Saturday July 5 2014

Here’s how to popularise the National Anthem

By Robert Musiitwa

Since the idea of changing the National Anthem surfaced, I have listened to radios, watched televisions, read newspapers and even discussed with a number of Ugandans on what their views are in regard to the idea. What Ugandans are saying is that there is no need to change the Anthem, what we need is to simply popularise it.

If it is about changing the anthem, has the ministry of Tourism taken efforts to consult with the relevant stakeholders, especially Parliament, since this is a constitutional issue? What about music scholars like Prof Dr Justinian Tamusuza (retired lecturer school of Performing Arts and Film Makerere University), Dr Benon Kigozi (he composed a tribute song in recognition of Prof Kakoma’s contribution to this country –School of Performing Arts and Film Makerere University), Dr Charles Lwanga , Wasanyi Sserukenya and others.
These are seasoned composers we have in this country and if there are changes that must be done to a master piece like the National Anthem, it is just courteous that they are consulted.
All I am saying is that before coming up with such initiatives, broad consultations and consensus over the key issues should be done and should meet the expectations of stakeholders.

First and foremost, I would like to point out that this is not the first time someone is tampering with historical treasures. In 2005, it is estimated that Shs1 billion was spent on rebranding Uganda from the Pearl of Africa to “Gifted by Nature” campaign whose intentions were to twitch Uganda’s tourism sector into a meaningful revenue stream. The “Gifted by Nature” campaign was followed by “Friend a Gorilla Campaign” in 2009, plus many other campaigns including “Seven Wonders” in 2011 and “My Uganda” in April. Interestingly, many of these initiatives have been rendered ineffective due to the fact that the purpose for their initiation is egocentric.

Ministry of tourism should partner with the Ministry of Education and Sports and include the anthem in their annual Music, Dance and Drama competitions. Rather than making the anthem a ceremonial song, it should be one of the items to be competed and awarded marks for Ministry of Education should make it mandatory for all schools to sing the anthem at assemblies. Besides singing it, there should be sessions to enable the students understand it word by word and perhaps I can translate it into our local languages.

Secondly, the National Secretariat for Patriotism Club should serve the purpose of its creation. In 2009, President Museveni launched a new strategic national programme which resulted into establishment of patriotism clubs in secondary schools all over the country. Managed well NSPC can act as a vehicle to popularise the anthem. Just like the President directed teachers to train the students to observe six points in order to secure their lives as individuals, he should do the same to popularise the anthem, not to change it.

Thirdly, the clergy have a big role to play in popularisation of our anthem since it is a prayer in itself and not a lamentation. The clergy should teach their followers not only its meaning but also the lyrics whenever they pray for the nation.
Fourthly, the ministry of Education and Sports should invest more in sports. It took 40 years to have the Ugandan Anthem played again at the Olympics. What if every other time Olympics take place, Uganda’s Anthem is played, how popular would it be?

Lastly, the $75,000 (about Shs180m) should have been given to the media if the purpose is to promote tourism and nationalism because the media is essential if popularisation is to be effective.
Mr Musiitwa is the public relations officer Uganda National Cultural Centre.