Independence Day Synopsis

FRIDAY 9TH October 2015
    Independence in Africa has been variously defined and or interpreted by its beneficiaries. Some have understood it to be a mere victorious replacement of alien white colonialists, a lowering of the colonial flag and the hosting of that of the newly independent nation,  by the Africans. Others as a process and a gate to eating big and acquiring easy wealth by whatever means by a few fortunate and acrobatic opportunists. But much as these interpretations may bear some unarguable grains of truth, Independence is much more than this. It bears noble meaning and deserves greater responsibility.
Independence is the possession of sovereignty by a nation, a country or even an individual to enable the beneficiaries to decide or shape, through democratic means, the fate of that particular nation, country or state. Over the ages, nations or human beings have yearned for a free will and powers to build their own lives and destiny. True independence enables the benefiting nations to build self-confidence, realise their full potential and lead a life of dignity and fulfilment, a life free from exploitation and or any social and political oppression.
With guarded caution some political pundits describe independence as ‘’…………….. a condition of a nation, a country or a state in which its residents and population……………exercise self-government and usually sovereignty over the country’’(1)
Independence is therefore, the beating heart of Humanity. It’s one of the most pressing basic needs for human beings since it gives them freedom to decide to do what is considered right and best for them, but of course, using democratic and constitutional means.
Although seemingly abstract, Independence is like a living thing, it grows/flourishes and bears fruits. It can sometimes become sick, stunted and undernourished. It can even die! For Independence to grow and yield fruits, there are conditions under which the beneficiaries rear it. Independence thrives best where there is democracy, justice, security and prosperity. Actually even the colonialists who apparently did not seem to care much about what would happen to their former victims after they left, if they ever thought of going, announced;
‘’The central purpose of British Colonial policy is simple: It is to guide the people of the colonies to responsible Government………………….. Which ensures to the people concerned both a fair standard of living and freedom from oppression from any quarter. (2)
1.    Mucunguzi Vicent Rwampakani: 50 YEARS OF TURMOIL (PUB 2012)
2.    Harold Ingrams: UGANDA ACRISIS OF NATIONHOOD: Rob by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (1960)
3.    Mwalimu Julius Nyerere :___________________________ South commission Report (1948)
The idea of prosperity as expressed in the concept of and hope for‘’ a fair standard of living’’ was later on emphasized by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who asserted:
‘’Through development, political Independence acquires its true meaning ‘’
Exactly! True independence can never be complete or even at all, in the midst of poverty and un development.
In his Phd thesis, Essays on Growth and Absolute Poverty: Evidence from Uganda (2008) Chris Ndahura Mukiza frighteningly but truthfully catalogues the woes of poverty, he laments:
‘’Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of Shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor or to get adequate and effective treatment. Poverty is not to have access to learn to read or write. Poverty is not having a job.  Poverty is fear for the future living a day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illnesses brought about by using unclean water and by malnutrition. Poverty is Powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.’’ (3)
Certainly poverty is one in all and all in one, a denial of opportunities to the basic human needs and, therefore, to justice and development.
And when justice and development are thus denied, Independence becomes a futile exercise, devoid of any meaning! It produces rowdy, undisciplined and irresponsible citizens who neither value the Independence itself nor care for its continuance! Just as the individual citizens of a country can be poor so can a country or a nation herself. The point to note here is that both the country and her people can be poor with no trace of prosperity at all. Of course there are cases when a country can be wealthy and prosperous, to a degree, but with poor citizens. The effect of poverty on a country is extremely devastating. The best condition for Independence to thrive is when both the country and her people are prosperous.
Causes of lack of prosperity for the country and her people are many and varied; they may be rooted in the country’s history, Geography, politics, her citizens and their attitudes. Whatever the causes are it is possible to have a prosperous country with a poor citizenry, or prosperous people in a poor country, or a poor country with poor people: None of these conditions reflects the true meaning of Independence. Indeed, they simply create a vicious cycle; Backwardness and lack of prosperity make Independence ineffective and meaningless, ineffective Independence irrigates chaos and greatly hampers prosperity!  An indeed unenviable dilemma.
