By Arinaitwe Rugyendo
“Modestus, patiens, validus (fortisque) sis” “Be humble, be patient, be strong (and bold)”.
This statement in Latin best describes Venansius Baryamureeba, a 14-year-old boy who witnessed a decisive revolution and it is disturbing him!
On January 26, 2016, Uganda will have an impatient generation of Ugandans who were born and bred under the tutelage of one political leader- Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. According to the preliminary results of the 2014 National Housing and Population Census, this generation, and those below it stand at 56.7 % of the entire population of Uganda. Other sources reveal that by the year 2025, one in four young people worldwide will be from Sub Saharan Africa. These have known no other leader other than President Museveni. They have neither experienced any change of power at the top nor seen any other form of governance other than that of the movement system of government.
At the same time, it is a generation that has grown up in a cob web mix of peace, tranquility, terrorism, poverty, disease, underdevelopment, hip hop, a fast moving technology, huge terabytes of internet information, radio and television.
Let me picture a scenario of what Uganda was only 20 years ago in 1994. There were no mobile phones, no Ipads, no smart phones, no internet to speak of, no facebook, no twitter, no shopping malls, no discotheques, about four universities, a genocide in neighboring Rwanda and a curtain on the Apartheid rule in South Africa had just closed down.
Twenty years on, we are faced with a generation that is caught between modernity and tradition. Our culture is neither African nor Western. We are a generation that is becoming a less caring society. We are a generation that concentrates more about what we can get and not what we can contribute. We have created that perception of a country and continent that is in need of help, becoming victims rather than equals within the world system. Africa farmed using implements of tools produced by blacksmiths of 50 years before independence. 50 years after independence, Africa uses hand hoes imported from China, Europe and the U.S to farm. This is all because Africa missed the most important events of history such us the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the Internet Revolution, the Space Revolution, the Invention Era that produced the steam engine, electricity, cars, airplanes, to mention just a few and have consequently become African an spectator to the knowledge, innovation and manufacturing revolution. How do we get out of this quagmire?
This is the world in which Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba finds himself to craft a book on what he believes should be The ideal Uganda beyond the year 2016. The book attempts to provide answers from his own experience and how that experience shapes his view of what should be done. Venansius was only 14 years in 1986 when Uganda experienced a political revolution that would change its course perhaps forever.
I have personally known Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba as a poor humble boy from a remote village in Ibanda District of Western Uganda who literally brought himself to the high table in Kampala City and became the professor to reckon with.
In Prof. Baryamureeba, I see hope and an example of exemplary courage, tenacity, will and steel to steer a difficult situation beyond its firmament without seeking for help or asking who else can do it.
In 2009, he was appointed the youngest Vice Chancellor in Uganda to Africas renowned tertiary institution, the 86 year old Makerere University. In less than six months, under his leadership, Makerere University was steadily returning to its former glory though not only because of his able leadership he devised qualities but because of the robustly radical change programs to catapult the institution to the top ten in Africa.
Baryamureeba turned Makerere into a collegiate university with federated constituent colleges. He eliminated ledgers and replaced the same with CDs. He introduced parterships so everyone could get access to the great and mighty Makerere. He felt this was the best way to run Makerere and for the first time, its international rankings went up during his time.
This book takes us into the future; which is something we must face because we will be there. It also underscored the importance of political transition in Uganda and Africa. Every African youth should read Prof. Baryamureeba’s book because it helps us to understand what federal governance is about. But most importantly, Baryamureeba is speaking to African youths; the ones who will take this continent forward; the ones who will understand that good governance underscores progress and social transformation. Let’s listen to him!
The hard-copy of this book is available at the following outlets in Uganda: Aristoc Bookshop, Uganda Bookshop, Mukono Bookshop and Makerere Bookshop.