerere University, Kampala in 1982. Following graduation, he worked in various hospitals in Uganda and Kenya, before leaving for Austria in 1989 to specialize in Dermatology.

Prof. Dr. Kaddu is an internationally well-known and well-recognized expert in the fields of Dermatology and Dermatopathology, where he has widely published over 60 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals and contributed as author and/or co-author to a number of dermatology books, including standard textbooks. He is a former recipient of several scientific awards and grants including a Fullbright grant to Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA in 2000 for a fellowship in soft tissue tumors of the skin. Prof. Dr. Kaddu is the first black African to be awarded the distinguished title of “University Professor” at the southern Austrian Medical University of Graz.

Prof. Kaddu’s life and professional journey and experience may partly mirror those of a number of his doctor colleagues who left Uganda in the ‘80s to work abroad elsewhere, however, his challenges have been unique and his accomplishments rather extraordinary.

In 2007, Prof. Dr. Steven Kaddu together with partners from the University of Pennsylvania, USA, especially Dr. Carrie Kovarik founded the Africa Teledermatology Project and Website. The network was aimed at creating a broad dermatologic teleconsultation platform linking medical centers in sub-Saharan Africa involved in treatment of skin diseases, to specialized dermatology units in Africa, Europe, and USA. Until 2015, over 1300 problematic cases had been processed on the project website. The initiation of the site was funded in part by  the Commission for Development Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences  and the American Academy of Dermatology.

While in Austria, Prof. Kaddu actively  participates in a number of initiatives aimed at improving skin health care in African immigrants, including having started a specialized clinic for treatment of problematic skin conditions in dark skin individuals and people with skin of color at the State Hospital in Graz. As a role model, he has been the focus of a documentary film project (“who dares, wins”) aimed at promoting integration of African immigrants in Austria.

Prof. Kaddu is married with 2 children. His a keen painter in his leisure time with a number of solo art exhibitions in Austria. Prof. and Mrs. Kaddu are also actively involved in a range of charitable projects, including contributions to supporting a large orphanage in Kampala.

Prof. Dr. Stephen Kaddu will be among the Recipients of this year’s Ugandan Diaspora Awards #2016 Edition!


Fri, 12/02/2016 - 16:10

Dr. James Mwangi, Chairman of Kenya Vision 2030 and Group CEO of Equity Bank will be holding diaspora meetings in the United States of America to discuss “Emerging Investment Opportunities in East Africa”.

During the dinner meetings, Kenyans, Ugandans, Rwandans and Tanzanians living in the USA will be exposed to available opportunities for investing back home while they live and work abroad.

The meetings will take place in various cities in the USA from 8th December – 12th December 2016;

  • On Thursday 8th December, the dinner meeting will be held in Los Angeles at WYNDHAM Anaheim Garden Grove Hotel, Harbor Blvd. garden Grove, CA 92840, starting 6:00pm
  • Friday 9th December, the dinner meeting will take place in Dallas at Sheraton Hotel, located at 4440 W. John Carpenter Freeway, Irving TX 75063, starting 6:00pm
  • On Saturday 10th December, the dinner meeting will be held in Atlanta at Radisson Hotel Atlanta-Marietta 1775 Parkway Place SE.Marietta GA 30067, starting 6:00pm
  • Sunday 11th December, the dinner meeting will take place in Boston at Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Centre located at 1657 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01701, starting 4:00pm
  • The New Jersey dinner meeting will be held on Monday 12th December at Radisson Hotel,21 Kingsbridge Rd Piscataway, NJ 08854, starting 6:00pm

Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Book now through or visit the following Equity Bank Facebook Pages, for Kenya KeEquityBank, for Tanzania TzEquityBank, for Uganda UgEquityBank and for Rwanda RwEquityBank to book your seat. Entry to all the dinner meetings is free. See you then.

Diaspora Banking, Work globally, Bank locally.

The Washington Post | There is new violence in Western Uganda – Here’s why.

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 00:38

Ugandan soldiers gather in the town of Kasese on Nov. 28. Rights groups are urging Ugandan security forces to show restraint as they violently crack down on the members of a tribal militia in a remote area near the border with Congo. (Arne Gills/AP)

The Washington Post — In Western Uganda, police and military on Sunday raided the Rwenzururu kingdom’s palace in the town of Kasese. The crackdown on suspected militia members among King Mumbere’s royal guards left palace buildings ablaze and at least 46 royal guards dead. Police arrested another 139 royal guards and airlifted the Omusinga (king) to the Nalufenya counterterrorism detention center to face murder charges.

The fighting came after clashes on Saturday in Kasese and attacks on police after royal guards reportedly threw an IED at security patrols. On Sunday morning, President Yoweri Museveni called on King Mumbere to surrender his royal guards and prevent further violence. The king — who has consistently rejected allegations of a move for a separate state or the existence of the militia — failed to oblige, and security forces raided the palace. By Tuesday morning, the weekend’s death toll in the district had risen to 126.

Other skirmishes last week left eight suspected militia members dead when security forces cleared a suspected training camp of the Bakonzo militia, reportedly a group vying for an independent Yira State for the Bakonzo people and their fellow tribesmen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Banande. Both Kasese and Bundibugyo districts, in the Rwenzururu heartland, saw large-scale clashes between security forces and civilians in July 2014 (100 deaths) and March 2016 (50 deaths).

But with no credible investigations of previous clashes, the identity and motives of those instigating violence in earlier years remain murky. The region’s recurring conflicts likely reflect long-standing tensions in the region, exaggerated by the government’s patronage policies and militarized responses to violence.

A long history of ethnic struggle in Western Uganda

This region has a long history of armed resistance involving minority ethnic groups struggling for recognition. In colonial times, the Bakonzo ethnic group felt marginalized and oppressed by the Tooro kingdom. In 1962, the Bakonzo (together with the Bamba, another marginalized ethnic group) launched the Rwenzururu rebellion, seeking to establish an independent kingdom. This conflict helped give rise to the NALU rebel group, which later joined up with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

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In 2009, the Ugandan government recognized the Rwenzururu kingdom as a cultural institution and crowned Charles Mumbere as the king.

It is important to understand that kingdom recognition and the creation of districts are the result of the government’s patronage politics, in which the state and its resources are used to consolidate the regime’s power, particularly for electoral reasons. Control over Uganda’s districts and kingdoms means control over public funds and land — as well as political representation and mobilization.

[Museveni got more votes than love in Uganda’s election]

So the recognition of the kingdom was an apparent attempt by the Ugandan government to swing the votes in a region that had overwhelmingly voted opposition. It didn’t work — the region still voted for the opposition in the 2011 general elections and the creation of the new kingdom created new tensions.

Recognizing the Rwenzururu kingdom created new problems

On the one hand, minority tribes in the region — the Bamba and the Basongora — now claimed separate kingdoms of their own: the Rwenzururu kingdom was regarded as a representation of the majority Bakonzo, rather than all ethnic groups of the region. Other tribes therefore sought to establish their own kingdoms. On the other hand, the Bakonzo saw these other kingdoms as a deliberate strategy of the government to limit the influence of the Rwenzururu kingdom. All actions of the government were therefore perceived as an intentional divide-and-rule plan to weaken their power. This led to major tensions.

