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We Need to Spruce Attitude, Not National Anthem [opinion]

The thing about brand gurus is that they will never stop trying. Even in matters as uninviting as changing the national anthem, they will convince the government that the anthem is no longer up to scratch.

Whatever that means! The gurus exploit the master’s (client) weakness until he turns the tables and signs the deal.

Corporate branding often results and remains in external appearance changes, and ignores many other aspects of the organisation. For instance, Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba, who is spearheading the drive to have the anthem changed so as to endear it to tourists, among other things, is unhappy with the current lyrics and tunes.

The question is for whom is the change intended? Mutagamba and others’ project lacks depth. It aims to improve on the aesthetic of the anthem. It seems Mutagamba’s mission is intended to please and attract more tourists to the country other than instilling a sense of patriotism, belonging and pride in what is truly Ugandan.

She says the way it is played, does not promote tourism and the young don’t like it. So, it appears Mutagamba believes and has been made to believe the anthem is out of tune with the young generation. Upon the death of the composer of the anthem, George Kakoma, some prominent artist criticized his works and claimed that the words did not register with Ugandan’s aspirations.

He claimed that if given a chance, he would rewrite an anthem that defined Uganda and also one that would be associated with, by all Ugandans. I was not surprised that, this artist is one of those that have been hired by Mutagamba to fine-tune the anthem. But have we really carried out a study on why Ugandans do not like the anthem?

Wouldn’t it have been better if we sought the views of Ugandans from the different districts, to confirm if they wanted a change if so, what kind of anthem would they wish to have?

If there was need to change, why wasn’t this project aertised so that as many composers participated in the competition rather than restricting it to a few ‘experts’? Still, must the anthem be changed for the sake of it?

In 2001, the republic of Rwanda changed its national flag, anthem and coat of arms. They moved away from an anthem which tended to promote one ethnic group as being superior against another perceived to be vanquished and inferior. The coat of arms incorporated many things that are perceived representative of Rwanda.

The changes aimed at national unity, patriotism, knowing that the country had been through a difficult time of war based mainly on ethnicity. I used to think that there was a bug of rebranding that had hit our country.

Later, I discovered that whenever a new manager assumes the seat of corporate or public institutions, one of the first things heshe does is to try as much as possible to delink himherself with the past.

If this person doesn’t systematically sack the executives he finds in office, he will introduce changes in the appearance of corporate logos and other paraphernalia. When the executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Jennifer Musisi, assumed office, one of the first things she did was to change the coat of arms and logo of KCC.

Her reasoning was that she didn’t want to associate with the dodgy image of the defunct Kampala City Council (KCC) which was known for such bad things as corruption, dubious land transactions, and ghost bank accounts. The previous coat of arms comprised the history of Kampala in the images of a lion and kob (Impala).

The Impala (kob) signified where the name Kampala came from. This was replaced with an interplay of colours (red, green, yellow) and the superimposition of the White Hall tower, and laced with a tagline or motto: For a better city. My, is that the new image of the city as represented in the new symbols? Musisi didn’t have to change the coat of arms because her assumption of power had begun by polishing the tainted image.

The bug to change for the sake of changing also caught the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). When Richard Byarugaba became the managing director, he too changed the logo and motto of NSSF. While launching the new look, Byarugaba said it symbolized a renewed commitment to be more relevant and beneficial to its members. Really?

I didn’t see the correlation of the new logo with superb performance. The old NSSF logo was articulate and radiant. While the new logo, in my view, seemed distant and wobbly. What we needed from NSSF was not a new logo, but honest and quality service, and perhaps better interest rates on our savings.

Recently, two young men painted two piglets in yellow and walked them to Parliament, to protest corruption among other social evils afflicting this country. Yellow is the official colour for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). I wouldn’t be surprised if as a result of that incident, some image gurus within the party are planning to discard the colour to something else, after yellow being associated with pigs.

The author is the finance director of The Observer Media Limited.

Source : The Observer

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