Uganda - Pearl of Africa
Ugandais located in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa and lies astridethe Equator. The total area of the country is about 241,039 square kilometers of which about 43,942 sq. km are covered by fresh water bodiesand swamps.Ugandais a country strategically positioned within Eastand Central Africa, a region that includes some ofAfrica痴 most economically important and resource rich countries with a substantial marketand great future potential.
The country is land-locked and borders theSudanto the north, theDemocratic Republic of Congo to the west,Kenyato the east, andTanzaniaandRwandato the south.
Uganda's Flag and its Meaning
From the top, a total of six horizontal stripes of black, yellow, red, black, yellow, red. Black symbolises our African heritage andUganda\'s fertile soil; yellow is for the glorious sunny days, so characteristic ofUganda; red symbolises the red blood that runs in our veins, forming a common bond to all humankind. The majestic crested crane (Regulorum gibbericeps) isUganda\'s National Bird.
Uganda's Coat of Arms
Standing on a green mound is a shield and two crossed spears.
The green symbolizesUganda\'s lush, green vegetation. Supporting the shield are the Uganda Kob (Adenota kob Thomasi), symbolizing abundance of wildlife; and the Crested Crane (Regulorum gibbericeps),Uganda\'s national bird.The shield and spears symbolize our readiness to defend our motherland against all enemies. Across the top of the shield are the waves ofLake Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake on earth.
In the centre of the shield is the sun, representingUganda\'s glorious sunny days. At the bottom of the shield is the traditional African drum, used for dancing, ceremonial
rituals, and for summoning the people to rally. Coffee and cotton,Uganda\'s main cash crops, are displayed on the green mound; together with the River Nile, the world\'s longest river; which starts its 8000 km (5000 mile) journey inUganda.
TheUgandanational motto is "For God and My Country".
The National Anthem ofUganda
"OhUganda,LandofBeauty"is the Uganda National Anthem. It was adopted in 1962 with words and music composed by George Wlberforce Kakoma.
Oh,Uganda! may God uphold thee,
We lay our future in thy hand;
United, free for liberty
together we\'ll always stand.
Oh,Uganda! the land of freedom,
Our love and labour we give;
And with neighbours all
At our country\'s call
In peace and friendship we\'ll live.
Oh,Uganda! the land that feeds us,
By sun and fertile soil grown;
For our own dear land,
We\'ll always stand,
The Pearl of Africa\'s Crown
Jan 1 New Year痴 Day.
Jan 10 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
Jan 26 Liberation Day.
Mar 8 International Women痴 Day.
Apr 14 Good Friday.
Apr 17 Easter Monday.
May 1 Labour Day.
Jun 3 Martyrs・Day.
Jun 9 National Heroes・Day.
Oct 9 Independence Day.
Oct 22-24 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).
Dec 25 Christmas Day.
Dec 26 Boxing Day.
Dec 31 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
A Brief Political History ofUganda
Independencethrough the 1960s
Ugandagained her independence on October 9th 1962. Since 1894 she was a British protectorate that was put together from some very organized kingdoms and chieftaincies that inhabited the lake regions of centralAfrica. At independence, Dr. Milton Apollo Obote, also leader of the Uganda People\'s Congress (UPC) became the first Prime Minister and head of the government.
The Republican leaning UPC came into power through an "unholy" alliance with a pro-mornarchy party called the Kabaka Yekka (KY), which had a stated aim of protecting the institution and power of thekingdomofBuganda. The UPC had earlier on, one year before independence, lost the first ever general election to the Democratic Party(DP) and now needed the strategic partnership of allies to avoid another defeat.
In November 1963, Kabaka Mutesa II King ofBugandawas elected ceremonial President of Uganda thus seemingly sealing the political alliance of UPC and KY. However, this marriage of political convenience was short lived since both Obote and Mutesa and their following had differing agendas.
In 1964, Obote championed a bill in Parliament providing for a referendum on the belonging of the counties of Buyaga, Bugangaizi and Buwekula then ofBugandabut claimed by the neigbouringkingdomofBunyoro.This culminated in two of the counties opting to secede fromBugandaand revert back to theBunyoroKingdom. As Kabaka of Buganda and President of Uganda, Sir Edward Mutesa II, was placed in an invidious position of signing the two acts pertaining to the "lost counties". It was upon accusations of dereliction of duty by the President, not to mention other fabricated reasons, that Obote suspended the 1962 constitution on 22nd February 1966 and took over all powers of State, thus giving rise to what came to be known as the 1966 Crisis.
On 15 April 1966, in a Parliament surrounded by troops, Obote introduced without notice a new constitution to be voted upon that very day. It was passed without debate and the Prime Minister informed Members of Parliament (MPs) that they would find their copies in their pigeonholes. This constitution came to be known as the Pigeonhole Constitution. Amongst other things, the federal constitutional status of kingdoms was abolished and the office of Prime Minister merged with that of the President and all executive powers became vested in Obote.Ugandawas declared a Republic.
The Kabaka and his kingdom establishment at Mengo refused to recognize the supremacy of the pigeonhole constitution, insisting on the 1962 version. This culminated in the 24thMay 1966 storming of Kabaka\'s palace by theUgandaarmy under the command of General Idi Amin but on the orders of Obote. Although the Kabaka managed to escape, he was exiled inBritainwhere he later died.