In June 2014, President Museveni yielded to the demands of the region’s second-largest group, and granted recognition to the Bamba kingdom in Bundibugyo district. Weeks later, Bakonzo youth staged attacks in various localities, triggering reprisal killings and counter-operations by security forces. The government arrested hundreds of suspected attackers, mainly Bakonzo youth and a handful of Rwenzururu kingdom officials, and charged them before military tribunals — but eventually let them go.

No in-depth investigation into what happened took place, and there was no substantive reconciliation initiated between the various actors involved in the conflict. Instead, the government increased its military and security presence, and largely delegated the peace process to the kingdoms themselves. In doing so, the government has overemphasized the ethnic character of the conflict, and has left wider frustrations with the national government — a main cause for the 2014 attacks — unaddressed.

After the February 2016 general election, deadly violence returned after disputed local council elections in two areas. The government blamed an alleged militia loyal to the Rwenzururu king. And local politicians instead blamed the government and police for raising tensions when they deployed security forces in the region.

Land conflicts and marginalization are common

Underlying these tensions are feelings of marginalization: various ethnic groups feel their communities are left out of employment opportunities or access to land. Land conflicts — including agriculturalists vs. cattle-keepers, land grabbing, tribal migration issues — are rife in Kasese, the country’s fifth-most populous district. Fueling these land conflicts are feelings of neglect: The Bakonzo believe the government favors other ethnic groups (such as the Bamba). “Ethnic” land tensions are a translation of frustrations with the Ugandan government and its perceived favoritism.

Furthermore, high numbers of unemployed youth mean that opportunity costs to engage in violence are low. At the same time, traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution through elders have lost influence.

So the existence of the Rwenzururu kingdom in combination with perceived marginalization by all ethnic groups involved has created an explosive situation. All sides of the conflict remain locked into their traditional roles and actions — the kingdom(s) seek to portray their symbolic power, while the government continues to rely on a combination of military power and patronage. In doing so, the government is primarily trying to consolidate the regime’s electoral power, but is further invigorating the Bakonzo’s frustrations with its perceived divide-and-rule policy. Both mechanisms continue to add fuel to the fire, rather than dousing the tensions. In October, for instance, the Rwenzururu kingdom celebrated its 50th anniversary, but denied security forces access to the ceremonial grounds. In turn, security forces stepped up their patrols in Kasese.

This impasse shows little sign of abating — Museveni recently created four new districts in Kasese district, a move rejected by opposition MPs as well as the Rwenzururu kingdom.

Addressing the root causes — through in-depth investigations into recent events and dialogue between all concerned parties — is key to resolving the current situation. A strictly military solution and short-term electoral calculations are likely to further fuel tensions rather than restore stability.

Anna Reuss is a Kampala-based political and security analyst. She is pursuing her PhD at the Universities of Ghent and Antwerp. You can follow her on Twitter.

Kristof Titeca is a lecturer at the Institute of Development Policy and Management at the University of Antwerp. You can follow him on Twitter.

Opinion | Western neo-imperialism and Africa’s weaknesses By President Yoweri Museveni

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 18:57

In recent months, two western ruling groups have suffered defeat in the elections. Although it is not the culture of Africans to talk about other people’s “houses” (internal affairs of other people), I feel compelled to comment on the events in the USA, Britain and Hungary in recent times because they are somehow connected with Africa and the Middle East.

In the month of June, our friend David Cameron suffered a defeat in the UK in a Referendum as to whether to remain in the EU or not. In the month of October, the Government of Hungary called a Referendum against immigration to the chagrin of elements of the elite in Europe where the voters rejected the refugee policy of the EU and, recently, Mr. Trump won the election in the USA against our longtime friend, Hillary Clinton. Although Hillary won the popular vote, Mr. Trump won the Electoral College vote. That is their system which we must respect.

Although there are other reasons that we outsiders cannot easily know, there is one factor that has turned into a curse for the perpetrators. This is the factor of conducting wars of aggression against Sovereign States that are, moreover, members of the UN. In the last 16 years, since the attack on the twin-towers, in New York in the year 2001, the USA and the other western countries have attacked Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Of these wars by the West against Independent and Sovereign States, two were clearly wars of aggression; they were unjust wars.
It is only the war in Afghanistan that was a just War because some confused group, called Al-Quaeda, intoxicated with religious chauvinism, had carried out aggression against the USA. It was correct that the USA responded and dislodged the Talibans and their allies, Alquaeda, from Afghanistan. We all supported this.
It is the other attacks that were wrong and unjust. These were the attacks on Iraq and Libya. In the case of Iraq, it was said that they had weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical). In the end, those weapons were not there. In any case, who is supposed to have the weapons of mass destruction and who is supposed not to and why? Why doesn’t the world concentrate on getting rid of those dangerous weapons rather than waging wars to maintain monopoly over those criminal and cowardly weapons? Why do some countries want to maintain monopoly over those criminal and cowardly weapons? In the case of Libya, it was because Gaddaffi was about to launch a counter-attack to recapture the City of Benghazi in an internal civil war. It was to “protect” the “people” against the “regime” ─ the same imperialist arguments that were used in the last-but-one century (“spreading civilization”, etc). Cameron was about to add Syria to the list, when the UK Parliament rejected his efforts in 2013. In the end, these wars of aggression against Sovereign States, have generated human catastrophes that have few equals in the history of the world. I, certainly, did not know that there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq (2003). Since the 2003 Iraq war, Iraq Christians have been relocated to Syria. Currently, apparently, there are 275,000 Christians in Iraq; 500,000 Yazidis in Iraq; 2.9 million Christians in Syria, etc.
Until the recent upheavals in those areas, these Christians and Yazidis were living in these areas. The authoritarian regimes of the area notwithstanding, those groups were living there quietly. Hundreds of thousands of refugees started heading for Europe. In the USA, there was talk of allowing in the Syrian refugees. Both the movement of refugees into the EU and the talk of them coming to the USA, generated a backlash from some of the locals, not without justification. With different and conflicting cultures, big infusion of refugees into countries, can, in the long run, create conflicts. In Uganda, we allow refugees from Africa because they are part of the Bantu, Nilotic or Cushitic communities that are already part of Uganda. In fact, you cannot easily tell the difference between these African refugees on the one hand and the Ugandans on the other. Middle Eastern and African groups flooding into Europe and the USA, could have a different impact.

Cynically speaking, though, the USA and EU should not complain about Africans and Arabs flooding into those countries as refugees. They are the ones that had invaded our countries as imperialists, in the first place. The USA was built by African slaves. Be that as it may, the promoters of attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, provoked a human exodus that has caused the backlash bringing down Mr. Cameron and Mrs. Clinton. Although immigration is not the only reason that brought down those groups, it is certainly one of them. The question then, is: “Were these deliberate imperialist designs or were they just mistakes?” The Western countries and Africa need to scrutinize this issue and come up with correct answers.

