Uganda @ 50: Where are we going?

Uganda has been celebrating 50 years of bittersweet independence which culminated in exorbitant festivities on Tuesday, 9 October 2012, that cost 21 billion shillings (8 million dollars.) The bill was paid for with money that was readily available for a one-day event but has not been available for vital sectors like health, education and agriculture ...

Photo by AFP/Stringer/Getty Images
Photo by AFP/Stringer/Getty Images
Photo by AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

Uganda has been celebrating 50 years of bittersweet independence which culminated in exorbitant festivities on Tuesday, 9 October 2012, that cost 21 billion shillings (8 million dollars.)

The bill was paid for with money that was readily available for a one-day event but has not been available for vital sectors like health, education and agriculture among others.

So when we reminisced about the past and saw a rewriting of our history, I chose to celebrate the everyday Ugandan who struggles to make a living and still has hope. I chose to celebrate the resilience we show each day.

Uganda has been celebrating 50 years of bittersweet independence which culminated in exorbitant festivities on Tuesday, 9 October 2012, that cost 21 billion shillings (8 million dollars.)

The bill was paid for with money that was readily available for a one-day event but has not been available for vital sectors like health, education and agriculture among others.

So when we reminisced about the past and saw a rewriting of our history, I chose to celebrate the everyday Ugandan who struggles to make a living and still has hope. I chose to celebrate the resilience we show each day.

I decided to think of the soldiers sent to wars they may not understand — all in the name of God and country- away in Somalia and hunting Kony in the Central African Republic.

I celebrated the teachers, who despite several demands for better living wages, have always been sidelined and threatened to return to work. These people who go to work each day and try to build the next generation’s change makers with poor facilitation and only a pocketful of hope. The people who demonstrate true sacrifice.

I celebrated the medical workers who work in dire conditions to try and save the lives of several ordinary citizens, while the well connected Ugandan citizens will probably fly abroad for specialized medical treatment.

I celebrated the newspaper readers who always respond immensely to stories featured in the media of poor Ugandans needing help to travel to India or Kenya and other places for specialized treatment because the country cannot meet those needs. Not to mention that the number of Ugandan educated doctors practicing their skills around the world is high, but few stay on to slave for little pay.

I celebrated the everyday person. The farmer in the village who wakes up each day to plough his/her land and hopes that the season will be better.

I celebrated the spirit of Ugandans. The people we are that make the country. The hustle. The noise. The gamble. The ingenuity.

That is what I chose to think about as the best way to celebrate the 50 years of independence. And the question was then were to next? Do we continue with the hustle or hide our heads in sand and hope that things will change — that services will improve, and one day we will wake up and see it was a dream.

I promised myself to start working on something more tangible for the next 50 years. I realized that it starts with the individual deciding what contribution to make. Since I did not complete my would be great literary exploit in the last 50 years, I promised that I would start working on it in the next phase. So the one way to contribute to the image of my country would be through literature.

I know that many other Ugandans at the end of the day, decided to keep on doing what they can for God and Country. So I celebrated the Ugandan.

For God and Country!

Jackee’s twitter handle is @jackeebatanda

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