At the conclusion of a three-day annual Baganda conference at Renaissance hotel in New Jersey, USA, a young man is called at the podium to answer some questions.
The questions are: why are you proud to be a Muganda?What will you do to keep this pride?
Timothy Kigongo, about twenty years old, is a son to Dr Samuel Kigongo Mwesezi, who studied medicine at Makerere University and is now a surgeon in the USA. Kigongo speaks through the nose, because of his American accent, and barely understands Luganda. But he preaches and vows “to hold onto our culture.”
The keynote speaker at this conference is Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze-Bakireke.But we stand at least twice during Kigongo’s very short presentation in honour of his reassuring statements about our culture.
The organisers of this annual Baganda conference -Ttabamiruka – are mainly professionals with two or three degrees. These left Uganda in the 1960s and 70s and have since taken up American citizenship. At least two Baganda professors at US universities have attended this conference.
If aggressive work is not done, there is a real possibility of these children who speak through the nose abandoning the Kiganda culture. If many of them are struggling to speak Luganda, what about their children? That is why, by the way, I think meetings like Ttabamiruka, Kachoke Madit, Banyakigezi are more important than the annual Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) one.
As a country, we must invest in these tribal meetings, if we want to hold onto our people. After listening to Kigongo, I now understand why US President Barack Obama is about to end his tenure before visiting his ancestral home country, Kenya.
The fact that his father was a Jaluo Kenyan remains an academic subject because, I think, Kenya didn’t attempt to hold onto Obama until he became US president. Dr Kigongo senior studied at King’s College Budo and went to the US after Makerere. He got married to another medical doctor from Busoga and they have produced four children. The parents still have very g attachment and sentiments to their home country, but their children are struggling.
Even the $500 million that people in the diaspora are sending back home may reduce if, as a country, we do not hold onto their children. A constitutional change allowing dual citizenship is not just enough. Before we hire firms to market ourselves to the rest of Americans, we must sort out our image before our own.
And that is what makes the story of Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago an important subject. We must not allow these young people hear or read stories that the 70-year-old Yoweri Museveni is celebrating for keeping an elected lord mayor out of office for a year. As a country, we have missed the contribution and wisdom, not only of Lukwago but his 32 councillors who, because of their naivety, participated in his illegal removal.
Presidents must be celebrating completion of grand infrastructural projects, and not chaos in their capital cities. The point is that we must make our countries attractive or else we will continue to lose our own brains and, automatically, their offspring.
Just in this conference of about 200 people in New Jersey, we had about five medical doctors. And you have read the stories about the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council that we lose between 100 and 150 medical doctors annually. As a country, we have trained about 4,600 doctors, but 1,500 of them live overseas.
This is what should occupy the mind of a responsible leader and not how many tear gas canisters he has procured for the next general elections.
The last time I visited Rwanda, I was told that as a policy, Kigali is hunting for her brains wherever they are and attracting them back home. Certainly, people who have lived in organised societies will want to set up one.
Yes, our embassies can engage in spying, but should also hunt down all Ugandans and at least register them. Government then should begin addressing issues that made them flee.
I have been told the president wants investigations carried out to establish why it is Baganda who mainly go out for kyeyo. This will be a good subject for discussion, and I will leave it for future articles.
The author is Kyadondo East MP.
Source : The Observer