When I was in Germany in the month of June, journalists from the Newspaper Die Spiegal asked me the following question: “Last year, 1.3 million refugees came to Germany, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but also from Africa. Many believe this is only the beginning of an exodus to Europe. What do you suggest to stop this wave of migrants?” I answered the questioner that I could not answer that question at that time. I knew that it was a delicate problem for people like Mrs. Clinton who had been involved in the attack on Libya that had turned into such a disaster. I am now released from that obligation. That is why I have written this missive.

The present African leaders are, however, also co-guilty in this matter. We should never have allowed external powers to attack any part of the African soil without our permission. I had fought Gaddafi two times: 1972 and 1979. I needed no lectures on the positive and negative points of Gaddafi. However, to allow the former colonial countries to attack any portion of Africa without a response from us, was betrayal. To be fair to the African leaders, one could say that we were taken by surprise. Even me, I did not believe that Western leaders could be so reckless as to do what they did in Libya.

However, attack Libya, they did. What is the contingency for the future and how do we rescue Libya? We recently had a meeting in Addis Ababa and told all and sundry that AU intends to rescue Libya and we also made it clear that future attacks on African soil without coordinating with AU are not acceptable, to put it mildly. Can Africa defend African soil? Very much so. In the 1960s, a few frontline States ─ Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana ─ supported by the socialist countries and working with the Liberation Movements in the occupied African countries, defeated Portugal in Mozambique and Angola, Ian Smith in Zimbabwe and, eventually, the South African racist regime which had manufactured nuclear weapons to intimidate us, as well as its colonial government in Namibia (SWA). All these colonial dictatorships (in Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia ─ Zimbabwe, Namibia ─ SWA and South Africa), were either supported or encouraged by some of the Western countries.

The other countries that stood with the Liberation Movements were Algeria, Egypt and Guinea-Conakry; even Nigeria, under the Military Government, took a patriotic position. Africa today, the weaknesses notwithstanding, is much more capable than we were in the 1960s. The problem is lack of consistent unity. Lack of cohesion is Africa’s problem. When the USA was still young, in 1823, one of their Presidents, James Monroe, in order to shield the Americas from the rapacious European countries, promulgated the Monroe doctrine which stated: “Further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as ‘the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States’. At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries”. The AU needs to put out a “Monroe doctrine” of sorts to all and sundry. Otherwise, the present African leaders will have let down Africa like the pre-colonial chiefs did between 1400 and 1900 when the European imperialists slowly penetrated Africa while these chiefs could not unite to defend us against the slave trade and colonialism.

Before the Western countries killed Gaddaffi, Libya, in spite of its small population of only 6 million people, had the second biggest amount of electricity in the whole of Africa after South Africa and was becoming a big source of investments for the rest of Africa as well as a market for African products. Hundreds of thousands of Africans were also working in Libya during that time. The destruction of Libya has also led to terrorist groups invading Mali, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, etc. Why should Africa tolerate such disruption on her territory caused, in part, by foreigners? That was one reason Uganda intervened in Somalia. We could not tolerate the importation of the Middle Eastern nonsense of intolerance, allegedly on “behalf of God”, into Africa.

We had to let those confused people know that Africa has its owners, the Africans. The same message needs to be sent to the Western aggressors. Our Lord’s Prayer says in part:“Thou shalt not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil”. Africans should not tempt greedy or confused foreigners into the temptation of interfering with us by being weak.

I cannot end this missive without talking about the foreign agents that masquerade as freedom fighters. This is a subject I talk about with alot of authority. Freedom fighters do not need foreign fighters to fight for them. They fight for themselves. Who fought for us? Genuine Revolutions do not need foreign invasions. Who caused the Russian Revolution in 1917? Who caused the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949? Who caused the changes in the Soviet Union? Who has caused the recent Trump victory in the USA? Which foreign actors caused the victory of the Brexit vote in the UK? Who caused the Iranian revolution in 1979? Did foreigners cause these changes? Not at all. On the contrary, the foreigners, in the majority of them, tried to stop these changes but failed. Therefore, the adventurism of some groups in the West, should not be camouflaged as fighting for freedom.
Many of the stooges of foreign interests or local oppressors spend alot of time looking for foreign sponsors rather than looking for ways of how to reconcile with their own people. That is the litmus paper test for pseudo-freedomism. Authentic freedom fighters will sustain themselves even if they do not have external support. They certainly do not need foreign troops. Pseudo ─ freedom fighters, on the other hand, are always calling for foreigners to interfere in their affairs.

It is a vote of no confidence in oneself to call for foreigners to fight for you? It is, therefore, wrong for foreigners to eagerly rush into local situations in support of local stooges or opportunists. Those foreigners become part of the problem and not part of the solution. Local factions should be encouraged to reach compromise rather than getting foreign sponsors to suppress and ignore their domestic rivals.

Anyway, for now, the adventures of the Western countries into North-Africa and the Middle-East, have caused human disasters in those target areas but also political casualties in the countries of the aggressors, not to mention the nationalist backlash against “Western liberalism”. “Whatever a man sows, that is what he will reap”, it says in the Book of Galatians, Chapter 6, verse 7.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Gen(rtd)

Al Jazeera | Eritrean refugees in Israel sent to Uganda and Rwanda

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 00:57

Kampala, Uganda – The sky was still an inky black when the flight from Cairo touched down at Entebbe Airport near Kampala, the capital of Uganda, one morning in mid-January, the fluorescent glow spilling from the small terminal providing the only source of light.

It had been 15 hours since Musgun Gebar left Tel Aviv, and the journey staggered him in its brevity. Four years earlier, when he had travelled the other way – from Eritrea in East Africa to Israel – he had done so on foot, a punishing journey across the Sahara and the Sinai that took more than a month.

Kidnappers stalked the route, food was scarce, and half of the people with whom he had travelled didn’t survive. But this time, he simply sat down in a small cushioned seat and waited, snapping selfies and eating salty meals from aluminum tins until, suddenly, he had arrived.

Gebar had no visa to enter Uganda. He wasn’t carrying an invitation letter or an application form. In fact, he didn’t even have a passport. Though he had crossed many borders in his life, he had never done it through the official channel of queues and customs officials and dated stamps.

He only carried $3,500 in clean, hundred dollar bills in his wallet, a temporary travel document called a “laissez passer”, and a creased letter from the Israeli government. “Passengers are asked to follow instructions and regulations to ensure a safe and pleasant departure from Israel,” it read, with a signature from the Voluntary Departures Unit.

From friends who had come before him, Gebar already knew what would happen next. The man emerged as he stepped inside the terminal, wordlessly ushering him and the nine other Eritreans on the flight away from the passport control line.

Without a glance from the border patrol officers, he led them around the queue, to the baggage claim where their luggage awaited, and then out of the airport’s sliding-glass doors. In the car park, a van waited to drive them to a hotel.

After that, they were on their own.

