BY HASON BWAMBALE MUTUNZI
A Month ago, Queen Elizabeth Mary Windsor II, sovereign of Great Britain and Northern Ireland passed on at 96. In her long life, she inspired countless numbers of girls and boys from around the world to put the greater good ahead of selfish ambition.
On her first visit to Uganda, then as a Princess, she visited what was then Kazinga National Park, and from a vantage point, marveled at the beauty of this land that her future Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill called the ‘Pearl of Africa.’ Today, we call this Park Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Of course, from 1894 when Edward VIII was sovereign until 1961, what is now the territory of Uganda was a Protectorate of the British. Therefore, at our independence on October’s 9th day in 19 hundred and 62, Elizabeth Mary Windsor II was Sovereign of the empire of Great Britain.
This long association of Uganda to Britain, dating to the arrival of John Hanning Speke at Mutesa 1’s Mmengo palace in 1862, is evident in many aspects of modern Uganda’s society.
As stated earlier, it is evident in our Tourism sector where beside the aforementioned Queen Elizabeth National Park, we also have the world-famous Murchison falls national park in our region of Bunyoro.
In education, British influence was felt through the many non-denominational schools they set up across Uganda. These included Kings’ College Buddo in Buganda, Mengo High School, Namilyango, Gayaza High School and others.
In health, British influence is still evident in some of the denominational hospitals that were set up by them. These include, Rubaga Hospital, Mengo Hospital, Virika Hospital-Kabarole, Ishaka Adventist Hospital in Bushenyi among others.
In Agriculture, they introduced plantation agriculture for Cotton, Coffee and the like.
The British influence is also seen and felt in the denominational sects in Uganda most especially the Christians who majorly are the Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Seventh-day Adventists and the Pentecosts.
As you are no doubt aware, this NRM government has worked to reverse the unfortunate cultural traits placed on the Ugandan and African girl child. Today, women do have representation at all levels and in all branches of government.
Examples of these women include, The vice President of the Republic of Uganda H.E Jesca Alupo, Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, Speaker of the Republic of Uganda Rt.
Hon. Anita Annet Among, Eng. Irene Ssewankambo ED UCC, Dr. Aminah Zawedde, PS MOICT, Confidence Moreen Biira , District Female Youth counselor, Kasese District .
Women are also increasingly being drafted into the echelons of business.
Notable names of these women are;Maria Kiwanukka, sylvia Namutebi, Moureen Wavamuno , Tereza Mbire, Nina Karugaba and others However, prejudices against women still exist like discrimination based on sex or gender, and during the recent covid19 lockdown, cases of marginalization and domestic violence against women increased in many parts of Uganda.
60 years after our Independence, our country now finds itself at a crossroads. Yes, it is right that under this NRM government, many of the backward cultural traits regarding women are being systematically dismantled AND yet, our threat now comes from a dismantling of those traits that are so valued – composition of and structure of family.
Attempts by a section (some) of Civil Society organizations are now misguiding many young people that it is ok for a man to marry a man AND that, equally scary, for a girl to be a man. It is not.
The shared destiny of Africa is best served when we embrace those ideals that allowed my Bakonzo ancestors to fraternize and associate with their kin within what is now the DRC.
The shared destiny of Africa is best served when my Muhororo friends can come to Kasese and fraternize with our Basongora friends in Karusandara.
The shared destiny of Africa is best served when my kin freely associate with and indeed fraternize with their brothers and sisters in Buganda and beyond.
Did Nyerere not challenge us thus: Unity will not make us rich, but it can make it difficult for Africa and the African peoples to be disregarded and humiliated. And it will, therefore, increase the effectiveness of the decisions we make and try to implement for our development?!
Indeed, does the example of Queen Elizabeth and her long, progressive and peaceful reign – breaking opaque cultural dogma – not challenge us to say “It has been women who have breathed gentleness and care into the harsh progress of mankind.”?