About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The rise of Japan

What made this country transform rapidly from a backward agrarian society into a modern industrial power
The Independent | ANDREW M. MWENDA | How did Japan, a poor and economically “backward” country rapidly transform into a modern industry power a few years after its initial contact with the West? I promised to address this question last week. Japan opened up to the outside world in 1868 during what is called the Meiji Restoration. By 1895, i.e. within 25 years, it had become one of the leading global powers alongside Russia, France, UK, Austria, Prussia and USA. In 1905, it crushed the Russian navy in a decisive battle, becoming the first non-European country ever to defeat a major European power.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Uganda’s trending fashion

How popular sentiments have undermined our journalism and blinded our intellectuals from reality

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | It has become increasingly trendy and fashionable within certain sections of social media in Uganda to denounce President Yoweri Museveni. It does not matter what arguments one makes or evidence they adduce to back up their case or the values they stand for. It is just cool to accuse Museveni of looting and destroying Uganda. Many Ugandan journalists, intellectuals and pundits seeking popular validation of their ideas, afraid to be “misunderstood”, desperate for approval, or plainly emotional and ignorant, pander to popular sentiments in complete disregard of the facts.

Monday, June 17, 2019

ANALYSIS: Inspired by Japan

Where people, values, mentalities and habits create pure harmony

THE INDEPENDENT | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In February and March of this year, I visited Japan and travelled extensively across that country’s major cities – from Tokyo to Kyoto and Hiroshima to Osaka, the commercial capital of Japan. I was intrigued and impressed by the orderliness and cleanliness of the country. Many people argue that Kampala is dirty and disorganised because it is large; with many people (1.5 million) living in it. Osaka is a city of 19 million people (counting its entire urban area) while Tokyo is 14 million people. The streets of these cities remain spotless clean.

Museveni’s state of nation speech

Why, in spite of our continued poverty, there is good reason to celebrate our gains as we plan ahead

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, President Yoweri Museveni gave his State of the Nation (SOTN) speech. He gave interesting facts about Uganda’s economy, which many of our “intellectuals” deny. Between 1986 and 2015 (when I have reliable data), Uganda’s economy grew at an annual average rate of 6.92%. Given that population growth has been 3.3% over the same period, per capita output has grown at an average annual rate of 3.62%. This is an excellent performance by both contemporary and historical standards.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Uganda’s messiah complex

Inside our overblown expectations and the religious origins of our hopes and frustrations

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In February, my mother (84) visited Germany. Driving from the airport to the city of Cologne, she was impressed by the highways, flyovers and majestic buildings of that country. My sister asked what she felt about these achievements of the German people and state. “Impressive,” my mother replied, “very impressive.” Then my sister asked how long she thought it would take Uganda to achieve such developmental results. My mum answered without any reservations: “If (President Yoweri) Museveni is given another 15 years, Uganda would surpass all this.”

Monday, June 3, 2019

Uganda and Rwanda’s slippery slope

Why the current situation between Kampala and Kigali needs to be deescalated before it leads to disaster
THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The conflict between Uganda and Rwanda is escalating and, if not arrested, will most likely lead to war. Last week, Uganda claimed that Rwandan troops had crossed into Uganda and shot two people dead. Rwanda said the incident took place on its soil. Given the circumstances, the facts do not really matter. In such tense situations, these incidents only provide propaganda value to partisans on each side to prove their side to be the aggrieved party.