No choice

Human rights organisations have reported that over the past three years this scene has played out hundreds of times in Uganda and neighbouring Rwanda, where more than 3,000 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers from Israel have been “voluntarily” resettled as of 2015.

Often, those who were resettled dispute whether they truly had a choice.

Gebar, for instance, says that he was being held in an immigration detention camp in the Negev Desert called Holot, when, he claims, officials there informed him that he had three options. If he liked, he could stay indefinitely in the camp. A second option was to go back to Eritrea, the country he had fled five years before. Or, he could agree to take $3,500 and depart for a third country of the Israeli government’s choosing.

Gebar didn’t hesitate. He took the third option.

Andie Lambe, executive director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI), an NGO that has conducted extensive research into the departure of East African refugees from Israel, also questions just how much choice these refugees have.

“What does it mean when an unknown third country is someone’s best option?” he asks. “To me that says they never really had a choice at all.”

Media reports suggest that the three countries have cut a secret, high-level deal in which the African states accept refugees in return for arms, military training and other aid from Israel.

The countries involved have given conflicting responses, however, on their involvement.

Sabine Haddad, Israeli population and immigration authority spokeswoman, told Al Jazeera that Israel does have an agreement with two African countries – which she did not name – for the relocation of unwanted asylum seekers. She did not offer a response regarding the weapons exchange part of the agreement.

OPINION: Uganda: Doing Israel’s dirty work

Both Uganda and Rwanda, on the other hand, deny they have signed any agreement with Israel. Furthermore, neither country has afforded refugee status to any refugees arriving from Israel.

Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told Al Jazeera earlier this year that the reports of a deal were “a rumour circulated by Israeli intelligence”.

“I have disputed that we have received these individuals,” he said.

No rights

Like others around the world, refugees leaving Israel for Rwanda and Uganda find themselves in a precarious position. Their lives straddle two countries, and movement either forwards or backward is nearly impossible.

Tedros Abrahe, an Eritrean midwife who also left Israel under the “voluntary departures” programme earlier this year, says he is “just waiting to be a legal refugee somewhere”.

Like most of the estimated 5,000 Eritreans who flee their country each month, Abrahe first left home in 2011 to escape the country’s mandatory and indefinite national service programme. After a brief stay in Sudan, he paid smugglers $3,000 to take him to Israel, where he figured opportunities would be better and life easier.

But when he arrived, he found that his Eritrean midwifery qualifications were not recognised in Israel, and that the only work available to him as an asylum seeker was an under-the-table job cleaning the kitchen of a Tel Aviv shawarma restaurant.

Israel did not consider him a refugee. Rather, like nearly all of the approximately 42,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees in Israel, he was labelled an “infiltrator” – a label previously used to categorise Palestinians entering Israel. The only status Abrahe was allowed was a permit granting him temporary reprieve from being deported, which, he says, he had to renew in person every 60 days.

This system, says Anat Ovadia-Rosner, a spokeswoman for Israeli NGO Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, “puts people in a perpetual limbo, without the right to healthcare, to welfare services, to anything that might help them build a permanent life here”.

She thinks that “the whole structure is meant to make people’s lives miserable, so eventually, perhaps, they won’t want to stay any more”.

Between 2009 and 2016, Israel granted official refugee status to 0.07 percent of all its Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers – a total of four people.

When, in late 2015, Abrahe went to refresh his Israeli permit, he was informed that it would not be renewed. Instead, he says, he was told that he had 30 days to either report to an immigration detention centre or leave the country for Eritrea or a location of the government’s choosing.

Believing that he would not be safe in Eritrea, Abrahe chose the latter option.

By the time he boarded a flight for East Africa in January 2016, thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese refugees had already followed the same path.

According to Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, the voluntary resettlement plan had “encourage[d] infiltrators to leave the borders of the state of Israel honourably and safely”.

But just how safe is it really?

According to research by Hotline and IRRI in Rwanda, most of the refugees who arrive in Rwanda are immediately smuggled over the border to Uganda.

Abrahe says that he spent just two days in the country – waiting in a house near Kigali under an armed guard – before being forcibly taken to Kampala.

Those arriving in Uganda are not afforded any further rights. Uganda’s Department of Refugees says there is no deal to accept refugees coming from Israel. Douglas Asiimwe, the department’s principal protection officer, told Al Jazeera that any refugees arriving from Israel were assessed on the individual merits of their cases.

They shouldn’t need Uganda’s protection, he explained, because they weren’t coming from a war zone, but from a “safe” country that had promised under international law to uphold the rights of refugees.

Haddad, the Israeli population and immigration spokeswoman, insists that Israel “ensures that the process of relocation is conducted according to the agreements and in line with international law”.

In her statement to Al Jazeera, she wrote: “Israel makes certain that the refugees are accorded all relevant rights in accordance with the agreements, including receiving the appropriate permits and papers.”

But NGOs and human rights lawyers who have reviewed the refugees’ cases in both Israel and Uganda say that Israel’s official line on the subject is not true.

In late 2015, a coalition of NGOs and human rights lawyers challenged the legality of Israel’s third-country deportations before the Israeli Supreme Court. But a decision is still pending and Israel’s “voluntary departures” continue.

No jobs

Even without legal status, life in Kampala was initially a marked improvement over Israel for both Gebar and Abrahe.

Ugandans were more welcoming than Israelis, they said, and the two melted easily into the city’s large Eritrean population.

Abrahe had spent some of the money the Israeli government gave him on an iPhone, which he used to send smiling selfies to family and friends in Eritrea, Israel, and Europe.

But the $3,500 wouldn’t last forever, and there were few jobs to be had in Uganda, even for someone with medical training like Abrahe. By September, both men had run out of money and were living on handouts from friends and family.

“Time just passes itself,” Gebar said. “You just sit home all day waiting, doing nothing.”

In late October, however, Abrahe decided that he couldn’t wait any longer. He borrowed a passport from a Ugandan friend and flew to Turkey. From there, he made the dangerous journey by boat to Greece, where he is now living in a refugee camp.

“It’s better to take a risk than to live this way for my whole life,” he says. “This year, I want to be a legal person somewhere.”

Ryan Lenora Brown was a fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation in Uganda.

Dreams Travel Inc | Introduces Cheap Fares to Uganda This Festive Season

Thu, 11/17/2016 - 06:45

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US Elections | How Hillary Clinton Lost The Election And Donald Trump Won The Electoral College Vote – By Ronnie Mayanja

Sun, 11/13/2016 - 07:40

President Elect Donald D. Trump and his VP – Gov. Mike Pence acceptance speech after being declared winners of the US. General election

By Ronnie Mayanja — On November 8th like all Americans I went to the polls to carry out my civic duty by exercising my right to vote as enshrined in the 15th amendment of the U.S Constitution. In a race that had so divided these United States and saw a bitter campaign between two unpopular candidates only one candidate would emerge victorious.

Hillary was the favorite to win according to the liberal leaning media, pundits, pollsters and all those familiar with American politics had stated that she would win a by a wide margin.

