United States President Barack Obama “visited Africa” last weekend and, as expected, sparked off debates and conversations about United States policies on the entire continent, and the meaning of his visiting only three countries – or the meaning of his not visiting each and every country we’ve got!
Uganda was one of the countries he did not visit, but much more importantly for us, artistes Radio and Weasel went to America at about the same time, to attend the BET Awards where they were nominated for the ‘Best International Act: Africa’ Award.
Online reports say the BET Awards were watched live by 7.7million viewers in the United States on Sunday night alone – 4.3million of those being adults (don’t ask me how they know these things – THAT is America!)
So by merely showing up on stage and having our country mentioned in positive light, Radio and Weasel put Uganda into the minds of 7.7million people in an excited state of viewership.
And that’s not counting the viewers who caught the later broadcasts on DSTV and other channels that re-broadcast the event.
The Awards also generated ten million tweets on the night, and whereas Radio and Weasel did not get mentioned in each and every one of them, they picked up a good share of tweets amongst Ugandan tweeps and our followers. All this was fantastic for Uganda!
And so on Saturday night we tweeted up a storm over the Radio and Weasel nomination and showing, so that Uganda could shine on the international stage and replace our most recent negative news a la high profile arrests over suspected drug trafficking or extortion, despicable politics and disgusting corruption.
But in the middle of our tweeting that wretched fuel tanker in Namungoona entered into an accident and erupted into flames that created a tragicomedy that is still running – from the accident narrative itself to the scramble for ‘compensation’ that is probably giving ideas to other criminals of a more regular and non-flammable nature.
Our inefficiency at some things was helpful in one regard that first night, as the media in patriotic somnambulance ignored the negative story for a while and saved us the international ignominy.
For only a couple of days.
But even after it had erupted, and Radio and Weasel had left the BET stage for the after party, we were saved again thanks to Dr. Jotham Musinguzi.
The former head of the Population Secretariat in Uganda made headlines international for receiving the 2013 UN Population Award in New York, handed to him by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Forget the fact that we haven’t had a census here for quite a while, Dr. Musinguzi’s work over the years has focussed on more than Uganda, and the citation given to him mentioned interventions that spanned the globe in reach and impact.
The unlikely trio of Radio, Weasel and Dr. Musinguzi gives us more pride in this country than the fuel-infused shame we feel over the actions (and inaction) of the hundreds of people involved in the Namungoona incident.
In fact, I’d happily push a motion to award national medals to the three – and all Ugandans who bring positive recognition to this country by doing what they do well enough to shine a positive light on the Pearl of Africa. The heroes of the bush war should all have received their medals by now, since the likes of Gen. David Tinyefuza are proving the law of diminishing returns in this field, and the focus of everything we do must now move to YOU – the ordinary Ugandan of every day who stands out and gives Uganda reason to be proud.
But until the national medals committee takes this up, in honour of Radio, Weasel and Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, I’m singing the three stanzas of the National Anthem – OUR national anthem.
For God and My Country.
- “Oh Uganda! may God uphold thee,
- We lay our future in thy hand.
- United, free,
- For liberty
- Together we’ll always stand.
- Oh Uganda! the land of freedom.
- Our love and labour we give,
- And with neighbours all
- At our country’s call
- In peace and friendship we’ll live.
- Oh Uganda! the land that feeds us
- By sun and fertile soil grown.
- For our own dear land,
- We’ll always stand,
- The Pearl of Africa’s Crown.”