In order to inspire, I sought inspiration from the inaugural address of the President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy (JFK), which he gave in 1961, may his soul continue to rest in peace.
Borrowing from JFK, I titled my speech:
“Peaceful revolution of hope”
You, the first cohort of the Camp Kennedy Civic Education Project, are agents of change who have been nurtured by Feminature Uganda in partnership with the US Mission in Uganda to be peaceful revolutionaries. This, your final summit, symbolises an end as well as a beginning; again, I borrow from JFK.
What is a peaceful revolutionary? You are, as Feminature Uganda defines you: active, non violent, a civic participant, tolerant and you offer community service to all. How might you be active in your journey as a peaceful revolutionary? Following in the footsteps of peaceful revolutionaries before our time, but whose wisdom lives on, that is one way.
Revolutionaries such as Bantu Stephen Biko, whom Nelson Mandela described as:
“The spark that lit a veldt fire across South Africa.”
Biko rose from humble beginnings – his father was a police officer and at some point a clerk; and he died when Biko was only four years old. Biko was raised by a mother who was a domestic worker, then at some point a cook at a hospital, while she studied law by correspondence.
Biko was a good community member to the extent that his community offered him a bursary to go to a prestigious boarding school. At university he was elected to the students’ representative council; onwards to being elected president of the Students’ Association of South Africa. He served his term and at the end of it, with humility he stepped down, in order for a new leadership to emerge, in order to avoid “any cult personality forming around him.”
Biko embodied the promise of JFK:
“To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves.”
As a true peaceful revolutionary, Biko actively engaged against apartheid. He spoke out. He condemned injustice, while offering practical solutions. He did grassroots organising, community programmes, and what he called psychological empowerment for his people to get rid of inferiority complexes.
“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
Wisdom similar to that of JFK who cautioned that:
“We dare not tempt them with weakness … civility is not a sign of weakness … let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
And this, Biko did for he was convinced that:
“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”
Biko was a very effective peaceful revolutionary that according to Nelson Mandela:
“The government had to kill him to prolong the life of apartheid.”
Well, legal apartheid is now dead in South Africa; while Biko’s idea lives on. Some of what he advocated for is the mainstream of South African policy now. Posthumously, Biko is a legend and is revered as a political martyr, whose idea continues to inspire.
Our ancestors inspire me and give me the courage to be a peaceful revolutionary. Through my blog, “The Humanist View”, like Biko I speak out. Daringly breaking a glass ceiling and swimming in a territory dominated by men, every Friday for two hours, 7-9 p.m., as the first and only female prime time political radio talk show host to date, I have a platform through which I hold leaders to account – hosting “Spectrum Extra” on Radio One FM90, broadcast live to the world. I am a development manager for 27+ years and my social enterprise, Alinga Farms, is established on our ancestors land.
I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to share. I hope I used it well and I inspire. Congratulations to you, the 105 youth (boys and girls) graduating as the first cohort of the Camp Kennedy Civic Education Project.
Speech given by me, Norah Owaraga, on Monday, 2nd December 2019, in the presence of Her Excellency Ambassador Deborah Malac, who was the guest of honour; and the leadership of Feminature Uganda, the hosts who invited me to share in the capacity of “The Fellows’ Choice Leader.”