On the morning of 07th October 2014, Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF), Community Development and Child Welfare Initiative (CODI), and Mukono District NGO Forum set out to bring citizens together to celebrate Uganda’s Independence. The idea was to involve citizens in the Independence celebrations on the background that the National state-organised celebrations are political and too executive for an ordinary Ugandan.
Lugazi, popularly known for its Sugarcane plantations, tea estates and a sugar processing plant, was the venue for this thrilling citizen event, the first of its kind! This National Citizen’s Day, with the bold theme, “I Am Ugandan”, can only be described as a truly citizen enjoyment of their country’s independence!
The morning saw a large number of citizens interviewed, conveying their understanding of Independence, what they love about Uganda and what they want to see different after 52 years of Independence. Understandably, grievances on failed service delivery by government surfaced from many seemingly frustrated individuals. Citizens cried out for better healthcare, an improved education system, flourishing economic environment, an improved road network and what they termed an understanding government. Further decried was mistreatment from Police with highlights on syndicated arrests of innocent persons, and rough up of suspects. Police was urged to improve its relations with the public for improved future relations.
Not all was lamentation though; the afternoon at Lugazi Town Council grounds attracted a crowd of over 600 people, with entertainment from eminent Ugandan artists, drama skits and dances. Artists included veteran Gerald Kiweewa of the Gundi Okuzze fame, celebrated radio presenter Rebecca Jjingo of Nvugga Kanamba, and the talented Big Eye known for his chat topper Going Higher. The music artists and CODI drama groups glued the crowds to the day’s events. Various elderly persons were pulled onto the dance floor to shake their rusty bones in celebration of independence. The dance floor was also graced by the guest of honour, Hon. Lulume Bayiga MP Buikwe, the area Spokesperson for Savannah region, Lameck Kigozi and the Regional Police Commander Patrick Karamura.
There were also monumental addresses from the representatives of the lead organiser, UNNGOF, CODI, Police, the area L.C V and the area Member of Parliament. Alfred Nuamanya, Head of Programs UNNGOF, explained the National Citizens’ Day National Citizens’ day as space for ordinary citizens to celebrate collectively what we have achieved as a nation and recommit to making Uganda an even better place for the future.
The highlight of the afternoon was undeniably the interactive citizen feedback sessions. These citizen focused sessions brought to light the uniqueness of a country loved by many; the dark skin complexion that set us apart was praised, the diversity in language, present day freedom of movement unlike during previous war toned regimes, the ability to conduct business without insecurity, and assurance of general security from Government. A nine year old child told the crowd gathered that being Ugandan to him meant having food to eat and urged people to make themselves happy with their hard earned money because life is too short!
Online conversations on social media around #LoveUG and #ProudlyUgandan expressed pride in Uganda Cranes for uniting and making Ugandans proud to be Ugandan. Further gratitude was showed towards cultural diversity, variety of local foods and food items that make up a wide food basket, not forgetting the beautiful weather coupled with luscious green.