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Obama’s troops in Central Africa to fight LRA; will they deliver?

Many Ugandans, through various social networks, have expressed skepticism over the 100 combat troops the US deployed to Uganda to help stamp out the rebels of Lord’s Resistance Army currently operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and parts of western South Sudan.

They think what they are actually here to do is secure for their country Uganda’s newly found oil.

a photo i took on Wednesday morning at Entebbe International Airport.

The mistrust and suspicion of American military interventions is well understood considering its record world over. However, I found many who are opposed to this deployment lacking much knowledge on what havoc the LRA have inflicted on the peoples of the three countries whom governments have largely ignored. And also many don’t look at what alternatives are there to stop these brutal massacres Continue reading

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Talking Africa Nobel Peace Prize winners with Al Jazeera

Last week, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gobwee won the the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Tawakkul Karman from Yemen for their work of bringing peace in non-violent ways in their countries. I met Leymah last year at the Man Up Campaign conference alongside the World Cup in South Africa. I have interviewed President Sirleaf twice. I thought it was very significant for African women to be recognised in the area of peace and security. Most often the image of African women is that of a victim of war and not a participant in bringing about peace.

Here is what I shared with Al Jazeera Newshour the day the winners were announced on Friday 7 October.

This week at the press briefing in Kigali, I asked President Paul Kagame what this prize meant for Africa.

I am only happy for the women of Africa. We need to go beyond this being a symbol for women. Women need attention not just in Africa but in the rest of the world. When I travel and read i see marginalisation of women. We appreciate the quest to empower women and have them as an integral part of our society on equal terms. But as we get help here in Africa, i feel we may need to take this help to some of these countries. For instance you go to discuss business in these countries and all their boards have about 20 men and one or two women. They too need help. This Prize is a reminder that we should work beyond the prize that was given for us to meet expectations of women of Africa. We need more women presidents!

In the interview I mentioned the status of women in South Sudan and I intend to write a separate post soon from my recent trip to Juba and interactions with women leaders in that country.

 

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A chat with Jannette Kagame ; Rwanda’s struggle with Human Rights groups and why she stays out of politics

This week I am in Kigali, Rwanda where I am taking part in a meeting with Echenberg human rights fellows, a program coordinated by McGill University to bring together youth from around the world to discuss various human rights issues.

On the list of people to meet was Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame whom the group met yesterday October 10. Shortly before I left Kampala on Sunday President Museveni had given a medal to his wife Janet Museveni who is a minister and member of parliament, for her part in the fight to ‘liberate’ us. This  was given out as Uganda celebrated 49 years of independence. It was yet another controversial medal taken care of by the controversial medals budget from State House.

Going into the meeting with Rwanda’s  First Lady I wondered how I would put my question about family rule. Then I asked on twitter what people would ask Mrs Kagame. @Afric01 replied and I put his question first.

Below are the highlights of our meeting Continue reading

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Breaking a 33 year jinx; Ugandans wait to make a come back in Africa football

Today, Kampala is very colourful. Lately it’s only this colourful on events like these. It’s two days before Uganda ‘celebrates’ it’s 49 years after independence but those years seem to mean nothing much this friday as Uganda plays Kenya tomorrow October 8. This game means so much for Ugandans. It has been 33 years we have have waited to make a come back to the African Nations Cup.

The world and many in Uganda may be used to seeing the name of late President Iddi Amin next to words like monster, killer or beast but for many Ugandans he was a great man. His reasonable actions in other fields might be overshadowed by his rogue side but Ugandans know it was a year before he was ousted that Uganda last competed in the continental tornament where it only lost to Ghana on the final.  And his leadership and backing of sports had something to do with that historic appearance.

The past year has been tough for us, the economic crisis and our government that loves to spend have not helped. We bought ourselves fighter jets at millions of dollars, our currency can’t stop weakening against others and our inflation stands at 28.3 % this month. We have had strikes by different professions, teachers, taxi drivers e.t.c.  Many are struggling to put a meal on the table and keep their children in school or even enjoy a beer (our president advised us to drink milk instead.)

The Uganda Cranes, our national team seems to be the only thing holding us together, the little light that we are seeking in our darkness. Uganda has has 10 points and Kenya is at 7. Uganda must get win to avoid any calculations based on the other group game between Angola (9 point) and Guinea Bissau.

My Cranes jersey!

Uganda last lost to Kenya at home in 1991 so the Kenyans have their own 10 year jinx they will be looking to break. But the 33 year jinx means much more. Football has remained the only place for Ugandans to show their patriotism and love for their country.  According to tweets i have read many would wish not even see the face of their politicians at this game. The ordinary people feel the staduim is the only place they can unite and defeat someone. It’s the hopelessness that has engulfed us in the midst of failing systems whether education or health care, unwanted public expenditure and unending promotions of the corrupt and the wicked of the regime.

In one of the qualifying games, the now Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, whose name is painted all over different corruption scandals was the chief guest. He dared to flash his party sign and his aides had to shield him from flying water bottles from the Cranes fans. A few days ago he visited the Cranes camp and so did the first son Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Both donates some thousands of dollars. First the money is largely seen as our own tax payers money and then if this government genuinely invested in sports (am dreaming ) they wouldn’t need to come out at last minute to pledge. Truth is national sport survives because of few good hearts and the very supportive fans.

Football and the Cranes games in particular are almost the only remaining things that Ugandans can put their hearts to and spend their money on. It’s the day you see Uganda flags in numbers you wont find at any event not even the 49th Independence anniversary.  Ugandan leaders have largely been so meaningless to ordinary people that seeing corrupt leaders – much as they have a right to be there- come to claim they are behind the country’s pride makes many mad.

The Nelson Mandela National Stadium is simply the only place we come to forget -for just day- about you looters of our country! Ugandans come to forget what is happening to Uganda. And it’s the only place you see genuine nationalism therefore breaking the 33 year jinx is about history, pride and Namboole is the place to be ourselves!

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