As the new year begins to roll, an important question that everybody should answer is, who is a Ugandan or what does it mean to be Ugandan? Do Ugandans know who they are and what they stand for? Does it matter that one is Ugandan? Uganda’s Constitution defines a citizen as one who is born in Uganda or outside, but one of whose parents or grandparents is or was a member of any of the indigenous communities existing and residing within the borders of Uganda as at the first day of February 1926 and set out in the third schedule of the constitution (Article 10(a) of the Constitution); every person born in or outside Uganda one of whose parents or grandparents was at the time of birth of that person, a citizen of Uganda by birth; a child of not more than five years of age found in Uganda whose parents are not known is presumed to be Ugandan; a child under the age of 18 years neither of whose parents is a citizen of Uganda, but who is adopted by a citizen of Uganda upon registration shall be a citizen of Uganda and a person who successfully applies for and is registered as a citizen of Uganda.

The above Constitutional provision settles the legal aspect of nationality. But aside of that, what are the unique character traits that define who a Ugandan is? Is Ugandanness skin-deep or is there a complete set of defining sociological features and tendencies? What makes Ugandans proud of who they are? What are their habits and lifestyles like? One may legally hold a record of citizenship, but do they reflect a particular spirit classified as “true Ugandanness”? What are the tastes and preferences of Ugandans and who decides what is authentic?

In my view, a Ugandan should be distinguishable from the crowd by their physical outlook other than their attitude, impression and mindset. A Ugandan should treat all Ugandans as if they were one tribe. A Ugandan should be kind, diligent, hospitable, law-abiding, smart, not discriminatory, patriotic, brave and clean. A Ugandan should not engage in lawlessness and mean actions. A Ugandan should be dependable and hospital, God-fearing, cultured, slow to anger and quick to come to the aid of others. In short, a Ugandan should be patriotic.

A Ugandan should not litter the environment, should not drink and drive. A Ugandan should not be corrupt or negligent while on duty. A Ugandan should tell what they have done for the country before asking what the country has done for them? Besides, how easily would one give up their Ugandanness for something else? Common tendencies that give the nation its ethos and uphold its pride should be defined, patented and be worth dying for.

The Pearl of Africa’s multicultural nature makes Ugandanness susceptible to erosion. The authentic and true spirit of the Nile must never be lost and should be packaged as part of the heritage marketed in the global village.
Robert Atuhairwe,
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