State Minister for ICT and National Guidance Peter Ogwang has urged all Ugandans to love their country unconditionally saying “patriotism is not a preserve of only NRM people.”
Ogwang was on Thursday speaking as a chief guest at the launch of the field report on National Symbols and Values at Makerere University. The report titled “National Symbols and Values: Implications for Patriotism and National Development” is a multi-year project supported by Government of Uganda through Makerere University’s Research and Innovations Fund (RIF).
In his speech, the Minister noted that patriotism in Uganda has in most cases been misconstrued as an “NRM thing.”
“There is gross misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the concept ‘patriotism’. As indicated, some people would like to relate it to the ruling Government, and those especially with partisan desires would like to label it a National Resistance Movement creation. They think that patriotism only applies to NRM people and those who preach about patriotism have been bought by the NRM,” Ogwang said.
“This is absolutely wrong. In the Preamble of our 1995 Constitution (as amended), it identifies patriotism and loyalty as one of the core duties of a citizen. So patriotism is not only a preserve of the NRM people, but all citizens. It is very cheap of us leaders, and more so of politicians, to close the door for those who would like to enter into those social engagements that work for our progress.”
He urged all Ugandans to use that identity as a building block to love their country.
“Uganda is gifted by nature. Look at the physical features, the flora and fauna, the people who are united despite the diversity in cultural backgrounds. Uganda stands very tall among all the nations of the earth as a welcoming people, with a rich variety of flora and fauna, which everyone would like to visit in a lifetime. However, it is unfortunate that outsiders appreciate more what we have been blessed with more than ourselves,” Ogwang said.
He further warned against misuse and abuse of National Symbols such as singing the national anthem while seated or walking and making clothing out of the national flag among others. “These Symbols are our creed that should inspire national cohesion that would supersede all partisan attitudes. So it is high time we started to view ourselves as critical players in the national development agenda in our country,” he said.
Ogwang also urged the media to adopt policies that are patriotic saying they often dwell on negative reporting and ignore the treasures of this country.
“There are many hidden treasures in this our Motherland that need to be brought to the public space for celebration, but the media is not doing so. The more we dwell on the negative, we create a mind-set that will never expect good,” Ogwang said. He added that there is now need for government to co-opt the services of Army Generals to teach patriotism in institutions of higher learning since there is now prevailing peace and security in the country.
Dr. Paddy Musana, the lead investigator of this project said that during their research, they observed that many people have been singing the National Anthem without deriving proper meaning from the words in the Anthem, while others have flown the national flag at half mast even when it is not a national day of mourning.