Introduction:

Being the youth coordinator in Buganda Heritage Association and the cultural lead in the Buganda North London Core, I have taken special interest and passion in propagating the Mind the Gap/Bridging the Gap initiative in our communities based on a personal journey as a youth at one time in UK. My journey as any young Muganda boy growing up during turbulent times of wars that followed, in school, through a network of family, communities I feel
I was partly formed. Living in UK, being a member of the Faith group ,working in NHS and offering charitable time in our communities to promote and educate on Mental Health and recently picking interest in working with our youth having identified a gap or opportunity to engage and learn the language of the youth to understand them and facilitate them to gain confidence to have dialogues with adults and likewise the adults. A heir (omusika) at a tender age have further deepened my passion to be involved in this initiative, ‘Mind The Gap’ & building “The Therapeutic Community Networks”.

This is not new but the difference is about putting Reason and a reflective and critical mind on how, what and why we need to engage more and better.

There are a lot of untapped resources amongst our midst, God given well packaged and sustained by those before us in a way sometimes makes one wonder whether they knew God more than we did considering the depth, width of the knowledge imbedded in our language and norms and behaviours that make us kii kyetuli.

But this knowledge, awareness and sense of being has shrunk and hence reason for the GAP’s.

Over the past 2 years I have been proactively taking on a protracted approach in negotiating, exploring with individual parents, faith leaders and organisations as well as cultural leaders in their differing capacities.
Part of this journey has been through active hands on work when supporting families (in our communities) around the area of mental health challenges.

Partly I have been responding to the Nabagereka call of OBUNTU-BULAMU.
A journey that has brought wealth of ideas that I feel should not stop at me but be a spring board to inspire others and to continue to learn from others to build the idea for the benefit and continuity of our children’s growth in identity and be grounded in a community they have a lot in common.
This is not a finished framework but a progressive one open to review to accommodate new challenges.

I am keen to being offered space and be asked all questions about the underlying philosophical make up of this idea/ Initiative.

 


This is an initiative to bolster the relationship between the community youth and the adults where they happen to meet as families belonging to that unique community.

Objective:

Points of reference:

Strengthening of community spirit and leadership development for that particular community and its ethos.
Confidence building among adults and youth. Adults gain confidence in relating with and passing on communal values to the youth.

Encouraging the youth to assist the adults in addressing their anxieties about new technologies and other ‘dotcom’ views on life.

Background Evidence:

The capability and confidence gained by the youth to talk before mixed audiences where adults in different capacities and responsibilities sat at the same table to participate in taking lead, started as a small talk at the corner of a church hall after the main church service.
It was at this corner we started to talk on small table which was symbolic of shared values and opinions.
The youth were then introduced to the idea of the Nnaabagereka’s programme.

Then we formed a little group of willing youths who made a presentation on Youth Crime Awareness.

The crime awareness youth team started informally through engaging fellow youth on the Nnaabagereka’s effort of sensitising about politeness, courtesy, decency, good manners (‘Obuntubulamu’) in the children and households in general.

They were given the task of writing on crime, particularly knife crime, and they enunciated their views well in poems and drama activities.

The response of the people to this noble cause and the experiences from the youth has been unprecedented where they confidently express their feelings and views about inter-generational non-connect, challenges, conflicts and opportunities.

The youth feeling listened to and the adults not talking over them and the adults benefiting from realising that the kids have their views and a different sense of the world we share.


 

MANAGING THE INTERFACE:

For so long when we meet we have failed to involve the youth to partake in conversations with adults in that community.
We need to ask: ‘Why and how could we do it better, and how often?’

The way forward:
A need to facilitate the youth to occupy those spaces/seats and take on roles currently carried out by adults (a good example: involve/encourage the youth in serving tea and snacks after church services or house parties.

On the surface, the youth seem not to be interested in getting involved in community activities; but it’s partly that they have not been introduced to those tasks which would bind them to the community.

FORMAT: (Operational framework)

Every after the monthly service we could allocate 10—15 minutes of “Bridging The Gap” where a youth would choose an adult with whom he/she does not normally engage to get to ask questions of interest.

The adults can talk about basic cultural norms and ethics, e.g. being good citizen, building self-confidence, community involvement and social responsibility.

This youth-led quarter hour to be used to make presentations like questions and answers on a chosen (but edited) topic as adults share their views and experiences.
This needs to be protected time and all parents are requested to respect it and support the program.


 

COLLABORATIVE ACTION:

Presentations will be edited and audited by parents and the youth collaboratively.
The elders will have to monitor the progress of the program as well as seek the views and opinions of the youth with a listening ear and positive feedback.
The outcome assessment is about realising the IMPACT.

That is:
Are we meeting Kabaka’s call on his people to promote and protect cultural values of language, respect and integrity?
Are we consolidating the pillars of Buganda culture (norms, traditions and customs)?
Are we preserving our culture with purposefulness and passion?
The Youth Crime Awareness group is keen to share with other youth and open up that space.


 

FRAMEWORK OF ENGAGEMENT:


(Entandikway’okumanyiganan’okukolaganan’abavubuka)
1) A youth would identify an adult he/she has never spoken to in the place of worship or church hall.
2) He/she would then introduce him/herself preferably in the mother tongue as deemed appropriate
E.g. Erinnyalyangenze……………………………………………… …., Bazaddebange be ba ….Omwamin’omukyala ………..
Ate ggwessebo/nnyaboggweani? (Who are you?)

3-The youth would ask the adult any topic ranging from: -The experience of growing up in Uganda;

  • Why UK was the choice of migration?
  • How have you managed to struggle through your challenges?
  • And what are the opportunities here?
  • Do you miss Uganda? And how?
  • What would you wish me and those who were born here to contribute to our country of origin?
  • What would you tell someone born of Uganda parents about growing up in UK?

ADULTS:

  • Would aim to do most of the listening with a view of giving feedback to the leader of the youth who would then pass on the views to leaders of the community.
  • The cultural lead would then share in this learning and collaboratively work with adults and the youth to make the initiative grow, branch off, keep the seedlings for future learning and review to nurture moral, ethical and adaptable social skills as grounded in culture and God-fearing principles that place respect of humanity and love at the centre.

This is one way of building a sustainable community that has a sense of integrity, belonging and identity.
It is the stool of confidence and transparent leadership.

  • Ubuntu (Bishop Desmond Tutu & Mandela)
  • Obuntubulamu (Nnaabagereka on Buganda strength as grounded in the values of culture and good citizenship)
    - Living with and for others starts with knowing others.
    - No man is an island.
    - Everybody knows something that is important for others therefore communicating in a safe place needs to be exploited with a moral and cultural aye wide open.


QUALITY IMPROVEMENT:

First, the need to establish and re-invigorate the culture of appreciation that sits central to Buganda culture, and definitely the same with other cultures. The difference is where the wonders of God and creation can be found (variations and complexity of dynamisms) in achieving the same goals of being and doing.

We have to focus on quality improvement on how we relate and integrate as Baganda and as people who share lots in common with others from other tribes. This would be monitored through the ways in which we observe and promote the concept of interconnectedness and the wealth and power of working as a team to promote and protect the basic commonality we share amongst ourselves and other cultures.

NB:  Although reference is made on Buganda/Buganda but its inclusive (As Buganda has always been) and we as children of God can collectively benefit from this improved interface.

OKUJJUKIZA:

  1. Okusigalawo/ Obumu
  2. Obukulembeze, Obwananyini
  3. Empisa ne Nono’

Empagi zino ziyimiridde kukuma olulumi.
Ssuubi Academy lyerimu kutafali.

(Masembe Nkata)