She had been in Washington for 30 years, as First Lady, Senator and later Secretary of State–a resume that was unmatched by all the contenders of the 2016 U.S Presidential elections. She had also been christened the heir apparent by the Democratic National Committee after her loss to Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary race.

The American system is one that was well thought out by the framers of the US Constitution. In order to create a level playing field among the states and to avoid more populated states from dictating the agenda and dominating the least populated areas they created the Electoral College, a system that allows each state to have the number of electoral votes equal to that state’s number of congressmen plus the two senators that every state is given.

It is the electoral college votes that decide the outcome for president and vice president, not the national popular vote. But it is the popular vote for each state that decides to which candidate the electoral votes will be given in a winner-takes-all arrangement. States with a large population like Texas, California and New York are assigned the lion’s share of congressional districts, resulting in the largest number of electoral votes. Three electoral votes are reserved for the District of Columbia, whose citizens are allowed to vote in a general election even though Washington, DC does not have direct representation in Congress. Currently a minimum of 270 electoral votes are needed to win the election for president and vice president. Donald D. Trump bagged 290 electoral votes compared to Hillary’s 228 and was quite competitive across the majority of the states with the exception of New York and California that had huge popular vote counts in her favor.

This election marks the sixth time that a candidate has won a general election without winning the national popular vote. The last time we witnessed such a spectacle was in 2000 when Al Gore lost the electoral college vote to George Bush.

On election night it was clear that in an election this close the last man standing had to win what have been termed “battleground states”, where the outcome was unclear according to the opinion polls, along with some states considered to be the firewall for either candidate. However when Trump breached the Rust Belt states that border on the Great Lakes region it became clear that a Clinton win had evaporate, leaving many shell-shocked. With Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio voting Trump it was clear that Obama’s eight years had not impacted this region that had seen many industrial jobs move overseas. Adding to the uncertainty came the fall of Florida, New Hampshire and North Carolina, states Obama had won comfortably in his previous elections, and it became clear that Hillary could not count on a majority of women or the minorities to vote for her everywhere.

So it all came down to the math of adding up the electoral votes and here Trump would carry the day, receiving more than the required 270 votes needed to become President even while losing the popular vote to Clinton. This outcome is partly what is causing the many protests across America as some voters claim that the system elected Donald Trump but the people voted for Hillary Clinton. However true to American democracy, Hillary had called Trump at around 3:30am on Wednesday morning to concede in what was a bitter election cycle, thus allowing continuity and preservation of the Union. It is interesting to note that Trump, in one of his famous tweets, once described the Electoral College as a rigged system!

Earlier on in the year I had accepted a request by a leading Ugandan Television Network (NBS TV) to give weekly updates on the race as we drew closer to the general election, this experience had allowed me to do extensive research about this particular election and why it was going to be a do or die for the final two major party candidates. This election will go down as the most stressful negative election cycle in US history.

Now that the election is over I wish to share some views on why I think Hillary lost the election to Donald Trump, who will be sworn in as our 45th President in January, succeeding Barack Obama whose departure from office leaves the Democratic party in turmoil.

For starters, the long drawn out primary campaign between Hillary and Bernie Sanders was an eye-opener for me and it was partly during the primary debates that my support was crystallized for Bernie. However, by the time Clinton emerged as winner of the Democratic primary she wash marred in scandal, owing to the Wikileaks expose’ of the DNC. Her biggest blunder, in my view, was the failure to name Sanders as her running mate as way to win over the Sanders movement (millennials and young college voters) which had refused to embrace her campaign. This group would largely stay away from the polls on election day. It can be added that the selection of Senator Tim Kaine did not help her ticket and Clinton struggled to win even in his home state of Virginia. Hillary’s flawed candidacy was propped up by surrogates and celebrities to draw large crowds while Trump’s rise came from a movement that in some ways was similar to Sanders’– people tired of politicians and Wall street big banks a base in Hillary’s corner. Trump had gone on defeat all the 17 Republican primary contenders and as a political outsider he embodied the CHANGE agent that some had been looking not even being hit by the bus scandal could deflete his campaign.

The email scandals also showed poor preparation on Hillary’s part. She knew she would run for President and yet did not fully address the issue of her email server and an investigation re-ignited the issue with 9 days to the general election. This was also a game changer for many undecided voters who felt Hillary was hiding something, especially now that the FBI was reopening the case. Of course the FBI Director James Comey will be judged harshly for bowing to Republican pressure in influencing the outcome of the election. The Clinton Foundation and its grey areas in dealing with foreign governments during her tenure as Secretary of State was deemed a conflict of interest and exploited by the Republican base to bury her fate.

Another aspect I strongly feel hurt Hillary was to model her campaign around Obama’s legacy and the slogan Stronger Together. Some saw the election of Hillary as an election of Obama’s third term. With a nation divided by a strong anti-Obama sentiment on the Republican side this was a risky gambit. The election boiled down to the Supreme Court nominations and the fear conservatives had that more liberal justices on the bench would lead to more radical changes in a nation whose foundation was “in God we Trust”. Trump was quick to exploit this notion that the failure to vote for him might lead to the appointment of liberal justices since marriage as defined between a man and woman had seen major changes on Obama’s watch. He also exploited the Second Amendment, explaining to the voters that electing Hillary would jeopardize their right to bear arms.

Trump took aim at the EU VOTE — exploiting the Brexit effect and the mood in the country by rejecting the current immigration policies that had led to home grown terror — many American rural folk had grown increasingly tired of politicians who only show up during an election cycle yet many of these families were struggling to put food on their tables. Part of Trump’s support was a repudiation of the Obama policies that some folks felt had not improved their standard of living or quality of life. Some here will be quick to give us the statistics of economic growth but the way people voted, especially in rural areas, in favor of Trump was similar in magnitude to votes Obama received in 2008, something that Hillary could not match since her base was not as energized about her candidature. To further show how divided the nation had now become the issues of race and immigration become central as some white rural voters (White Supremacists) saw their identity eroded by the Democrats and their liberal policies.

Finally, I do blame the liberal media and pollsters for totally misleading the Clinton campaign. To many Clintonites this election was called even before the voting had begun, something that could have mobilized the Republican base, especially conservatives and evangelicals, to turn out in large numbers. To them Trump was simply a means to an end and they were willing to overlook his failed marriages and other scandals and flaws, determined as they were to vote for a change candidate. It was therefore quite a shocker to learn and see that this candidate who lacked filters in his speech could out perform previous republican flag bearers like Mitt Romney and George W. Bush to remain the last man standing in this election cycle!

Our leaders in Africa should be on notice that the type of movement that brought down a powerful prime minister in the United Kingdom with the Brexit referendum vote and ended Hillary’s hopes for the Presidency will soon sweep the continent as more disenchanted voters are emboldened by the new wave of defeats of popular politicians across the globe.

The world over people are getting tired of the status quo and politicians that have continually used them for selfish gain. The defeat of the Democrats was a repudiation of Obama’s policies, in part because the Clinton campaign overlooked the issues at hand and concentrated on policy, ignoring the real needs of the American voter–a void Trump and his strategists were able to exploit and later fill in what will go down as the most shocking election in US. history.

