THE TORCH IN THE GLOOMY VAULT

Alice Lakwena
The world today is a gloomy vault because it overshadows reality. The innocent man and woman is the bearer of all political leaders’ vices. There are but very few courageous persons to shine in defence for the innocent. The innocent therefore dies and their life is valueless. The world evolves but with aggravating realities. Our children will ask our graves when we will be no more what we meant to leave the world in such a mess. They will desire to die before their days. They will ask our graves why we failed to teach them the right way. The world will be messy and will be like a forest of sharp thorns in which everyone will fear to tread.

Human persons have lived in tunnels of different realities. In all their life history, human beings have survived in organised communities with leaders to direct, to rule and to guide. Leaders have reigned over their subjects in all communities tyrannically, democratically and divisively in some states or communities. Leadership is not a yesterday or today phenomenon. They date as far back as before Christ. Everyone is familiar with kings in the holy Bible, chiefs, priests and other church or religious leaders in their respective communities of all kinds. Leaders are as old as the human race is and so is leadership. Their characteristics are not different although they may vary from one leader to the other. In the world of politics, the common person, the innocent one, who lives one day at a time, bears all the iniquities of their leaders. The “I” and “my” are the driving forces in all the leadership activities. There is little consideration for the “other”. Wealth is key and takes the first place in leadership affairs. The human person is of no value in the face of leaders. The good person outside leadership is contaminated once they join the leadership world. He who remains good will have to pay the cost for it. They are like the torch in the gloomy vault. They have little to do like a torch may not satisfactorily shine in the gloomy wide vault. In fact the darkness might overshadow the torch.

The world today is a gloomy vault because it overshadows reality. The innocent man and woman is the bearer of all political leaders’ vices. There are but very few courageous persons to shine in defence for the innocent. The innocent therefore dies and their life is valueless. The world evolves but with aggravating realities. Our children will ask our graves when we will be no more what we meant to leave the world in such a mess. They will desire to die before their days. They will ask our graves why we failed to teach them the right way. The world will be messy and will be like a forest of sharp thorns in which everyone will fear to tread.

I realise the need to save our graves from being dug by our grand children to ask our bones all those questions. Obama, the American president of our time, one of the shining torches of his time in his speech called upon the nationals of America and the entire world to realise the need for every people in their successive generations to be willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of our time.

I have a dream which will have to be realised through people of my own, people of the Ugandan origin, the children and grand children of my own who I share the same nationality with. Uganda my homeland, the land of resources that cannot be found in many world’s lands, a country whose people have seen days of struggle in the political arena, a country that has been typified by tyrannical, selfish and corrupt leaders will be made better. Time will come when the bondage in which the Ugandan nationals sail will be no more when there will be a torch that will overpower the gloom in the vault. It will be a time when everyone will be really human and all human rights will be so. The courts of law will have to serve their purpose, the top leaders will feel for the nationals and the resources that have been in the hands of a few conceited leaders will be for all.

