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“Love letter to Motherland Uganda” and the National Anthem debate

Jul 29 • 7156 views • 2 Comments on “Love letter to Motherland Uganda” and the National Anthem debate Guest posts, Society and culture, Uganda

Uganda’s National Anthem – A plea to Ugandans from Meronie Agaba

Uganda Conservation Foundation's Map of Uganda

Uganda Conservation Foundation’s Map of Uganda. Anti-poaching and human wildlife conflict projects with the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks

In recent weeks, Uganda has been alive with talk about the perceived need to ‘jazz-up’ the country’s National Anthem. “Oh Uganda, Land of Beauty” was adopted in 1962 with words and music composed by George Wilberforce Kakoma.

Coincidentally, Meronie Agaba recently sent me her “Love letter to Motherland Uganda” – her interpretation of the National Anthem’s meaning and a plea to Ugandans to reconnect with their common heritage.

Background to Uganda’s National Anthem debate

Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba announced that Ugandan playwright Alex Mukulu was in charge of a project worth about 180 m Uganda shillings ($75,000). The Minister explained that the objective was not to change the anthem but to portray its message in drama as a tool for promoting Uganda and to help an increasingly-indifferent Ugandan public identify with their mother country.

This project has polarised debate, with many Ugandans totally against any messing around with what they consider a sacred song. According to Uganda’s Observer newspaper “This whole obsession with aesthetics seems to speak to the hankerings of more impressionable youth that prize form over substance. Uganda’s national anthem is not terribly wanting, and the country has more pressing needs on which it could spend Shs 180 m.”

Meronie Agaba: “This tribute is my love letter to motherland Uganda.”

Cape Buffalo Murchison Falls Uganda

Pair of Cape Buffalo in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Spot the Oxpeckers on their backs, cleaning the animals of ticks!

Oh Uganda my motherland

May God uphold thee

As we lay our future into thy hands

Through prayer and repentance, staying on our knees,

With our hands lifted up to the king of kings, God almighty

Committing ourselves, our nation, to you

Uganda Kob

A handsome Uganda Kob poses for the camera in Murchison Falls National Park

That you oh God shall give us a Vision

To acknowledge that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.

For Unity, Freedom, and Liberty we stand

Together as one, committed to serve our Motherland

Embracing diversity of faith, tribe, and culture

Batwa dancers at Mount Gahinga Lodge, Mgahinga, Uganda

Batwa dancers at Mount Gahinga Lodge, Mgahinga, Uganda

United by one code: Our Motherland

On whose words to describe that breasts we feed and shall ever be nourished

Children, men and women of Uganda arise.

Together we stand against all forces of divisionism,

Violence, corruption, complacence and evil influence,

Running toward the goal of freedom, unity and strength

Announcing:

United we stand, divided we fall!

Children and villagers along Gayaza Road en route to Jinja

Children and villagers along Gayaza Road en route to Jinja

Oh Uganda the land of freedom,

Your children rich and poor, short and tall, small and big

Reaching out to the heights with open hearts, eager minds,

Expending their God-given potential, creativity and innovation,

With enthusiasm, energy and zeal,

Partaking of Uganda’s portion in the land of prosperity

The Uganda Kob and the Grey Crested Crane adorn Uganda's crest

The Uganda Kob and the Grey Crested Crane adorn Uganda’s crest (which bird will replace it in 20 years time when the bird is extinct?)

Taking our love beyond our borders,

Holding hands with our neighbours, helping them see tomorrow

Building hope in their political endeavours,

Nations emerging out of troubled times, pursuing development

All friends of Uganda arise with us to champion Africa’s cause

Raise Africa’s flag,

Standing elegantly above our challenges

Leaving our history behind, to pursue our destiny

boys herding cows near Kasese Muhokya

boys herding cows near Kasese Muhokya

Children of Uganda, happy joyful people, full of life and vigour

Our fertile soils, the sunshine, our bountiful rivers and lakes; ensuring water for life

Yielding harvest in season and out of season

Faithfully feeding the fruits of your womb with rich natural plantain

Flowing with milk and honey, the envy of many

Arise sons and daughters of Uganda, preserve our cherished motherland

Keep Uganda green, keep her alive

Traditional basket hive honey

Is Uganda the biblical “land of milk and honey”?