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything — Joseph Stalin

Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation — Simon Sinek

May God Bless These United States!

— Ronnie Mayanja Ugandan Diaspora News | |
Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | |
US | +1-978-235-2459 | UG +256-773-212-007 | +256- 794-999-898 |
Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanja

Opinion | The October Surprise and Why This US Election Will Shock The World — By Ronnie Mayanja

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 02:07

By Ronnie Mayanja — They say 24 hours is a very short time for a news cycle in America. The debates came and went and we are about a week away from what will go down in US history as perhaps the dirtiest presidential campaign, one that has also produced the most unpopular nominees of a major political party.

After some remarks caught on a hot mic from years ago went viral after Trump was heard making very derogatory comments about women and how his stardom has allowed him to grope any woman within his reach, Trump’s poor second debate showing had some pundits hoping to see Trump buried, but instead he lived to see another day. During the second debate moderators and Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz pressed Trump for a confession calling his actions on women sexual assault. On his part Trump went after Bill Clinton, who is not running for president. However the failure of Hillary to land a knockout punch might haunt her if current developments are anything to go by.

The latest announcement by the FBI to reopen the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email activity might be another red flag that might also cost some votes less than 10 days to the general election. The current scandals stem from Anthony Weiner, the then New York congressman who sent illicit sexual images to minors. As a former husband to Huma Abedin who happens to be Secretary Clinton’s most trusted aid, Abedin was forced to surrender her communication devices thereby exposing her boss to incriminating emails according to some pundits. The fact that Huma is also of Pakistani decent might not help her situation hence exacerbating the witch-hunt!

The effect of the email dumps from Julian Asange of Wikileaks is quickly hurting Hillary’s chances. Julian Asange says Wikileaks has so far released 35,000 of the 50,000 emails with less than 10 days to go to the election. For undecided voters the latest developments have left some more confused. As someone who voted for Bernie Sanders during the primary I have found it increasingly difficult to embrace Hillary with all the scandals following the campaign. Trump was quick to point out how the DNC primary process was biased and rigged in favor of Hillary’s campaign.

Today Trump’s attacks have been directed to the liberal media he blames for trying to rig this election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Some will deny the existence of a biased media in the US. However Wall Street conglomerates control the media agenda the same way big Pharmaceuticals control and lobby Washington DC and Joe the plumber on Main Street continues to get short changed.

If you have never subscribed to the hit series House of Cards on Netflix I strongly recommend that you do. Because Claire and Frank Underwood are the true definition of what a true political power couple is all about in America. Claire defended her husband at all costs, amassing political power and influence at the cost of their marriage. Those who recall Bill Clinton’s infidelity and Hillary’s support of her husband in the years following his tumultuous marriage will be quick to relate the two story lines.

As a political novice and outsider Trump could have had a shot at the Presidency but his lack of filters and temperament when dealing with political opponents have left him exposed like a sitting duck and many within the Republican base were calling for his boycott in favor of his conservative running mate Gov. Mike Pence. While Trump surprised himself by winning the Republican primary he failed to prepare for a general election showdown with Hillary. However the game changer could be the October surprise of the FBI re-opening the email investigation.

For Trump to have survived this long without releasing any tax returns yet while Governor Mike Pence was requested to declare his taxes prior to joining the ticket reveals the true hypocrisy of Trump. However Hillary too has been left exposed by both the emails and the her foreign policy debacles. The latest challenge has also been the rising premiums of Obamacare and the Republicans hope to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

A letter signed by more by 30 Republican congressmen and women following Trump’s latest sexual scandal might be an attempt by those in the conservative establishment of the party to ditch Trump. But Trump too will not go away quietly–he has promised to take on Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House. As the Never Trump movement grows we have also seen new independent conservative Republicans like Evan McMullen of UTAH join the race. Just like George Wallace who only won in his own state of Alabama in the segregated south, McMullen seems to be polling neck and neck in Utah where as a Mormon he might win and cost Trump the badly needed electoral college vote he needs to enter the White house.

Poll data still places Hillary Clinton ahead with a few percentage points but with the latest FBI investigation looming, a new email dump from Julian Asange expected and the Brexit effect that saw the media get it all wrong in the UK, many say they will not count Trump out until the last ballot is counted. He bounced back from the second debate even when some thought he was finished, fighting for his political survival amidst falling poll numbers. The Republican base deserted him calling for his boycott, but the majority of those in the Republican Party have stood by Trump and have shown a level of commitment and dedication to their candidate that seems unprecedented in the history of general election politics.

My final thought is that I expected John Kerry to win in 2004 following the Bush failures even as exit polls showed him in the lead but instead George Bush Jr, was able to win a second term, which many of us did not see coming. Pundits called it again in 2012 for Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney following an impressive showing at the Presidential debate againt incumbent President Barack Obama. It was the capture of Osama Bin Ladin that could have handed Obama his second term.

As Trump rides the latest Hillary political scandal the timing could mean that the FBI came across a real smoking gun to reopen this case! As you watch the left center and now right leaning media be aware that America and its political landscape has now changed forever. With Roger Ailes – founder of Fox News and Breibert of Breibert News in Trump’s corner a Trump Television media empire might not be far fetched to counter the conservatives that have refused to embrace Trump or the liberal media that has openly endorsed Hillary. As we watch the next 10 days beware what you put or click online because just like the Snowdon movie someone is definitely watching your every move and might use whatever you do or say against you some-day!

— Ronnie Mayanja Ugandan Diaspora News | |
Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | |
US | +1-978-235-2459 | UG +256-773-212-007 | +256- 794-999-898 |
Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanja

Al Jazeera | International Criminal Court Debate — Africa vs ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’?

Sun, 10/30/2016 - 05:30

International Criminal Court defiant after African states take aim at the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal. — Critics point out that all but one of the Hague-based court’s 10 investigations have been in Africa [Reuters]
South Africa and Burundi’s decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) and an attack by Gambia against the court’s supposed “Caucasian” justice are likely to embolden other African states to leave the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

Although criticizing the Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favorite pastime for many African leaders, in most cases it amounted to pandering to a domestic audience without much real intent.

That has now changed with the precedent established of local politics justifying actual withdrawal.

South Africa – a continental heavyweight and key backer of the ICC in the late 1990s – has made clear it could no longer tolerate the court’s denial of immunity to sitting leaders.

All eyes are now on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who made history in 2013 by becoming the first sitting head of state to appear before the court on charges of crimes against humanity.

The case relating to Kenyatta’s alleged role in post-election violence in 2008 – in which at least 1,200 people died – collapsed in 2014 because of lack of evidence.

But in January this year, with charges still hanging over his deputy, William Ruto, Kenyatta took to the floor at the African Union (AU) to call for a “roadmap for withdrawal” for Africa’s 34 ICC members.

