Uganda told freedom of speech is essence of democracy

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H.E Stéphanie Rivoal, on stage with Daniel Omara, Pablo, Aisha Ali and Deedan. The vibrant team improvised a blitz lecture on the selected topics.

The Ambassador of France to Uganda H.E Stéphanie Rivoal has emphasized the importance of freedom of speech and rights to participate in open discussions.

Describing freedom of speech as the essence of democracy, H.E Stéphanie Rivoal said that people should have liberty to debate openly on any topic.

“Where you can debate, you can have freedom. Where you can have freedom, you can have peace, where you can have it all, you live in democracy,” remarked the Ambassador during the Opening Ceremony of the Kampala Geopolitics Conference held on Friday 26th October 2018 at Makerere University.

The conference was attended by professors, researchers, politicians, diplomats, journalists, activists and key leaders from various countries around world to engage in an interactive debate on the contemporary local and international issues.

The Kampala Geopolitics conference was organized by the Embassy of France in Uganda in partnership with Makerere University, Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Alliance Française de Kampala (AFK), UN Women and the Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (iRiS).

The two days’ conference (26th-27th October 2018) brings together professors, researchers, politicians, diplomats, journalists, activists and key leaders from various countries around world to engage in an interactive debate on the contemporary local and international issues.

Addressing dignitaries, international delegates and participants in the Makerere University Main Hall, the Ambassador called for an intensive discussion to find solutions to the challenges that affect the world at large.

“Geopolitics is all about understanding the world. Ignoring it, is short-sighted because soon enough it will catch up with you. You may want to close your eyes to climate change, but it is coming. You may want to ignore terrorism, but it is happening. You may choose to brush aside social inequalities, but they are growing,” she explained.

Using one of the famous quotes of Nelson Mandela; ‘a good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger’; the Ambassador said that only a coward or a liar will run away from a debate, fearing that the mistruth will be uncovered.

“Debate between genuine leaders will bring them closer by providing the opportunity to clear misunderstandings, build bridges between cultures, personal views and ideologies,” she said.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed dignitaries, participants and international delegates to Makerere University; the vanguard of nurturing world-class political leaders and the alma mater of revolutionary, transformative and influential alumni.

Prof. Nawangwe revealed that the shifting geopolitics of the region has significantly affected the higher education sector. Thus some of the ideas raised during the conference would inform the ongoing process of formulating the next ten-year 2020-2030 Makerere University Strategic Plan.

The Country Representative of Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung, Mr. Mathias Kamp commended the panellists and moderators for accepting to guide the debate. He also called for a peaceful and constructive engagement.

Participants were thrilled by an interactive session involving Uganda’s best comedians Daniel Omara and Pablo. Other members included Aisha Ali, the Founder of I Profile Foundation and Deedan.

The vibrant team improvised a blitz lecture on a number of issues namely: Are refugees’ beggars? Money, money, money; Minorities cost too much to society; and why black panther movie a hit; providing a platform for respective professors and experts to critically analyse the topics.

Article by Nabatte Proscovia, Mak Public Relations Office

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