Today, the sovereign State of Uganda is 60 years old. Under normal circumstances today should have been a day of celebrations, great joy and jubilation for all Ugandans, but alas for the majority of our population, especially wananchi, today will be just like any other day replete with agony, lamentations, misery and regrets. I am afraid on this auspicious occasion most Ugandans will, at best, only mark and take note of the 60th anniversary of independence, but keep hope alive for better days ahead. I hope one day all Ugandans will celebrate uhuru, not a chosen few.
What are the hallmarks of Uganda we want and deserve? Let me identify a few. First, since the most important asset and resource of Uganda is her people, the primary feature of the Uganda we want and deserve is a happy, contented, peaceful and prosperous people who are well educated, healthy and living above the poverty line. Unfortunately that is not the case today. According to the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, the number of Ugandans living below the poverty line is increasing, especially in the Greater North and Eastern Uganda. Any credible and serious government must deliberately seek to do maximum good to the maximum number.
Second, the Uganda we want and deserve is one in which human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Ugandans, big or small, rich or poor, are respected and protected by law and by all elected leaders of Uganda without exception; a country which is governed strictly by the tenets of the rule of law, not by gun rule or orders from above.
Third, the Uganda we want and deserve is a country in which the national cake or national resources of the “Pearl of Africa” are shared equitably and fairly among the many tribes, regions, political parties and religious organizations of our country.
Fourth, the Uganda we want and deserve is a country in which the word of God is supreme and the guiding light of our nation. This is consistent with our national motto, “For God and My Country” and our anthem.
Fifth, the Uganda we want and deserve is a country which promotes justice and peace internally and with all her neighbors by addressing the root causes of conflicts, not merely the symptoms. This will save our country trillions of shillings squandered annually on a huge military which Uganda does not need. As I have argued convincingly in previous opinions, Uganda should emulate and follow the good example of Costa Rica which abolished its army in 1949 and is one of the most peaceful and prosperous countries in Latin America, a violent and politically unstable continent.
Sixth, the Uganda we want and deserve is a constructive member of the international community, African Union, Non-aligned Movement, Commonwealth and United Nations; a country which promotes international peace and security and interdependence among nations for mutual benefit.
Seventh, the Uganda we want and deserve is devoid of endemic and systemic corruption, nepotism, cronyism, sectarianism and tribalism. Ugandans must learn to be their brother’s keeper. Our leaders, at local and national level, must practice what they preach, especially on critical questions, such as, corruption, equal distribution of opportunities and wealth, sectarianism and tribalism.
I believe the Uganda we want and deserve is not a utopian idea and unrealistic dream, but achievable if Ugandans bury their differences, join hands and together build a united, prosperous and peaceful country. Ugandans should not forget many useful lessons we have learnt the hard way during the last sixty years; let us apply the lessons learnt. In the final analysis the secret of liberty is courage to do what is right and acceptable for God and our country. Uhuru na Umoja. Uhuru na Kazi.