The cost of achieving this is high but in our reach. Today the sun shines but there is only darkness that we can see. The moon at night is like a candle in the stadium while the stars cannot be recognised at all. Theft is a type of employment today, lawlessness is the only means to achieve an end, and “courts of law” are mere words while the good is very far from our reach.
I chose to write about this situation in my country at this moment in history to call upon fellow states men and women to join hands because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
Uganda must change. The change must be worked for. The initiators of this change must be among us because what is good is clear and distinct in our minds and can be found. However, only a brazen man or woman will dare to stand for the idea herein. The coward will leave it to God while he who has no meaning in life will take the situation normal and fated.
I am the son of a Ugandan man who worked for the country and survived death in the early times before I came to see what the world looks like. He never taught me to love my country but he talked of a better Uganda he desired to see. I studied in one of the poorest schools of Uganda as well as in the best institutions for higher learning. I have lived in one of Uganda’s poorest villages where life meant a lot to me yet I learnt there to analyse situations and to object to what is not justice. I have befriended a simple but open minded lady who I think is best for me during the rest of my lifetime. She has a dream that Uganda will be a better place one day. I have grand parents, biological and foster parents, consanguine brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins upon whom my narrative bases whose miserable life has coerced them to hate their country but cannot do anything. They have witnessed all the grief of belonging to a poor family. I have friends who I have struggled with to make ends meet whose desire has remained to see a changed and a better Uganda for every national.
This is a yarn that tries to remind the fellow Ugandans of the need to throw aside our bedspreads and wake up from the long been unending snooze of cowardness. Conservatism should be shown a path and embrace a liberal mind ready to help us focus ourselves for a better nation. The yearn herein should provoke every Ugandan who loves to see his coming generations live a dignified life. It calls for a wide-eyed liberal state made of people ready to defend their fellow nationals that cannot raise their voices in the polluted political environment as it is in our day. The narrative is not an incendiary tool for violence but rather a voice that calls upon those in fear, bewilderment and hopelessness to stand up and bring back that hope that has for long been lost.
As such, my expression of grief should not be divisive with regard to the leaders of the time and we who suffer the consequences of their seemingly inadvertent actions. It is a means to call them to mind the reality in place, the undesirable situation in the country that they have caused by themselves. It is the time we need them to hearken the voices of those who cry for a unified state where everyone is human. The story reveals the fact that it is the time now to come together to solve a set of enormous troubles: the Northern war of Joseph Kony, a deteriorated economic standard of our nation, regional imbalances, corruption, stealing the property of the poor especially land, a chronic health care crisis, the potentially devastating climate change and tyrannical rule among other outstanding troubles of our time. It is no work for one tribe- the Baganda or the Banyankole, the Karimajong or the Bakiga. It is a task for all Ugandans who love a changed state for the better. Every national should be a torch that shines to overcome the gloom in the vault to be able to make a difference that is positive.
The words in the narrative are based on my moral stand, my professed values and principles, which I believe will not go unexamined by those who will find them worthy of examination. While I bear in mind that many will laugh me to scorn and while I realise that there will be many that will not see sense in the story and those who will be offended, I stand to defend what I think is important not only for me but also for those who are open minded. He who declines to understand the reality in place and the other who fails to understand it will never be put on the same platform. Surely there will be those who will refuse or decline to understand what is conveyed herein while there are those who might fail to comprehend it but seek to find its meaning. However few the former will be we shall have a made a step.
What has not been clear in the last and present regimes that need to be explained for slow analysts to understand? What is not clear about the land issues, the recent issue of our time that I need to elaborate upon so that everyone can see the significance of my story? Who was deaf to hear the Ttemangalo issues and their resolutions? Who did not know about the lives of our beloved brothers and sister that perished in the hands of Kibwetere yet the murderer never got what he deserved? Who was too young to read and or hear the stories of those who perished in the thickets of Luwero and Northern Uganda that needs a story teller to recount for him the whole story to understand what is being advocated in here? Who has not experienced the pinch of corruption in all the public institutions to the very homes where we stay? Who has been blind that has not seen the tear gases in the city of Kampala when people have always tried to raise their voices? Who did not read or hear or even see innocent people being arrested with no offence committed? How clear should I be for one to heed the call for a change that I advocate herein? I think clarity lies in the mind that is clear.
I continue to dream of a day when my hope will come to reality. People will talk about me and my offsprings who will be agents and in fact torches that will shine in gloom of the vault. I will make stories of their time. Radios will broadcast news about me drawing from what I write today herein. Every Ugandan should be aware that everyone that has suffered physically, mentally, or psychologically, everyone whose blood spilled to the ground because of our leaders’ misdeeds was our own brother and the blood shed was our own the tears our own tears. Everyone who passed away because of the inattentive actions of our leaders will rise to be close at hand when we shall stand up to defend our state for the better. Every one of them will be ready to support us in the struggle to restore our rights and dignity from the grave where they are buried. The story must extend to all the generations of our time and those to be after we will have departed. Our struggles to overcome the present reality and our triumphs after the peaceful but focussed battle will become at one time real and widespread.
There is no way we can deny our Ugandan citizenship and nationality by origin. We belong to Uganda and she is our motherland who we should rebuild, take care of, and love with all our whole being. Understanding the reality upon which I base myself to advocate a change that is real requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point of suffering. However, it will provoke callous actions that will result in an objectionable state of being since many have had harder days than I have had which they may not wish to revisit even in a mere story like this since the past remains new in the minds of he who experienced it. William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history the suffering Ugandans have passed through, the injustices in this country that have been and are still a reality, and the many inhuman activities that have been witnessed by many of you. Nevertheless we need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the Ugandan community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery, tyrannical, self-centred and happy-go-lucky leadership regimes that have been vivid realities to the present day.
“Deliberated discrimination” in the job market where the so-called “technical know-who” is the method for awarding job posts must come to an end so that the children of the poor who have no one to recognise them in the competitive market can have a chance of getting better employment opportunities. Shadow investors in whose name people’s property is destroyed to create space for their arcades instead of serious investments should come to an end. The misuse of power to keep in a political position even when the majority or the minority do not see the reason for it should be condemned and brought to an end. Time will come when elections will be free and fair- where Ugandans will be able to say YES to mean YES that will from their own free will without coercion.
I dream of a new Uganda where lack of economic opportunity among men and women, among tribes, and among regions and among individuals and shame and frustration that comes from inability to raise and look after family members will come to a close. I hope for a state where the leaders will be able to provide for those who may not be able to meet their basic needs because there will be proper accountability and transparency. Moreover, there will be enough resources to cater for the nationals because corruption will be no more while human rights defence will take precedence over any other issues.
We should be aware that there are quite a number of possibilities that can lead to our failure to achieve this. But still for all those who will unite and claw their way to get a piece of the dream I promulgate herein will have started the battle. However, he who will block the move towards the realisation of the dream will be like a ferocious beast that devours every creature and forgets about its survival tomorrow and that of its little ones. In the end it devours itself.
I have asserted a firm conviction of the realisation of my dream based on my belief in change and God’s care for us all. I also assert my conviction basing on the trust I have in my fellow Ugandans who have experienced the pinch and I am sure they will see it necessary to change for the better. Together we can move beyond what we expect today in view of attaining that which we think is better for us and for our generations.
I call upon every Ugandan to be firm and advocate the change we want our children and grand children to see. What we begin today may fail to be realised tomorrow but the other day, through our children and grand children, our real blood who we shall have taught to continue with the struggle, it will be realised and the mission will be accomplished leaving us or them the responsibility to maintain it to the end. Our hope should be placed in ourselves as well as those to come after we shall have parted.

