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Your mail: Support artistes, don’t gag them!

Bizonto comedians

Bizonto comedians

The popular Greek tale goes that when Oedipus was told that an ancient Oracle had declared that he would kill his father and marry his own mother, he fled the place where he would have grown up and ran to a far away land.

In effect, he was fleeing from his foster parents to the place where his true parents lived. There, he indeed killed his boisterous father and took his mother for a wife. Sometimes what you try to evade or avoid is what you end up suffering.

The government recently enacted a law that has sent many performers throwing their arms in the air in utter disillusionment because, clearly, it’s meant to stifle art and, ostensibly, curtail its impact.

Even before the law could take effect, a popular comedy outfit who call themselves Bizonto got arrested over a performance they had staged, citing something that was not even news to many Ugandans. People had always alleged that majority of the people who filled the most significant positions in government had a peculiar isoline that ran through them...

Well, you can arrest the priest, but not the faith. You can tear the book, but not the knowledge. You can (and may) shut the mouth but not stifle the information. What the system might have intended to evade, they found where they least expected.

For, from just that one performance that probably few had watched, laughed over and moved on, has now emerged one of the most raging debates and potential fights that is set to cloud the preps for the 2021 polls.

With two dominant ethnic groups accusing and counter-accusing each other of tribalism, and the “smaller” ones pointing fingers and dancing on the graves of the other two, isn’t the system ruing the decision to apprehend the Bizonto?

For, where you sought to stifle art, you have fueled it. Where you sought to gag, you have amplified. Where you sought to flee, you have run into.

Art, I assure you, isn’t a threat. Don’t try to fight it, for when you do, you begin to fight yourself and everything you stand for.

Instead of fighting art, harness it. Woo the artist so you can work together. Instead of pushing performance off-stage, build it a platform so it can play its role. Instead of chasing the artist away, embrace him/ her so they can work with you.

Bob Kisiki,
Kampala.

Thank you Uganda Airlines

Within the month of July 2020, Uganda Airlines returned Ugandans from different parts of Africa including Zambia, South Africa, and some parts of West Africa, among others.

Uganda Airlines has reaffirmed confidence among Ugandans. Please keep repatriation schedules ongoing, bring back more Ugandans, and serve them nice meals because these will be more loyal customers than before. We all know what comes along with customer loyalty.

Uganda Airlines family, continue to scale up! Before lockdown, you had registered visible strides; the footprint within the region was growing by leaps, the customer feedback was positive; keep hands on the grip and fly the crane to the rest of the world!

Samson Tinka,
tindsam@yahoo.com

Privacy of personal data must be respected

As part of easing the lockdown, the president announced several updates which included opening of arcades that meet the set standards, salons and allowing boda bodas to carry passengers.

The boda bodas and arcades must keep records of every person as part of the new requirements. They must write down their name, national ID number, residence and telephone number in a bid to help in contact tracing just in case one of them happens to contract Covid-19.

There are issues concerning privacy of a person and that of their data. The president recently assented to the Data Protection and Privacy Bill into law, operationalising Article 27 of the Constitution. The law aims at protecting the privacy of the individual and of personal data.

The arcades and boda bodas (with no prior training and orientation) have been directed to collect this personal data from individuals before they access the services.

What are the safety nets in place to ensure that this personal data is not abused and shared without the consent of the person giving it? Do the data collectors have an orientation on how to collect, store and share this data without infringing on the right to privacy and personal data of the individuals?

To whom are they going to submit this data to? How shall we ensure that the details of the individuals are safe, and not actually used against them?

We, therefore, need to go slow on this issue as we weigh its implication against the right to privacy and personal data.

Michael Aboneka,
Kampala.

End child marriages

In recent years, child marriage has gained the limelight worldwide. According to UNICEF, 40 per cent of girls in Uganda are married before their eighteenth birthday and one in 10 is married before the age of 15, hence having their childhoods cut short.

A 2017 World Bank study shows that ending child marriage in Uganda could generate $514 million in earnings. Ending this evil requires work across all sectors and at all levels. It requires us to understand the complex drivers behind the practice in different contexts and adapt our interventions accordingly.

Empower girls with information, skills and support networks through education. Every girl has the right to decide her own future, who and when to marry. When confident in their abilities, armed with knowledge of their rights and supported by their peers, they are able to fight against this injustice. The longer girls stay in school, the less likely they are to be married before the age of 18.

In addition, education ensures girls acquire the skills and knowledge to find employment and a means to support their families. This can help break the cycle of poverty and prevent child marriages that occur as a result of extreme poverty.

Girls living in Uganda’s poorest households marry at a younger age than those living in the richest households. Some parents see their daughters as a source of wealth as they can fetch bride price from their husbands’ families when they marry.

Providing economic support and incentives to girls and their families with livelihood opportunities like microfinance loans is an effective way to prevent child marriages that occur as a result of poverty. When families have increased economic opportunities, they are less likely to perceive their daughters as economic burdens.

In many Ugandan cultures, pre-marital pregnancy is associated with embarrassment, disgrace and curse, which drives some girls to marry. At its heart, child marriage happens because communities do not value girls as much as boys.

Parents and community leaders are often responsible for deciding when and whom a girl marries. In many traditional communities, it’s believed that marriage keeps girls safe, protected and economically provided for by their husbands.

However, the opposite is true; [forced] marriage endangers girls’ physical and mental health. When parents and community leaders are educated about the many negative consequences of child marriage, it can inspire them to change their views, speak up for girls’ rights and encourage others to do the same.

Peter Kabuye,
peterkabuye1@gmail.com

letters@observer.ug

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