Inspired by the apparent turmoil happening all over the world; from Brexit in the United Kington, the resurgency of radical convervative forces in Europe, and the emergence of Mr. Trump to the helm of the most powerful country on earth; from the ouster of Omar Bashir in Sudan and of the governer in Puerto Rico, to the growing popularity of the slogan/movement People Power in Uganda and elsewhere, ISF’s Talk Africa Radio has settled on a series Entitled “Good Governance and Development“. These will be on our online radio and should extend until this vast topic is exhausted, if that it even possible! Go here to learn more.
On December 15th, in partnership with the Lonergan Institute, ISF once again brought together a great panel of bright minds in a forum that served as a platform that built upon the previous year’s theme – Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), Spirit, and African Culture“. The 2018 theme was “ICT and Good Governance: Networking and Communicating Beyond Social Media“, dedicated more time to ICT and Social Media because of the duo’s increasing impact on most human transactions, decisions and actions.
The We Learn Spelling bee was intended to initiate our children into competitive education with building confidence and intellectual aptitude as end targets.
We always ask our parents to chip in whatever they can. That means we rely more on donor generosity; donors like you. Click here to donate to ISF We Learn Spelling Bee.
Eligibility of Contestants
This competition is designed for students in grades 1 – 8 but bring even younger achievers for they too shall be accommodated in a special way. Students must compete on the grade level in which they are enrolled in school.
Resources: Word Lists
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All participants will receive a participation certificate.
A trophy will be awarded to the participant who places first.
Scholarships shall be awarded to those who place second and third.
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In an era of WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and You Tube, many experts have written off radio as a viable medium of educating, informing and entertainment. We believe this is an erroneous assumption and we are determined to prove that their insight is rather biased, lacking. In a way, for us, this is a return to the roots. Last year’s in-depth look at social media is part of the larger effort to see how we can harness ICT to educate more Africans. As has been the case for the last three years, the attendance, first on November 25th, then on December 15th, was FREE! And the venue is still at Boston College, sponsored by the Boston College Lonergan Institute and The Intercontinental Science Foundation.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago was the honored main speaker at the ICT and Good Governance Annual Conference. This was a Conference for selected leaders and academicians and it attracted extraordinary submissions from; Prof. Aloysious Lugira, Dr. David Nyanzi, Dr. Festo Lugolobi, Dr. Michael Kisembo, Mathias Ssekanjako, Damali Sserabira and the President of the Africans in Boston (AiB) Mr. Voury Ignegongba from Chad. AiB offers socioeconomic and educational development to its members by offering a platform that connects Africans in diaspora and the state of Massachusetts; purposely to bridge the gap between Africans and the World.
In his speech, the Lord Mayor expressed concern about the African leaders entrenching personal rule through maneuvers to tinker with the constitutions in their land. He noted that Uganda is at cross roads as a country by sharing his practical experience ever since 1999 when he was chosen by Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and a team of other lawyers to pursue public interest litigation cases.
He said it amuses him to see that Ibrahim Mo’s monetary award to leaders who retire voluntarily from office has remained redundant and this explains the crisis of greedy African leaders. He agreed that Uganda needs a national conversation to get out of the current gridlock but who should constitute the same raises questions about its feasibility and whether its tenable? He said IPOD would have been a good platform but it is narrow and the regime has reduced it to the DGF monetary attachment whereas NCF which is premised in the constitution is unpopular yet its a statutory body.
Lukwago commended the Waltham team for actions expressing the deteriorating security and political situation in Uganda and called for reciprocity in the struggle by everyone feeling a clarion call to get a solution for our nation, lest posterity will never exonerate anyone.
About the new political dynamics in the country and whether they are offering opportunity for genuine alliance, he asked all democracy seeking forces or forces of change to define what they want from the onset. Should it be a coalition, merger, electoral alliance or movement/crusade? He concluded that he will be waiting for the contribution of the diaspora pursuant to the same. His submissions attracted a standing ovation from an excited audience.
