Tag Archives: James Wire

The Namugongo Pilgrimage and Uganda’s Pseudo Patriotism Trainings

A few weeks to the annual celebration of the Uganda Martyrs, groupings of believers commence walks to the site of Namugongo from various parts of the country. Seeing faithfuls of all age groups diligently walking along the highways to celebrate the martyrs is one of the most humbling experiences one can face.

Year in Year out, faithfuls voluntarily undertake this pilgrimage without even being paid money to do so. Infact for the Catholic Church, the format is such that any intending pilgrim needs to register at the church by paying enough money for a trip back home from Namugongo. It is believed that over a million people go through that place during the celebrations.

Pilgrims walking to Namugongo

This zeal is the opposite of what many have termed Ugandans to be. The claims that we cannot be patriotic, we cannot gulvanise under a uniform goal, we are self centered among others are totally demystified by this annual pilgrimage.

Seeing the level of cooperation transcending tribal, religious, socio-economic and political divides, it leaves me to believe that we are genuinely one people.

Recently, when I shared with a group of friends about the patriotism classes that are ongoing in secondary schools, one of the members stated, Patriotism is lived and not just taught in classrooms. We had a debate over this and it is only when I witnessed the pilgrims making their way to Namugongo that I realised the truth in his statement.

In today’s Uganda, the term Patriotism has become a catchword by the political uppercrust that go around preaching water while drinking wine. They labor so much to rally the nation around some common causes but fail miserably most times. Why?

They are not believable. Time and again, they repeatedly rape the mental state of Ugandans and hope to do the same for eternity. This is what makes the very people who walk over three hundred kilometers as pilgrims to ask for money to attend political rallies or even government organised trainings and meetings within their locales.

Have those that labour to spread the patriotism gospel done a self assessment to determine their level of patriotism? You ride around with sirens and force cars already clogged on narrow roads to give way as your security threatens any living organism preventing your progression.

To gauge one’s level of patriotism, it is important that we look at it through the lenses of what is regarded as a true patriot. One should possess an adequate number of the following attributes;

  • Love for your country: As a true patriot, you have a deep and genuine love for your country. You are dedicated to its well-being and strive for its progress and prosperity beyond mere personal gain.
  • Loyalty and allegiance: As a true patriot you are loyal and devoted to your country. You prioritize the collective interests of your nation over personal gain or ideology. Have you been involved in defrauding public entities? Abusing your office? Wrongfully allocating resources?
  • Civic responsibility: As a true patriot you recognize your civic responsibilities and actively participate in the democratic process. You engage in activities such as voting, staying informed, and contributing positively to society. Are you the type that calls politics bullshit or prefers to retain a dumb mindset when politics is being discussed? You do not vote?
  • Respect for diversity and unity: As true patriot you respect the diversity within your country and embrace the idea that unity can be achieved through the inclusion and acceptance of different tribes, religions, and political perspectives. Are you violent and combatant when it comes to those with alternate political views? Do you execute your duties while looking at other tribes as underdogs?
  • Defense and protection: As a true patriot you should be willing to defend and protect your country from internal and external threats. This can manifest through various means, including military service, advocating for national security, or standing up against injustice and inequality. When you see wrong, do you simply look the otherside? Peasants are rendered homeless by thugs coming as investors, you are a lawyer, do you ever bother to defend them pro-bono?
  • Promotion of core values: As a true patriot you uphold and promote the core values that the country stands for, such as; freedom, equality, justice, and human rights. They work towards creating a society that embodies these principles.
  • Constructive criticism and accountability: As a true patriot you understand that constructive criticism is essential for the growth and improvement of your country. You hold your leaders accountable for their actions and strive to address any shortcomings or injustices. Even without spurring at the higher government level, do you ever bother to check on the productivity of the Local Government leaders in your district? How is the money they receive from the central government put to use? Do the technocrats execute their duties as expected?
  • Community engagement: As a true patriot, you actively engage with your local community, contributing to its development and well-being. You volunteer, support local businesses and participate in activities that foster social cohesion and solidarity. Where do you shop your groceries? Do you join your neighborhood when it comes to restoring the state of failed infrastructure like roads? Do you help out in fundraising for causes?
  • Education and awareness: As true patriot, you seek to educate yourself about your country’s history, culture, and challenges. You stay informed about current events and are aware of both the strengths and weaknesses of your nation.
  • Peace: As a true patriot, you promote peace and understanding, both within your own country and in international relations. Do you always sound war drums when something is not going right? Do you speak ill of the future of your country and its people?

It is time to learn from these believers who annually undertake that pilgrimage and faithfully repeat the action year after year. If the Government ever wants patriotism to take root, it has to start by ensuring that the leadership is exemplary. You need to be known by good works. Amidst all the hard times going on, you cannot decide to spend 1 Million Shillings daily dressing the President when rural health centers lack delivery beds, drugs, basic medical equipment among others.

It is time we reviewed the lenses with which Patriotism is addressed in this country because it has to cease being biased towards appeasing the reigning political dispensation and instead getting formatted according to overarching non politically biased principles. That is when the true goodness and unifying nature of Ugandans shall dawn upon us all.