Supporting South Africa’s subsequent stance, Kenyatta took aim in particular at Article 27 of the ICC’s 1998 Rome Statute, which affirms the “irrelevance of official capacity” – in other words, nobody, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

Kenyatta, who faces another election next year, then played the global security card, saying this compromised Kenya’s ability to fight armed groups, a genuine concern in the wake of a major attack in 2013 on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.

“We’ve had to contend with the ICC pursuing weak, politicised cases. This has become a huge distraction from our duty to serve our people and this continent fully. That is not what Kenya signed up for when we joined the ICC,” Kenyatta said.
Kenya’s parliament has passed two resolutions since 2010 calling for withdrawal, but government spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the cabinet was still deciding – in the wake of South Africa’s move – whether to go ahead.

“It is accurate to say that a decision of the executive is pending,” he said.

Neighbouring Uganda, whose President Yoweri Museveni labelled the ICC “a bunch of useless people” at his inauguration in July, is already shaping up for a fresh push at the next AU summit in January for an African exodus.

“The ICC deserves what’s happening to it now,” said Okello Oryem, Uganda’s junior foreign affairs minister.

“Our argument has always been that there’s a need for the whole of Africa to withdraw from the ICC. We hope that matter will come up at the next AU summit and then we’ll be able to pronounce ourselves.”

ICC defiant

Most worrying for the ICC, which has been fighting to counter the allegations of anti-African bias and “neo-colonialism”, is that local or regional politics stood behind the three recent decisions to pull out.

Although Gambia, which derided the ICC as the “Infamous Caucasian Court”, does not yet appear to have sent its formal divorce papers, President Yahya Jammeh – who has been accused of serial rights abuses since seizing power in a 1994 coup – is unlikely to back off ahead of an election in December.

The ICC admits it is rattled but determined to keep going, and in particular to counter the allegations of anti-African bias.

“We must remain strong,” Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian chief prosecutor of ICC, told reporters in The Hague this week. “This is a challenge we see now. We will see it more. It is not going to go away.”

To date, all but one of the court’s 10 investigations have been in Africa and its five convicted suspects are from Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Mali.

However, it argues that many of these cases were brought by African governments themselves, not outsiders, and that it has 10 preliminary investigations into alleged atrocities elsewhere in the world, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Palestine, and Ukraine.

“Even if half the African countries leave, it would be very unfortunate and damaging to the concept of international justice, but it won’t shut the court down,” one ICC official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters news agency.

“This was bound to happen when dictators – for the most part that’s what they are – decide to run for cover.”

Source — Al Jazeera

The Observer | Why our economy is on shaky ground — By Moses Khisa

Sat, 10/29/2016 - 09:07

It’s rather post-hoc, but looking back, it’s not difficult to see there was something superficial about Crane bank: the rapid opening of new upcountry branches complete with fancy and palatial buildings, reported exponential growth of bank assets, and high returns all looked too good to be true.

Now, for those who care about a stable Uganda with a growing economy, the central bank’s takeover of the country’s third-largest bank is a big cause for worry. It was a culmination of months of speculation and weeks of heightened social media rumours. The speculation is still on since we don’t yet know the full extent of the bank’s impact on the economy.

We need to avoid being too alarmist, but the rosy, yet artificial, picture of Crane bank as we knew it says something about Uganda’s overall economy. For some time, we have been inundated with impressive growth statistics and a picture of an African success story.

Our ‘development partners’, chiefly the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have showcased Uganda as a foremost student of the Washington Consensus tri-policy doctrine of liberalisation, privatisation, and deregulation.

Journalist and businessman Andrew Mwenda has been a most vociferous unofficial spokesman of this success story, presenting Uganda as a fundamental achievement of modern times.

In one of our recent long discussions, I challenged Mwenda on the fact that Uganda’s economic outlook lacks the critical pillars for transformation. But why, I asked, can’t the people in charge of economic policy do some very basic things that would make a difference.

For starters, the much-talked-about growth has largely been in sectors that employ very few Ugandans and where we produce very little, if anything: banking, telecommunication, hotel, tourism, construction, etc. In most of these areas, there is almost nothing that a Ugandan produces, thus contributing to global output – everything is imported, except our game parks and other tourist attractions.

Mr Sudhir Ruparelia, owner of the now-distressed Crane bank, also owns Meera Investments which manages a string of big-money businesses, largely in real estate and the services sector. I don’t know if any of his businesses is a manufacturing plant.

To move a society from poverty and underdevelopment to higher standards of living underpinned by high incomes, improvements in human capital and technological innovation are critical. Only then is it possible to increase productivity and thus expand overall national output.

The quality of human capital depends as much on formal training and gaining competences to execute certain tasks as on social transformation and the embrace of a set of ethos and values.

While literacy rates have gone up, and those who speak for or defend the NRM government will quickly cite the statistics, increased access to education has not translated into highly-productive citizens with the competences for large-scale value-added production. This is an Africa-wide problem, partly the reason the continent receives a paltry share of global foreign direct investment while Asia, especially China, takes a huge chunk.

But human capital can’t transform society on its own; physical capital, too, is critical: money, machines, buildings and infrastructure. Human beings make machines. They also build infrastructure like roads and bridges.

Assuming that they have all the competences to produce machines, people need money to invest in the production of goods that are in turn critical in producing high-value goods that bring high returns and can benefit a range of people in the economy.

A dairy famer in Nakasongola needs milk-processing equipment to be able to get a good return; otherwise, he sells the milk locally in his village at poor prices or, in the worst case-scenario, he won’t sell at all. This raises the critical role of access to credit.

Alexander Gerschenkron, one of the most important thinkers of modern industrialization and late development, made a distinction between early industrialisation (in say, Britain) and late industrialisation in a poor and backward country (like Russia in the late 19th century) or late, late industrialisation in a country like Uganda.

Early industrialisation was aided by “original accumulation” of capital by private players, but late industrialisation required mobilisation of finances that could not be easily done by private entrepreneurs.

The role of the banking sector is then very crucial in financing industrialisation by availing long-term and affordable credit. For this to happen, there has to be an element of ‘fiscal coercion’ in the sense that banks are compelled by the state to conduct business in a manner they would not do if left on their own.

If the state is managed by leaders determined to spur industrialisation, it can undertake a range of policy interventions that make it possible for affordable credit to be channelled to industrial and value-added production.

Key individuals at the central bank and the treasury have unwavering commitment to market economics orthodoxy. They believe the state shouldn’t tamper with the workings of the market. This is a most misleading and ahistorical mindset that blindly and faithfully tows the IFM/World Bank line of thinking. Mwenda and I agreed on this, his own faith notwithstanding.

The author teaches  political science at Northwestern University/Evanston, Chicago-USA.

Opinion | What We Got Wrong on Privatization — By Samuel Sejjaaka

Sat, 10/29/2016 - 06:51

Opinion — Through out the eighties and nineties, the buzzword in economic management was liberalization. Arising out of the ‘Washington Consensus’, and the reforms of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, we in the third world were convinced that the only way to reform our bloated economies was to ‘downsize, restructure and retrench’. We were told that the state had ‘no business doing business’. That the business of making profits was best left to investors whose objectives were clearly economic.