Africans In Boston (AiB) President Voury was among those who participated as a presenter at the “Information and Communications Technology and Good Governance in Africa: Communicating and Networking Beyond Social Media” conference at Boston College. At the event, Mr. Ignegongba introduced Africans in Boston to the attendees; he highlighted its initiatives, objectives, methods and impact, and once again strongly called upon the diaspora to unite. The conference was attended by a full house, over 80 members of the Boston Community including the honored guest and Lord Mayor of the City of Kampala, Mr. Erias Lukwago who was also the main speaker.
The Intercontinental Science Foundation Inc. (ISF) and the Lonergan Institute at Boston College jointly sponsored the annual conference. Herbert Kibuuka, director of the Intercontinental Science Foundation, welcomed the attendees and gave the opening remarks.
The conference covered an overview of information and communications technology interact with governance in Africa. The presenters took a critical look at how Africans can best network and communicate with and beyond social media. The following are the spectrum of featured topics and the respective presenters:
1.The Rule of Law in Context of Reconciliation, by Prof. Aloysius Lugira
2.Communication & Networking as tools for Governance, by Dr. David Nnyanzi
3.Good Governance and Democracy, by Dr. Michael Kisembo
4.Grassroots Action: Challenges & Opportunities, by Ms. Damali O Sserabira
5.Managing Social Media: News vs Fake News, by Mr. Mathias O Ssekanjako
6.IT and Decision Making, by Dr. Festo Lugolobi
7.Africans in Boston, by Mr. Voury Ignegongba
8.The Role of the Diaspora in the Social Economic Transformation of the City of Kampala Mr. Erias Lukwago Lord Mayor
a) History of Uganda’s Political Independence. The key players in Uganda’s Leadership history and the outline of the still open wounds caused to the Rule of Law in Uganda
b) Good Governance and the major characteristics of Good Governance
c) Difficulty in communication and interpreting the message in todays society
d) Impact on International donations – Encourage training societies to understand productivity
e) Managing Social Media: News vs Fake News
f) Developing a “GPS”- Developing countries need to invest in an information system to begin to collect data that gives them knowledge
A group of current and former international African students and faculty who have graduated from various universities in the United States, and more especially Boston College founded the Intercontinental Science Foundation Inc. in 2008. ISF is a nonprofit organization based in Massachusetts that “seeks to better communities both locally and internationally through knowledge application”. They “enable participants to initiate, develop, incubate, and eventually use and share original ideas in all fields of learning.”
The conference had all the major ingredients on said subject matter, expertise, business networking, and a story fresh from the Mayor of Kampala and his political viewpoint. It was a great success, a highly recommendable event for all Africans in the diaspora.
Herbert Kibuuka formally opened and presented on the ‘role of nonprofits in society’ as a whole. First he commended those present and pointed out the fact that they were the vanguard of what is in a few years to become a great wave of leadership from below. He made the case that government if ever it was, has neglected its role and duty to safeguard the wellness of Africa’s citizens. Using the commonly known understanding of nonprofit organizations, he pointed out the relevance of these institutions and the volunteers who staff them and commended all those who have taken up this slack left by the governments. Mr. Kibuuka stated that after their failure of to bring about social development, governments have instead become a liability. He pointed out that to succeed, nonprofit leaders have to be passionate, they have to work hard, be disciplined and only then will they see success.
He added that theirs is not simply a litany of gives. He pointed out that volunteers get something out of their engagement as well. Also he stated that the onus is not all on them. Citing examples, he pointed out that the people of Africa are non-only onlookers but rather partners in action; all it needs to do is to mobilize and lead them.
The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Michael Kisembo. Dr. Kisembo was a perfect fit as keynote speaker given his vast personal as well as professional experience working with and for nonprofit organizations for over a period of 16 years. “Studies show that billions of dollars being poured into Africa are actually hurting and not helping Africa”, maintained Mr. Kisembo. First he defined a nonprofit organization as “an independent voluntary association of people acting together on a continuous basis for some common purpose other than achieving government office, making money or profit or illegal activities. This makes such entity a social benefit organization focusing on its very mission of providing needed benefits to the target group for which it was formed.
