A Dream Deferred: Uganda’s Presidential Election

The following blog post originally appeared on the Kiva Fellows blog on February 23, 2011. It was removed from the blog because of concerns over the controversial topic I wrote about. Uganda remains a country in which there is only a fasad of free speech and free press, and as a result I was advised to not openly criticize the current regime in a public forum. I’ve decided to repost this blog post on my personal blog because my hope is for more people to take an interest in Uganda’s leadership and for Ugandans to unite and hold their politicians accountable. Since the post was written, there were several reports that Yoweri Museveni, despite stealing votes, was still democratically elected into office by a majority of Ugandans. Whether those votes were fairly gathered is absolutely debatable. Although written in February, the post still captures my sentiments.

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A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up 
like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore–
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
 like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

On February 22 at 3:45pm Norbert Mao, one of Uganda’s former presidential candidates for the 2011 general election began his speech by reciting A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes. Considering the results of the latest elections in Uganda, a lot has been deferred, including the dream of a free and fair election.

The Presidency, stolen

Friday the 18th, the day of the Ugandan presidential election, was a national holiday. Millions of people across the country hoped that the date would mark the day that a new president was elected into power. They hoped that Yoweri Museveni would finally leave the office after a continuous twenty five years in office. On the morning of the election, several hundred international civilian observers were dispatched to polling stations all over the country. However, right under the noses of Ugandan citizens, as well as the international community, the election was rigged and the office of president was stolen, once again. Continue reading

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Nathan’s Office

Nathan at work visiting borrowers of Juhudi Kilimo

“It was my first day on the job,” Nathan says with a wide grin.

“I wore a coat and tie, I looked very smart! I was going to work for a bank, sit in a swiveling chair, and swing my legs!”

Nathan and I are standing on the side of a road. The occasional share-taxi barrels past us, but mostly we are surrounded by the hush of farmland that stretches as far as the eye can see. We’re in the Southern Rift Valley of Western Kenya. Nathan is neither sitting, nor swinging his legs. We cross the road. The mid-morning sun casts our shadows long across the hot asphalt. Continue reading

The Kiva Story

As a Kiva Fellow, part of my job is to share the stories of Kiva borrowers with Kiva lenders and the internet community. I interviewed three women in Kampala who had all borrowed from MCDT, a Kiva partner microfinance institution in Uganda. Their stories are compelling. In their own words, they describe how the micro-loans have made an impact on their lives, as well as those of their families.

Make a micro-loan on Kiva today to an entrepreneur like Adella, Deborah, or Florence.

Also check out Video Blog: The Story of Lini Nanyonga.

My Heart has Taken Root

The Source of the Nile in Jinja, Uganda

My Rough Guide to Kenya has been open face down on my desk for the past few days. My time in Uganda has been incredible. I have seen and experienced so much in such a short period. Like my life has been on fast forward. This country captured me instantly. Drew me in. And held me close. Whispering. This land is unlike any other. Continue reading

Video Blog: The Story of Lini Nanyonga

This blog post originally appeared on the Kiva Fellows blog. Learn more about Kiva at http://www.kiva.org/

The original post can be found at: http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/2011/02/21/video-blog-the-story-of-lini-nanyonga/

The following is a video I made after talking with a woman named Lini Nanyonga in a slum in Kampala, Uganda. Enjoy!

Nila has just arrived in Kampala, Uganda after having spent six months in Zanzibar, Tanzania last year. She considers East Africa home now, and looks forward to working with several Kiva partner microfinance institutions throughout the next few months in Uganda and Kenya.

The View from the Ground

This blog post originally appeared on the Kiva Fellows blog. Learn more about Kiva at http://www.kiva.org/

The original post can be found at: http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/2011/02/03/the-view-from-the-ground/

Sam the loan officer counting loan repayments

By Nila Uthayakumar, KF 14, Uganda

Tuesday morning. It was just my second day at Micro Credit for Development and Transformation (MCDT), a Kiva partner microfinance bank based in Kampala, Uganda. I sat at the helm of a grouping of desks in an airy room within an office building perched at the very tip-top of a hill in Kampala. What a view. Of the city, but also of the four loan officers preparing to go into the field and meet with their borrowers. I looked out of the window, and then back at the people in the room. How did I get here again?

I needed to remind myself, lest I forgot. It had been the most intense month and a half of my life. In the beginning of December I was still living in Zanzibar, Tanzania. More specifically, I was painfully packing away six months into my backpack and getting ready to visit the States. I would be home for a month and a half, (although home for me is relative at this point), and I had an expanding to-do list to address. Most importantly, I was to attend Kiva Fellows training in San Francisco in January. I, along with a group of nineteen others, was going to be taught how to be Kiva’s eyes and ears on the ground. What exactly that meant, I could not have possibly known until I got to “the ground.” Continue reading