THIS week I received a generic invitation card by social media, inviting “All Ugandans” to the 2019 Independence Day celebrations, scheduled to take place in Sironko District.
I was impressed that the announcement, or invitation, had come so early. See, about three weeks ago I was remarking to a government official how ill-prepared the general public normally is for this predictably annual celebration.
My point, also predictably annual, was that the ordinary person on the street certainly appreciated the holiday that falls on October 9 every year in commemoration of Uganda being declared free of British control, but rarely spends time focused on that fact.
Besides Government officials and hard-set nationalists, there are many people in our towns and villages who spend the day watching the national celebrations on television and showing national colours in one way or another.
Reading the invitation card made me think of all these people – the combination of the ones who care a little about the reason for the day, and the ones that don’t.
The yellow card, in national colours and a Crested Crane, carried an image of President Yoweri Museveni in one of his signature shirts and the main hat, and that of the lady MP whose district is hosting the celebrations – Hon. Florence Nambozo – in a busuuti.
The one thing that stood out for me was what the card didn’t have – the theme of this year’s Independence Day celebrations.
That made me happy – not in the mistaken belief that there might not be a theme this year, but at the opportunity right before us.
If the theme of this year’s Independence Day celebrations has not yet been selected then let’s choose one along the lines of ‘Buy Uganda, Build Uganda’!
That would be the perfect way to underscore our Independence – along the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s Swaraj movement! When he launched his campaign it began with events where the patriotic Indians set fire to British cloth and took up Indian garments (the dhoti and shawl he is most famously pictured in) – woven off a locally-manufactured machine.
On that day, or during Independence week, or perhaps the entire month of October, we should stick to this one theme that bolsters our Independence from imperialism of all sorts – ‘Buying Ugandan to Build Uganda’.
Sironko should feature local Sironkian dishes, prepared only using Ugandan ingredients. But an allowance should be made, of course, for dishes from other parts of the country to be brought in as well.
Dishes, by the way, include the snacks and refreshments the thousands of guests could buy en route to the celebration venue – things like gonja, matooke and cassava crisps, and roasted groundnuts with sim-sim, and sim-sim balls and so on and so forth till we get to nseenene.
I don’t even need to talk about how many Rolexes could be fried up between where you are and Sironko.
Dress code? Ugandan; which isn’t just traditional dress but allows those who wish to wear cotton and linen shirts, suits or frocks to ensure they are made out of Ugandan fabric.
It is apt that Sironko’s Hon. Nambozo is wearing a busuuti – though the material is imported – on the invitation card, and President Museveni’s shirt is made in Uganda from Ugandan cotton.
The decor at the venue itself? Forget rubber balloons and bunting imported from Asia – we have hundreds of bright young and creative people here who can create the stuff that we need to brighten the place up. And the money they would earn would certainly contribute to making them “Independent!”
The list of opportunities could go on and on and on. And it’s only important and useful if we can make a decision now and act upon it.
And we shouldn’t be acting upon it just so people can make money selling stuff on the day. This is the kind of national activity that could spur more industry within people and the economy.
If every national event followed this one simple rule, imagine how much personal investment would go into taking advantage of it?
And you know one other characteristic of the day that could be improved upon? Every government department that chooses to place a newspaper advert congratulating the government on 57 years of independence should be required to list the BUBU initiatives they are running.
If they have none then let’s have them list how and where they are spend taxpayer’s money procuring stuff made or grown in Uganda.
As they congratulate us through our leaders, this message will resonate much stronger in promoting this sacred theme represented by the catchphrase “Buy Uganda, Build Uganda”.
I believe this For God and My Country!