In 1967 Obote abolished all monarchs. Parliament became the constituent assembly and later all political parties were outlawed, except UPC. In a move to the left,Ugandabecame a one-party-state.
It was against this background that Idi Amin led a disgruntled section of the army to overthrow Obote on 25th January 1971. This coup was met with great jubilation but was to begin an era of terror and enormous tribulation for the people ofUganda. This dark period would last 8 long years. It was also during this period that all Asians, mainly Indians, were expelled fromUganda.
As a result the economy ofUgandasuffered tremendously. The fiscal mismanagement and insecurity that followed dint help the situation.
An estimated 300,000 Ugandans lost their lives through indiscriminate extra judicial killings during Idi Amin\'s regime.
The Fall of Idi Amin, the UNLF and Obote II
In April 1979, a combined force of Ugandan exiles, under the umbrella of Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLF), and the Tanzania Peoples Defense Force (TPDF) overthrew Amin\'s regime.
The UNLF was created through the patronage of President Nyerere ofTanzaniaat the Moshi Conference. It brought together a disparate group of Ugandan organizations and individuals with a common goal of ousting the Amin regime. The first UNLF government was led by Prof. Yusuf Lule as President and though well liked only lasted 68 days.
President Lule was followed by President Godfrey Binaisa, and then Paulo Muwanga whoc chaired the ruling Military Commission which organised the December 1980 general elections. UPC was declared winner of those elections though they were marred by multiple irregularities and generally considered rigged. For a second time, Obote became President of Uganda.
During Obote\'s second tenure as president, Ugandans went through a very trying period. Insecurity, fuelled by the government\'s own security organs as well as an ongoing liberation struggle devastated the country. An estimated 500,000 Ugandans lost their lives in just 5 years of Obote\'s reign. The economy was shattered and so was the people\'s faith in government.
NRA liberation struggle
In direct protest against the marred elections of 1980, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, then Vice Chairman of the Military Commission and President of the Uganda Patriotic Movement, launched a liberation struggle. It was on February 6th, 1981andwith only 26 compatriots organized under the banner of the National Resistance Army (NRA) that the war of liberation started.
As the NRA made staggering advances towardsKampala, having already cut the country off into two different administrative zones, elements of the UNLA on July 26th 1985 ousted Obote in a bid to find better negotiating ground. The Military Junta of Generals Bazilio and Tito Okello replaced Obote II\'s government.
By February 26th 1986 the "Okellos Junta" had fallen and shortly after the entire country was under control of the NRA.
The NRA\'s struggle was unique in that, for the first time in post-colonialAfrica, a home grown insurgency, with no rear bases in a neighboring country and little external support, was ultimately successful. It was essentially an uprising of oppressed Ugandan citizens.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was sworn in as the President of theRepublicofUganda. The audious task of rebuilding the entire country and its human fabric from scratch began. To enable this task, political parties were suspended andUgandawas governed by an all-inclusive Movement system. A lot was to be achieved over the next eight to ten years.
The NRA/M however continued to face the challenge of reactionary UNLA forces especially in the northern part of the country.
The Movement System of Government
In 1995, a new constitution was promulgated creating a non-party all inclusive Movement System of government. Under this system, political parties remained in abeyance. Elections to most political offices was by universal suffrage. Marginalised groups like the women, the disabled, the youth and workers were given special slots on all administrative units of Government. The military was also given representation in parliament. The aspect of keeping this system was to be reviewed by referendum every 4 years.
General elections were held in 1996 under the Movement System and Yoweri Museveni was returned as President of Uganda. By this election, he became the very first Ugandan to be directly elected to the post by universal suffrage. In 2001, he was again returned by popular mandate to the Office of President
Return to Multi Party Politics
In July 2005 a national referendum was held in which the people ofUgandaresolved to return to multi-party politics. The result of the referendum in effect marked an end to the Movement System of government. On February 23rd 2006, multi-party elections were held for both the office of president and for parliament. President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) won the presidential elections and the NRM took the highest number of seats in parliament.
Ugandahas substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80% of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues.
The economic reforms implemented by the present government in Uganda since 1987, coupled with political stability, have contributed to economic growth rates averaging 6% perannum in the last decade. This has made Uganda one of the fastest growing countries in Africa. Inflation is under control and has
been maintained below 10% per annum for the last four years. Most economic activities are fully liberalized and open to foreign investment. There are no restrictions to 100% foreign ownership of investments and no barriers to remittance of dividends.
The Uganda\'s shilling is fully convertible and has remained stable over the last years. The foreign exchange market is now wholly liberalized following a move by government, effective July 1997 to liberalize capital account transactions. Uganda is now one of about only five countries in the whole of Africa that have no restrictions on capital amount transfers. Within Africa and the merging markets, Uganda enjoys a high status with donors and lenders.
Taxes on imports and locally manufactured goods continue to fall in line with the Government\'s commitment to support the growth of the manufacturing sector. In general, the environment for private sector investment has improved significantly with the formal economy growing in importance. As
well as pure growth, Uganda is seeing a shift from the firmly agricultural based economy of 1986 towards construction manufacturing and regional trade/distribution.