Kampala – 22, July 2021: The 33rd UNAA Convention is taking place this year in September in Ohio. Over 200 delegation from Uganda will ‘fly to America’ to be part of the event. However, currently, UNAA seems disunited and one of its members, James William Mugeni, has come under spotlight for exposing the 35-year-old association to the public and media.
Today, we spoke to him, and he had this to say.
Qtn: In recent months, or a year, you exposed UNAA to the world for poor leadership, incompetency, etc., this soon landed you in problems. What’s next?
Mugeni: Standing up for humanity has brought for me problems with perpetrators of injustice for as long as I can recall back into my adult life. They expelled me from Mulago. They expelled me from Mbarara. So when you talk about impeachments and expulsions, you are in a familiar territory to my life. For standing up against steel walls of injustice, I have had a few runs with the systems that seek to subjugate men to live below their potentials as human beings.
I am a UNAA Council Member for the Central Plains. It would have been a total betrayal of my conscious and my people to keep quiet in the face of injustice and illegalities perpetrated by a few self-seekers in UNAA. When one is a leader, one always feels compelled to stand up to dealers and challenge their anti-people posturing. How does one expose incompetence which is all out and as bare as the behind of a baboon? And if there should be incompetence in the leadership they ought to do better and improve instead of scapegoating. Knowing that UNAA can improve the standing, value and the outlook of our people, it becomes a duty of every upright person not to fold our arms leaving UNAA to go to the gutters.
In the fertile imagination of some leaders in UNAA, I am in deep trouble. But they are just an extension of the oppressive arm of Kampala. They still carry with them that hangover of collapse of institutions where the whims of one man is law. Institutions, businesses, carriers and people have been destroyed, and no one is expected to talk. Bringing that type of nonsense into America in the free world is like getting Lucifer to become a head prefect in heaven.
I promised leadership in UNAA and I made it plain. We would not import vagueness from Uganda to America, but export established values from America to Uganda. America is a land of opportunities. I was dying in Uganda as a Clinical Officer almost into retirement. Today am a Certified Public Manager, something coming to America made possible. I have rooted for the first international student in the names of Stephen Renny GaloGitho now undertaking the same training. These opportunities in America must trickle down to Uganda.
I am walking the talk and this has ruffled feathers and caused me bad blood with some rogue elements in UNAA. It bothered them I have brought Drake University to Uganda. They are disconcerted and lost at sea how James William organized to rally former students of Makerere University to their vanquished leader 26 years down the road. How much could UNAA leadership do to uplift the lives of black people in America and those in Uganda if only the leadership was functional for the people? We are here in America but if we can’t use these experiences creatively to add value to Uganda, then we are squandering a lifetime opportunity posterity will never forgive us for.
Qtn: UNAA BoT and UNAA RDC have approved your impeachment or expulsion from the association for four years for sharing information with media, among others. Was this your role as a council member?
Mugeni: That is a terrible handover of how Kampala treats our people back home in Uganda, and they have carried it into the free world. A move to suspend me or expel me from UNAA does not sanitize their incompetence, doesn’t liberate them from their over bloated ego and lust for self-aggrandizement. We are saying 35 years down the road UNAA would be a creative force for good. My position is an identity that oscillates between the desire to unite into a formidable fraternity of all Ugandans in North America and to develop the one’s back home and empower them to confront poverty, inequalities and other social ills.
What more can cast UNAA in very negative light than mediocrity? We are 35 years old as an organization whose president comes to Uganda, picks a lead car to distribute a few sundries as a publicity stunt. My foot! What is negative media? What would be my role if, in this case, I kept silent in the face of this putrid grossness? I have been pushing UNAA as an organization to stand out on the issues of Human Rights abuses in Uganda, issues of failed democratic process and corruption. In America we have experienced the value of vaccines to COVID-19. In Uganda we have institutions and leaders that have stolen the pandemic resources. UNAA cannot be silent on these and start peddling a few masks.
Qtn: UNAA Council speaker disagrees with both RDC and BoT decisions to have you banned, you are a candidate representing Central Plains. Do you feel your time is up?
Mugeni: This is an initiative of a speaker who appreciates the rule of law. The despotic arbitrariness of some few members is not a genetic defect but a learned behavior spilling over from the oppressive dictatorial albatross hanging around the necks of our fellow Ugandans back home. I am a candidate for the Central Plains and time can’t be up when there is still plenty to do.
Qtn: Was RDC independent in its judgment?
Mugeni: The RDC is not independent in its judgment. It is a mirage of an ominous power behind the scenes. They have a written script. He who pays the piper, plays the tune. I feel it for them but on behalf of the people I represent as well as other like-minded Ugandans in North America that is a crap we are not willing to take. Had they been independent, the task before them would have been a simple one. Don’t forget that UNAA leaderships got embroiled in these squabbles for years since the moment they veered from the path and deviated from the aim of a non-profit organization. The RDC is a small elite group taking advantage of the gullibility of the masses.I am wide awake, fresh from Uganda and a veteran of non- profit organizations.
Qtn: You have a poor working relationship with BoT chairperson, John Agaba and he’s the one whose recommendation is to see you off all UNAA activities, business for four years. Is there justice or a payback time?
Mugeni: I don’t have poor working relations with anybody. I am, however, reluctant to discuss people. Many of these persons have reneged on their roles and would wish to find an excuse. On my part, I humbly carry out my mandate without a written script or undue influence. We are Ugandans in North America; we subscribe to laws that govern Non-profit organizations in America. However, the funding for UNAA coming from Uganda Government breaks the prevailing laws and worse still holds my colleagues captives to the Ugandan State.My colleagues thought that I should bow down and sag to these whims. I chose not to for the common good of all Ugandans. The line between us in this tag of war will soon snap and the people will be the ultimate judge.
Thank you Mr Mugeni
I thank you very much.