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Here is Uganda’s most sought after elite society of debaters!

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Some of the Debate Society Uganda  members

Some of the Debate Society Uganda members

By Muzaphal Kimbugwe

Wednesday morning as I step off the elevator on the 6th floor of Esella hotel, I am stunned.

A week earlier I was booked for adjudication duty in the Acfode Inter University debate nationals, convening universities from all over the country to debate a number of issues on gender and governance. I am here as an adjudicator under the banner of Debate Society Uganda, a society of young men and women with a passion for debate, who in this competition are technical implementers for adjudication and tabbing. Essentially, they decide who wins.

I am stunned to be here, as part of this society of young men and women who on face value can be mistaken for ordinary contemporary folk yet they are inarguably some of the most intelligent and eloquent young people this nation is blessed to have. Some are clad in suits, others in shorts-yes, shorts
while some are casual smart, donning chinos and blazers. They are full of life and they have an enviable sense of humour. Around them, you can’t hold your laughter.

Gilbert, the Chief adjudicator in this tournament is a young man of average height, a strategic mix of tough and simple demeanour and with a great sense of humour. Gilbert is running a quick activity to help debaters and adjudicators know each other. Gilbert is a team building expert. You will also think that Gilbert is a comedian, because he actually is, and an MC among other things. He is an agriculturalist, an MSC candidate, a researcher and most importantly here, a seasoned debater and public speaker.

Just like Gilbert, most of the members of Debate Society Uganda present here are professionals in different fields while others are students. In all this diversity, intriguing as it is, I see young people doing what they love, having fun at it and doing it super well.

Fast forward, there is a briefing of debaters, after which Jacob Eyeru, the national head of Debate Society Uganda is to give a key note address on “Debate as a Vehicle for Enhancing Good Governance and Youth Participation”.

My oh my, Jacob is sui generis. Listening through his address, everyone is just amazed. Jacob is an engineer by the way so one would wonder, “Engineering, debate, how so?” Well, Jacob is above all things a seasoned debater whose story as he tells it jokingly shows how far he has come, from a young boy with a desire to debate, who grows into an outstanding student that leads his university’s fast growing debating union at Makerere University and is later elected East African Community Youth Ambassador for Uganda in the program’s pioneer years. That he now leads this society of debaters is not surprising.

It is a successful tournament, the Acfode inter university debate nationals. Round after round, my interaction with different members of this society who alongside me are serving as adjudicators is just awe amazing. Their understanding of issues, their ability to weigh arguments, their ability to give feedback to students and their commitment to debate is just admirable.

One of these guys, Segawa Ivan Sebastian is the current East African Community Youth Ambassador for Uganda. Ivan’s story as earlier told by Jacob in his keynote address makes this society even more intriguing. From humble beginnings of a boy who couldn’t write his own speeches, Ivan has grown into a seasoned debater who has among other things led his university’s debating union at Kyambogo, won many awards, represented Uganda at the world debate championships and is now the head of the society’s television debate program, the NBS Television school debates. Ivan’s story is just one of the many-stories of Debate Society Uganda’s members.

Beatrice Kaytiena, another member of this society is the Vice President of the General Assembly of the International Youth Diplomacy Conference in Accra Ghana 2019. Beatrice is an entrepreneur, a graduate of linguistics and a postgraduate student of international relations and diplomacy. Cut Beatrice and she will bleed debate.

Ntambi Michael Blair, the head of the society’s schools program is a 3rd year student of law at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU). He has among other things led his University’s debating union and he is the head of the Rule of law debates. By his dress code and gentle demeanour, we joke that he is deserving of the tittle Sir or Lord. Lord Blair, we say.

Samantha, another member of the society is a fourth year law student at Makerere University while Peter Muhizi is a teacher of linguistics. Peter’s experience in debate spans years of debate and public speaking training and adjudication. Peter was Chief adjudicator to the African Debate Championships in South Africa in 2018.

See why, on stepping off the elevator, I am stunned? To be in the presence of such young men and women is no easy feat.

And, oh, I haven’t talked of Patrick Ngasirwa, the tab master in the tournament or Joel Mucunguzi, both members of the society who are 4th year law students at Makerere University. Very humble and gentle souls yet overly intelligent and eloquent young men with an admirable command of the Queen’s language. What is even more admirable is their understanding of the law that will make you think they already are practising attorneys.

It is wondrous, how Debate Society Uganda has in a very short while managed to bring all these brilliant minds together for the cause of debate. It is even more wondrous, how sought after it already is.

This society has only been in existence for a couple of years yet today it is Uganda’s most sought after society of debaters, managing technical aspects of debate for both government and private actors who have debate as part of their programming. The society has among others managed tournaments
including the African Debate Championship, the East African Schools Invitational, the East African Universities Debate Championship, the Ministry of finance students accountability sector debates, the Olympic values debates, the European Union climate action debates in partnership with KCCA and the Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) debates.

