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Katondoozi: Ibrahim Ssemujju got it wrong on Museveni

Your paper of February 13 to 20 carried an article by the Hon. Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda titled “Promoting Runyakore using people’s taxes” in which he castigated President Museveni for heading a team of authors to write a Runyakore-Rukiga thesaurus “Katondoozi”.

I found this article misleading, either because the author is ill-informed about the subject of book writing and publishing, or he had other hidden motives.

As the publisher of this book, allow me to inform your readers that the greatest investment in any book is writing it. And this is what Museveni’s greatest contribution on this book was, not taxpayers’ money. 

The endeavor of writing a book, as it was in this case, requires knowledge, passion, skill and patience. President Museveni and his team of co-authors certainly spent a long time doing research on words and phrases in Runyankore-Rukiga, and had to arrange them logically for ease of reference. 

It is this painstaking effort that produced this book. These same authors have previously written other books including a dictionary. All this work requires more of knowledge than money.

Nganda creates a wrong impression that Museveni writing a book in his mother tongue disadvantages other languages, saying “My Luganda has for a long time been examined in schools and universities but it is without a thesaurus”.

The honourable MP doesn’t seem to know that Luganda is the most published language by Fountain Publishers, boasting of over 60 titles on the current list of school books, six of which are dictionaries, targeting different levels of learning.

Many more books have been published for general reading. Runyankore-Rukiga is the second with 55 titles with four dictionaries, including Katondoozi. Acholi is a close third with 39 titles, three of them dictionaries. All the other major languages follow with varying, but growing lists of books.

Nganda should, therefore, know that Luganda is in no way disadvantaged in book supplies, and not least because of Museveni writing a book in Runyankore-Rukiga.

The MP’s advice that “what a responsible head of state should be doing is sponsoring the writing of a thesaurus for each of the indigenous languages…..” is also mistimed.

What Nganda didn’t know is that Museveni did this  over 10 years ago, when his government in 2008, adopted a policy of instructing school children from primary one to three in their mother tongues throughout the country, and teaching those same languages in the upper classes.

This policy opened opportunities for books to be written and published in all Ugandan languages. As a result, demand for books in all these languages has driven enthusiasts, scholars, teachers, bishops, judges, doctors and others to write books in their mother tongues. Many of these didn’t want to see their language heritage eroded by time. President Museveni happens to be one of those.   

As the old adage goes, “When an African elder dies, a library burns down”. To avoid this rich treasure of knowledge ending with him, Museveni, like many other patriotic Ugandans, chose to write books so that this knowledge is shared with future generations.  Busy as he is, for Museveni to have found time to write this book, calls for him to be saluted instead of being castigated.

Lastly, Nganda’s argument which has strands of sectarianism woven into it doesn’t seem to fit well into the current liberal socio-political environment in Uganda, where knowledge sharing is seen more as a facilitator of development rather than a hindrance.

Sowing seeds of ethnic discord on the basis of a book published in one particular language, does not rhyme with the current times in which marriages across language  borders are becoming a trend.  Children born out of such marriages may wish to learn the languages of both parents, and having books in both may be the right tools to achieve this.

Similarly, Ugandans now study and work in all areas of the country where languages other than their own, are spoken. Shouldn’t we, therefore, always rub our hands with glee whenever a new book is published, even when it is not in our own language?

James Tumusiime is the founder of Fountain Publishers.


+2 #1 sula 2019-03-06 18:23
Great ! and - :
1- Don't forget to forward museveni's name to the Nobel Peace Committee.he is a deserving candidate.

2- Also if you haven't - Forward the name to the Pope to prepare 'Sainthood' .It is important for Mr museveni to know before his death.
3- Wabula mutujooze ! God !
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+6 #2 kabayekka 2019-03-07 13:41
Indeed it is real investment in writing a book in a country where the leadership reckons multi media is all about Lugambo.

Because the book will prove the critics wrong. What Mr Nganda seemed to be saying was that an author of such magnitude would do better to resign from taxpayers luxurious comforts and make his way as a private entrepreneur in book writing, language translations, ranching, and being an African elderly consultant in poetry, politics and religions.

The risk he is taking in staying in African politics paka last is too high and unsustainable.
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+4 #3 Jama 2019-03-07 17:55
Its sad to see an elite being the apologia of a tribal dictator.

lf you're honest with yourself ,look at the tribal security apparatus constructed by the man you're defending.

Look at other public sectors dominated by a single tribe.

So Mr.Tumusiime before stoning Hon. Semuju you could have checked around you.
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+9 #4 ejakait engoraton 2019-03-08 15:28
Quoting Jama:
Its sad to see an elite being the apologia of a tribal dictator.

lf you're honest with yourself ,look at the tribal security apparatus constructed by the man you're defending.

Look at other public sectors dominated by a single tribe.

So Mr.Tumusiime before stoning Hon. Semuju you could have checked around you.

JAMA, these are what we call "useful IDIOTS".

IF their character were to pass wind in public, they would say the sound was the best music composition since Mozzart or Afrigos "Amazzi ge nyama" and that the smell was the best perfume of all time.

Do you think you have seen or heard the last of the "comical Alis" of this world.

Do not be fooled by the titles some of these people hold, but the sooner you realise that these people have neither a conscience or morals , the sooner and easier you will sleep at night.
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+4 #5 Jama 2019-03-10 14:20
Mwanainchi ejakait, an intellectual without a sound conscience is a threat to social well being.
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+5 #6 Remase 2019-03-11 12:22
Tumusime, I have one word for you, "Twakoowa."

In other wards, enough is enough, we are fade up with M7. Not only is he looting the country naked, he uses its resources for his own interests. Therefore don't try to bullshit us.
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+2 #7 Wooden K. 2019-03-11 18:27
Agandi James Tumusiime !

Go back to the topic and start again.

This one is far off the mark.

Hon. Nganda did not say that Museveni or anybody should not write books or promate their language .

He did not say that Runyankore-Rukiga books puts Luganda books at at a dissadvantage in book supplies.

What Nganda complained about was that President Museveni used our tax money and his Office to promote Runyankore-Rukiga.

Some of us remember a time when President Museveni got really pissed when he heard that Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya was speaking Luganda with Baganda UPDF Officers.

Do you get it ?
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+5 #8 Olum S. 2019-03-11 20:20
Now and again it's good to hear from the Tumusiimes of this world. It's good because their views just go to show how out of touch with reality they have become.

As someone noted in their comments, the titles, qualifications these regime apologists hold are totally useless, since they are prepared to sacrifice conscience and morals, sacrifice everything in favour of ill-gotten, dubious rewards from their dear beloved ruler, who surprise, surprise, also happens to be their beloved village mate.
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