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Chogm Appraisal: The Round-Up from Ugandan Blogosphere

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda, Breaking News, Digital Activism, Economics & Business, International Relations, Media & Journalism, Politics, Protest

Though he’s a journalist and could have been preparing for Chogm – the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting recently held in Kampala – by readying his camera, audio recorder and notebook, here’s how Ernest Bazayne [1] prepared for Chogm:

I’ve got:


o DVDs

o Batteries

o Safi

o Pringles

o Instant noodles

o Airtime

o Ammunition

I am ready for CHOGM.

Clearly, not everyone was excited about Chogm.

Chirs Mason, of Caked in Red Clay [2], has a good play by play of Chogm, but most interesting are the questions he asks:

When leaving Parliament, I gave thought to the piles of money invested in sprucing up the Parliament building for the Queen’s visit. The visit lasted about 20 minutes. A pattern was beginning to form. Mountains of money spent to prepare a site for a visit by a Royal figure or world leader during the meetings. Those visits would inevitably last a few fleeting minutes, perhaps an hour, and then the delegation would move on, leaving the refurbished site behind. I wonder how long the renovations will last before the paint again peels, the walls beings to crumble and the potholes make their inevitable return.

Uganda sunk mountains of money into hosting this conference—about $130 million. When you figure that the majority of Ugandans live below the poverty line; when 3 per cent of rural Ugandans have electricity; when its health care system is completely unable to serve a rapidly-growing population; and when millions of citizens are coming out of years spent living in camps because of rebel fighting in the north and millions more were displaced by flooding in September… when you figure all these things, you can’t help but wonder: will the new hotels, the for-now patched roads and the refurbished tourist sites help any of these people?

The new blog Citizen Uganda [3] also questions some of the consequences of Chomg:

Uganda‘s leadership will congratulate themselves on hosting a successful summit, but they should not exaggerate its legacy for the nation. While Queen toured select venues [4] in the country, much of the international media attention was elsewhere: the political crisis in Pakistan; the upcoming Israel-Palestine summit [5] in Annapolis; and the woes of the falling U.S. dollar.

For Museveni though, this is a personal [6] triumph. He managed to keep the protesters [7] from upstaging him—they managed to make headline news on BBC—and raising some serious questions about his record on human rights. There was also very little mention of the stalled negotiations with the LRA [8] in the north, or the country's tensions with the DRC.

Scarlett Lion [9] (full disclosure, that’s me) berates the Ugandan government for some of their choices as well:

They tore up the sidewalks and streets for Chogm to rebuild nicer ones. But since the repairs haven’t been finished, and the Queen and other diplomats and visitors have come and gone, they’ll stay half-finished forever. Chogm came and went without the world’s notice or most Ugandan’s participation. Most Ugandans didn’t see the Queen, air their grievances, or even learn to untangle the acronym.

Hannah, at the View from Kololo [10], put it very succinctly:

Before moving to Kampala in March I had never heard of CHOGM; in the past eight months, it’s all I’ve heard about.

New hotels have been built all over the city (and no one seems to be asking who will fill these hotels once CHOGM is over),

Everything seemed more orderly and in many ways less Ugandan.

Now that Chogm has come and gone, it will be interesting to see what kind of role Uganda will play on the international radar, as well as how Kampala will change without the big international conference looming in the future.