How Balaam can address the problems of the youth

The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous

Op-Ed: Dear my brother, Dr. Balaam Barugahara Ateenyi, I extend greetings in the name of our esteemed Bunyoro Kitara and the Pearl of Africa, Uganda.

I offer heartfelt congratulations on your significant accomplishments thus far and wish to thank the president as the appointing authority. For sure, your dedication and potential as an entrepreneurial citizen are truly commendable, embodying the qualities we aspire to see in future leaders of our nation, Bunyoro, and Uganda.

However, while I must admit a personal sense of excitement upon your ministerial appointment, first as a Munyoro and second as a Ugandan, in a Uganda that has become so tribal, despite our lack of direct interaction, I am inspired by the connections we share through those close to me.

However, Ateenyi, my now Minister in Charge of Gender, Women Affairs, and Youth, as I reflect on your swearing-in ceremony, I am compelled to address a concerning observation I made regarding the misuse of political symbols and propaganda for self-serving agendas, a practice that undermines the noble ideals of true leadership exemplified by figures like our own Great Kabalega.

Upholding integrity, respect for truth, and a commitment to genuine nation-building should guide your actions as a leader; eschewing the temptation to manipulate public perception with misleading tactics and antics should be the last thing for a true Munyoro.

This article aims to shed light on the importance of ethical communication and intellectual honesty, as a common good, in fostering a sustainable foundation for progress and unity in Uganda, cautioning against engaging in antics that risk diminishing your credibility and respect in the eyes of the public.

The event at your swearing-in served as parading a NUP deserter, full of falsehoods, removing color from your rise. I wish to request and receive advice, as well as remind us to avoid actions that may lead to being perceived as mere comic figures and public liars rather than a dignified and principled leader dedicated to the betterment of our nation. I trust you are too decent for such antics, in case somebody misleads you. But this is not the main message of this article.

Here is the main purpose of this message:

In your communication to the press, immediately after swearing in, you drew the attention of the nation to your determination to immediately embark on re-skilling yourself. Although I was very excited to hear this, I was immediately deflated by your perception of the term “skilling,”  which I beg we address immediately before you embark on your work.

Education, in a holistic manner, classifies skills into three classes: (1) cognitive liberation skills intelligence the head (IQ); (2) motor skills intelligence the hand (MQ); and (3) affective skills the heart (AQ), best defined as political intelligence (PQ). Hence, when you talk of re-skilling the youth through motor skills, I am afraid you may end up in the same vicious cycle of corruption and confusion that is systematically stagnating and destroying this country.

To start with, and good enough, you hold one of the largest sectors of the population in our country now: the mothers, women, and youth. This sector of the population needs cognitive liberation more than motor or hand skills. They need to understand what education actually means, their purpose in life, and Uganda above all else.

Undermining political education in schools, colleges, and universities and promoting a paradigm that emphasizes natural sciences and industrial skills that feed and fit into the western capitalist agenda at the expense of social sciences has had several negative consequences for our country, Uganda.

Honourable Minister, sir, here are some potential dangers and the solutions to these problems:

  1. Lack of Informed Citizenry: Without a strong foundation in political education, citizens may lack the knowledge and understanding needed to actively participate in the democratic process, make informed decisions, and hold their government accountable. This can lead to a lack of civic engagement, apathy, and a weakened democracy.
  2. Vulnerability to Authoritarianism: When the population is not well-versed in political concepts and history, they may be more susceptible to manipulation by authoritarian leaders or extremist ideologies. This can undermine democratic institutions and lead to the erosion of civil liberties and human rights.
  3. Limited Policy Understanding: Ignoring social sciences like political economy and political history can result in policymakers making decisions without a comprehensive understanding of the political, economic, and social factors at play. This can lead to ineffective policies, corruption, and mismanagement of resources.
  4. Stifled Innovation and Development: Neglecting the social sciences can hinder critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to analyze complex societal issues. This can impede innovation, economic growth, and sustainable development in the long run.

In the case of Uganda, these dangers could manifest in a lack of political accountability, restricted civil liberties, ineffective governance, and slow progress in addressing social and economic challenges. It is essential for a country’s education system to provide a balanced curriculum that includes both natural and social sciences to foster well-rounded citizens who are equipped to contribute to a democratic and prosperous society.

Today, URA has established so many companies leaving the country because of the bad business climate and environment. It is not because we lack motor skills, and Uganda has so many skilled and technical people, but because of the very poor business climate. We have tried several failed programs from PAP, PEAP, NAADS, OWC, and now PDM, but little outcome is seen in terms of development. I am sure that unless you change strategy, you will face the same fate. Why?

My dear good Dr. Balaam Barugahara Ateenyi, Uganda’s prevailing issue is corruption, not the lack of motor skills, as articulated by Robert Klitgaard: Corruption equals the monopoly of power plus discretion minus accountability, underscoring the need for accountable meritocracy, pragmatism, and honesty in governance.

Embracing the principles of honest, truthful, and virtuous leadership, as highlighted by Frederick Douglass, is essential for safeguarding the nation’s well-being. True patriotism, prioritizing love for one’s people over tribalism and personal interests, is crucial, as nationalism rooted in hate can sow division and harm society. As we navigate challenges, it is vital to remember that the strength of a nation lies not in weaponry but in the spirit and integrity of its people, both followers and leaders, as they strive towards victory and progress.

Finally, “Frederick Douglass once said, ‘The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous,'” Emphasizing the importance of integrity in governance should be your main concern, of course, as an integral part of your motor skills.

Similarly, viewing freedom as the opportunity to do what is right, not simply as the right to do as one pleases, underscores the responsibility inherent in personal and societal actions. Please do not follow the rogue-like philosophy of the Gasumba, Rwomusanas, and the like of “the end justifies the means.” These are just reckless elite opportunitists and survivors; you are too decent to act like them. Do not treat those who think differently in politics as your enemies; the truth is, enemies are corrupt, whether NRM or opposition.

Distinguishing between patriotism, rooted in love for one’s people, and nationalism, which may breed division and animosity towards others, is crucial for fostering unity and progress. As we confront the challenges of our time, let us uphold the spirit of individuals, recognizing that victories are not solely won through weapons but through the character and determination of those who lead and follow.

The author is Steven Birija Kazimura (SBK), the former Masindi district LCV chairman.

Disclaimer: As UG Reports Media LTD, we welcome any opinion from anyone if it’s constructive for the development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not those of UG Reports Media Ltd. but of the author of the article.

Would you like to share your opinion with us? Please send it to this email: theugreports@gmail.com.

Guest Writer

Disclaimer: As UG Reports Media LTD, we welcome any opinion from anyone if it’s constructive for the development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not those of UG Reports Media Ltd. but of the author of the article. Would you like to share your opinion with us? Please send it to this email: theugreports@gmail.com.

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