A few weeks ago, I interacted with a friend who was telling me how hard it is to process a passport especially if you say the truth at our passport offices, I wondered why he said so and that is when he narrated to me that when you reach Ministry Of Internal Affairs and clearly indicate where you are from and your tribe, they will allocate you someone who speaks your language to interview you and if you are not proficient then that means you don’t qualify to get a passport just because you can’t speak the language as required by the interviewer.
Yes, I believe and accept that whatever is done by our passport offices is right and we should abide by it for security purposes and proof of details but again applicants shouldn’t be burdened with some other requirements like language during interviews.
I personally believe that language has a magical influence on the lives we lead, with an impact on our thoughts, emotions, and actions. The words we use are one of the most potent ingredients in the science of language. Words have the power to heal, guide and motivate. It is not only a tool of communication, it is culturally embodied and socially embedded. It does not mirror but shapes reality and this has been told to us by our grandparents and some of our culturally brought up parents.
In fact, to add more to that, the importance of language in our every day life is unmatched. Without language here, we can’t share ideas and grow them into something productive. Whether this means learning a different language from your original one so you can share ideas with people who come from a different country, or simply learning how to use language to master an interview, demand presence in a room, or network with others, language is vital and should always be given priority.
While listening to some song called “Olulimi lwange” by the late Job Paul Kafeero, he explains a lot about why we should all love our languages and give little attention to the foreign languages and he goes ahead to say that when you love your language, its automatic to also be patriotic and indeed some of us really love our languages in that we even at times forget that we live in communities with different people speaking different languages. But in his whole lyrics, I like that fact that he states somewhere that the parents should always make sure their kids know their original languages.
Anyway, that aside, there is something small that I don’t agree with at our passport office and that is issuing passports basing on whether people know their languages well, because someone has put on his/her application form that he is a Musoga, it doesn’t qualify him/her to be the best in that language and it doesn’t mean he knows everything related to the culture. Some people have grown up from different occasions and have not heard chance to learn their languages very well.
For instance, a Musoga kid who has grown up from Buganda with a mother who is a Muganda and father who is a musoga cannot speak Lusoga very well because the language being used at home is Luganda or English and the kid spends most of the time with the mum.
Just imagine such a kid going for a passport interview and they deny him/her a passport because he/she cannot speak their local language.
I don’t think it is right to depend on language proficiency to have a background check of someone applying for the passport. Since we submit a lot of documents while applying, I think those should be considered and to copy some other countries, people who don’t understand their languages very well should be given interpreters during such interviews as it is done in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States.
It is so funny when we decide to give people passports based on languages which makes it so tribalistic yet we have a lot of data about all Ugandans in the National Identification Registration Authority database.
Yes, we should all challenge ourselves to learn our local languages and the cultures but such issues should not make us so different from each other because what binds us together is the blood we share and the love for our country Uganda. I request that whoever came up with this should revise it and make it easier for everyone to get a passport.
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