President Yoweri Museveni urged Ugandan students to love fellow citizens because they need them for their prosperity. “Apart from loving Uganda because it is moral to do so, you also need to love Ugandans because you need them for your prosperity,” he said.
President Museveni made the remarks Thursday at Kololo Independence Grounds while passing out over 45,000 students from different secondary schools in Kampala who underwent a patriotism course. The President was in the company of the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni.
The participants were drawn from the 254 secondary schools in the five divisions of Kampala city. The training course ran under the theme 'Patriotism for socio-economic transformation'. The President explained that when he launched the patriotism clubs in Uganda in February 2009, he talked about the different types of love which included among others, the love for Uganda which is very vital for all citizens since it immensely contributes to their wealth creation and prosperity.
“When I say love Uganda, I mean love all Ugandans, don't discriminate. But secondly, you need Uganda, especially if you are a wealth creator like me who is a milk, beef and banana producer in Ntungamo and Rwakitura. And with Maama and our children, we produce all the three,” Museveni said. “But the problem we have is that the Banyankore don't buy our milk, bananas and beef so much. Why? Because we are producing similar products. Therefore, who then buys our products? It is actually the people of Kampala and other parts of Uganda who don't have time for the cows and don't grow bananas. They are the ones who buy our products. If Uganda was not together, if Ankole was alone in the form of a small state, we would have a lot of problems because we would all be producing similar products, but nobody would buy them. Therefore, for prosperity, you need Uganda.”
President Museveni further stressed that the people who don't love and care for Uganda, are actually parasites who don't wish any good for the country. “They have nothing to lose,” he said.
The President further appealed to the students to also love East Africa and Africa at large to be able to benefit from the external market for Ugandan products. “As we wake up and produce more, we shall find that the internal market of Uganda is not enough, we need East Africa. Already you see the problem we have with maize, milk, and cement, we need the East African market. That is why number two, we tell you to love East Africa. Why? Because we need it. Number three, we say love Africa because you also need it. The internal market is not enough, the East African market is not enough, you need the African market,” he emphasized. “Recently, Algeria, which is not part of Uganda and East Africa, offered to buy our milk and we are so grateful because we are together in the African Common market.”
President Museveni also urged the students to love the environment because it is crucial and responsible for the rains, water and the good temperatures in the country. “You should also know how human beings have evolved in the 4 and half million years because then you will be able to know where Africa is now and why it is there and how we can move forward to be a prosperous and modern country.”
The President, on the other hand, cautioned the students against indiscipline acts like alcoholism, smoking and prostitution that could ruin their lives. “If you love yourself, you take care of yourself so that you don't get into trouble. And what are those troubles? Troubles like alcohol if you start taking it, you will ruin your life. I'm now going to be 80 years old, but you are here asking me to continue leading the war, this is because I'm fit, I'm not sick. If I was sick in a wheelchair, you would not be disturbing me. You would not be saying 'Jjaja Tova Ku Main' but you say so because you see that the man is still strong. This is because I don't drink alcohol. Alcohol is very dangerous for your system and body. I don't smoke,” he explained. “When you love yourself, avoid alcohol, smoking and prostitution but also study and exercise and above all, fear God because in the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
President Museveni also promised that he was going to integrate the Youth Forum program with the patriotic movement. The Youth Forum mainly deals with the safe living of the youth. “We are going to get a budget for saving and focusing our youth,” he added. The Vice President, Jessica Alupo, congratulated the trainees for finishing the course after undergoing rigorous training.
She also called upon students to make the best use of the opportunity they have to be in school by using their time effectively and efficiently so that they become responsible citizens of Uganda who are able to add a brick to the development of the country. “Before 1986, many of us were akin to a slogan 'Education for a few' but Your Excellency, because of the prevailing circumstances especially of peace and security with the correct policies of the NRM government which you are presiding over, the slogan has since changed to 'Education for all'. Your Excellency, allow me therefore to call upon all Ugandan people who are of school-going age to take advantage of the policies of “Education for all” to attain education,” Alupo asserted. “As graduates of this course, you are now equipped with tools, and you have full responsibility to promote and safeguard the values that make Uganda unique.”
On her part, Maama Janet lauded President Museveni for making the young people's development a central part of his core program in Uganda. “Thank you for always caring to nurture and guide these young people who are our future leaders tomorrow,” she said.
The First Lady also disclosed that the President launched patriotism clubs in schools in 2009 in order to inculcate norms and values among the youth and students in secondary schools. “From that time, we have promoted patriotism in schools and over 4,000 institutions now have clubs and are working to instill patriotism into our students,” Maama Janet said. “I would like to appreciate the National Secretariat for patriotism for the work it is doing to inculcate the norms and values of patriotism into our students. I particularly thank Hellen Seku for effectively coordinating this initiative. Through such programs, we hope to develop a responsible, loyal and resilient citizenry that are ready to defend and transform their country.”
She also implored the students to go back and build a culture of patriotism within their schools by practising the values and skills they have acquired from the course. The Minister for Presidency, Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda said the NRM's four core principles of patriotism, Pan-Africanism, Socio-economic transformation and democracy have been key in converting the country from a failed state in the 1980s to a prospering and healthy democracy.
“Your Excellency sir, I'm happy to note that the leaders of Kampala have been at the forefront of partnering in putting into practice the four core principles but particularly the principle of patriotism. Patriotism is everything in building a nation. Without a patriotic population, you waste your time setting up beautiful infrastructure, great health centres and schools, etc,” Babalanda said.
The Minister stressed that patriotism is a strong pillar of development since it is the basis of strong homes, admirable communities and respectable nations. “Your Excellency sir, what we are witnessing today is a key milestone for the Kampala Metropolitan area which is the heart and engine of Uganda in nearly everything. This kind of training is the medicine to deal with the challenge in Kampala where our young people are being misled into illegal activities that have potential to not only cut short their lives but to cripple development and promote hatred of the government.”
The Commissioner- Patriotism in the Office of the President Hellen Seku thanked President Museveni and Maama Janet for their unwavering support and commitment to the patriotism program. “I want to sincerely thank you for appointing and entrusting me with the task of awakening the patriotism clubs in Uganda that have lost direction for the last seven years. I pledge to deliver with utmost loyalty and commitment,” Seku said. “I promise to take the program to greater heights because I already know how to work with the young people,” she added. Ms. Seku further thanked the Ministry of Education and Sports under Maama Janet for the efforts in ensuring that patriotism is very active in schools. “We now know that this is where your deliberate efforts are and I assure you that we shall not disappoint you Maama.”
Seku also thanked Janet for her efforts at the ministry to change the ordinary-level curriculum which has created space for the full integration of the patriotism activities in schools. “The schools are going to be nurseries for nurturing patriotic citizens,” she said. “Your Excellency, what you are witnessing today is a result of our mission with the head teachers from the different regions of the country who with your guidance Your Excellency, underwent training at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) in Kyankwanzi, this year in February. After retooling and reorientation of the head teachers, the fruits are now visible sir because the head teachers are now convinced about the importance of patriotism in schools and eventually in the country.”
She however reported to the President that the international schools in the country have refused to embrace the patriotism program. The event was also attended by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs Hajjat Minsa Kabanda, Minister of ICT and National Guidance Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, NRM Secretary General Richard Todwong, among other dignitaries.