POVERTY AND CORRUPTION
We are gathered to share ideas, to provoke ourselves and learn to question the status quo with the aim of making our mother Uganda a better place for you and for your grand children. Lamentations should be considered historical while action with determination should be embraced. I want to remind each one of you that if I fail to acknowledge the good things my leaders have done for my country, then I would not be realistic. However, when I raise you about that which needs change, I should not be blamed because the good must be advocated. In my first speech which most of you based to call upon me to join the political arena I asserted the need for a change which must be worked for. Tonight, am advocating the need to realise the goodness of combined efforts towards achieving a specific goal.
Tonight am calling upon members to tread where I wand us all to tread for a better Uganda. It is time to wake up from sleep and become bold to pour scorn on those who have toppled our nation through corruption which has lead to unending poverty. This poverty you experience, will extend to your forth generation and it will be worse compared to what you see today. Poverty the fourth generation will experience will force them to bear children for commercial affairs because the goods for sale will not be other than their fellow human beings. This is the reality. You have already savoured this when you have heard about child sacrifice. It is now on a smaller scale, later it will expand if we do not stand up today and set up strategies through active participation with a patriotic spirit.
Corruption in the government institutions, corruption which is knocking at the doors of religious institutions and even on the doors of our churches, corruption which is seen as a new way of earning a living has let down so many of our friends and has rendered them poor because they have failed to fight it. We should acknowledge the fact that, those to fight corruption and those who perpetuate it are equally corrupt. Now who will deliver the state from such chaos? It is the time now to start and change our mentality and develop some love for our mother Uganda.
My audience today, ladies and gentlemen, children and youth, here is the moment to convey to you a message that must enkindle in each of us a fire of hope, a fire that will bring light to see what has been invisible, a fire that will never die unless it brings us to a new Uganda- a changed Uganda. Each of us here is a national, each of us here is aggrieved by the state in which we live today because of corruption, lawlessness, injustice, political instability that is the order of the day since 1966, poverty which has its roots in careless and lack of concern for the nationals by their leaders and aimless taxes that you pay hopping to get better services in your country. We have seen and heard of accidents, in fact fatal accidents on highways; people have lost their life while others have lost their dear ones on Uganda roads. Death today is no issue to discus yet it claims productive nationals who would liberate our state. The education today from the grass root level is a complete mess; high school drop out rate is no phenomenon to wonder about. This results in quite a number of problems such high way robbery, rebel activities, insecurity in our local areas and moreover uneducated generations will rarely educate their children- we are adding injuries to insults. Poverty is a song today but the annual budget shows different things. People die today of poverty in a state that is not desirable for human beings. The rich continue to grow richer and richer while you the poor like me continue to grow poorer and poorer. Even the little we have is taken away through purposeless taxes imposed upon us. Yes, we must pay taxes because we are nationals who love to see our Uganda develop, but should we leave things to God when even the little we sacrifice to develop our mother Uganda benefits only a few nationals? What is wrong with the Uganda of today? Land theft is an issue you all know today, child sacrifice is nearly a song, and unexplainable murder here and there fills the news papers every day.

