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Your mail: Tonsemberera can be stigmatic

Whereas we appreciate all efforts put in by ministry of Health (MoH) and all stakeholders in the current fight and sensitization against COVID-19, I personally can’t help but wonder why of all terms the ministry chose the Luganda word ‘Tonsemberera’ as its campaign term to sensitize Ugandans about social distancing.

As a researcher and person who knows the meaning of the term, I would say this was not the right choice of words the ministry should have used.

Any common person is aware of the heavy and negative connotation the term has and is indicative of some form of inherent violence. I wish to believe this was not the true intention of whoever authored it or the ministry.

In everyday usage, ‘Tonsemberera’ is a disparaging term that is often used by two disputing (likely aggressively) parties and I am really concerned what kind of stigma it amplifies against recovered COVID-19 victims.

The hostility of the term is clearly displayed by the TV message where the minister appears to raise her hand (like a traffic officer who stops a vehicle) so as to drive the point home.

I understand given the urgency, the times we are living in and the limited resources, the ministry did not conduct meaningful research to assess which is the most appropriate term to use, without unnecessarily promoting violence and affecting the dignity of the population.

Instead of ‘Tonsemberera’, that typically sounds rude, I would perhaps recommend a better but more polite term like ‘ [Ssebo/ Nyabo] Semberako wali.’ etc.

John Kavuma,

Parliament should publish all info

Due to the need to curb the spread of misinformation (fake news) on social media networks and other platforms, I decided to become a frequent visitor to the Ugandan parliamentary website www.parliament.go.ug to find credible information concerning proceedings in the august house.

Credit to the website administration for endeavouring to publish some parliamentary proceedings such as the order paper, motions, petitions, Hansard and committee reports, among others.

For instance, I was able to find and read in detail the Report of the Select Committee on the Evictions and Displacement of the People of Apaa Community.

This has not only kept me informed on the fate of the land of the people in Apaa but it has also fulfilled my right of access to information contained in Article 41(1) of the Constitution of Uganda.

Above all, it has improved my confidence in the legislature. More can be done, however. For instance, not all Hansards, parliamentary committee reports, ministers’ statements, petitions, motions, among many other documents, are uploaded on the website.

My plea goes to the relevant authority at parliament to ensure that the parliament website is up-to-date with all relevant information for public consumption immediately, and at least whenever the parliamentary sitting is adjourned. This will curb fake news and increase public confidence in the august House.

Ronald Dennis Bukomba,

Hunger pandemic during Covid-19

The reason we fear COVID-19 is we fear to die. However, some situations and conditions are causing death while we run away from COVID-19-related deaths.

If we have decided to fear COVID- 19-related death, we should also protect our population from other causes of preventable deaths and anguish, including hunger and starvation. In a few weeks to come, the level of frustration from parents failing to feed and treat their children under this COVID-19 regime will climax.

The national COVID-19 response teams should not only focus on the containment aspect of COVID-19, but develop and implement plans to treat the sick, and ensure undisrupted food production. Evidence shows that good and regular nutrition is effective in fighting COVID-19 and all diseases.

The patterns of government’s food distribution are already showing signs of a significant pending famine that may kill more people than COVID-19. In Northern Uganda, parents of children with nodding disease are starving. If you wish to understand the impact of nurturing children with nodding disease, just go to Omoro district and see for yourself.

But who cares for these wretched souls? All they care about is the vulnerable urban poor in Kampala and Wakiso! Last week, a friend reached out to me for help. His family has been confined to a village where there are hardly any amenities left.

The gentleman has a motorbike, but only he can ride to the garden, 6km away. He cannot transport his family members on his motorbike or mobilize villagers to come to support his farming activities.

He has run out of food and medicines for his aging parents and children. I read somewhere that the government is transporting people from Busoga to Lamwo district to teach locals there how to grow sugarcanes.

If such people could assemble in the field, why is it so difficult to ease the countryside to farm? The UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) has sounded the alarm bell for global famine, predicting severe food shortages.

Farmers could still adapt physical distancing while farming. Their movement to the farms could be coordinated within a specific window of time. In Uganda, the patterns of COVID-19 community spread is predicted with precision. Of recent, most of the cases are resulting from our lackadaisical handling of truck drivers from source countries like Tanzania and Kenya. Once this problem is sorted out, the farmers could be eased into activities.

Morris Komakech,


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