It is an emotional moment. Firstly, because of the honour and reverence of being a nominee of the European Union Human Rights Defenders Award 2017. I know there are many people of character, dignity, intelligence, intellect, activism, diplomacy, patriotism, service, energy, name it – that would naturally deserve this kind of honour – than Me.
In fact, I know multitudes of Ugandan and foreign people who, because of their unwavering commitment to fight for rights in this – our dear nation, are more worthy to have received this nomination; not even just once, but every day of their lives – than Me. In any case, I have accepted the nomination in a “representative capacity”. Representing Ugandans here, and away; whose works, character and love for their country drives them to do good – and do it consistently with optimism – amidst challenging environments – and with the conviction that their efforts are NOT in vain.
This is not just an honour to me, an individual; it is recognition of the aggregate efforts of the citizens of Uganda – who wake up daily with intent and hope to build and NOT to destroy – whether in air-conditioned offices or in Shambas in the countryside. It is recognition of all men and women who overwhelmingly braved the sun in the South and the afternoon rains in the North – to make the long winding queues at polling stations with the hope of voting – in the February 2016 general elections.
It is recognition of those endangered species of men and women of character who still flash the banner of Uganda’s founding ideals and values – and those doing the painstaking job to take our nation back on to the path of obuntu bulamu – a strong value system.
It is recognition to all those – children, youth, women, men, PWDs, those in leadership positions or not, who rise to the occasion, diligently doing anything and everything small or big to eliminate today’s lingering evils: poverty, hunger, anger, corruption, impunity, conflict, crime, discrimination, terror under very difficult circumstances.
It is recognition to all those that endure to carry the conviction that indeed Uganda can be better – better than it was yesterday, better than it is today. It is an honor to the men and women emboldened by history, the search for justice and society of equal opportunities who relentlessly go out every morning to expand and broaden the benefits of democracy, rule of law and better governance for Uganda and the rest of the world.
It is an ovation to the leaders and servants who have fearlessly resisted the temptation of sliding into bitterness, anger, and hatred but instead they have boldly embraced peace, dialogue and respect for one another. This nomination is not for me as a person. It is a promise of a better Uganda.
A better country guided by the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. A better country guided by ethical values and standards NOT personal feelings; a better nation that takes its past mistakes and successes seriously – and learns from them to inspire best for today and tomorrow’s generations.
My gratitude goes out to the European Union and partners who unremittingly walk with us on this vast and sometimes dangerous journey. Our heartfelt gratitude to all men and women that stand with us on this vocation. I acknowledge the outstanding works of all the previous nominees of this award since its establishment.