Uganda North American Association Past.
Back in November 1988 in a little suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, called Smyrna, two Ugandan ladies (Becky T. Matovu and Juliet T. Simbwa) initiated something which eventually blossomed into what is now the annual convention of the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA). Since Becky and Juliet had no family in this country to brag about and could not "go home for Thanksgiving turkey", they came up with a brilliant idea. What if they invited any Ugandans they knew and pretended that this was their family away from family and shared the turkey? After tossing the idea around for some time, they shared it with other Atlanta residents and everybody thought it was a neat idea.
“I believe that these objectives are best attained by partnering and actively participating in the functions and activities of local Ugandan community organizations, such as UNAA Boston, UNAA Atlanta, the Ugandan Community in Greater Chicago, Association for Ugandan Community in Northern California, and cultural groups such as Basoga Twegaite, NAMCA, the International Community of the Banyakigezi, Acholi Diaspora Association of Toronto, Ggwanga Mujje, the Luo United Communities Organization and others”. Moses Wilson......The New Vision.
A committee, consisting of the two sisters, Mr. Ssali Luwemba, Dr's. Frank and Sarah Matovu and Mr. Sam Kiggwe was set up to organize a Thanksgiving weekend party that ended up being a mini-convention with a big dinner, dancing, seminars and lots of people-to-people networking. All together, about 200 people from as far north as Chicago and as far West as Los Angeles attended. Within a short time, this came to be known as the first convention, although the name UNAA was yet to be coined.
Because the event in Atlanta had been very successful, attendees from Los Angeles volunteered to organize the 1989 Thanksgiving party. Unfortunately, the organization collapsed and nothing happened that year. Then something really special happened. The folks in Dallas decided to do it. They would host a TEX-size Thanksgiving weekend Party/Convention for 1990. They sent out several thousand invitations to every known Ugandan in USA and Canada.
The Dallas event attracted about 500 guests, including a delegation from Kampala representing the Uganda government. The Dallas festivities included a cultural evening, a whole day of seminars, tours, a banquet and a ball. This more or less became the model for all future conventions. The name "Ugandan American Community (UAC)" was adopted and a nine-member committee (with David K. Turya Mureeba as Chairman) was elected to draft a constitution. The theme of the Dallas convention/conference was "Survival in North America". The message was that we, the Ugandan/North Americans were here to stay and therefore, we better learn how to play the survival game. A resolution was passed to make this an on-going annual event and Boston and New York were selected as the 1991 and 1992 host cities, respectively.
Abu Senkayi, Ph. D.
UNAA is incorporated as a 501c3 Non-Profit organization, dedicated to developing, through the exchange of information, research and discussion, a better understanding of problems facing members. UNAA's objectives are, to encourage business relationships and interaction, to promote unity and friendship, to promote and foster social, cultural, economic and philanthropic activities while sharing the same with other groups. UNAA also addresses needs peculiar to members of the Association and engages in other lawful purposes. For more info. on the Uganda North American Association 2010 Convention click on this link ....
The 22nd Annual Uganda North American Association Convention.
UNAA Press Conference: Photo Courtesy of Hector Kanyike in Kampala. UNAA President Moses Wilson(second from right) on a recent visit to Uganda, Kampala. This meeting included members of the Business community in Kampala
As the countdown continues, Ugandans come together and work tirelessly as they balance their occupations and putting the annual event together.
Combining what has worked in the past with new ideas and technologies to try to make the convention a memorable event for everyone is a challenge that is faced by the organizers on a daily basis.
In a short period of time since Chicago 2009 Convention Uganda has gone through many traumatic events. Ugandan artists are blessed in that in this world full of hate they have managed to represent our cultures in a positive light. Through their work they have always looked upon our diversity and cultures as an asset of beauty.
2007 opening reception at the Vanishing Africa Exhibition at the Belskie Museum. Photo courtesy of Ugandan Masters Archives.
Many Ugandan artists have opened the world to African culture. But as more and more of their work goes into international collections, we see less of it being collected by people of the African diaspora and Africa in general.
The Kabaka of Buganda is an avid supporter of African art and has several pieces in his collection. Dan Sekanwagi talking to him about James Kitamirike's "Drummer". Photo courtesy of Ugandan Masters Archives.
With the advent of The Ugandan Masters Exhibition at the 2007 Ttabamiruka Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Jersey, the Uganda Masters have made big strides in educating more and more people about the importance and legacy of what they do.