By Gashegu Muramira
American memoirist, poet, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou once said; “I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.” I write this opinion to tell many people at my age, and especially those ones much younger than me, that it’s not fashionable at all not to know your history, and not to pay glowing tribute to those that sacrificed to save the country from tyranny.
It is a thumbs-up to the youth that have chosen to trek long distances from districts like Lira to Kololo with the main objective of getting first hand testimonies from the Katonga battlefield experience this Friday. I will return later to this predicament, about the ‘no need to learn history’, some youth face.
On January 26th 1986, President Yoweri Museveni, whom the young generation fondly call ‘Jjaja’ (Grandfather) together with fellow revolutionaries stormed Kampala, and ushered in a new chapter in our history. The sole driving ideology for those patriots was to liberate Ugandans from the tyrannical regimes at the time.
Needless to say, Uganda’s immediate post-independence leaders had messed up governance in most of the previous years after 1962 when Uganda attained independence. Uganda’s post-independence period, like in most other African States, was afflicted by authoritarian rule, which led to a new development crisis. All previous transitions since 1962 had been characterized by chronic instability and violence.
By giving Uganda a very long period of political continuity and stability; ‘Jjaja’ helped resolve the biggest source of state fragility that had led Uganda to State failure. As a result, Uganda today, previously a chronically unstable failed State; is on a stable and progressive path to development.
However, some young people today like I had pointed out earlier, take this history for granted and don’t devote much time to read and understand it, and this is where the Katonga Spirit 2023 Celebrations scheduled for this Friday come in handy. The ONC office is doing all it can to make sure the young people don’t waste their youth by not knowing where they come from, which therefore would mean they aren’t sure of where they are going.
This is because it is a well-known fact that the youth of any country is a great asset. That asset must be well informed, to enable them make informed decisions. The role of youths in nation-building is more important than what many think. In other words, the intelligence and work of the youth will take the country on the pathway of success. As every citizen is equally responsible, the youth is too because they are the building blocks of a country.
The youths are very energetic and enthusiastic, and they have the ability to learn and adapt to the environment.
The development of any country requires active participation from the youth, and this does not matter which field we want to progress in, whether it is the technical field or sports field, the youth are needed. A significant number of Ugandan youths before the National Resistance Army (NRA) participated in causing anarchy long before it captured power, although they left a shattered economy, and the country’s social fabric destroyed.
Yet, while a section of the youth actively took part in destroying their country, another group of brave young men and women marched, fought and defeated the tyrannical regimes.
Today, as well said by Hajjat Hadijah Namyalo Uzeiye, the Head of the Office of the National Chairman (ONC), this generation of liberators has not only led the country back on its feet but has also championed a spectacular transformative agenda that’s changing this country for good.
However, much can’t be achieved when the youth don’t find time to read this very valuable history, but can instead find time to watch international soccer teams playing and follow them religiously, or jump on bandwagons of selfish politicians who only use them as ladders, to get big political offices for their own survival. This is not productive! Let’s all welcome the Katonga Spirit 2023 Celebrations and celebrate our heroes. Let’s not just turn up at Kololo, let’s be there to read, learn and cherish their history.
The writer is an ONC Coordinator incharge of Greater Mukono/Chairperson NRM Youth League, Mukono district.