Today all roads lead to the independence grounds at Kololo Airstrip to mark Uganda’s 50 years of independence.
Kololo, the very place where Maj. Kanuti Akorimo hoisted the Uganda flag on 9th October 1962, has been renovated to host over 5000 people with nearly 16 presidents and Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent.
Prince Edward who is Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin handed over the instruments of power to the then Prime Minister of Uganda, Milton Obote.
The celebrations will be held under the theme, “A 50-year Journey since Independence (1962- 2012): A Good Foundation for Social and Economic Transformation.”
According to information obtained from the Uganda Media Centre, the 16 presidents and 40 delegations have confirmed their attendance. The presidents include newly elected presidents of Egypt Mohamed Morsi and Somalia Hassan Mohamud.
The other heads of state are Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Pierre Nkrunziza of Burundi, Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Congo Brazzaville, and Joyce Banda of Malawi. The other heads of state who have confirmed are from Central African Republic, Gambia, Benin. High level delegations are expected from China, United Kingdom (UK), South Africa, USA, Nigeria, and Sudan.
At the heart of the celebrations will be a state of the art pavilion constructed by the engineering brigade of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces. The UPDF says construction work which started in May seeing the pavements and roads leading to the grounds face-lifted, has cost them some 14 billion shillings.
Uganda celebrates 50 years of independence at time when the country enjoys recognition as the world’s topmost tourist destination. In fact, recent figures show Kampala City and the Capital of Namibia Windhoek are ranked at the top of the safest cities in Africa. Makerere University, the country’s topmost public university has regained it past glory ranking at number 8 in Africa as well as best university outside South Africa and Egypt.
At 34 million people, the country is slowly but steadfastly reclaiming her position on the African stage, yet it has come from the age of darkness. Uganda’s past has been deep. Uganda has been tortured, trampled on, spat at and it has bled. But the sleeping giant that Uganda has been, has slowly woken up and is steadfastly ascending the treadmill of progress and the dawn is brighter.
As Uganda celebrates its independence from her British colonial masters 50 years ago, there is still a section of Ugandans who are oblivious of an ever expanding space of Progress and human advancement in all spheres of life in our country.
There were lots of ululations, shouts of joy and celebrations at the midnight hour of October 9th 1962 when the Union Jack was lowered and the Tri colour of Black, Yellow and Red was mounted which initiated the birth of Republic of Uganda. But unknown to many Ugandans, the people of Uganda were handed a skunk. Ugandans took it home and it soiled the clean slates of the nation for a long time. That skunk was a divide of people along tribal, class and religious lines.
When Benedicto Kiwanuka was voted into Authority with his Democratic Party in the first elections after independence, he was flatly rejected by Royals and Nobles in Buganda since he was just a Mukopi who would never be allowed to exercise his authority above that of the Kabaka.
Benedicto Kiwanuka was of a lower caste in Buganda. This DP leader was also rejected by the Anglican Church leaders as being a Catholic in the environment choreographed by departing colonialists who wanted to make Uganda always beholden to her old master.
The Foundation on which British Colonialists granted the people of Uganda independence that was built on quick sand, would soon collapse and indeed it never took long. The Hitherto Anglican and Catholic brothers started fighting each other politically based on their religion and the tribal North -South divide widened. The country plunged unto upheavals that resulted into State of emergencies, Coup d’etats and Civil wars, which all negatively affected the Ugandan social structure. Families were destroyed, Careers were halted, the civil service was damaged, Education was severely affected and the country went to the gutters.
As Ugandan schools start attracting tens of thousands students from neighbouring countries namely Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda, the signs of Uganda returning to its original place as a hub of educational excellence are visible. Makerere University is busy reclaiming its position as Africa’s centre for intellectual tourism destination. Kampala, which had been clustered with the likes of Beirut and most other dangerous cities, is taking its place as the topmost safe city in Africa. While previously, political contests revolved around tribal, religious and class lines, the middle class is shaping the direction of public policy. Political contest is fast becoming issue based and the government is always on its Toes pushed by the middle class on issues of good governance, wages prices and the economy. Ugandans are fearlessly pushing for term limits, ending of corruption and transparency showing how enlightened they have become.
Much as there has been considerable progress, there are lots of missteps that are ailing and affecting the country and somehow hindering the progress of the people.
Corruption has reached alarming levels as society moral safeguards have been degraded and people are busy taking booty for their families and stomachs. Uganda is fast becoming an every man for himself society and no one, it seems, remains with patriotic spirit.
The powers that be are breeding what is termed as an enlightened dictatorship. The powers that be have expanded the democratic space, paved a good environment for education and expanded the economy but all these are growing past the grips of the powers and the powers that be are trying hard to keep hold on the grip and failing to read the signs of the time. They appear to have lost the energy and the will to control the state. Anxiety is setting in because the powers that be have been around for a longer time. Ugandans are increasingly agitating for a Joshua that will take on Moses’ Mantel.
Paving the Path to 2062:
What Uganda needs at this juncture are the Messiahs of mind revolution. The era of physical revolutions are gone by in Uganda. Uganda has the highest young population in the world with unemployment levels that have hit the 80% mark. Uganda needs Messiahs who will spark the revolution of the minds to redress this. There is need to create a mind within the people to develop that much-needed sense of pride for their country. A revolution that will instill love for selflessly building the nation. A Revolution to inspire the minds of Uganda to protect the environment. A Mind Revolution that will catapult Uganda’s speed of progress. Without a mind reformation of Ugandans, no matter what set of leaders take capital at State House, the Ugandan boat of progress will remain slow.
