I have never imagined myself as a political pundit or some such thing. I don't buy newspapers and I would be hard pressed to tell you who my member of parliament is. However of late I have found myself wanting to know more. It occurs to me that I do not know my country, like many I have developed apathy towards it and as such my people. I have decided to embark on an investigation of this nation. I want to know things about you my people. I want to know your dreams, hopes and aspirations as a country. Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve? What is our stand on local and global issues? Does our government have the people of this nation at heart? How patriotic are we? What are the things that divide us? How can we end poverty? I want to know what you think. But first let me tell you what I know and think about Uganda.
Our nation will turn 47 this October. Apart from the outstanding highlights, I have a vague knowledge of our history. I know that there are perhaps way more than 30 distinct ethnic groups in Uganda. This division along tribal lines has been exploited by those who have sought power over us and I can't help but feel that we need to get past this. I know that discrimination in all its forms has manifested itself in our society time and again. This has undermined our unity and led us down some dark roads. I think that over the years things have changed, with each new generation, old notions and customs have been laid aside as obsolete and irrelevant. However, these divisions persist, even among a single tribe; there are some who will not embrace the fundamental human rights of freedom and equality.
There is a love of peace among us. Perhaps it is because many of us still remember the dark days of turmoil and the tyranny of evil men. A greater part of this country has known peace for some time now. We would not see it change. We have however failed as a nation to bring peace to all. Our brothers and sisters have for years endured the ravages of a senseless war caused as far as I can tell by the ambitions of a madman and those who follow him, willingly and unwillingly. It is a stain on our nation and we should each feel the blood that has been shed on our hands.
There is something about this peace that we have. I think that many of us do not see it as something that we have a right to. We feel that it has been granted to us by a government that has the image of an all knowing father. The idea that things could change peacefully is so foreign to us that we live in fear. This fear perpetrated by some of our leaders and propagated by those among us who should know better, cripples us. It leads us to behave in ways that take us backwards instead of evolving as a nation.
We have developed apathy towards each other. I have been guilty of this for a long time and perhaps it is the fear but for my part I have been ignorant for a long time. I have not cared to know about things that have not involved me or affected me directly. Oblivious to the fact that everything is tied together, I have not cared about things I have perceived as beyond my sphere of influence. Many of us live like this; we believe that the best way for us to survive is to become as independent as possible. We forsake all forms of fellowship and abandon the true meaning of humanity. Empathy becomes something as alien to us as disease. It is considered weak to care, to give a damn, to feel. We have always been known for our sense of community, kindness and friendship. I can't help but feel that we are losing these values.
I could tell all that I think about the economy, politics, and other things but I cannot presume to bore you that much. At least not yet anyway, so here is my suggestion. If you can, find a topic that you feel passionate about, investigate it as much as you can and write something and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am going to stroll around and see what I can find out, then I'll try and aggregate all that I have gathered and we shall have "the state of our nation", at least through our eyes. I actually think that this is perhaps something that should be done by someone with more credentials than I, but I am Ugandan and damn proud of it.