Am not in favour of blaming those who lead us, but I want to bring to your awareness that of which you seem to have already been aware but have not been able to react to it. I am not calling upon a violent reaction but rather a rational reaction that will reawaken our minds to embark of developmental activities. This call is meant to provoke each of you to wake up from the sleep you have been in since the country started to go astray. This call is meant to mind the need to rebuild Uganda my mother country, to make it better for ourselves and the children of our own that will live after we shall be no more. On the other hand, you need not to look at me as one who appreciates no work done by those who have led you and me. Surely they have brought us to this point which cannot fail to notice. However, we must stand together and challenge them for the many mistakes they have done for quite a number of years which have led our country to be a lair for corrupt citizens. It is the time to revitalise our patriotism spirit which we ought to pass on to our children and grandchildren. We must educate our children to love and work for their country. We should teach them to respect each other and also teach them to respect what they write down to direct their country. It is time now to revisit the early ages which we, who think are modern, call primitive ages of our grand parents. They lived a harmonious and respectful life with regard to one another. They shared the few resources that they could access and worked hard to preserve them for us who are the present generations. This they did through creating proverbs, fables, songs, poems and legends. In fact they played their part. They did not go for the education we go for today but they were more educated than we are. They seem to not to have reached the level of civilisation we think we have reached yet they were more civilised than we are, they seem not have studied moral ethics the way we do it to day, yet they were more ethical than we are today. Life to them was a gift from God and so was revered but today life means nothing compared to wealth. Who is more civilised, them or you and me?

The time is now when you and I have to stop slumbering. Time is now when we should say NO to what degrades our human nature. Uganda is among the third world countries, yet it has lots of resources. Our leaders have sold those resources which we would have used to develop ourselves. They have shared our country amongst themselves without consulting us. For we are only saying: God will see them on the last day. God played his part and the rest is left to you and me because he endowed us with reason, the capacity to differentiate the good from the bad. The work is for you and me. It should be a collective effort. We must be bold enough to challenge our leaders without sparing any of them. You are very aware of the situation in government hospitals where we all go and find no medicine, or where we go and find no personnel or where we are treated as though we were not taxpayers. You know very well of our transport systems in the country where we suffer as if there were no people to defend us. Christmas comes and everyone hikes the transport fares when our leaders are just seated in their offices. We are aware of the so-called road repairs which are done today and tomorrow pot holes are back in the roads. We are very much aware of the buildings under which many Ugandans, your brothers and sisters have perished and the constructors have gone unquestioned. We are all aware of the traffic lights that function only when there is an important person from outside coming in the country. We have heard of theft cases which have been reported in the courts of law but the laws have not been observed. I think we have seen and heard of many events which call each one us to get angry and start up a battle that will change the situation.

The 10th July 2008 is a very remarkable day in my life. It is the day I first stood before a person who was said to be a lawyer/judge in Lukaya trading centre on Masaka Kampala High way. The case that was reported against me was over speeding. I acknowledged it. But one thing that made me uncomfortable was the amount of money the gentleman and his co-worker a lady asked for as a penalty. They took 500,000/= which in fact they shared amongst themselves. The lawyer was an aged man with grey who seemed to be sane and in fact a man of integrity. To my surprise, he did not act to my expectations based on the way I negotiated with him to be able to leave the place. This is the Uganda that we must liberate. It is a task for us all which we must do collectively with a spirit of love for our state. Children have suckled corruption, theft, shamelessness and duplicity from their mothers’ breasts. It is because of this that you have been able to hear or witness different outrageous events such the embezzlement of the NSSF money, the Global Fund saga, and many other scandalous events of our time that have been silenced. We the Ugandans have kept quiet and no one dares to stand up to call for justice. On the other hand, justice is just a word. It makes no meaning within our country. It is today that we should stand up to give justice meaning and teach it to our children and grand children.

I believe, the so-called developed states have reached where they are because the nationals therein have the love for their states. It is a result of the efforts of the parents who instil in their children that patriotic spirit which I advocate now. Dying intestate should not be heard of anymore because we all have what we can put in our will: the reminder to our children and grand children to be patriotic, to grow with a spirit of upholding their mother state-Uganda. In fact this is a task for each of us. Before one should entrust his/her material property to his/her children or and grand children, one must begin his will by calling upon them to love their nation and protect it jealously. It is through this that Uganda will be one day a country where every citizen will desire to be. We do not need to purchase arms to do this, but words, action, determination and focus will prove what I advocate herein.

