Uganda at Fifty Years of Independence (Uganda@50)

Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, Chancellor of Makerere University, greets Hon. Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, President of People’s Progressive Party, at the Launch of the Uganda @ 50 Project at CBR

Amplifying Citizens Voices

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Between 2011 and 2013, Centre for Basic Research, implemented a project entitled ‘Uganda @ 50: Amplifying the Citizens Voices’. The project was a citizen’s engagement process under which Ugandans had a systematic discussion re-examining the past, present and future of their country, Uganda, as she marked 50 years of independence on 9 October 2012. Citizens’ dialogues were held in the districts of Gulu, Busia, Luwero, Kabale, Hoima and Kampala. The project was supported by the Open Society Institute of East Africa (OSIEA).

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The project on amplifying citizens’ voices was designed to enable Ugandans reflect on their past and present, and project a Uganda they want. The aim of the project was to enable Ugandans reflect on critical questions on the governance and development directions over the last 50 years and how these could inform future visions for our country. Some of these questions were: Where are we as a nation and where do we want to go? What is or should be the role of the general citizenry in defining the governance direction of the country? How can the current democratic deficits be addressed so as to allow for greater state responsiveness to citizens’ voices and accountability? How can the voices of the citizens be captured and effectively articulated and validated in a manner that will ensure a broader and inclusive definition of Uganda's destiny?

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Project activities included the Project launch; self-discovery community dialogues; expert meetings and discussions; debates in educational institutions; secondary school essay competitions; feedback seminars in the Central, South-western, Western, Eastern and Northern regions of Uganda; publication and dissemination of research findings.

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The project mainly drew participants from six districts selected from the four major regions of Uganda – that is, Gulu District in northern; Kabale and Hoima districts in western; Busia District in eastern;, and, Kampala and Luweero districts in central Uganda. Altogether, over 650 Ugandans participated in the district dialogues, either as rural and urban communities or senior citizens. An additional 75 participants responded by call-ins during FM radio talk shows held in each district.

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Over 500 university students participated in debates in selected universities, namely: Makerere University, Busitema University, Kabale University and Gulu University. As part of the celebration and reflection, a secondary school essay competition was organized and students were invited to write essays on the three main areas of the dialogues -- the Past, Present and the Uganda I want to see.

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Project Objectives

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The specific objectives of the project were as follows:

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  • Enhance the level of civic competence of the general citizenry by facilitating a process of self-discovery.
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  • Promote active and purposeful political engagement of the populace for greater responsive governance.
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  • Capture and validate citizens’ voices and aspirations on Uganda’s governance experiences.
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  • Catalyse a process of developing sustainable strategies for citizens’ engagement with democratic processes.
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Activities

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Community Self Discovery Dialogues

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Dialogues involving ordinary women and men, students, in and out-of-school youth and community members were organized in each of the selected districts. Emerging issues from these dialogues were aggregated to guide discussions on local radio talk shows where some of the voices were replayed. This created a further opportunity for a larger population to listen and engage with the ideas .

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\r\nA woman shares her views at a Community Dialogue at Mulago, Kampala\r\n

Secondary School Competitions


Essay writing was not only intended to capture the voices of young people in schools so as ensure wide coverage of the ideas. Essay competitions were organized in a way that encouraged young people to think about Uganda; questions of nationhood and their role in constructing the future.
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\r\nOne of the top winners – a student from Kigezi High School (Kabale District) speaking at the essay competition award ceremony at CBR

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Expert Meetings

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In each of the selected districts, one expert meeting was held with about 20 to 30 people invited from across the district on the question of governance. These experts included former political leaders, cultural leaders, researchers, teachers, academicians and civil society actors, who reflected on key past events, the present and the future of the country, with regard to the governance question.

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\r\n A citizen contributing to a dialogue at an Expert Meeting in Kampala

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Debates in Educational Institutions

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Universities were selected as important spaces because of their historical role as think tanks and also because they are places where the majority of the population is the youth. Debates were organized in Makerere, Gulu, Kabale and Busitema universities. To allow for cross-generational voices to be heard, speakers included senior academic staff as well as students and other members of the University community.

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Feedback Dialogues

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As part of the commitment to facilitating ongoing dialogues, feedback sessions were organized in all the districts covered (Gulu, Busia, Hoima, Luweero, Kabale and Kampala) In addition, a feedback session was also held in Moroto, Karamoja. The feedback sessions provided an opportunity for communities to validate the ways in which the voices were captured, as well as to engage in a more nationally-oriented narrative on Uganda.

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\r\nYouths participating in feedback dialogue at CBR

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Each project activity involved both a dialogue and a research process. The activities were structured  in such a way that they focused mainly on illuminating the voices of the general citizens. The project employed participatory community dialogues to deliberate the topic through a multi-stakeholder approach (MSA). The process was designed in such a manner as to capture the citizens’ agency and, at the same time, stimulate a process of engagement with the various governance questions that relate to the citizens’ lived reality. The methodology used fitted well into the "Uganda at 50" process as a logical way of assessing where we have been and where we are heading.

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Products

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  1. "It all Begins with Me: Citizens’ Voices on Uganda at Fifty Years of Independence and Beyond". CBR Working Paper No. 103/2013
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  3. Uganda at Fifty Years of Independence and Beyond: Citizens’ Voices on the past, present and future of Uganda – Ngikarimojong Speak Out. CBR Working Paper No. 103/2013
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  5. Uganda @ 50: Secondary School Essay Competition – A Bird's Eye View
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  7. Handy Posters Translated into Local Languages: Runyakitara, Luo, Luganda, Ng’akarimajong.
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\r\nSome of the Products of the Uganda @ 50 Project

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We need to be organised- Women activist

1st, October 2014

Women activists have been asked to form an organized front to advocate for their causes other than having several voices speaking differently.

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\r\n This was said by Jane Alisemera Babiiha (former Bundibugyo MP) during a gender and political settlement event at Center for basic research, in Kololo.

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