If you are not yet in the know, our dear President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni received a Global Peace Award at the recently concluded three-day Global Peace Leadership Conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
It was awarded to him in ‘appreciation’ of his efforts in establishing peace within the East African region; interventions in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi. (A quick update: South Sudan peace talks have just been concluded with evident hope!) And of course, the Global Peace Foundation also recognized his efforts in creating and maintaining peace in Uganda for over 30 years.
Well, don’t we all love this peace!
But I think the organizers forgot to mention his bigger efforts in this ‘peace-building thing’ of his, in which he has now become ‘the expert’.
I listened to his well composed and orchestrated masterpiece of a speech. While listening to him, I could not stop myself from clapping every now and then.
I actually felt he deserved more than one award. (yes, like a remix or something like that!). Anyone would love to listen to him and imagine how beautiful the world would be if…if we were living in his speeches.
He spoke about Identity and the need for one to live in peace with others despite having differences; the challenges of getting funding even when we do not identify with LGBTQ ‘open-rights’ policies, the ability to embrace religious variety and culture differences to push economic progress, about USA-China relations, and the need for the Koreas to Unite. I subscribe to this thinking.
I want to see that happen too. Identity…differences! But wait, when do we get to see this Ugandan police practice this?
He gave us a historical approach, date by date recount, (we all know he is good at this) of how Africa and Uganda have fallen victim to European selfishness and thus ‘loosing’ peace. He gave us a recount, chronologically, about how Uganda has fallen into the wrong hands and evaded peace through coups until he intervened with his National Resistance Movement. This alone makes him deserve another award, doesn’t he? (You get the point?)
At least he got a standing ovation from a few Burundians and Somalis who were seated next to me. I actually almost felt proud when one of those Burundians told me that we Ugandans are indeed blessed to have a president in Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. I almost felt proud. I almost did.
But whilst the applauding was going on, I couldn’t help but look around to see if there was anyone from the opposition factions like FDC.
Wouldn’t it have been an even greater point of reference if we had seen opposition and government comment and share views, similar or not, on peace and country-leadership?
I also couldn’t help imagine how beautiful it would be if what was being discussed and applauded about Uganda’s accomplishments in peace where in sync with the feelings and perceptions of the ordinary Ugandan especially the youth, the question therein being whether we are not silently at war!
Are we at peace with our economy; the OTT, Mobile Money Tax, Fuel, youth employment etc? Are we exactly sure that we have the best relations with Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania? I am no politician nor economist, I am just one of the lucky youths who were invited as delegates to be part of the event…what do I know?
As I walked out of that hall for lunch, with one of the ministers, I couldn’t help notice how distant these ‘leaders’ are from the realities of the people they lead. This minister spoke about ‘niceties’ and programs that Museveni (not the government) has put in place which, even I have never heard of.
Oh, maybe I have actually heard about the success of the NAADS program which this minister was passionately speaking about.
And then we had a sumptuous luncheon which was too organized to block you from imagining that in reality, over 50% of our population cannot afford a meal…at all!
As soon as the lunch was done, I felt the urge to speak to the president and thank him. I wanted to tell him that I personally appreciate his efforts in maintaining this peace status quo for over thirty years but most importantly, for using the gun to bring peace to Uganda; for sacrificing his peace to fight hard in the bush to remove a dictatorship that had crippled us. I wanted to tell him that because of his efforts, we have progressively developed into a formidable economic power in the region, something we could not have achieved with past dictatorships.
I wanted to tell him that he should be assured of not just an award but also a ‘thank you’ from me.
But of course, I did not get the chance to even come close to the shadows of his perfume.
All the same, congratulations Mr President.
Mr Tamale is a Marketing and Communications Consultant