Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thursday, May 28

I am a little bit late on my post due to some bad luck with the internet. I had yet to see Shannon’s post when I wrote mine so I apologize if ours are repetitive..

On Thursday, March 28th, we went to the Human Rights House for a lecture and then went back to MUBS for a presentation from an official working in the Ministry of Health on HIV-AIDS in Uganda. I think most students found the Human Rights talk very beneficial, informative, and intriguing. Sewanijana was a great speaker and was the first to offer some straightforward answers to the problems in Uganda, of which he clearly articulated for us. He touched on many different human rights that are guaranteed for Ugandan citizens in the Bill of Rights in the 1995 Constitution, but in practice are not wholly enjoyed by the people. He informed us of where the problems lie in making sure the rights get to the citizens. Some of them lie in the electoral process and civil education, to name a couple, but most of the problem lies in the government institutions. Sewanijana said that the problem of poverty and underdevelopment in this country is bad governance. One example of the current administration’s bad governance is it’s wasteful spending of public money on an extreme excess amount of government officials when there are issues such as education, health, infrastructure, poverty alleviation to deal with that are in dire need of funding. The answer to the problem he gave us is in a good leader with the right administration.
The speaker from the Ministry of Health touched on a lot of information pertaining to AIDS, especially the transmission of the disease and prevention methods. He provided us with a lot of empirical data and came very prepared with a power point presentation.
After a long day of lectures, it was a challenge to find the energy to play a full-field game of ‘futbol’. However, ‘Team Muzungu’ (as Austin coined it) came up on top with a surprisingly quality performance by all members (and fans), winning the match 3-2. I was particularly surprised with Quint’s superb defending abilities- well done! J
Oh! I almost forgot… I think I speak for all when I say that I am anxious to be inspired again by another one of Jess’s original raps, now that ‘we know’ he’s has got some flow.. I am hoping that by the end of the trip, he will have enough tracks to make an album dedicated to our Ugandan experience. Jess- if you run into any writer’s block along the way- let me know. I happen to be pretty good at writing rhymes myself.. J
To wrap this up, I guess I am just curious to see what everybody else gathered as important information from the Human Rights lecture. I heard a lot of positive things about it from many students- what did you all take away from it? Has anybody else come to a new understanding of how particularly essential a transparent and fair election process is in order to have good governance, and therefore, sustainable development?

2 comments:

  1. I gathered a lot from these lectures. First of all, it was very interesting to hear about the specific topics and problems that Uganda faces in the human rights arena. There are education issues: policies on primary children, the numbers of institutions, teachers, and textbooks provided. In some classes, children are teaching over 400 students! Wow. I cannot imagine a class with 400 students (even a college course). Also, there are many human rights issue regarding prisoners. In Uganda, there is a suspect and arrest practice. This leads to harsh realities once in prison. Chances are that the prisoner's case may not be disposed of until 3-5 years after his entrance into prison. This has negative net affects for Uganda's system. 56% of the prison population are in remand.

    This lecture was very intriguing and I found myself shocked at some of these violations of human rights. The lecture definitely reinstated my belief that a strong, consolidated liberal democracy eases the process of good governance. I feel that a strong civil society is very important to good governance. In Uganda, this civil society is weak due to poverty and a high unemployment rate. This prevents participation. Lobbying is not common here. People do not act as a large enough check against government. We see corruption as a problem and I feel that a weak civil society adds to this problem because expolitations, stealing money, unnecessary public expenditures, and so on are all more easily done under framework of a weak civil society. This works to hinder sustainable development because corruption becomes a problem and people are exploited.

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  2. Thanks for the shout out, Rachel! And just to update you all, my Owino Market rap has been selling like hotcakes here in Uganda...it's reaching double platinum status. A remix will be released featuring MUBS' own Provia, who has finally managed to memorize the three words she sings in the rap after about 46 attempts. Korey has promised to post a youtube video of this rap for all of you who are curious to know about my shockingly decent rapping skills.

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