The UNAA in 2007 - A New Direction
Apolo M. Senkeeto with family.

The UNAA in 2007 - A New Direction

The course of UNAA is changing.

By Apolo M. Senkeeto
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First published: August 28, 2007

"In 1989, a small group of 100 Ugandans living in Atlanta, Georgia, gathered together as a community to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Typical of most new immigrant communities in North America, Ugandans hoped that such a meeting would permit a sharing of their experiences in business, academia, and social settings that would subsequently generate ideas useful in determining how to survive and thrive in such a new and challenging environment"(UNAANET).

"The success of this informal social gathering led to the creation of an organization that, over the following years, evolved into the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA). UNAA was incorporated in Texas in 1993. UNAA hosts an annual convention that has drawn as many as 1,500 delegates from throughout the world"(UNAANET).

The organization recently successfully acquired its 501 (C) 3 status. UNAA has now earned the recognition of a true Not-for-Profit Organization.

Apolo M. Senkeeto with wife Nakku and family
Apolo M. Senkeeto with wife Nakku and family.

UNAA is now the largest Ugandan Organization in North America. Its social agenda of bringing Ugandans together on a regular basis for the annual convention has so far been its biggest achievement. "A common occurrence has been the following: a local chapter is kept visibly active when planning and managing a Convention, but drifts to a lull once the Convention is over. This is a problem for UNAA. UNAA has not managed to develop a sustained, UNAA run economic venture; there have been discussions regarding the establishment of a Credit Union, a Mutual Fund, a money-transfer company (similar to Western Union), a Long Distance telephone company, an Airline, and other such ventures. But all these ideas have not been conceptualized"(UNAANET, Advisory Report 2004).

With the success of the annual Conventions, and vast memberships I believe UNAA has now the capacity to achieve a lot more than it has done up to now. UNAA needs PROACTIVE leaders, leaders willing and able to negotiate or get involved with local governments (County, State, Federal), businesses, service providers, and such, on behalf of Ugandans. "Strength is always in numbers."

This Labor Day weekend, August 30th- September 3rd, 2007, UNAA will host its 19th Convention in San Francisco. Elections will be held for UNAA Board of Directors composed of 12 members headed by the President for 2007-2009. Elections have been held every two years since 1990 with Mr. David Mureeba of Texas being UNAAs first President. This coming Labor Day weekend several Ugandans will be contesting for the Presidential, Vice Presidential, Treasurer, Secretary, Youth Board Members, and Regional Board Members positions.

Apolo M. Senkeeto at the 53rd US Presidential Inauguration
Apolo M. Senkeeto at the 53rd US Presidential Inauguration.

I am currently contending as a Vice Presidential candidate.

I plan to be part of such an organization that I now see making a new transformation with the number of candidates fighting to win its leadership. The course of UNAA is changing.

For me the reality is this as my Pastor has said: "Transformation is a struggle that takes a lot of time. Transformation happens when we habitually engage in the environments that are conducive to change." If we (Ugandans) are not engaging in the environments that encourage growth - we will not grow. "You could say that in reverse. Get in the right environment; fully engage it; do that over and over... and you will make change"(Pastor Aaron Miller).

Apolo with Betty Bigombe and Former USA Ambassador to Uganda, Johnny Carson, at the 2005 Washington DC Gulu Walk
Apolo with Betty Bigombe and Former USA Ambassador to Uganda, Johnny Carson, at the 2005 Washington DC Gulu Walk(more photos).

I have chosen to engage in this environment to work alongside fellow Ugandans to move to the next level, economically and socially. In order to get to the next level UNAA first needs to be economically self-sufficient. A First step is, we need to find ways for UNAA to earn operating capital. As a non-profit organization with an executive and a large number of members this is not a difficult task. The Second step, UNAA should move towards employing full-time workers (two or three) that are dedicated to the interests of Ugandans. Currently, the majority of UNAA executives and members are volunteers. Generally, volunteers tend to care more about their own daily survival than their volunteer position.

As a non-profit organization whose primary objective is to support Ugandans in the Diaspora there are numerous ways UNAA can be useful to Ugandans in the Diaspora or Uganda. These areas include but are not limited to the environment, the arts, social issues, charities, early childhood education, health care, politics, religion, research, sports or other endeavors:

  • The Environment: research and lobby for Grants that can tackle environmental issues in Uganda.
  • The Arts: promote artists in Diaspora/Uganda.
  • Social Issues: find ways to bring all Ugandan Conventions together.
  • Charities: organize charities to support Ugandan infrastructures already in place.
  • Childhood Education: promote cultural education as well as programs like the Boys and Girls Scouts organization.
  • Health Care: find ways to help Ugandans in the Diaspora without health insurance obtain affordable insurance.

These are only some of the things we can do as Ugandans. We need a leader who can lead our people here in the US and Canada. Hence, my appeal to you, friends, to work with me, as I contend for the UNAA Vice Presidential position, and hold me accountable. Whoever is elected President of UNAA, should know that I will hold him/her accountable to the people. That is why I am running as an Independent.

Apolo M. Senkeeto
Apolo M. Senkeeto.


For God and My Country.
Apolo M. Senkeeto
UNAA Vice Presidential Candidate 2007

By Apolo M. Senkeeto
more from author >>
First published: August 28, 2007
Apolo M. Senkeeto is a 2007 UNAA Vice Presidential candidate. A resident of Frederick, Maryland, Apolo is an active member of the Ugandan Community in the United States.