Uganda Youth Forum (UYF) is an indigenous Non-Governmental Organization that was founded by the First lady, Hon. Janet Museveni more than 2 decades ago to foster youth development and empowerment and to provide a platform for open dialogue on issues and challenges they face while growing up. Issues such as sexuality, relationships and career development.
One of the avenues they use to drive their cause is the Annual National Youth Conference. This year’s edition is being held at UMA main exhibition hall in Lugogo over a 3 day period. The theme for this year’s conference is a New Dawn; The youth are the pillars of National development.
I was in attendance yesterday and the event promptly began at 10am. The manifest suggested there were about 800 people in attendance. Whether or not this preceded the organizers’ expectation, I don’t know. What I do know is there were a number of empty seats, and the huge back-room space left spoke volumes.
In an attempt to keep the audience engaged and interested, we were treated to talent competitions, musical performances and debates. We were also availed with free HIV testing/counselling and exhibits in the sponsor’s stalls.
Day 1 was graced by the presence of Guest speakers; Hon. Alex Ruhunda the Fort-Portal municipality MP, Vincent Ntunguse from the patriotism secretariat and Patrick Kamara; celebrated political talk show host. They all reiterated the organization’s core values; Youth development and empowerment, and spoke of how to solve the contentious issues and challenges the youth face, including how to go about entrepreneurship and wealth creation, employment, collective social responsibility, poverty and education. Hon. Ruhunda’s sermon stood out. He said, “Don’t wait to be told what to do; you should know what to do.”
This being a youth conference where there was a lot of career advice being offered, I don’t know whether the timing was appropriate considering this is graduation week at Makerere University. The career guidance would have suited the fresh graduates the most considering the crossroads they find themselves at. Plus I also think that a weekend workshop would have served all interested parties better as it would include folk that cannot abandon their jobs on a Tuesday to attend.
The event was generally low-key. Apart from the musical guest Maurice Hasa inviting the audience to sing along to his ‘Kaleke Kasome’ hit, and watching people succumb to momentary snooze fests courtesy of the heavy ‘free’ lunch, light moments were few and far between.
Nonetheless, I hope today’s segment is livelier and better attended, because the UYF conference is a highly plausible event helping young people realize their potential and how they fit into the National development picture.
The conference resumes today and will close shop on the 24th.