Over the last two days I have been startled by Uganda sanitation statistics and how the country loses a lot of money and time to treatment of diseases, which are preventable. One person suggested that may be it is a matter of people in finance not being able to make the link that prevention costs us way less than treatment dedicated to 75% of disease burden from poor sanitation.
With about a thousand days to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) deadline, some 780 million people will still not have access to improved water supply and many countries including Uganda are going to miss the targets for sanitation. About 2.5 billion people worldwide still do not have access to improved sanitation. About 1 billion people still defecate in the open and Uganda contributes 3.2 million to this figure.
A while back, a friend returned from a funeral of one the big men from his village. The man had served as a minister in one of past regimes and had generally lived a good life. My friend’s story from the big man’s funeral wasn’t about the pomp, which many often try to put up even at funerals in our rich world. It was about one shocking aspect of the man’s life. This big man had lived in Kampala and kept his village home like most Ugandans do but to the surprise of my friend this big man’s village home where he was buried had had no toilet/latrine facilities. The only standing structure had been quickly erected at the news of his passing.
I was reminded of this story at a sanitation meeting that is taking place in Kampala, which brought participants from 21 countries.
When I first saw the theme “unclogging the blockages” I wondered if we had even anything blocked in the first place. Contrary to held myths that open-air defecation is done by poor people, this story of the big man shows that shit matters in Uganda are everyone’s problem.
It is been tough months, the kind of tough I wouldn’t easily put down on paper! I am sure the last two weeks you read and re-read articles about life and the passing of former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela. I quietly read a lot too.
I wrote this small piece for Radio Netherlands Worldwide about what I thought of his life and legacy. I hope you still find it interesting.
I was barely 11 years old when Mandela was released from 27 years of inhuman incarceration. At home we didn’t have a TV and I bet that my day – that great day in history – went on like any other day of an 11 year old in rural Uganda.
Many years later, I would read of President Mandela saying: “The curious beauty about African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad story.” It reminded me of my childhood and how music introduced many of us to the apartheid and the evils in South Africa. The songs of Miriam Makeba and Lucky Dube would be danced to in my village, but they also sparked passionate discussions.
For two weeks in October, I worked with a research team from Isis-WICCE to document Congolese women refugees experiences of war. The research is supposed to inform various political efforts to end the conflicts in Eastern DRC.
We travelled to Bubukwanga, a refugee transit camp in Bundibugyo district at the border with DRC. At the time of the visit, the centre was still receiving about 250 refugee arrivals per week.
Most of these refugees fled back in July when rebels reported to be ADF-NALU took over Kamango, a town about 10 KM from the Ugandan border.It is Beni district, North KivU Province. Some reports in Uganda media questioned if ADF was really behind the attacks.
Unlike other attacks in North Kivu, many reported the rebels attack on Kamango was more of a tactic to force displacement. One woman told me “they came to my house and said i should go to a refugee camp in Uganda because they needed this place as their playing field.
There was no report of sexual violence, the attack took many by surprise, although there had been some abductions and killings in the area for sometime.
Many reported that rebels had carried out killings especially of people who had either refused to leave or tried to go back after the day of the attack. The chief of the area was killed in the first hours of the attack, a tactic to instill fear in the population to force them out.
In Kyangwali refugee settlement where more than 5000 had been relocated, beginning a new life in a new place is tough. I spent more time at Kyangwali and got many images but would like to share these. For many elderly people, this was their 3rd time to be displaced into Uganda. In fact some of them narrated their stories in Rutoro/Runyakira.
For some time, secrecy had surrounded a racist deal made by an openly racist Israeli government towards African immigrants and some leaders of African countries.
When I first saw this report I thought, what an all-new low we are hitting in assisting trade in humans and promoting racism! I hoped that my president still had some moral bit left especially on an issue that concerned discrimination and dehumanization of Africans. But i was wrong!
A gag order on a secret agreement between governments of Israel and Uganda to deport African immigrants to Uganda was lifted.
Most immigrants in Israel are from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.
This deal between President Museveni, and Israel will see Uganda take in tens of thousands of African migrants or in some cases serve as a transit station.
Israeli Interior Minister said that they had obtained consent from Museveni government which a foreign ministry official was quick to refute . I say it is Museveni because there’s almost no respect for other aspects of government by Museveni.
Gideon Sa’ar doesn’t even conceal his racist language!
“In the first stage we will focus on raising awareness within the population of infiltrators while helping them with the logistics of their departure including their airfare and dealing with possession they accumulated.”