He traced nonprofits back to the 17th Century (1839-anti-slavery movement) to the present day. Following the failure of the managing government after independence and in the wake of the fall of communism, free market forces spread all over the world and the phrase “structural adjustment” materialized. As globalization took the upper hand during the 20th it became evident that governments and international organizations like WTO which were increasingly operating and centered on interests capitalistic enterprises could not solve many problems within a nation especially in Africa with poor infrastructure, poor relevant education, poverty, corruption, infant or lack of democracy and what have you. In an attempt to counterbalance this trend, NGOs have developed to emphasize humanitarian issues, developmental aid and sustainable development culminating in the creation of the World Social Forum , rivaling the World Economic Forum ”, he quotes, adding, that by 2009 the number of internationally operating NGOs was estimated at 40,000.
Thus while in the west NPO’s substituted for the unfair market, in Africa they substituted for the inept governments especially the latter having been dismembered when they were forced to sell off, or more accurately, to give away almost all parastatals in the name of the markets. However, Mr. Kisembo pointed out, culturally in spirit of BUNTU (for those whose ancestors are Bantu) citizens were expected as a norm to help the neighbor in need or to volunteer to community or village common good or activity without expecting any reward. A child belonged to the whole village to nurture. Immigrants were usually supported with food till the next harvest. Religiously it was ones duty to help anyone in need without expecting any material reward from the assisted. Hence it was good to give than to get.
“It goes without saying that, whether it is cultural, religious, secular, domestic or international, NGO/NPO have and still play very significant roles to fill the gap our largely undemocratic, uncaring , insensitive and corrupt African governments can’t, but there are still a room of improvement”, he stated. Having classified NPO’s as operational, campaigning & advocacy and a combination of the two above, Mr. Kisembo cited a few key advantages of nonprofit organizations. He cited their ability to experiment freely with innovative approaches and, if necessary, to take risks; the fact that they are flexible in adapting to local situations and responding to local needs and therefore able to develop integrated projects, as well as sectorial projects; that they enjoy good rapport with people and can render micro-assistance to very poor people as they can identify those who are most in need and tailor assistance to their needs; their ability to communicate at all levels, from the neighborhood to the top levels of government and finally the fact that they are able to recruit both experts and highly motivated staff with fewer restrictions than the government.
He was critical as well and cited the following mal practices:
1. Paternalistic attitudes restrict the degree of participation in program/project design.
2. Restricted/constrained ways of approach to a problem or area.
3. Reduced/less replicability of an idea, due to non-representativeness of the project or selected area, relatively small project coverage, dependence on outside financial resources, etc.
4. “Territorial possessiveness” of an area or project reduces cooperation between agencies, seen as threatening or competitive.
5. Top-down models of development minimize the role of local knowledge and ownership to submit or conform to international norms and expectations. The international NPO want to change the world without understanding it, and that the imperial relationship continues today with the rise of mega NGOs/NPOs.
6. Dependency on external assistance decreases the pressure for local and national governments to provide for their citizens.
To counter the above, Mr. Kisembo cited, among others, the following best Practices:
1. Before you start an organization have a clear vision and a concise written charitable purpose, precisely describing the mission with a definitive long-term goals, objectives, short-term tactics and a road map how get there.
2. Make sure you file your annual report and tax returns as prescribed by law in your country of domicile within three (3) months of the end of your organization’s fiscal year.
3. Recruit local staff as many as you can to keep and maintain local identity.
4. Maintain good healthy public relations with the public to meet their goals and aim at achieving sustainability at a certain time as per your strategic plan which you must have at all cost.
Mr. Kisembo ended by restating the fact that Non-Profit activities and Volunteerism is part and partial of African culture. “It has played significant role in the past and shall continue to play that role and especially during this period of rapid growth and transformation to the western civilization based: on everybody for himself and God for us all. We need to ingrain our values to this western so called civilization. It is true that we cannot run away from the racing train from the west, but we certainly can slow it and embark on it with our values. We need to stand firm and articulate our interests and value to the driver of that bus. We should not enter it blindly otherwise we shall not know whether we have reached our bus stop to disembark and return to our lovely homes”, he stated.