Also, the society is now the technical implementer for debate in the Stanbic bank national schools championship, while its own national schools program is already ongoing.

Debate Society Uganda is already a member of the East African Debate Council, the Pan African Universities Debate Council and the African Schools Debate Board.

The society, impressively, is youth led, with its membership open to all youth with a passion for debate and desire to make debate available in its highest quality all over the country as a tool for nurture of young people to achieve an informed and engaged society.

I am more than confident to say that this society, Debate Society Uganda is the real deal.

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Five ways youths can be champions of peace in their societies.

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By Staff Writer

Uganda is dominated by the youth going by their population size in the country. Having the largest percentage,  it is vital that the youth are involved in all or most of the country’s development initiatives including peace building. Youth involvement cannot only be externally initiated. Youth by themselves can be champions of peace building in their societies. Here are the 5 things youth can do to achieve this:

Embracing communication, listening, and empathy skills – To champion peace, youth should listen to each other and get ideas and perceptions of people regardless of ones background. These ideas are put together, discussed and the outcomes used to build a solution. The solution can be used to solve conflict and create peace in society.

Dialoguing and consulting the experts – There are always those who have the expertise and have seen more. Try and get help from them. In the process of dialoguing you can share ideas and come up to one solution. To champion peace, you can also work with the peacebuilding champions who have gone through training and have networks embracing youth initiatives.

Networks and Forums – Embracing networks and forums within your scope can go a long way in helping you champion peace in society. When you are united in a forum or a network, it is easy for you to reach out to national forums. The ideas from the dialogues are able to have a strong solution that will be able to champion peacebuilding initiatives and give a voice to the voiceless.

File photo: A youth-led peacebuilding training session.

Use of IT for development – Using IT and digital platforms including Social Media to spread peace and not conflict goes a long away in peacebuilding. Youth leaders can communicate with varied audiences and those that are far from them using the internet in order to spread the peacebuilding message. For example, if there is a proactive group and a network in Kampala, they can easily link up using ICT and share those ideas with another group in Bundibugyo or Kasese. Trainings can also be done online and out of the training people that the leader has trained can share ideas as they are empowered through the skills and knowledge.

Gender consideration – Consideration of gender equality is a must for youth to champion peace in society. Women and girls must be an integral part of the initiatives for peacebuilding. As a youth if you are planning to do a peace building mission in Kampala, look at the percentages of how many women are on the team verses the men. Women must be considered as part of each and every peacebuilding element that the youth are involved.

About ACORD Uganda

The Agency for Cooperation in Research and Development – Uganda (ACORD-U) is a Ugandan National Non-Governmental Organization that has worked in Uganda since 1979. With headquarters in Nsambya-Kampala and several other offices across the Country, ACORD-U aspires to contribute towards Uganda’s Development and Humanitarian Responses for Vulnerable Communities in Rural and Peri-Urban Areas. Currently, ACORD-U Implements interventions in more than 23 Districts in the South-western, Western, Northern, West-Nile, and Eastern Parts of Uganda. Promoting peace building and peaceful co-existence are part of our mandate in Uganda.

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Specials/Features

Online Media Publishers’ Association statement on arrest and illegal detention of Mr. Ronald Nahabwe of The Capital Times news site

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By Staff Writer
The Online Media Publishers’ Association (OMPA) has noted with concern, the arrest and continued detention of Mr. Ronald Nahabwe, a journalist at Capital Times, a news website operating in Uganda.


We are aware that Mr Nababwe was arrested this Monday, 22nd June 2020, and is still being held at the Uganda Police Force’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Kireka in connection with publishing a story about a confidential letter authored by a church leader to the head of state.


As at today, 25th June 2020, Nahabwe, will have been in detention for over 72 hours without being produced before a competent court of law. It is our understanding that the police are in the meantime subjecting him to coercive means so that he can reveal his sources.

Mr Ronald Nahabwe of thecapitaltimes.co.ug


The Online Media Publishers’ Association strongly condemns the abuse of Mr. Nahabwe’s rights and wishes to remind the Uganda Police Force that journalism is not a crime.


We demand that he be allowed access to legal counsel and immediately be produced before courts of law or he be released unconditionally, if there are no credible charges against him.


While we continue to assess the matter, we take this opportunity to reiterate to all Ugandans, including those in positions of authority, that #JournalismIsNotACrime.


Giles Muhame
President, OMPA

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Engaging the youth is a big part of peacebuilding in Uganda

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By Staff Writer

Ugandan National Non-Governmental Organisation, ACORD Uganda (The Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development) recently held a webinar where they shared lessons on peacebuilding in Uganda. The lessons were drawn from the Generation for Generation (G4G) dialogues between youth and local government leaders in the districts of Bundibugyo, Kasese and Wakiso. One of the key take-outs from the webinar that was attended by youth representatives and ACORD Uganda staff, was the issue of engaging the youth as a big part of peacebuilding in the country.

