Ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues; it is an honour to be with you here today, as you join me to thank the millions of young Ugandans and East Africans, who have given a whole new life and meaning to what began as a simple call to celebrate my 48th birthday.
Famous Nigerian Author Chinua Achebe writes: “When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”
When I extended the invitation to you to come to this place, Entebbe Cricket Ground, it is not because you couldn’t have a bite or drink in your own homes but rather that we congregate because we are kinsmen and women, united by a strong bond of common purpose and belief.
As most of you are aware, a couple of weeks back, as my 48th birthday approached, I mooted the idea, using my Twitter handle, that we use the occasion to celebrate our spirit of resilience and our brotherhood, especially considering the tough season we had been through caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
My idea was that like-minded young people would use this occasion to fraternise, celebrate the gains made despite the challenges of the pandemic and importantly reflect on what role and contribution we could make in the advancement of our people, country and continent.
I must say that what has followed has been an immense outpouring of love, solidarity but importantly hope, for our people and country. From Bushenyi to Mbarara, from Fort Portal to Kitgum, from Mbale to Karamoja, I have seen thousands of young people using the #MK@48 mantra to organise not just social activities but also cause discussion on what more we can do to make our great motherland even greater.
It is this unexpected wave that has humbled me immensely. That a simple birthday celebration has offered an entry into wide and varied discussions–but importantly those where our young people reflect on their critical role in nation building.
I could not individually reach all the millions of young people who have chosen to celebrate and make greater meaning out of MK@48, explaining why I decided that a representative section meets here today so that by thanking them, I thank the millions others out there.
The birthday parties attracting people from all walks of life symbolize our unity as a nation and unshakeable determination to achieve a prosperous future together.
We shall continue engaging on all fronts, with all those that matter, to ensure that there is more investment in quality health care and education, sports, arts and culture, tourism, Small and Medium Enterprises, ICT, so that we have greater economic opportunities for our young people. We should never let our young people stay idle, for we know an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Besides unity, hope and optimism, the other thread that emerges from these celebrations has been the appreciation of the role that men in uniform have played to ensure our country and region remains safe and secure.
I must thank our Commander-In-Chief, Gen Kaguta Museveni, for his steadfast leadership of the country but importantly overseeing the creation of a disciplined, people-centred army, the UPDF.
What I can guarantee all our young people here and elsewhere is that the UPDF remains steadfast in ensuring that Uganda stays peaceful and secure. Whoever tries to cause instability will be dealt with firmly and ruthlessly. We do not want wrong elements disrupting the lives of our people. I am glad that young people today, more than ever, appreciate what our army is doing. I therefore celebrate all my comrades in arms for their commitment and sacrifice in ensuring Uganda stays peaceful.
As I conclude, allow me thank my father, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, my mother, Janet K. Museveni, my wife, Charlotte, my children, and all members of my family who have been my immediate pillar on which I lean.
Also, let me thank the organising committee of this function led by my friend Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka, for organising what has been a captivating get-together. Kindly stand up for recognition with your entire organising committee.
To all of you present here, those watching us on live television and those following us on social media platforms and radio, I am humbled that you made time for this celebration. It is a great honour. Thank you and I wish you all the best.
By Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba
Commander of Land Forces (UPDF)