Coming on the heels of the ‘Velvet Revolution’, which led to the collapse of communism as we knew it, and the demise of the Soviet Union, we had no reason to ask for the rest of the story. There was hardly an economic pundit who didn’t buy into this argument, your blogger included. Liberalize we did. If you opposed you were labeled Marxist and a pariah. We cut up the state, sent people home, swallowed the bitter pill of structural adjustment and sold the family silver (privatization).

Looking back, twenty odd years on, the wisdom of our decisions is beginning to look suspect. First we assumed that our economies had reached an optimal level of investment in infrastructure, which cannot be undertaken by any private sector investor. Second we assumed that private capital inflows would flow towards least developed countries as freely as they did towards developed countries. Third, we believed that private investors ‘loved’ us very much and would work hard as the ‘engine of growth’ Fourth and most fallacious, we believed in free markets!

The truth is there was no infrastructure to drive economic growth. Private capital flows were and are still very capricious on account of the political risk. The kind of investors we were also most likely to attract were ‘fly-by-night’ carpetbaggers. And there is no such thing like a free market! How ridiculous our arguments now look! What we did not appreciate was the fact that while government had ‘no business doing business’, government still had a lot of ‘business knowing what businesses were doing (regulation) and protecting the national interest.

With privatization, should have come more regulation. But this did not happen, or if it did, it was feeble and inept. And so the ‘investors’ who initially ‘bought’ the Nile Hotel didn’t meet their end of the bargain. Others who ‘bought’ public assets did a lot of asset striping, while others just took us to the dry cleaners. Today the national airline is no more, and the successor ‘Air Uganda’ did not inherit any of its assets. Uganda Railways is a shadow of its former self and the power crisis is still here.

What we got wrong was the fact that some investments had such critical and strategic positive externalities, we could not leave them to the private sector. Strategic importance was sacrificed to reduce the public sector borrowing requirement, and many of our people bore the social costs of structural adjustment. Many died miserable and broken – they were collateral damage, I suppose. And so we surrendered the commanding heights of our economy to a new colonialism, dressed as foreign capital. Some asked: must privatization be indigenization? Others asserted that we didn’t have to own anything, so long as we had no sugar queues and our people had jobs in the plantations.

I say all of this with hindsight. After all, a fool is always clever after the fact! But this animal, privatization, was indeed fools gold. We paid a high price to ‘correct’ the ills of the seventies and early eighties. But in the process of righting the wrongs, we sold our birthright. For, in the absence of clear performance indicators (working regulatory framework) and the retreat of the state, we did acquire a new set of colonial masters. They didn’t use force to recolonize us and not that privatization was wrong. It is just that we didn’t know what we were doing, and we lacked a national ethos, to make decisions for posterity.

Diaspora Apps | Sawa Pay The New Mobile Money Transfer Service For Uganda and Kenya!

Sat, 10/29/2016 - 06:16

Sawa Pay — We are Kenyan company that was borne out of the frustration that faces Africans trying to receive money from abroad. Having been faced with the inconvenience of traditional methods of receiving money and the high cost associated with it, we got thinking of how we could use technology to reduce cost and improve speed of sending and receiving cash.

SawaPay the solution borne out of this is disrupting the International Money Transfer Industry. It is a new, simpler, more convenient and cost effective international money transfer and payment service mobile application. We allows users to send money from the U.S. to recipients in Kenya and Uganda with other countries in Africa as part of our expansion plans.

The funds are conveniently sent via Android or iOS mobile app to bank accounts or mobile money accounts, including M-PESA and MTN Money. The app features also include the ability to purchase airtime with any carrier in Kenya, pay for utilities such as water, power, mortgage payments, and other PayBill services.

Tel (USA) +1 302 59 79 236
Tel  (Kenya) +254 721654505
E Mail:

Flashback | IFAD Lecture | Winnie Byanyima Discusses “The Future of Aid”

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 07:51

Flashback — How relevant is aid? How much impact can it have? Is aid key to the success of the world’s new Sustainable Development Goals? Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, addresses these questions and more in her IFAD Lecture presented at the 38th session of the Governing Council. Her lecture – entitled ‘The Future of Aid’ – took place on February 17th 2015.

Last week Dr. Winnie Byanyima was the proud recipient of a honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom below is a media brief from the college she attended! As a Ugandan diaspora success story we recognize this and the many milestones of her career especially her quest to make the world a better place. Above is a video lecture she presented at IFAD 38th session — she discussed – The Future of Aid.

The University of Manchester awarded an honorary degree to the Executive Director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, as part of its Foundation Day celebrations on Wednesday 19 October.

Winnie, who is also an alumna of the University, used the occasion of the ceremony to give a Foundation Lecture entitled ‘Advancing Women’s Rights in an Unequal World: A personal perspective’, in which she outlined some of the experiences of her unique career in politics and international development.

Ugandan-born Winnie leads Oxfam International, a confederation of 19 organisations working in more than 90 countries, empowering people to create a future that is secure, just, and free from poverty. She led Uganda’s first parliamentary women’s caucus which championed ground-breaking gender equality provisions in the country’s 1995 post-conflict constitution.

A signatory to her country’s 1985 peace agreement, Ms Byanyima has helped to broker and support women’s participation in political transitions in Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and other countries emerging from conflict.

She has a BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from Manchester and returned to campus earlier this year to launch the University’s Global Development Institute, Europe’s largest research and teaching institute dedicated to international development.

Winnie explained that despite her undergraduate and masters degrees in engineering, “heart was in political struggles.”

She said: “I came to this University a refugee and I went home a revolutionary. A spark burning inside me for political change. Like many young people, Manchester is where we found the confidence to dream our dreams and go back home and make them come true.”

Winnie Byanyima also officially launched the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester in February this year – a new research institute which is a flagship for the University’s research beacon for addressing global inequalities and which unites the strengths of the of the University’s Institute for Development Policy and Management and the Brooks World Poverty Institute.

Winnie said, “The role of the GDI and its researchers is a very important one. Of course you work on finding policy solutions to questions and to challenging problems in development. But I think more than finding policy solutions it’s so important to do the fundamental research I was talking about in terms of, ‘What is the basis for this growth model? How do we challenge the ideas and assumptions that underpin this model?’

“I am quite convinced that globalisation and the economic model that underpins it is driven by the wrong values – not the values we subscribe to and certainly not the human rights values that are in the universal Human Rights Charter.

“So connecting a human rights based approach to development and anchoring in values is very important and challenging neo liberalism for me is an important role for an institute like the GDI because, for me, it is about challenging the causes of poverty.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “I am delighted that at this year’s Foundation Day celebrations we welcomed back an alumna, Ms Winnie Byanyima, to deliver our most prestigious lecture and to award her an honorary doctorate.

“Winnie’s drive to promote the roles of women and work to address global inequalities fully align with the University’s own activities.

Source — University of Manchester Profile and IFAD video!