Patriotism is not about NRM party

What you need to know:

It’s unfortunate that in some places we have visited, some school administrators still believe that patriotism is an NRM party programme. I found that such administrators need help to understand what patriotism means

When I joined the National Secretariat for Patriotism Corps in the office of the President this year, my team and I were assigned to carry out monitoring and evaluation in identified secondary schools to oversee the implementation of patriotism activities and to assess and identify gaps that need to be addressed so that patriotism is made vibrant in schools. For the last three months, we have travelled to most parts of the country conducting these monitoring and evaluation activities.

It’s unfortunate that in some places we have visited, some school administrators still believe that patriotism is an NRM party programme. I found that such administrators need help to understand what patriotism means. Patriotism, at its essence, is a profound love and dedication to one’s country. It is a sentiment that transcends political affiliations and leaders. It’s absurd that in some schools we have visited, patriotism has been misconstrued as synonymous with support for the NRM party and President Museveni. This misunderstanding narrows the scope of patriotism, limiting its true potential as a unifying force for societal good.

While President Museveni is the chief patron of the Patriotism Corps and has undoubtedly promoted certain aspects of Ugandan identity and unity, patriotism extends far beyond any single political party or figure.

Globally, numerous examples showcase how patriotism thrives independently of political regimes. For example, in the USA, patriotism is deeply ingrained in the national consciousness, with citizens demonstrating pride in their country through acts of service, community engagement, and reverence for democratic ideals. American patriotism is expressed through civic participation, honouring veterans, and celebrating cultural diversity, irrespective of the party in power at any given time. Similarly, in countries like Japan, patriotism is manifested in a profound respect for tradition, culture, and societal harmony. Japanese citizens exhibit a strong attachment to their country’s history and values, contributing to the nation’s collective wellbeing through efforts in education, technology, and environmental stewardship.

In India, patriotism takes on a multifaceted form, where citizens express love for their diverse cultural heritage, unity in diversity, and a commitment to social justice and progress. This patriotism is evident in the country’s celebrations of national holidays, cultural festivals, and the tireless efforts of individuals and organisations to uplift marginalised communities and promote sustainable development. Canada emphasises patriotism as a shared commitment to values such as inclusivity, multiculturalism, and environmental stewardship. Canadian patriotism is expressed through efforts to promote social equality, environmental sustainability, and global peacekeeping initiatives, reflecting a broader commitment to humanity and global citizenship.

Ultimately, patriotism flourishes when it is rooted in principles of civic engagement, respect for diversity, and a dedication to the common good. It is a force that unites people across political divides, inspiring collective action towards building a better future for all. By recognising and celebrating patriotism in its diverse forms, independent of specific political contexts, societies can harness its power to foster unity, progress, and resilience in the face of challenges. Therefore, school administrators and all well-meaning Ugandans should cherish patriotism. They shouldn’t see it as a tool of partisan politics (which it is not), but as a universal value that binds individuals and nations together in pursuit of a shared destiny.

As for those school administrators who have tried to embrace patriotism in schools, should know that patriotism is not merely about hosting flags or singing anthems at schools; it is about instilling values of integrity, respect, and civic engagement that prepare students to contribute meaningfully to society. Schools that cultivate a culture of patriotism nurture students who are not only academically proficient but also ethically grounded and committed to making a difference in the world.

Arthur Nuwagaba, Staff at NSPC- Office of the President