(3) Chris Ndahura Mukiza: Essays on   Growth and absolute poverty evidence from Uganda. Phd Thesis University of Southampton U.K. Faculty of Laws, Arts and Social Sciences (20080
The history of the first twenty years of post-Independence Uganda shows that our nation had more than a fair share of this unenviable experience. She sailed in this quagmire to the extent that by 1986, the country was experiencing absolute poverty in spite of the sugar-coated descriptions of her economy e.g. Maafuta Mingi, economic war etc. At the micro level all indicators of development were recording sad declines. For instance, total Gross Domestic product had declined by - 11.8, monetary economy - 63.7, per capta G.D.P by -43.0, cotton ginning, coffee cures by - 63.7, mining and quarrying by - 95. The list is endless. These declines ended in absence of infrastructure, poorer or even total absence of provisions of social services to the people thus siphoning true meaning out of Independence. This is a story Ugandans know too well; actually too well to want to relive it!
Fortunately that period came and passed, leaving the nation with bitter memories which, though, have since served as learnable lessons. The last twenty five years of our Independence have witnessed a miraculous resurrection of Uganda as an Independent nation, thanks to some patriotic and caring Ugandans who saw the wisdom in using these learnable lessons. The resurrection began with the establishment of security and peace for Ugandans and their properties, of democratic and constitutional governance  - the much talked of and eagerly awaited for elections due to take place barely six months from now- are a result and a continuation of this governance, establishment of strategic cornerstones  (policies) for resurrecting  a half – dead, bed-ridden economy to make it self-sustaining, private sector- led, market oriented and healthy thus greatly facilitating the rebuilding of infrastructure and provision of social services. Appreciating the need for markets and the wisdom of living peacefully together on this global village, the world or our mother earth, Uganda vigorously established and strengthened friendly relations beyond her borders, regionally and internationally.
All these strategic efforts and many more have produced and armed our dear country with the miraculous powers for resurrecting her Independence in the most true sense. This stark truth can be discerned and witnessed in the tremendous improvement of indicators of development.  To begin with even, with just naked eyes one can see physical uncountable development e.g. in construction and building. Ugandans are putting up buildings, sometimes multibillion ones to the extent that unless we are careful, physical development may overtake or even dictate to planning! This would be sad, though, because unplanned development is an exercise in furtility. Several Scientific indicators of development give hope to the Ugandans that the struggle to our middle term vision of reaching an upper middle class status by 2040 is not an impossible or lazy one.  In education 76% of school going age now go to schools and 65% to secondary schools, thanks to the liberization policy and to the introduction of UPE and USE. The challenge remains at the completion rate in both cases and, of course, in the relevance and effectiveness of the education provided. These are being handled by all relevant authorities.  Universities and other tertiary institutions are expanding their service at their levels by the day. There are now 34 Universities (5 Government and 29 private ones). This is up from just two Universities in 1986. Development of human resource starting with our young generation –half our future – is a key strategy for strengthening of our Independence. Coupled with these developments in education is in the provision of health facilities.
A very encouraging statement of the vision of the Ministry of Health – A healthy and productive population that contributes to socio – Economic growth and social development-says all that Uganda is striving for in the field of health. As a result all indicators of improvement like infant mortality, immunisation coverage, maternal mortality, HIV prevalence, number of hospitals both referral and general and health centres, provision of high tech machines for complicated diseases show upward trends leading to the improved life  expectancy which is now 54 years up from 42 years in 1986. Similar developments are afloat across the whole range of Uganda’s life e.g. Economy, roads, ICT, Construction, Democratic governance, Justice hither to deprived sections of Ugandans like Women, the youth, the Disabled, the Elderly, Entrepreneurs, Workers and the newly found one like the historicals and the veterans etc. All these efforts are practical measures aimed at strengthening Uganda’s striving towards a prosperous   country with a prosperous people in order to give our Fifty Three years old Independence a true meaning. Protecting, enhancing and strengthening these efforts is a cardinal duty for every Ugandan. A special call to this duty is actually around the corner for every Ugandan of voting age; in a few months’ time you will be called upon to put a wheel barrow of chips on the road to a prosperous country with prosperous people, hence giving true meaning to our fifty three year old Independence by voting wisely. The striving so far is giving very encouraging results.