Speech Delivered at Hotel Africana
National Dialogue on Youth Demands to Next Gov’ts
By Mayambala Mwana W’Afrika
Thank you. Fellow young patriots and distinguished participants, I greet you all in the name of peaceful, free, and fair 2011 elections.
First of all, let me thank the organizers for this wonderful initiative and for according me this opportunity. I’ve refrained from writing an academic paper, so that I can speak freely in a plain language that can be understood by most Ugandans.
After Uganda’s independence in 1962, our grand fathers thought that their children could then live in a prosperous new nation. That we, their grand children will then live a happy life.
But over 50 years now, there grand children are still suffering. The youth are still moving on the streets looking for jobs that don’t exist. The youth are still living in slums and ghettos which are becoming wider and wider everyday. The youth are still dropping out of universities in failure to cope up with the uncontrollable increase in tuition fees. And many others are merely used by politicians and police forces to kill each other in riots.
Yet many times those who stand up and vigorously fight for their demands are treated as enemies.
For example, Youth Stand Up Campaign recently organized a march to parliament to petition the speaker to extend the registration exercise. The day before, as I was on Radio One news gunning support for our march, the police spokes person Judith Nabakooba was on radios retaliating against our peaceful march with threats of arrest. But we are all aware that liberties are not purchased at a price of comfort zones. And just as Dr Martin Luther King said “A long the way of life an individual must stand up and be counted and be willing to face the consequences what ever they are” We also then decided that whether we shall be arrested, or whether we shall be tear gassed, we must march. Though the police attempted to arrest us along the way, we marched until the registration exercise was extended.
That is not the system that we want. We must all stand up and shout enough is enough to these historical sufferings. Enough to a brutal police. Enough to an expensive education system. Enough to election malpractices. Enough to a country without jobs. We want the new government that will come in power after the 2011 elections to end this misery and transform our country into a land of democracy, development and prosperity.
The government we want, that understands that university students’ loans only are not enough. But also makes education affordable to enable people like my grand mother, who lives 30 miles away from Kampala in Mpigi District to be able to take her two precious grand children to a prestigious university without having to sell part of her land. That government must be willing to revamp the education syllabus to focus more on practical issues that affect our society today. Instead of spending long hours teaching students topics like St Lawrence Seaway, Canadian prairies, the British Empire. When after 50 years of independence we can’t even manufacture a car engine. It must change
The government we want, that provides low interest loans to local manufacturers to set up small industries, knowing that those industries under a business friendly environment will in future transform into big industries that can employ millions. A government that provides tax holidays to local traders instead of foreign traders. Recently, I attended a South African embassy party for World Cup here at Hotel African. I came across a local Hotel owner, who in almost tiers explained to me how tough it is to compete with foreigners who enjoy tax holidays. I strongly believe that there’s nothing that Sudhir or Mukwano or any other foreign trader can do that we can’t do as Ugandans.
The government we want, that instead of sending its troops to Somalia to fight a never ending war that failed the greatest nations on earth. It instead literately arrays its troops to wipe out the terrorist called poverty that is causing millions of death in our society. It instead arrays its troops to wipe the insurgency of corruption that is manoeuvring in government offices.
The government we want, that realises potential in the works of young people. Lets us face the truth. Over 20 million young Ugandans cannot continue to live under a colonial like formation – where they are only passive recipients of political decisions. Young people are denied their natural rights to serve in high offices under the pretext of lack of potential and ability. Don’t you have the potential? Let us face the truth again. On an older John McCain and a younger Barrack Obama, who had the potential to serve as the next U.S. president? Let us face the truth again. On an old guard Minister whose name appears in every corruption scandal and a young MP who every now and then fights corruption in parliament, who has the potential to serve this nation? Let us face the truth.
No Mr. President. No our leaders. Young people also have the potential to serve this nation. We are the majority, who ever is joking with us, we shall wait for him at the ballot box.
Now, I know that so many people are waiting for me to speak about unemployment. Now is the time for us to stop discussing symptoms like unemployment, riots or poverty. And start digging out root causes of these symptoms. When you provide the youth with quality education, then graduates can create jobs on there own. When you support industries, then millions of citizens can be employed as workers. When you promote democracy, free and fair elections then rarely can we have riots on our streets.
These are some of the demands that the next government after 2011 elections must address. These are some of the demands that should be included in the Youth Manifesto.
Now, let us be honest to our selves. Basing on the history of our country where politicians have repeatedly disappointed us from one government to the other. We can’t put a lot of hopes in politicians to fulfill all our demands. In any democracy, citizens become active participants but not passive recipients of politicians’ actions. If we want to see our demands translate into reality, we must stand up, I repeat this, we must stand up and do something about them.
And 2011 elections provide us with the best opportunity for us to once more pressure for our demands. Instead of demanding for material things from political candidates, we should demand for social and political transformation in Uganda.
Instead of demanding for rice, we should demand for a better education system
Instead of demanding for sugar, we should demand for programs of social uplift.
Instead of demanding for soap, we should demand for tax cuts to local businesses
Instead of demanding for salt, we should demand for jobs.
Instead of demanding for kerosene, we should demand that let the Citizens Manifesto and Youth Manifesto be implemented by the next government.
If we want to see this transformation in Uganda flowing like Nile waters. We must stand up and struggle, where need be. Endure the pain, where need be. Get tear gassed, where need be. Go to jail, where need be. And even if it means sacrificing our lives, where need be. Until we see the government we want, the government of the people, by the people, for the people taking shape in Uganda.
Thank you all.
Panel Discussion: Agenda 2011: What Do You Consider the Key Demands Youth Should be Making to the Next Government?
Mayambala – Chairperson, Youth Stand Up Campaign
Mr. Mondo Kyateka – Commissioner Youth, Ministry of Gender.
Hon. Dennis Obua – Youth MP Northern
Mr. Nassa Mukwaya – Chairperson, National Youth Council