“Is Emyooga an acronym or a word in a Ugandan language?” This question was put to me by a colleague, a non-Ugandan, a prolific thinker, who does extensive empirical research in Uganda. And it dawned on me that even though I was actively discussing Emyooga I really didn’t know what it is and what it means.
So, I sought answers from my fellow active citizens of Uganda, ‘expert’ commentators on social media.
“Yes, it’s an acronym, but I forgot it as soon as they told me sometime last year,” wrote one. While another who also believed it an acronym shared it in full as: “Enhanced Movement for Youth Operations organized to Generate Affluence.”
Another cheeky one commented: “It sounds like and may be akin to swimming. Okwooga, emyooga. I think it’s coined by some overzealous civil servant who wanted to project the cultural arrival of Runyankore as the lingo of government programs in Uganda. So, it’s no wonder that people are swimming in funds.”
The majority ‘experts’ who responded, however, indicated that Emyooga means “skilling”; and that it is a Runyakore word. One respondent, indeed, confirmed her source thus: “I have been told so by one of the coordinators of Emyooga.”
Apparently, in the case of Emyooga, even our leaders seem uncertain of its meaning.
Hon. Derrick Orone, Memeber of Parliament representing Gogonyo
For example, reacting to my “Fact Check: Emyooga in Pallisa – Gogonyo,” in which I shared Hon Orone’s assertion that Emyooga funds deployed to his constituency were 100 percent well utilized, commentators, presumably his fellow constituents wrote:
“Politicians don’t understand Emyooga, so he can’t say the funds were well utilised. Anyway, they are under brief to say so … For example, taxi drivers SACCO (he included as beneficiaries), reason being we don’t think whether Gogonyo has even a driver of a taxi.”Members of the Facebook group “Pallisa Na Ikoto Oni (The Pallisa We Want)
Well, Emyooga is a sh260b presidential initiative on wealth and job creation that targets Ugandans, especially in the informal sector, that come together in form of savings and credit co-operative societies, according to the New Vision.
“Emyooga is a Runyankore word meaning a group of people doing the same thing.”Mr. Haruna Kasolo, State Minister for Micro-Finance (quoted by the New Vision)
It is fascinating that many Ugandans, the presumed elite, especially, myself inclusive, are discussing Emyooga without having a full understanding of what the word means; why it was chosen to be the name for this particular initiative; and what the initiative means on paper.
I am among scholars persuaded that whether an intervention succeeds or not depends on what it means to the host community – as in what it means to us, people, in our day to day lives.
So, what are the chances of the success of Emyooga? The jury is out, but certainly it has seemingly not had a good start.