By Sakur AbdulSalam
The Deputy speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has bemoaned the present poor reading culture among many people in Uganda despite availability of a multitude of resourceful reading materials both on the internet and book libraries.
Oulanyah made the comments on Saturday at Garden City in Kampala during the signing of a book titled Black Hawk Rising. The book which has 250 pages was written by Opiyo Oloya and is valued at sh145000. Over 50 people attended the function.
The book which was launched by President Yoweri Museveni in June last year talks about the Uganda Peoples Defence Force’s (UPDF) role in maintaining peace in Somalia.
“I encourage the young people to read because of the abundance of what to read unlike in the past. I remember in my primary school we had a book called English composition and grammar book which had two missing pages but I had to move 7 kilometers to another school to copy the missing pages in my hand writing because there were no photocopiers,” Oulanyah recalled.
Oulanyah promised to persuade the authorities to circulate the book to all schools in the country, saying it tells a story every Ugandan should know. “I am going to take it as my responsibility to make sure the book is circulated to schools to ensure that students read and understand it,” he said.
Current statistics indicate that 14,689,469 persons or 73.87% of adult population (aged 15 years and above) in Uganda are able to read and write but only 20% bother to read all. He noted that with Somalia in pain and suffering, Africa cannot be rising and commended the UPDF and President Museveni for playing a leading role in the promotion of peace in Somalia.
UPDF spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire commended Oloya for telling the UDPF’s contribution in Somalia, stating that many times when the UPDF came out to talk about its contribution in Somalia, some people thought it was just propaganda.
“If it has not been Oloya to come up and tell this big story, probably some other person would have jumped on it and written it his or her way with interests of where he comes from,” Karemire said. Karemire noted that the book entails clear reflections of Uganda’s interests in participating in the peace keeping mission in Somalia.
In his remarks, Oloya said when Kenya and other countries joined the peace mission in Somalia in 2011, he realized the need to document the work spearheaded by UPDF since 2007 in the country so that it is not underestimated. “I said if we do not tell our story, nobody will do it for us,” said Oloya.
He urged Ugandans to starting believing in their abilities, stating that UPDF’s achievement in Somalia is now recognized internationally. “We need to stop putting ourselves down and draw our support behind ourselves,” Oloya said.
Oloya revealed that his first flight to Somalia was realized when he met Gen. Katumba Wamala in a city restaurant. “While I was seated in the restaurant to have food, Gen. Katumba came and when he saw me, he reminded me of an article I had written in the New Vision titled Dead on Arrival and showed me how they were registering success. He offered me a trip to Mogadishu where I realized the UPDF’s great role in Somalia,” Oloya said.
Adding, “I visited a clinic in Somalia where I found patients being treated among whom was an 18-year old Mariam who had been burnt by oil being bandaged by UDPF soldiers in great pain. She turned her face and looked at me andsaid “Alhamudulillah” (Thank you for coming) but this was directed to UPDF officers although I still hear her voice when I talk about Somalia,” he recalled.
Born in Pamin-Yai Village in Amuru District in 1957, Oloya is an educationist, author, broadcaster, music-lover and journalist. Sarah Kajingo asked Oloya to think about coming up with a documentary about UPDF’s role in Somalia so that the massage is not distorted.