Awaken children of Uganda; shake off the dust of our bad history

Take your position as a righteous nation, a darling of God Almighty,

“Gifted by nature” the world’s destination for happiness and tranquillity,

The yellow sunshine everyday everywhere,

From the heat of Africa’s east coast to the freeze of her Atlantic west coast

The Pearl of Africa’s crown, your resting place!

For God and my country!

Crested Crane, the emblem of Uganda. PHOTO Andy Gooch

Crested Crane, the emblem of Uganda. PHOTO Andy Gooch

Interview with Meronie Agaba

The Muzungu: What made you decide to write this poem?

Meronie Agaba: I have a deep passion for my country and humanity at large. If I was a singer I could compose love songs for Uganda!

The spark to write this poem came when the late Kakoma, composer of the Uganda National Anthem, passed on. Others wrote eulogies to him in the newspapers, but I had no access to that audience so I went back to the National Anthem and read it again and again, trying to find out what message he actually wanted to put forward for Ugandans. As I did this, I got a deeper sense and understanding of the anthem and came to appreciate it almost as a living piece of writing since its messages actually portray what Uganda is today. I got my pen and paper and wrote the poem, which I would say came out as a deeper interpretation of the National Anthem.

The Muzungu: So what is your view on the current debate about changing Uganda’s National Anthem?
Meronie: I am against changing the National Anthem. I would rather the National Anthem is interpreted to the people so that Ugandans can relate with it more. The intention of the poem is to reveal the message underlying the Uganda National anthem.

The Muzungu: What are you hoping to achieve with this poem?

Meronie Agaba: I believe that for any relationship to develop and grow, deliberate efforts have to be taken. I want this poem to be a tool that I and others who believe in it can use to inspire, and develop attitudes of young Ugandans to appreciate their country, their role in upholding its pride, conserving nature and more. I want this poem to be a “Love song that every Ugandan can passionately sing for our Motherland.”

The Muzungu: What would you like people to think about when they read your poem?

Meronie Agaba: “Do not take my Motherland for granted! One time she conceived me, she nurtured me in her womb, I fed on her blood, and behold she delivered me. She was still young, green and energetic; she was fertile. Despite the many children, she fed them all, on the green plantain, the milk and the honey. The lakes and rivers that fed her were still fresh and clean. The tree canopies towered above my head; the scent of nature was still abundant, the soils were not yet sick. The wild fruit was still at large, foraging children returned to their homes satisfied, fed by none other but the plentiful Motherland. Now Mother Land is old and faded, the rivers are drying up, the swamps have become people’s living rooms, the tree canopies are bare stumps and the clean breath of nature is gone.

But I cry for a remedy, I say it’s not all over my children. Let’s amend our relationship, let’s reason together, stop killing your lifeline, I am Mother Land, do not hurt me, do not plot against me, do not strip me naked, respect my God-given Status, I am Mother Land!

When I cry you will cry along with me, when I smile you smile along with me! You are educated yes, I do appreciate that, but get some learning I say; I am your Motherland. Be united; you share a common heritage, Conserve nature and environment; without it you will die,

I am your Motherland, without you I would be a forest, but without me you would be homeless!

I am your Motherland, I am your hope, I am your future: I am Uganda!

boat trip Uganda's natural beauty Murchison Falls National Park

Meronie on a boat trip on the River Nile in Murchison Falls National Park enjoying Uganda’s natural beauty

Namara Meronie B. Agaba mnagaba gmail dot com is a Business Development Manager based in Kampala. She is married with children. (No doubt Meron has been talking conservation with her husband Patrick, who I worked with at the Uganda Conservation Foundation for nearly 3 years.

Meronie’s love letter to motherland Uganda was first published in the February 2013 edition of “Tarehe Sita Magazine.”

So what do you think of Meronie’s poem Love letter to Motherland Uganda? Please put your comments below.

If you like her poem please share it on Facebook and elsewhere!

Do you have a story or some advice you’d like to share? Please read the Muzungu’s Guests Posts page for guidelines on the kinds of stories I feature on Diary of a Muzungu.

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2 Responses to “Love letter to Motherland Uganda” and the National Anthem debate

  1. NAZZIWA DOREEN TAFFI says:

    Am Doreen but you can call me doris too hello i love what you do and very much interested in your project and i love the way you have loved my country and sharing the beauty of mama Africa and the nature God has blessed us the people of Uganda i kindly ask if i can be part of your group and experience the beautiful Uganda.I have never seen this my country so wonderful thanks for sharing we love you.

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