Speaking to the youth through the webinar, ACORD Uganda’s Project Officer for M&E who was also the moderator of the session said that with support from UNFPA, they are organizing a very proactive engagement with the youth leaders and potential youth leaders who are enthusiastic in making sure they expand the peacebuilding initiatives in key conflict hotspots in Bundibugyo, Kasese, and Wakiso.

John Okwera was supplemented by Catherine Muhindi Atwine, a Program Coordinator in ACORD by saying that they are talking peace and peacebuilding with the youth in Uganda as a focus since the youth make up the biggest percentage of the country’s population.

“Uganda has seen and suffered all types of conflict. It is not just the political conflict but includes things like tribalism, land disputes among others. The biggest part of the population in Uganda is youthful. This project comes in to make sure that this big part of the population is engaged and is at the center and is empowered and supported to take charge of peacebuilding where they are involved.”

Catherine went on to add that; “This project is funded by UNFPA and we are well aligned to the SDG 16 which talks about peace and justice and strong institutions, for the young people to encourage their voices to come out.”

“What do the youth understand by peace, are we speaking for them or they are actually speaking for themselves. We are counting on them to be the leaders of tomorrow because they matter and we want to create a platform where their voices are heard. This is being done through their leaders and institutions.”

It should be noted that people are always saying that the youth are at the forefront of everything, but sometimes they are incited and they don’t know what is going on much as they are taking part in it. ACORD Uganda wants to bring young people on board for them to come out and be involved in peacebuilding processes. They also want to empower the youth because this means they are empowering an entire future generation.

As a nonpartisan organization, ACORD Uganda does not subscribe to any political, religious, and pressure institution, but is an NGO that seeks to work to empower the vulnerable communities by playing a facilitation role. Through training and capacity building of the youth leadership in the focus districts, the youth have been helped to understand issues of peace and how the youth can be brought to the forefront. This has also been extended to issues of gender equality since inclusiveness is an important part when discussing peace for everyone.

Catherine finished her submission in the webinar by quoting one of the youth leaders who had this to say during one of the G4G. “The youth are always being ignored and they are looked at negatively even when they try to do positive things in society, they still need inspiration for everyone to recognize that they have contributed positively.”

The webinar
was also attended by Lapwony Patrick Loum( Project officer), Wenaheereza Conrad
(A youth leader, Kampala), Kwagala Moses (Staff in charge of the project in
Kampala) and Kiconco Annah (Project Officer in charge of the project in Kasese),
among others.

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Specials/Features

King’s College Budo: An Era of Misogyny, Sexism and Discrimination

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King’s College Budo may not be the Heaven that it is sold to be. Last week, old girls of Budo took to Twitter to reveal the hell tales from their experiences studying at Budo. For many souls, the experiences came as shocking revelations. Parents with hopes of getting their girls to Budo had to rethink their choices. Other parents with daughters at Budo were forced to reconsider their decisions.

But what really happened at Budo? How did the school roll down the ugly alleys of abuse, misogyny and discrimination? It is said by the old girls that the boys and teachers never stopped reminding the girls of how they should count themselves lucky sharing a class with the boys. The concept of male superiority was drilled into everyone at the school. Girls considered it a privilege if a male student talked to them. The boys ran a rating system fully endorsed by the school administration. In here, they rated the girls on the scale of beauty and brains.

In addition to this sexism, the low-income students didn’t have it any easier. The caste system at Budo didn’t spare them either. It was a crime for one to be broke at Budo. “You could see it when Budonias joined other schools at A-level, they would try to import the same caste system,”says someone who studied with former Budonians.

According to the girls, “it’s institutional sexism. All we are seeking is a better life for the girls who will enter the gates of Budo. Girl lives, broke lives, all these lives matter, and they should really matter at Budo,” Paula noted. Budo is in the limelight for failing to live up to the values that it espouses. Many girls’ lives and self-esteem was crushed by the mere fact that they studied at Budo, just like the lives of many low-income students.

Budo is also the only mixed school in Uganda that has prom with other girls’ schools in the country. It doesn’t happen anywhere else. The fact that this is actively encouraged as culture is proof that the situation is almost beyond redemption.

If one is looking for patriarchy at display, they should look no further than Budo. “Basically the guys would call us ‘men in skirts’, to them, we were to ugly, that they would rather spend weeks talking to their fellow boys than to us. Budo is nothing but the capital of emotional bullying. Parents should know that their daughters are going through constant hell,” says Trisha, an old girl. “Can you imagine a girl is not allowed to be a Head Prefect at Budo? The post is reserved for the boys. When a boy sexually harassed you, you had to keep quiet. No one would believe you. You would end up suffering even more,” Trisha continues.

As many noted, this is just the beginning to unpacking years of trauma.

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