By Mike Ssegawa
There is something to celebrate about Uganda’s young entrepreneurs, especially those making an impact on the tourism sector.
Ugandan tourism fraternity has some of the most passionate entrepreneurs compared to any other sector in the country. My decade-long journalism career has got me talking to many people, in various spheres of life, and few you can compare to tourism entrepreneurs. Of course, tourism as a sensitive service industry is expected to attract people with great customer care and a personal touch, and yes, Ugandans are on the way to reaching where its tourism should be.
The other day I wrote about Sylvester Bbaale, A Ugandan living in Denmark who had turned himself king of the Ugandan street snack, the ‘rolex’. One of these days, I will come with Enid Mirembe driving the exciting Rolex Festival which is only days away, on August 20 at the Uganda Museum in Kamwokya.
Today, it is Betty Aliba and Moses Bakora, two young people that I met in 2016 while they were finding the campus for their debut Uganda International Cultural Fair.
Mr John Ssempeebwa, the deputy CEO of Uganda Tourism Board was one fine morning on the side of the line telling me about young people he had recommended to me. It wasn’t long before Betty called asking me to attend their press conference at the Uganda Media Centre addressed by Ministers Godfrey Kiwanda (tourism) and Peace Mutuzo (culture). Mutuzo and Kiwanda deserve commendations as the youthful politicians have since their appointment thrown their weight behind initiatives of young Ugandans that build positive narratives for Uganda. In the case of the cultural fair, the presence of the two is not in shortage.
A few days before the fair, Betty and Moses, were at the Uganda Museum, the venue of the event, when I decided to check on them. It was my first time to meet them.
Moses took me down to the Chogm cultural village and showed me the different traditional homesteads which were done ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala back in 2007.
We stood for hours before the Ankole hut, talking about life in traditional Africa, and how the world today is increasingly getting detached from the traditional cultural realities, therefore necessitating initiatives like the event they were organizing to draw Ugandans back to their roots, and also showcase to the rest of the world the cultural diversity in Uganda.
It was easy to tell the duo even with the team of fellow young people behind them, were afraid if they were to succeed, although I sensed determination in them that their challenges they were to surmount them.
Moses, a Munyankole and Betty a Musoga, have dived into teaching Ugandan culture to groups and individuals they meet.
“Culture is my constituency,” said Ms Aliba, who says they are lucky to have strong pillars on which they have built their initiative.
“The Speaker of Parliament Hon Rebecca Kadaga is our patron or matron,” she says, looking at Moses to add a word or two.
“We want to go around the country, working with different people and groups to showcase what Uganda is all about,” Moses Bakora, adds.
Aliba, who resigned her job which was taking her to places at National Water and Sewerage Corporation says, “I know this is mission. We are going to make this not only a calendar event in Uganda but also a place people can come to see Ugandan culture in one place.”
The second edition of the Uganda International Cultural Fair ended on July 30, and it was a better version with more participants, a better stage, more performers, more exhibitors, and attracted more media eyes than the first one. Betty and Moses are already at the pedestal of taking off with their event, especially when the tourism and cultural state machinery fly with them.
The fair brought together schools, entrepreneurs in the cultural merchandise and services, politicians, cultural groups, among others.
Seeing Betty and Moses pulling off their second act was exciting given the perception people have in young people as starting things but leave them half way.
After the event, Betty told me that they are already working towards better and cultural richer third edition where they envision bringing on board more stakeholders in the cultural sector from every corner of Uganda.