Watching the child prodigy, Fresh Kid, light up when asked to sing, and then shrinking into a typical seven-year-old when not discussing music, is simply impressive.
Parents should be able to identify the unique traits that their children have prior to starting school. Recognizing that a child is gifted, or talented, helps avert the regular charges of misdemeanor that teachers who are often unprepared to identify gifts or talents, label against children.
Research shows that children who are either gifted or talented, and those who may be both gifted and talented, tend to suffer social alienation within a regular school system. They get bored easily and are called on often for acting-out when their motivation and learning needs are neither matched nor satisfied.
Rachel Mendell’s 2009 article in Maclean magazine revealed that there are usually less than 0.5 per cent identified as gifted or talented in a population of students. But these are national assets that the state should interest itself given the unique abilities and accommodation needs in the school system.
Importantly, gifted children demonstrate exceptional abilities in one or more academic subjects such as math, science, history, geography and so forth. In contrast, talent, not to be confused with gift, means having natural aptitude or skills in one or more practical subjects such as music, dance, athletics, designs, arts, language and so forth.
Ugandan schools are designed to recognize, reward, promote or prune gifts, while despising talent. Identifying and prioritizing gifted and talented students may be a matter of jurisdictional policy to encompass even the small population of kids who may be both gifted and talented.
The emergence of the seven-year old Patrick Ssenyonjo, aka Fresh kid, has challenged this paucity of policy in our school system. Fresh kid is a sensational musical genius who represents the small percentage of extremely talented but often neglected or ostracized children.
Moreover, such talented ones often drop out of school because of a hostile regular school environment or lack of resource support commensurate with their talent.
Government should develop an accommodating policy with specialized schools to adsorb and prune such talents or gifts. It is high time we started schools for the gifted and talented children. This would serve the children better, instead of the ministers threatening the parents of these children for child neglect.
New districts, new problems
Six districts were created and became operational on July 1, 2018. These include: Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kassanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong and Kikuube.
Much as I am against the creation of more administrative units because of their huge budgets - it costs about Shs 139 billion to set up a fully functional district – I believe they are critical in service delivery. However, I am perplexed that even the ones government has created are languishing in a financial dilemma.
The bigger question is why does government always want to rush to create these districts even when there is no money to run them? I am not sure how many districts have a district service commission as mandated by Article 198 of our Constitution or how many even have a veterinary officer and land valuer!
Creating new administrative districts is like fetching water in a basket since we cannot fully service the ones we have!
Article 78 (b) of the Constitution provides that every district have a woman representative who shall represent them in parliament. Since the creation of the new districts, the elections for the district women representatives have never taken place, which has left the women in those districts unrepresented, which is unconstitutional.
Our constitution under Article 32 recognizes affirmative action and uplifting the rights and status of women as key. It is unfortunate that they are being left out and have a valid action against government for failure to conduct the elections. For how long will they be unrepresented?
It is important that government quickly comes up with a plan to hold elections in the new districts or rescind the decision of creating them. Parliament should always put to task government to provide proof of readiness before they pass these resolutions
We need to grow marijuana
There are media reports that an Israeli company has been given a license to grow marijuana by Uganda Investment Authority. It is also reported that the company has land in Kasese, Busongora North, Hima town Council. The initial investment is expected to be $5 million, approximately Shs 18.7 billion.
According to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act 2015, cultivation of marijuana is illegal in Uganda. However, since time immemorial, before even the coming of colonialists with their laws illegalizing marijuana, it was being used as medicine for humans, animals, and birds and was never abused.
Smoking this now illicit drug is a common activity because growth is done illegally and no one takes responsibility for its illegal use. There is no one accredited to grow, process, and distribute marijuana, making it difficult to curb the vice of smoking the herb.
Marijuana is used to manufacture pharmaceutical products, nutritional products and cosmetics, among others. Marijuana is being embraced more in the treatment of various diseases such as sickle cell and cancer. Products like marijuana oil have started gaining traction over the last few years owing to increased effectiveness and safety compared to smoking it.
Apart from legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, we can also do it for economic gains to increase our export. Legalizing cannabis growth can create hundreds of jobs for our unemployed youth.
We have refused to legalize the growth of marijuana and yet people are still cultivating it illegally. When you are in poverty, you must do whatever you can to live. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act is chaining people into poverty and despair.
According to Grandview Research report published in April 2018, the global legal marijuana market is expected to reach $146.4 billion by the end of 2025. The question everybody should be asking is what will be our share of that as Uganda?
Musicians should go slow on politics
Jose Chameleone will reportedly be standing for mayor of Kampala city while Bobi Wine will be standing for presidency in 2021. I have also seen several musicians and comedians that have expressed interest in joining politics, and I bet it’s going to be fun. I can only imagine how the next parliament is going to look like.
The truth is that most of the elites are in NRM and have been silenced because they are ‘eating’. Actually, some are ‘eating’ so much such that they could do anything to keep Museveni in power. So, people are now looking up to anybody who can change the system.
Our interest in musicians and other celebrities begins with our admiration of their talents. That should be the core of literary criticism around which every other consideration revolves.
For example, I am a fan of Bobi’s music but I feel he is overstretching it by declaring his interest to stand for the presidency in 2021. I strongly believe that excitement has got to him and he is, therefore, doing it out of vanity.
Yes, he has a right to stand for presidency but he is erroneously presupposing that he will win against Museveni due to youth support. Regardless, Museveni will still be declared the winner of the elections.
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba,