By Ugandan Diaspora News Team and Agencies, KAMPALA ~In what was dubbed as the first Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala held on 29th December 2011, all roads led to Kampala Serena Hotel. The program started off on time with social networking in the Conference lobby area that allowed guests to mingle, greet and visit the various vendor stalls set up by the event sponsors amidst cocktails and wines that were being served. Then the doors to the main auditorium opened and several distinguished Ugandans based abroad began to make their way into Serena Hotel’s Victoria Ballroom, led by the event Mcees former Limit X’s Isaac Ruccibigango and Uganda Broadcasting Corporation public relations officer, Jane Kasumba.
The Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking event recognised Uganda’s Success living and working abroad while tapping into their expertise and building networks among the Diaspora and their compatriots here at home.
In her opening remarks to the attendees, the Ugandan Diaspora Patron Prof. Dr. Maggie Kigozi welcomed the diaspora community to the first Social Networking event. The chief guest at the function was Uganda’s Vice President, His Excellence Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi who reiterated the government’s position on the continued support for Diaspora affairs. Other speakers included, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Ambassador James Mugume who informed his audience that in recognition of the Diaspora constituency and it’s value to Uganda, the Ministry had established a one stop center called the Diaspora Unit headed by Ms. Bati Kawooya to cater for the Diaspora needs.
The highlight of the evening was the recognition of the various honorees who have made outstanding achievements in the Diaspora. Among these was Mr. Kwatsi Alibaruho, the first African American to lead a mission into space as NASA’s Flight Director, who was represented by his parents Mr. George and Gloria Alibaruho. Lady Justice Julia Sebutinde who was recently voted to the International Court of Justice bench becoming the very first African Woman to achieve that position. Dr. Shaka Ssali, the Managing Editor of Voice of America’s [VOA] English to Africa Service and the host of Straight Talk which airs on WBS Television every Wednesday at 9:30. Captain Lukhiya Mulumba, an active member the US Air Forces whose contribution and role in helping create awareness of the Sickle Cell disease in Uganda while actively serving in the US Air force.
Though absent, Bishop John Tucker Sentamu, who is the second most powerful clergyman in the Anglican Communion was also honored for his role as leading spiritual leader today. Dr. Munini Mulera a regular columnist with the Monitor Newspaper got recognised for his contribution in the field of Pediatric Health in Toronto, Canada. Another Medical doctor who has made a difference in the field of Public Health was Dr. Sarah Matovu in whose house the first UNAA Meeting was held in the State of Georgia. Mr. Derreck Kayongo one of the top 10 finalists at this year’s 2011 CNN-Heroes was also among the people celebrated and his family was able to recieve his award. Omega Bugembe Okello an accomplished Musician also got recognised for her contribution in the field of art and music. Rose Nanyonga though absent and doing a PHD at Yale University was recognised for her work in helping start the Nursing School at International Hospital Kampala.
These awards were presented to the recipients by His Excellency, the Vice president of the republic of Uganda. Most notably among the acceptance speeches were the personal stories by the honorees on their journey which saw them come from humble backgrounds in Uganda to their present and how the education they got here in Uganda especially at Makerere University impacted their success abroad.
The other major highlight included a three course dinner and an array of wines, spirits and Beverages with food prepared by the Presidential Initiative On Banana Industrial Development [PIBID] and the Introduction of the Joseph Carasco Chair at Makerere University. People in the Diaspora who had never tasted Tooke products, got a chance to enjoy an array of delicious delicacies prepared from purely Tooke products like the Tooke cookies.
The evening was also full of exceptional entertainment that saw designers like Vanessa Mukasa, Kironde Katasi, Solome Katongole, Stella Atal and Xenson showcase some of their best fashions for 2012. Among the performers that took to the stage were Qwela Band, Omega Bugembe, Nick Nola, Michael Ross and an array of artists based abroad while US based DJs Benazo from Maine and DJD from Maryland were on hand to spin the wheels of steel.
The Uganda Diaspora community was well represented by attendees from South Africa, USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Finland, China and as far a way as Australia. Other highlights included the Ethiopian Airline give away of a round trip ticket to Dubai to one lucky attendee. Orange Mobile also gave out Orange data cards while PIBID/Tooke gave away Tooke Biscuits.
Being the first of it’s kind the ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala aimed at helping to bring together Ugandans from various continents once a year through an umbrella or forum that creates a social networking atmosphere packed with entertainment and networking opportunities. This year’s event was the climax of the 5th Home Is Best Summit held at Africana Hotel.
The event was hugely successful and was entirely sold out. We hope it will become a permanent fixture on Uganda’s end of year carlendar. For more details about the Ugandan Diaspora Gala kindly visit www.ugandandiaspora.com