Women cultural leaders can transform society
Posted Tuesday, October 15 2013 at 01:00
The African Queens and Women Cultural Leaders’ Network launched in September by President Museveni, has been variously reported in the media. The background and detailed intentions were clearly outlined but also builds onto already existing initiatives that have been registered by its founders - to improve the lives of women, girls and children. My intention in writing this is to outline the remarkable works of Her Royal Highness Sylvia Nagginda, the Nnabagereka of Buganda, which few people appreciate or, indeed are aware of or may take for granted.
I have hitherto prided myself in my friendship with members of Buganda’s royal family, including the Kabaka, the Nnabagereka and Prince David Wasajja. The Kabaka himself invited me to his office for a close chat some years ago. He and the Nnabagereka hosted me and two or three other elders, including my good friend the late Abu Mayanja, to a lunch at his Kireka Palace. I celebrated my 74th birthday on safari at Hotel Magharita.
It was reported in a newspaper. When the Kabaka read it he called me to Mengo and gave me a cow and her calf. They have multiplied to some 14 animals to date. The Nnabagereka invited me to a thanksgiving service and lunch at her grandpa’s place, who had clocked 100 years. I also attended Prince Wasajja’s wedding reception at the Mengo Palace.
Yet I will confess that I knew rather little about the Nnabagereka’s charity and benevolent activities. I have published practically nothing in five to six years since amnesia damaged my vocabulary and spelling. I had intended to write an article on my birthday - September 19 - when I got the challenge to write about the Nnabagereka’s remarkable activities by reading the glossy booklet “The Nnabagereka’s 10 years of service in Education, Health, Community empowerment and Culture in Development.”
I was in P5 when Sir Daudi Chwa passed on in 1939. I had heard about Queen Drusilla Namaganda of the Nte (Cow) clan through the Muganda teacher of Classes 1 and 2, Mbarara High School, who was her relative. I had been to Kings College Budo when Lady Damali Nakawombe Kisosonkole of the Nkima (Monkey) clan, Ssekabaka Sir Edward Mutesa’s Queen was there. None of them had got involved in such charitable and developmental activities that Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda undertakes.
None had a fully staffed and equipped office such as Queen Sylvia Nagginda has. The Kabaka himself appreciates her engagement in safe motherhood, reproductive health, Ekisakaate holiday camps, Kiganda norms and customs of educational value, to our majority of adolescents.
As Buganda’s, mother, HRH Nnabagereka has invested herself into critical issues of concern to women, children and the youth. She is concerned about: upbringing of children that will be transformative leaders; the plight of women’s access to reproductive healthcare services; learning aids for children with disabilities; scholarships and bursaries for hundreds of girls in primary, secondary and university; improved household incomes and food security. The power of women cultural leaders, if collectively harnessed, can provide solutions that can change the lives of their people.
In the past, top education was obtained by the children of the aristocrats and royals staying within the compounds of chiefs (royal enclosures) to prepare them for leadership. The Ekisaakaate Kya Nnabagereka demystified and opened this opportunity to thousands of other children. As the late Prof Senteza Kajubi explained, it is a kind of an extended education to the many like (Universal University Education) that portrays a level of increasing substantive equality and also exposing as many children as possible to life skills and leadership development.
The fact that this camp aims at nurturing young boys and girls into becoming holistic individuals that are able to appreciate both the traditional values and modernity makes it different and cutting edge.
In the world we live in, we often assume that cultural leaders don’t appreciate the modern world. The Nnabagereka is a strong advocate of performing arts - traditional dances and classical ballet. She introduced The Kampala Ballet and Modern Dance School in 2004 and Café Ballet where my children and I have good breakfast after the Communion Service at 7:30a.m.
Finally the reader may ask: How does the Nnabagereka manage to carry out all such activities? Apart from her manifest charitable nature, being the grand daughter of centenarian Owekiitibwa Nelson Nkalubo Ssebugwawo, whose descendants are famed for good etiquette, she had a very good upbringing.
Apart from her upbringing and family background, the Nnabagereka is a career woman who is highly educated, well-travelled and highly exposed. We commend the Nnabagereka for her charitable work. With such people behind Women Cultural Leaders’ Network, the sky is the limit and we look forward to exciting journeys for Africa’s women cultural leaders.
FDR Gureme is an elder