By Aggrey Nshekanabo
On Friday, 13th December, 2019, I attended the Public Relations of Association of Uganda (PRAU) dinner. It was a great night but not without a scare. See, the invite was succinct; be there by 5:00pm. And 5:00pm found me at Kabira Country Club.
I was the first guest to arrive save for the amiable and hardworking Admin. Assistant; Brenda Nampijja who was already there. The decorators had already done their job and the Century Bottling Company (Cocacola) products were standing out; giving colour to the presentation. Myco Ouma and Friends Band was setting up and the testing of one, two; check assured me, it would be a good evening for me.
And while Myco Ouma is a great guitarist and his 10 friends; as per my counting, form a great team; when people are having dinner, the sound is meant to be soothing to allow conversations to flow as knives, forks and spoons do the ‘talking’ on plates. During the dinner, guests were shouting to each other as they had to outcompete the sounds of the guitar, the drums and saxophone from Myco Ouma and his ensemble.
I pray this is taken in humbly. Otherwise, for a groovy evening, I would highly recommend this guitarist and his team. Their fingers on the strings and the blow into the trumpets is great but it must read the occasion rightly; a dinner requires a different set of sound compared to playing at a bar!
At the entrance to Kabira Club, I had met the President of PRAU; Ms. Sarah Kagingo with her beautiful children finding their way to the ballroom. I said a nimble hullo and went upstairs to the venue. Later, the children were some of the ushers; a job they did so well. But as I took to the stairs both at the entrance and to the venue, in my mind I wondered if Kabira Country Club caters for Persons with Disabilities. How do they access the club? And please save me the excuse of having a different entrance! That is discrimination itself. It is time I think that our architects consider a special category of people; Persons with Physical Disabilities that cannot take up stairs/steps; and not create a special entrance ‘somewhere’ but a ramp or lift just next to the main entrance.
In my previous work, we had a workshop on disability in Kamuli Municipality and Century Hotel, which is owned by the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, Hon. Alitwala Rebbeca Kaddaga.
The conference hall ticked all the boxes but it was upstairs and to access it, one had to take the steps. It meant, participants had to be physically lifted. I had to influence the change of venue based on that dehumanizing part of physical lifting up of PWDs to the conference hall. If one must invest in the hospitality business, please consider PWDs!
Back to the PRAU night. It was at about 7:00pm that the function started off. At least the hall was half full. Former PRAU Presidents; Ignie Igundura and Juma Walusimbi were already there and giving their back to the present leadership to welcome the Chief Guest’s representative; who was Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, standing in for PRAU Patron, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze.
While, in the last one year, Chris has been posturing as the dangerous substitute for Frank, it was clear he was not only stepping in for his colleague much of the time, he had actually become the rogue spokesperson of the regime. Of course, he did a great job as the Chief Guest and made official promises.
And speaking of which, now that our very own Judith Nabakoba is the full Minister for Information (forget the mouthful title), it will be a daunting task for this wonderful soul to independently speak for the government of Uganda. Her predecessors have been at some level shown some level of independence and even if they have been bashed for not doing a great job in speaking for the government, you could see a sense of independence.
Such Information Ministers included Ateker Ejalu, Basoga Nsadhu, Nsaba Buturo (this one was so horrible at it) and until this week, Frank Tumwebaze.
Knowing that Judith’s background is in civil service; the Uganda Police where one only speaks after being sanctioned by the boss and presents herself as a humble servant but not a rogue regime spokesperson who can spur with the ugly as we enter into an election season, we will hold our breaths for her. It remains to be seen if she will much up and get out of her shell and speak for the NRM regime whose eyes are on the 2021 election and nothing else in between.
I look forward to another PRAU night to reconnect with friends again where I felt so welcome to the family as we launched the five-year strategic plan of the association.
Aggrey Nshekanabo is a former journalist and tourism promoter based in Bunyaruguru, Rubirizi District
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