Uganda is also celebrating at a time when huge amounts of oil deposits have been discovered in the country. Yesterday, regional presidents joined President Yoweri Museveni to commission a hydro power dam at Bujagali in the east of the country which helped raise the national grid to about 800 megawatts of electricity. The president insist this is not enough and the country still needs more 30,000 megawatts of electricity in order to propel itself to the first world country it dreams to be.
Alot will be needed more in developing the country’s skills base, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, the services sector, security and regional integration to move the country forward.
As we celebrate 50 years of independence, let us remember that another long journey to 2062 begins now.
Thank you all for following live updates from Kololo independence grounds. Get more exclusive details, pictures and sleeping guests in our print edition of the Red Pepper.
EAT 3:50: THE END
EAT 3:40: Police spokeswoman Nabakooba says the bomb recovery reports in Wandegeya were a scare but appeals for continued public vigilance
Museveni: Uganda has achieved fast growth in the last 26 years. This century wil be Uganda’s century and Africa’s century
Museveni: with oils and other minerals, Uganda will be irreversbly transformed
Museveni: With Oil Uganda wil become a middle income country in the next few years and certainly a first world country in the next 50 years
Museveni: The investor and the consumer are the most important players in the road to social economic transformation
Museveni: Uganda govt is funding Makerere University to start commercial production of cars
Museveni: By adding value to Uganda’s raw materials will improve its economy ten times
Museveni: Uganda has invested heavily in adding value to unprocessed raw materials and foods such as banana and coffee
Museveni: The greatest threat to environment is lack of electricity. we are aim,ing at 20,000 megawatts on the next few years
Museveni: The spirits that had blocked the construction of the dam at Bujagali are now happy with the new dam
Museveni: To Address the human resources issue, we introduced free education which has seen enrollment 16 times
Museveni: To address poor state structure, we disbanded the colonial system including the army.
Museveni: More bottlenecks; weak human resource, infrastructure, small market, industrialization, poor services, poor agriculture &Democracy
Museveni: At indep there were 10 bottlenecks: Attacking the private sector, weak state struct, an ideologically disoriented leadership
Museveni: We salute HRN the Aga Khan helped us build the dam at Bujagali
Museveni: The presence of the Duke of Kent is good for us because he is the one who handed over the first instruments of power to Obote
Museveni: ‘Congratulations to all Ugandans for attaining Independence in 1962’
EAT 02:25: Museveni takes to an improvised podium aboard a pickup to give his independence speech
EAT 02:00: The yummy side of Uganda@50: Air Show, smartly dressed armed forces, private sector parade.
Downside: An ignorant MC and squeaky sound system
EAT 01:49: Supersonic jet fighter commander. Capt. Kigundu makes direct communication saluting President Museveni and all guests, says “Aluta Contunua”
EAT 01:45: Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara arrives at Kololo Independence Grounds
EAT 01:36: Commander Fred Kiyingi makes an acrobatic airshow with a fighter jet brandishing a Ugandan flag
EAT 01:36: Ugandan air force attack helicopters fly past the Kololo grounds. Jets emit Black, Yellow & Red smoke Commanded by Fred Kiyingi
EAT 01:34:The Uganda air-force prepares to parade their assets: Attack Helicopters to lead an air show of force shortly
EAT 01:18: Confirmed: Police has recovered a bomb (unexploded) in Wandegeya Kampala. (Police calls upon all people to report any suspicious objects)
EAT 12:58: The Home of Opposition leader Col. Kiiza Besigye is cordoned off as the rest of Uganda celebrates 50 years of independence
EAT 12:58: Meanwhile, the Inspector Gen of Police Gen. Kayihura missing at kololo as some leaders of the opposition are arrested in town. Besigye is still under ‘Preventive Arrest’ in Kasangati
EAT 12:14: Archbishop Orombi: We pray for all presidents since independence. mutesa, Obote, Amin, Lule, Binaisa, Lutwa and Gen. Museveni
EAT 12:14 : Archbishop Luke Orombi leading other religious leaders in prayers at Kololo
EAT 12:03: President Museveni inspecting the smartly dressed parade of composed of the Ugandan armed forces
EAT 11:20: President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has also arrived at kololo independence grounds
EAT 11:15: President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni arrives at independence grounds
EAT 10:31: 80,000. Is the number of guests the Uganda@50 organizers have prepared for at Kololo grounds
EAT 10:30: Rwandan President PaulKagame has also arrived at Kololo Independence grounds for Uganda@50
EAT 10:21: Gen Salva Kiir the president of South Sudan arrives at Kololo
EAT 10:15:The Vice President of the Republic Sudan, Burundian President Nkuruzinza and DRC presedent Joseph Kabila arrive at Kololo
EAT 9:56: Arrival of Prince Edward the Duke of Kent at Kololo independent grounds. Takes seat in presidential tent
EAT 9:30: President Ian Khrama of Botswana, the VP of Tanzania plus His Toyal Higheness the Aga Khan arrive at Kololo Independence Grounds
EAT 10:00: Comedian Pablo entertains the crowds at Kololo grounds
EAT 9:30: Religious leaders, KCCA Director Jeniffer Musisi, UPDF Chief of Defence Forces and other dignitaries arrive at Kololo Uganda@50