Uganda Celebrates 50 Years of Independence
Kampala, Uganda -- October 9, 2012 -- Ugandans celebrated 50 years of independence today at Golden Jubilee festivities and events throughout the country.
In Kampala, thousands gathered at the freshly renovated ceremonial grounds in Kololo along with President Yoweri Museveni and 15 heads of state hailing from all corners of the continent to mark this historic day.
The grand-scale celebration included speeches and entertainment by dance troupes, popular singers, the African Children’s Choir, and a skyward display of military might by the Uganda People’s Defense Air Force, which unleashed several jet fighter planes flying in formation over throngs of euphoric spectators.
The city was decked out with patriotic ribbons and banners. As visiting presidents raced through town today in their menacing presidential convoys, they saw a proud city festooned in its national colors – black, yellow and red – in every direction. Even the sky was adorned with colorful streams as the jets zipping overhead spewed the nation’s colors behind them.
They were also privy to the unusual sight of streets swept clean of litter and debris. Curiously, the street children seemed to have been swept away for this occasion too.
By and large, Kampala was as tidy and orderly as Kampala could be today.
While attending a concert on the grounds of Makerere University last week, a well-known pastor remarked that most of the people in attendance (largely college students and young adults) were ambivalent toward this milestone in Uganda’s history because they were too young to grasp the significance of it.
No doubt, those who didn’t live through Uganda’s rough road to independence may not be capable of fully appreciating the struggles their elders endured to gain autonomy from Great Britain.
Given that the average lifespan of a Ugandan is 56 years, and 50 percent of Ugandans are under the age of 15, one might presume that the significance of this important day will be lost on many.
Vanessa Nalutaaya, a 12-year-old Primary 5 student at Makindye Junior School in Kampala, has spent this term studying colonialism and Uganda’s independence in her social studies class.
Nalutaaya stated that colonialism had both positive and negative affects on Uganda.
“The positive effects were that the colonialists built schools and brought education to Uganda,” she said. “The missionaries introduced Christianity to Uganda and built churches.”
“The bad thing about the colonialists was that they treated Ugandans as slaves,” Nalutaaya continued. “They also introduced gun and hut taxes that most people could not pay.”
When asked how Uganda achieved independence from Britain, she responded that the country won her freedom by fighting in World War II.
When asked which country Uganda was liberated from, another student said Egypt.
Though these students may not have all their facts straight, they were certainly proud to be Ugandan today.
“I like my country because its people are humble and gentle, and because it’s peaceful,” Nalutaaya said. “Also, Uganda has a lot of beautiful physical features and wildlife.”
“I love Uganda because it has beautiful creations, like the birds, the animals and waterfalls,” said Fortunate Mungu Achel, a P4 student at Penstar Day & Boarding School. “And, the people in Uganda are hard working.”
While today’s celebrations highlighted the successes of the past 50 years, many wonder what challenges and triumphs the next 50 years will bring. According to The Observer, a local news publication, the issues that will shape Uganda’s future most include population growth, the environment, the land, oil, the Buganda and President Museveni.
Perhaps, if the nation is able to overcome its dependence on foreign aid, Ugandans will have an even greater reason to celebrate its independence one day.