Heroes Day Celebrations

Thursday, 09 June 2016


Much as it is great to celebrate the lives and gains of our heroes with outward excitement, it is much greater to concretize these gains, not only by protecting them but also advancing them through concrete actions. We should actualize them on a daily basis. Our celebrations should bring to the fore the good intentions of our heroes for our dear country, Uganda. They must imprint in our hearts the responsibility and duty of carrying forward and handing them over to future generations. This is the essence of our celebrations today. There were many heroes prior to the coming of Europeans. These included the builders of the Luo Dynasty, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and Buganda Kingdom. For today’s celebrations however, we focus on the gains of our heroes of the colonial and post colonial or independence periods. These heroes like King Kabalega of Bunyoro, King Mwanga II of Buganda and later on, Sir Edward Muteesa II, the first President of independent Uganda led their people to fight against the imperialists, to protect the sovereignty of their people. The happenings of the 2nd World War (1939 – 1945) for which colonized Africans had been conscripted to fight for their colonial masters and support their causes revealed to them many things some of which were unintended or even unwanted by the colonial masters. One of such unpalatable revelations was that Europeans like Africans were essentially the same; they had similar weakness or even more in many ways; they were frail, they could get hungry, thirsty and tired. Consequently, after the war the Africans started arguing like Shakespeare’s Cassius did, many centuries before. “I was born as a Ceaser, so were you. We both have fed as well and we can both endure the winter’s cold as well as he……………..and perhaps more!”1 This demystifying consequence of the war encouraged Africans to struggle for their sovereignty to shape their own destiny. For these brave Ugandans of the colonial period and we believe, of today; “It is better to be a free nobody than claim to be a Roman citizen’’2 under an oppressive regime. Of course, it is impolite to compare our National Heroes’ vision for Uganda with the likes of Shakespeare’s wicked men like Cassius; the point being made here is that the 1939 – 45 war had demystified the ceasarism of the colonial masters and Africans had observed this demystification. 1 William Shakespeare: Julius Ceasar 2 William Shakespeare: Julius Ceasar This realization started and intensified the struggle for independence. Gold Coast (now Ghana), India and some other countries under the colonial rule then had already done it. These national heroes struggled and fought for sovereignty, for fair trade and equitable distribution of material wealth. Ignatius Musaazi and others struggled for fair prices for the African cash crops etc. The struggle came to fruition in 1962. Independent Uganda has walked a slippery journey along the independence path with amazing zeal and courage. Thanks to the foresight, commitment, determined and focused leadership of our heroic leaders; Ugandans have now gained hope, hope for a brighter future. Uganda with steady progress is poised to take her well-deserved position on the rank of Middle Income countries. An eminent scholar and religious leader, the late Rev Father Dr John Mary Waliggo put his and your vision for Uganda in “The UgandaWe Want (2003)” very well.  A God loving and fearing country. A Uganda with citizens full of patriotism for their country. In this respect, the eminent scholar argues and quite correctly: “God chose that we be born here, we should love to grow up here, to work here, and develop our mother country here and we should grow old here, die here and be buried here and resurrect here’’. True patriotism should help us to fully and meaningfully participate in nation building.Patriotism for the country God gave us freely willprevent us from mismanaging our resources through corruption, involving ourselves in crimes of all sorts and in armed conflicts. In this way we shall follow in the footsteps of our heroes to build: (i) A Uganda full of respect for her people and a just democratic and constitutional system of governance, based on law and order. (ii) A Uganda with a strong culture of security, peace and civilization that is committed to using legal and peaceful means in settling our conflicts and disagreements. (iii) A Uganda open to globalization but resisting its negative aspects in order to protect, our national identity and culture. (iv) A Uganda fully open to the East African Community, the African Union in order to help all Africans to harness our energies in order to liberate Africa from hunger, diseases and ignorance. (v) A productive Uganda where everybody has enough food to eat. (vi) A Uganda that invests in her human resources and provides adequate services. (vii) A Uganda that practices human rights and treasures genuine efforts of Civil Society and the Media. These aspirations are very much in agreement with the NRM Fifteen Point Programme and the 1995 Constitution as amended. The gains ushered in by the heroic deeds of our gallant sons and daughters are many including the following: Security, Peace and Stability: The most fundamental of these gains was the provision of security and peace which eventually ushered in stability. This became very evident starting from 1986 onwards when our national army began the genuinely transformational process of becoming a professional and pro-people disciplined force, a real Instrument of peace and security. This enabled the local population to among other things, work and earn their living and develop without fear and hindrance that had enveloped the country for so long. Good Governance based on Democratic Principles: Our heroes of the Colonial period had, as stated earlier, fought for their sovereignty to determine the destiny of their nation. Unfortunately, when independence came at last, it came with some historical imperfections. It took our national heroes more than a decade to correct those imperfections. The NRM was born out of those historical realities by national heroes who re-established the rule of law. This culminated in the making of a pro-people Constitution of 1995. As a result, Uganda boasts of a Government based on strong democratic principles and rule of law as illustrated by the February 18th, 2016 Presidential, Parliamentary and other elections at various levels. Recognition of various Special Interest Groups Various interest groups are represented in Parliament and other lower levels including the Youth, the Women, the Elderly, the Disabled, etc. Parliament boasts of well over 25% of women and five youths representing the five regions of Uganda. Women have climbed to the highest levels of leadership - Vice Presidency, Speakership of Parliament, Chairpersons of Commissions and, Local Councils etc. The Economy: The economy is improving by the day. In 1986,local revenue collections could contribute hardly 40% of the budget, now it is expected to contribute 86%. Poverty level has been reduced from 56% (1986) to currently 15% nationally. The Infrastructure and Social Services Delivery: By way of recognizing the heroes’ aspirations, the present national heroes have emphasized the development of human resources. Special emphasis has been put on Education and Health. The introduction of UPE in 1997 and USE in 2013, resulted into astronomical numbers of children benefitting from these developments (for primary from 2.5 million to 8.5 million now and for Secondary from 954,328 to 1.4 million) respectively. Improvement in tertiary and other levels are equally astounding. The literacy is now over 75% up from 40% in 1986. Thanks to the policy of liberalizing Education, there are now over twenty private universities spread across the country. Equally, astronomical achievements have been made in the sector of Health resulting into the rise of life expectancy to 56 years up from 42 years. Other Areas of Development Positive achievements have been registered in the areas of development for example, massive road construction, exploration of oil and gas, ICT, trade, international relations etc. The essence of our celebrations today is to concretize these gains so that they bear more visible fruits. Following in the footsteps of our heroes, it is our duty to work with all our ability and contribute to further development of our country for the benefit of the present generation but also the generation to come. Heroes were not selfish; their vision was a better future of this country. Indeed their sacrifices were not in vain. The Constitution of Uganda is very clear on the duties of a citizen and we should abide accordingly. These are: – • To respect the national anthem, flag, coat of arms and currency; • To respect the rights and freedoms of others; • To protect children and vulnerable persons against any form of abuse, harassment or ill-treatment; • To protect and preserve public property; • To defend Uganda and to render national service when necessary; • To cooperate with lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order; • To pay taxes; • To register for electoral and other lawful purposes; • To combat corruption and misuse or wastage of public property; • To create and protect a clean and healthy environment • It is the duty of all able-bodied citizens to undergo military training for the defence of the constitution and the protection of the territorial integrity of Uganda. WISHING YOU HAPPY CELEBRATIONS ON THIS HISTORICAL DAY