In Uganda and many postcolonial African countries, women’s political leadership has come a long way. At Independence while the continent celebrated the great milestones from Ghana to Kenya, Uganda to Malawi, women were quietly bracing themselves for the second independence- the struggle for a woman’s space in political life of postcolonial Africa.
Most independence struggles always highlighted men at the forefront for long at the expense of women’s contributions. Women’s achievements were not as revered as those of the men who led militaristic struggles.
Many decades later, Africa now has two female heads of state and many other women occupy key decision-making positions. Even with these achievements, many analysts believe the women’s involvement in post-colonial state governance has been painfully slow.
This week, Isis-WICCE organized a high level meeting of women from African countries discussing women’s political leadership on the continent.
The women leaders included ministers, Members of Parliament and academicians from South Sudan, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda.
Speaker after speaker these women leaders raised the glaring challenges faced by women in political leadership and high on the list was militarism and the sexualized nature of political spaces in their countries.
In past Uganda has had a female vice president and currently has the first ever-female speaker Ms Rebecca Kadaga presiding over parliament. Many may be quick to highlight this as a great success but the fact that it came 50 years after independence speaks volumes of the struggle of women to make it in the political arena.
As the news of a final confirmation of a life presidency in Zimbabwe trickles in, I am reading from a great Zimbabwean blogger and friend Delta.
Increasingly Ugandans are waking up to the realisation that we are on the path towards Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
Both regimes have a tainted history of massacres that were generally ignored because the narrative at the time was that of liberation- at all costs. But slowly our liberators Mugabe and Museveni worked hard to entrench themselves in power, make their rule unquestionable and blatantly disregard any semblance of rule of law.
They use history to claim their entitlements with no mention of future. Everything in these countries’s regimes is in past tense except when they are talking about the next election.
The hardships people face in these countries are either because of colonialists, bad past leaders or opposition and media -which are ‘western stooges.’ Nothing points to the saints in power in these two governments as far as they are concerned.
In Uganda, Museveni is using every unconstitutional means to remain in our face and tells himself he is still relevant. And slowly books are blocked from publication and no more than three people can meet without government permission.
All in all I love Deltas touch on role of youth in shaping our non-existing democracy. Her conclusion is so powerful and it should be told to these leaders.
“You liberated yourselves and not us – so don’t speak the language of liberation to those whose lives have been shattered by your political tyranny.”
Our bitterness does not come from the fact that we’ve been hurt.
Our bitterness comes from the fact that those who have hurt us remain perpetually unrepentant.
Our bitterness comes from the fact that those who have hurt us go unpunished, make no penance and show no contrition.
And so our wounds remain gaping, our sense of violation festers like a sore and the injustices we have suffered silently, become loud screams in our heads.
We have been powerless to retaliate because at first we were young (born frees) and later we were ignorant of the power of our vote (pushed to the margins by the older generation who insisted that they knew what was best for us).
Then in time, we were rendered powerless by our lack of capacity occasioned by the worst economic meltdown that had those whose skills we relied on scurrying out of the country like…
In the village of Rupa, about 40 minutes drive from the regional town of Moroto, I met 11 year-old Clementina Loduk . I had gone there with a group of academicians interested in the development of the region at the beginning of July. This was my second trip to a region, which remains largely unknown to many Ugandans. I asked someone in the group to tell me the last story they had seen in the national media about Karamoja and many couldn’t point out any. Later we had a meeting at one of the villages.
Today at about 1200hrs EAT, South Sudan authorities freed two Ugandan journalists who have been in detention since Saturday. The Justin Dralaze and Hillary Ayesiga who were filming in Juba, the capital of South Sudan without clearance were held by South Sudan security for four days.
The Ugandan Embassy and Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs intervened in the case for the last five days but it was a lot of work on part of two South Sudanese Human Rights lawyers that finally brought security in South Sudan to release the journalists without charge.
This is Hillary Ayesiga a Ugandan journalist. I met Hillary in 2007 when we started working for Nation TV Uganda (NTV), a part of the Aga Khan’s Nation Media Group. It was the new station in Uganda, fairly professional- more than most TV stations to the best of my judgement.
Hillary was a colleague for close to two years when i worked at NTV and he is a friend. He’s a hard working journalist. He never shies away from stories.
On Saturday, Hillary was arrested in Juba, South Sudan together with Justin Dralaze, a video journalist that has worked with Reuters for long time until recently. The two had gone to South Sudan to do stories for Feature Story News (FSN), a US-based company.
I have known Justin too for more than 7 years,we have survived riots and demonstrations in the land of Museveni where teargas is administered more regularly and with more zeal than immunisation against killer diseases.