The old man of the clan, Andrew Mwenda recently posted on his Facebook wall the following status update:
The post now has over 108 likes and over 20 shares.
When I saw this post, it reminded me of one of my best TV Anchors, Larry Madowo of NTV Kenya. Controversial, with a huge following but with haters in equal measure. Haters do the PR mostly.
I also recall Nicholas Opiyo’s and Andrew Mwenda’s timeline after the nullification of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The online space is full of all types of people who hold very many unique ideals; some hold none though. A few will contribute constructively to facilitate a sober debate while many will resort to name calling and outright abuse or bullying.
But then again, that is social media for you. All information is social yet public. People are free to air their thoughts the way they feel like.
Though terms and conditions apply on how to use most of these social networking sites, many a times it takes longer than you may imagine for an offensive piece of information to be pulled down. Even when they are, the owners of the offensive content may always open another account and re-post the same disgusting content.
In the end, the best you can do for yourself is to develop a thick skin if you really want to go online and engage without fear or favour. If you really want to be yourself.
I write this post because of what Ms. Leah Kalanguka, the 23-year-old new Miss Uganda 2014/2015 finds herself in.
It goes without saying that before today, I never knew her. Not even after being crowned on Saturday evening at Speke Resort Munyonyo. I was all out for the El-Clasico and the last thing on my mind was this contest.
On Sunday, it was the big one at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal was coming face to face with a former member of his coaching staff at Barcelona – turned special one; Jose Mourinho in a super Sunday English Premier League blockbuster. I will not apologize for preferring to watch those games to following local events. So, you can quietly get back that card of ‘patriotism’ and allow me finish this article; please.
On Monday, I should be having a lot of work on my table to allow me the moments to indulge in petty details of a Miss Uganda contest which was sealed on Saturday while I was in utopia. But alas. I still had a few minutes to pen this.
The winner of the contest has got tongues wagging that they wont just let go despite it being a Monday. On my street, no one was even talking about Robin van Persie’s stoppage equalizer. Just so you know, I loved that goal! Ooh My! – Yes, that is how badly we are doing…. we celebrate draws. But it wont be long before we reclaim our status.
Her sin? Winning a Miss Uganda Pageant that was designed on the foundation of Agriculture. Of course everyone is beautiful in their own right but for a national contest, perhaps people have a right to weigh in.
And this is where you find the “haters”. They work for free as Andrew alludes and they are very effective by the way. For the record, I was one of them in this instant case.
But my problem was not the girl. I have no problem with her whatsoever. There was a contest, she applied like any other contestant, competed, and won fair and square. I have not heard of any scandals; unless you would wish to draw my attention to one!
My problem is with the entire organization of the contest. We may have agriculture and many other values or enterprises we may wish to endear our youth too but to seek to make the whole contest largely based on agriculture is to loose the point.
One reason is without suggesting she is any less since I have not personally interacted with her to ably Judge, we need a beauty pageant where beauty, brains and the glamour rule for a Miss Uganda contest. We can then have other contests for all sorts of groups if we so wish to recognize them.
Secondly, there are known ways of promoting agriculture. Fans of this contest are the urban folks and are less likely to be inspired by a certain queen to all of a sudden abandon their cribs in Bwaise or Wandegeya to go back to the village and start farming or fishing. The real youth who should be engaging in agriculture are out there and there are better ways to get to them.
I hasten to add that is almost inconceivable that the winner would have the time to put on gumboots, turn into an extension worker of sorts and start showing the youth how to farm. To the contrary, they will look for artificial nails, Brazilian hair and all the make-up in the world; and rightly so by the way!
If you want to promote agriculture, you return school farms to their old glory, scrap all those preposterous anti-agricultural taxes, build silos across the regions and districts, control importation of cheap home grown food products and promote sell of local produce, avail farmers with market information, value addition advice & support, develop farmer friendly produce export mechanisms, avail competitive agricultural credit support, carry out a national soil fertility assessment to ably advise farmers on what to plant, and above all establish mechanisms to protect farmers from middlemen to maximise their profits and make agriculture lucrative.
We had Miss Uganda beauty contestants put on gumboots and milk cows for the first time. I have no problem with that; if they wanted too. We apparently have to contend with the ‘value addition’ brought by the UPDF.
Be it as it may, as Andrew Mwenda puts it, the haters will always do a fantastic job for free. Whereas Kenya also crowned Miss World Kenya Idah Nguma on the same day at KICC, it is the story of Leah that is resounding across the world. She has made it to Yahoo news, abc news and many other news portals. The headline, “Former poultry farmer crowned new Miss Uganda” has been trending.
Apparently, the whole plot has paid off! The franchise holder must be smiling; many Ugandans apparently will take time to smile. They are not amused.
Congratulations Leah Katunguka!
Despite all our ‘mild’ rantings, we wish you well.