When I advocate the need to join hands and work for a better Uganda, am not asking for charity but rather there is a genuine cause that needs your attention. The cause that I talk about here is the preservation of our mother Uganda through hard work.

Rick Harris brings it to our awareness that the America Spirit was conceived when the American founding fathers embraced their highest vision of what their country could be. They formed these ideals so all Americans could have a level playing field in which to pursue happiness and to find fulfilment in life. They knew all humans were created equal, and so have the right to share equal opportunities wherever they are. This should inform us of the fact that we are the founding fathers of a habitable Uganda which our children and grand children will live to enjoy. We therefore need to devise a system that recognizes our creative potential and create an environment which provides freedom for us and our children to express our individual talents and unique differences.

we should aim to work for a peaceful country free from corruption and where rational freedom will flourish. It is that we the founding fathers want our children and grand to have because Uganda in Africa was a peaceful country free tyrants, corruption, tribalism and class struggle. Our country will stand strong because of people like you and myself who have a vision. It will stand strong because we the founding fathers will have kindled a light that will not die for the centuries to come.

My words today are meant for you who listen to me. You possess a patriotic spirit for Uganda. I who am a staunch catholic hail the forefathers in my faith, the Uganda martyrs, who are our ancestors in faith. Every catholic honours them and cherishes their brave actions of choosing what they though was the right path. We should emulate them not on spiritual grounds though. We should lay a foundation for a better Uganda as they did for the Catholic Church in Uganda for me who am a catholic. They made history, history that is still stand so long as the church stands. They made sensible and memorable history which we should make for our ourselves and our grand children to come.

we have leaders who have no idea of what was sacrificed to make our fore fathers who shaped our Uganda to the time we have spoiled it. Whatever culture we are from comes next and not the other way round.

we need to move from a tribal or cultural mentality to a collective culture. However, there is no way we shall have that collective culture unless we educate ourselves and erase that mentality of “you are a Muganda and you are a Munyankole or Karimajong” among other tribes. I believe, ladies and gentlemen that we can aspire to be whatever we are capable of being so long as we are united. I am hopeful that from the talk we read now all listen to we have started to feel the pressing need to pass on to the younger generation an appreciation and a love for this country.

it is time ladies and gentlemen to learn to say NO to corruption, dictatorship and unlawful governance which prevail in your offices and homes. It is time to see value in my fellow human being and learn to respect him or her. It is time now to learn to be shameful for any malpractice in our areas of work.
We should work for a better Uganda bearing in mind that even if we do not enjoy the fruits of our sweats, we shall be remembered even on the national calendar for the work done to liberate our mother Uganda. I have already started my part by calling upon you all to join the march on the way to a better Uganda through speech and boring talks which may be meaningless to many of my dear friends I share ideas with but who cannot say “stop” because they fear to lose the bread they get from me or because they are cowards. Surely, I am not here to amuse any one of you but to agitate you so that you wake leave here with a changed mind and ready to embark on the task.

Memorial Day represents a day of national awareness and reverence, honouring those Americans who died defending our Nation and its values. And while we should honour these heroes everyday for the profound contribution they have made securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honour them most especially on this day.

Memorial Day solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of faith, determination, and will of the American people. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with strength, courage, and faith is the condition for acting with greatness.

As I said earlier, the condition of the American family is the condition of our country, just as the health of our individual cells determines the health of our bodies. I can remember when there was a time in our family discussions to talk about our country, “the land of the free and the home of the brave” and that patriotic spirit would be passed along to young and enthusiastic listeners.

it is only in Ugandans, be they immigrant but working to develop Uganda, that the spirit of Uganda lives. We are the liberators or betrayers of our mother country.

If we do not pass on to the younger generation an understanding and appreciation for the principles upon which our grand fathers founded Uganda, we might eventually lose our country. Uganda may end up slowly sinking, and that is the stated goal of our enemies.

To me, as I look to the future, I want to serve the spirit of Uganda. I want to know the spiritual intent of our founding fathers ad understand the values and principles they used to construct the Constitution that guided them to live humanly free from corruption, aimless wars, tyranny and terrorism. I should not be held wrong to believe that our founding fathers and mothers knew the value of personal freedom and felt that humans were endowed by God with certain rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is what we have lost and now in the struggle to get back.
God bless us and help us know the good and give us the strength to distinguish it from the evil. For God and my country.

By
Jude M.DK