A very lively discourse followed this rich presentation. Though not specifically unstated, the general feeling was that the quality of nonprofit activity has not been equal to its quantity in dollars. In agreement with Mr. Kisembo, the general call was for nonprofit leaders not graft ideas onto the people but rather that nonprofits grow from the people themselves.
Another portion of the conversation spotlighted the on the general lack of good governance from African Governments, enormously hampering nonprofit development for the African peoples; in some cases, hefty beneficiaries of billions of monies meant for aid.
Resolutions: What should be done?
Joining the Cheetah Club
It would be a mistake if we left the occasion without any resolution. In this case, we decided all of us present to join the cheetah club. Play video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnepHUYFqgg
Based on Professor Ayittey’s book “Africa Unleashed”, Cheetah’s are a new breed of Africans with a mission to reawaken African ‘can do’ spirit and belief in self. Fighting colonialism is no longer the obsession of the Cheetah’s. Leaving that to the older generation (the Hippo’s), cheetah’s value transparency, accountability, human Rights, good governance and personal responsibility in the informal and traditional sectors.
A question was asked whether Africa should increase nonprofit activity or solely go through the markets.
A survey was conducted among the event’s participants and found that more than 50% of the participants were against nonprofit aid in Africa but in favor of a spur in volunteerism on the continent.
Some members were solely for capitalism but a general consensus was that we should enhance all aspects of human activity, both private as well as public.
Since billions of dollars in aid for Africa serves as a hindering factor here; solicitous use of foreign aid was affirmed as one of the key resolutions. Other predominant key resolutions towards empowering the African people were education & agriculture – through the traditional and informal sectors.
A balanced-approached aid through nonprofits coupled with good governance and emphasis on encouraging individual volunteerism and responsibility was found to be the way forward for Africa. As rich and as fruitful the presentation and exchange sessions were; the networking aspect of the event was phenomenal.
ISF and the BC African Alumni Chapter made it a point to bring African nonprofit leaders to come together and address the common good they all have a passion for while networking amongst each other, forging long lasting efficacious relationships. Such an event, held in a corporate like environment, with light refreshments and good candor, was truly a delight and good thing to behold, and of course just the beginning of a ‘Cheetah Generation’ of Africans for Africa.
Cheetah’s maintain that Africans had a market, had democratic institutions and had communications, security and healthy systems in place. They believe that Africans should not choose to be capitalists or socialists but simply be Africans. Africans who were each other’s keeper; who never trashed so the garbage company would clean; who dredged wells without demanding compensation and left food in the garden for those less fortunate to pick without feeling the shame.
Let’s perhaps end with an illustration Mathias Ssekanjako gave us of his grandfather who used to carry a hoe on his bicycle to fill up potholes in his neighborhood. He expected no reimbursement or any form of payment. He was simply being a good citizen. He was being African. Who is a real African? Well, we know it is not only one whose legal status is African. The answer is indeed, like truth, negotiable and we do not pretend to know who an African is. What we know, we have a notion of who a true African should and are glad to work toward that ideal. We shall have many questions along the way and sometimes we shall take long without having any answers. That is okay with us for we believe as knowers, we shall never be contented with the few answers we have many of which actually become absolete as history moves along. Thus the search for the truth continues.
In that spirit, we invited our participants to come to our annual conference at Boston College on November 12 to experience yet another aspect of ISF, Inc activity as we strive to achieve our mission to produce, apply and share knowledge through insight, innovation and ingenuity.]]>
At ISF we believe that every community’s greatest investment should be in its human resources. We promote this common good by facilitating and applying research that leads to innovative original ideas through activities that publicize insightful competition and motivation. As a catalyst we challenge all people, especially those gifted but not exposed to transformational outlets, to have a conduit for their insights. Our latest addition to our programs is Talk Africa Radio. TARNET radio, which went online 20th August 2016, was inaugurated in our 2016 annual conference, and is already educating, informing and entertaining our visitors.
The motto, “No insight without understanding” is aimed at encouraging and promoting action oriented, unbiased discourse, application and sharing of the results thereof. The end is to create a community of active critical inquirers whose work enables them to create opportunities for further insights that lead to innovation and to higher view points,indeed to development