Five years ago today, Uganda celebrated a significant milestone. It was the crowning moment of several months of preparations to celebrate 50 years as an independent nation. On this day in 2012, the country was in festive mood. The beautiful Black Yellow Red national flag colours decorated the city as Ugandans relished the joy of being a free country.
It is no doubt that October 9, 1962, is an important day for Uganda. The fight for independence, as documented in this newspaper’s bumper Independence Edition today, was not a smooth ride. As we mark 55 years as a free nation, we must recognise the instrumental role played by the great men and women who led us out of colonialism.
At independence, there were high hopes and expectations as far as good governance, stability, economic growth, among others, were concerned. There were achievements on many fronts and challenges along the way. According to Ambassador William G. Naggaga, an eminent citizen and a regular columnist in the Daily Monitor, this country has retrogressed from what the colonial rulers handed to us.
In a piece published in October, 2016, Mr Naggaga wrote: “… not many Ugandans have benefited much from 54 years of independence. In many respects as I have written before the country has retrogressed. In 1962, the British handed over a buoyant economy with enviable social amenities including good roads, schools and hospitals.
Public transportation was second to none in East Africa. Kampala was a booming city and with a well-developed city bus service which ran on time; which has now been replaced by boda bodas and DMC matatus.”
It is noteworthy that this country has largely lagged behind because of post-independence challenges, notably conflicts and wars. While Uganda has enjoyed relative peace and stability for a considerable period now, the country is still bedevilled by political upheavals, corruption, impunity and intolerance.
As we mark another great milestone – 55 years as a free nation today, let’s focus on the fundamental values that should guide this country: good governance, justice, equality and basic freedoms. Let’s build a country where citizens have equal opportunities to freely participate in the political affairs of Uganda.
It is the reason our forefathers fought to liberate us from colonialism!