My brother Hon. Ibrahim Semuju Nganda,
Thank you for attending the UNAA annual convention which according to your account was for a few hours of the 3 day event. I’m glad you took time to pen your observations and have made some outstanding observations on this organization cherished by many in North America. I would like to respond to some of your assertions listed below.
1. – UNAA looked like an infant outfit trying to assemble itself
2. – Is it worthwhile spending taxpayers money on this conference/big party
3. – Ethnicity of speakers at the business forum (Jennifer Musisi who by the way is more Western Uganda these days than Central and Diplomats Perez Kamunanwire (Ambassador to the US) and Adonia Ayebare (Acting Ambassador to the UN) which in yours and your friends view makes UNAA “Banyankore Kweterana.
1. UNAA looked like an infant outfit trying to assemble itself.
I’m not sure you have taken time to read/learn about UNAA’s history. This organization started at a humble thanks giving gathering in some one’s house in Atlanta Georgia. In the past 24 years UNAA has provided Ugandans in North America an annual opportunity to meet, network, have fun and discuss issues that touch them. In order to appreciate the importance of these happenings it would be a lot better to speak to one who met an old friend with whom they sat PLE and had not met again for over 20 years until UNAA offered them the chance to do so. You may want to talk to one who found a spouse and is leading a happy family life. You may need to speak to one who enhanced his or her business through a contact made or a one who was saved from home vultures by meeting a formidable Ugandan company to handle his/her business (which could be banking, building a house, taking care of an elderly parent etc). You may also have found out that UNAA helped to demystify the misconceptions on dual citizenship which hitherto was seen by many as a ploy to have citizens of some neighboring country/ies legalized. Of course even UNAA members are still asking for more and UNAA leadership is cognizant of that in view of the current restructuring. I can assure you that this volunteer organization strives to achieve all this mostly from the membership, minimal sponsorships and mostly personal contributions from willing members. It is therefore unfortunate to use lenses of a couple of hours to determine the growth or stagnation of a 24 year old organization.
2. Is it worthwhile spending taxpayers money on this conference/big party?
UNAA announces the annual conventions and requests all interested persons to attend. These can be from any part of the world and all are welcome for as long as they espouse UNAA objectives and are willing to register. We have had delegates from Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa most of whom come from our motherland Uganda. The reasons to attend vary just like your case where the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) nominated and perhaps sponsored your attendance. The fact that 4 MP’s were commissioned by the LOP as opposed to the other’s is really not UNAA’s problem to be fair. But for argument’s sake please look at the ratio of opposition MP’s to those of the party in government sitting in parliament with you. Not to mention other opposition leaders who are not MP’s like Hon. Nobert Mao and Hon. Mugisha Muntu.
This convention has for so long been the only consistent Diaspora forum that has offered an organized means of interaction between home and abroad. This takes into account the leadership, community and personal interactions. It is not surprising therefore that government of Uganda picked an interest in order to meet and interact with Diasporans as a way of tapping their input but also an avenue of promoting government programs and agenda. It is worthwhile to mention that the opposition too has always taken advantage of the same and UNAA has been honored with the presence of opposition leadership at all times including 2001 when Dr. Kizza Besigye was the Chief Guest. Although Ugandans in North America cannot claim to be the only or even major contributors, but remittances from the Ugandan Diaspora have always come up as one of the reasons for this interest. It is also a fact that Ugandans in the Diaspora have some influence on voters back home and thus this effort is also seen as a ‘nipping of the bud’.
3. Ethnicity of speakers at the business forum (Jennifer Musisi who by the way is more Western Uganda these days than Central and Diplomats Perez Kamunanwire (Ambassador to the US) and Adonia Ayebare (Acting Ambassador to the UN) which in yours and your friends view makes UNAA “Banyankore Kweterana.
Of all your assertions this to me is the most unfortunate. A friend of mine has an email signature that reads like, “in a foreign land your countryman is your kin”. When problems arise amongst us we act as Ugandans, brothers, sisters and kinsmen. When brothers and sisters pass on without insurance, fundraising efforts are made not because of so and so’s tribe but mostly because so and so is Ugandan and thus his/her repatriation is our collective responsibility. Hon. Semuju, that is the world we live in and spirit of Ugandans in North America and please do not re define it or antagonize it.
But for arguments sake please look at the UNAA leadership and if you genuinely analyze the names thereon inform the readers if really UNAA is a reflection of Banyakore kwetarana? Ask for and you will certainly receive a list of the delegates at UNAA Philadelphia 2012 and check out the names to see if really what you are publishing is not disingenuous? Hon. Semuju, I once in a while listen to your radio podcasts online and can say I am kind of used to the political stretches and spins but never imagined it would come this far when you refer to Ms. Musisi as a westerner. Did you even stop to imagine the woman just buried her own mother in your own Kyaddondo East constituency where I doubt you have a family cemetery yourself? I hate to mention this but have you bothered to check out the past UNAA Presidents? Of the nine since 1990, 6 are from Buganda including the incumbent Mr. Francis Senoga and incidentally his Vice-President Ms. Brenda Kalema.
I pray and hope that you are not falling prey to the mis information concerning UNAA that has been happening since UNAA New York and culminated into the blocking of HRH the Nabagereka of Buganda at UNAA Washington DC 2010. You remind me of another inadequately informed (on UNAA affairs) MP, Hon. Betty Namboze (who I admire by the way) when asked the difference Tabamiruka and UNAA on CBS ‘Kiriza oba Ggaana’ of Thursday 30th August 2012, said that UNAA had turned into a government organ and when they meet they always resolve to keep NRM in power. In her words she said; “buli lwebatuula bayise ebiteeso NRM ebeewo”.
My brother, I do not know who you have spoken with and what shaped that kind of analysis because it is certainly not a result of the few hours you spent in Philadelphia. I ask you to get the facts and avoid making a foolery among folks especially in the Diaspora.
UNAA member since 2003