James Wire
Business & Technology Consultant

Expired Courses? Wake up National Council of Higher Education

Waking up to the news that numerous Ugandan University Courses had expired was not the best start of the week. As a parent and a friend to many other parents a good number of them with children or dependants pursuing university courses locally, I got depressed.

Lately we have academic institutions that have made it a pass time to not only create fancy looking duplicates of courses but also hype them up for the gullible citizenry who are yearning to have a household member with a degree on their head.

Then you have the National Council of Higher Education that has chosen to sleep on duty. On the organisation’s website, the message from the Executive Director clearly states that, ”…the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) is mandated to regulate and guide the establishment and management of higher education institutions as well as regulating the quality of higher education, equating qualifications and advising Government on higher education matters.”

Anyone with a basic comprehension of the English language can clearly see that Course Accreditation lies within their docket and they must have watched on as Universities went ahead to deliver expired courses. Really?

A look at the organogram of the organisation indicates that it has a Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation under which you find a Department of Institutional Licensing and Accreditation, Department of Program Accreditation, Department of Quality Audit, Monitoring and Compliance, Department of Standards, Recognition and Equation of Qualifications.

Now I ask, what are all these departments doing when we have such a huge problem of expired courses? What is the role of those staffing these offices? Are they largely staffed by mere incompetents who found their way there because of political, tribal, religious or any other flimsy non professional circumstances?

They may choose to blame the universities for not doing their adequate followup but as an institution, they collect money from any institution of higher learning student that is enrolled. Why then don’t they care to ensure that this student is well catered for in all aspects of regulation? This business of guaranteeing non performers employment with no delivery expectations need not be tolerated going forward.

See the arrogant statement below that the institution put out regarding the matter. It is about them sitting in their offices and everyone going to them. In this day and age? Are you being a merely responsive institution with no need for proactivity? Get real and get out of that old school mentality.

NCHE’s response on the matter

Their failure to harness the use of technology in their midst is another glitch in such an organisation whose aim is to shape the academic trends of this nation. Why for example can’t key information be online like the Programme accreditation manual, a searcheable database of the accreditation status of academic programs among others? This can then be linked to a reporting system that sends periodic reminders to institutions about the status of their courses. Not too hard to think about however, when you focus on recruiting staff based on skewed matrix, you get such pedestrian and old school approaches to doing work. A senior six computer literate kid could effect this in less than two weeks.

The Council Chairman of the Institution, Dr Elly Katunguka happens to be the Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University which according to the release, has the highest number of expired courses!!!! Imagine!!! You can’t head an institution with 197 expired courses and still have the audacity to collect school fees.

The Chairperson of the Accreditation and Quality Assurance Committee Prof. Joy Constance Kwesiga leaves one wondering what her exposure within the various academic institutions she has run has impacted upon her ability to oversee matters at a national level.

The Chairperson of the ICT, Research and Innovation Committee, Dr Jenipher Twebaze Musoke who has such a flowery CV working with numerous global institutions clearly exhibits a lackadaisical approach to this assignment.

On the management team, Dr. Aloysius Sembatya who is the Director Quality Assurance and Accreditation and Dr Nora Mulira, the Director of ICT Research and Innovation have numerous questions to answer. As sector heads, they are clearly sleeping on duty and putting the future of our children at risk. I personally recommend a serious shakeup in that institution. It needs an earthquake with the ripple effects similar to those that Jennifer Musisi brought to KCCA some years back.

As for the universities, I will dwell on Makerere University for two main reasons. It is my Alma Mater and also regarded as the apex university of Uganda. In a WhatsApp message allegedly from Prof. Nawangwe the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, he states, “A number of our academic programmes are not accredited by the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) and this has led to the denial of admission to one or two of our graduates to higher degrees by some European universities and this has understandably raised concern among members of the public. This problem has been due to laxity partly on our side and also on the side of the NCHE. On our side, there have been unacceptable delays in the review of some programmes by departments, schools, and colleges, and occasionally at the Senate level for re-accreditation as required by law. On the side of the NCHE, there have been delays in processing programmes for accreditation and also delays in updating their website.”

This clearly brings out similar undertones of busy bodies at Makerere University who feign busy schedules yet all they are grappling for is to maintain that pay cheque that allows them to continuously qualify for salary loans as well as take time to do personal errands while robbing their employer.

Instead of generalising, this is the time to shake up and make individuals accountable for this impasse. It is such a shame for an institution of Makerere’s stature to be found tolerating such petty inconsistencies. If NCHE is slow, Makerere has the might to push them into action. They are not a Johnny Come Lately like a one Metropolitan University.

What is happening at NCHE unfortunately is being replicated within various government institutions and it is only a matter of time before the rot is unveiled. It is time for a holistic change in system thinking within our Government institutions that are filled with self entitled non performers.

Shame on you NCHE, Makerere and other Universities that have slept on duty. I do request the public defender and people’s hero Counsel Male Mabirizi to take this matter up and file a Class Action Suit against these sleepy institutions that have specialised in milking parents dry while belching all the way to the bank.

James Wire
Business & Technology Consultant
Twitter: @wirejames
Blog: https://wirejames.com