The ignored ‘smaller’ things which can deepen relations between Countries.

Since the beginning of the on-going World cup in Qatar, I had not spent my time to watch any football match not because my Country Uganda is not participating but because I am not a football die-hard.

But on Sunday 27 November 2022 evening when I reached home I switched on my Television set (which currently runs only UBC channel) and found the Germany Vs Spanish game starting.  I took my sit, sat alone in my sitting room and waited for this game to start. The fact that I have not been following these games nor players, I did not even know which team was Germany nor Spanish! But later I saw Germany funs waving flags which almost resembles the Uganda flag!

Definitely I did not declare my support to Germany because of its flag colours which resembles ours (Uganda) nor because of the longstanding relationship between Uganda and Germany but I made a flashback to a recent function that was held in the Municipality of Kronshagen in Germany which I attended and witnessed a Tree that was named ‘Bushenyi Tree.’  At first I had decided to spend few minutes following the match but later I found my eyes glued on the screen up to the end of the match including the extra minutes which were added!

My support to the Germany team was just because of this single ‘Bushenyi Tree’ that stands in Kronshagen Municipality which our friends there (Kronshagen community)  planted as a sign of the longstanding friendship between the people of Germany and the people of a small community called Rukararwe in Bushenyi District, Western Uganda.

This Tree was unveiled by the Mayor of Kronshagen Municipality Igo Sander in the presence of leaders from Bushenyi/Ishaka Municipality who were led by the Mayor Richard Byaruhanga and the deputy town clerk Didas Muhanguzi.  So I trust and believe that even the Mayor Byaruhanga, Muhanguzi, the entire Bushenyi/Ishaka Municipality staff, Rukararwe community, our relatives, friends and a big percentage of Bushenyi people were supporting Germany team.

Not that we have any issue with Spanish team but the Bushenyi Tree in Germany has created such a strong bondage between the two communities Rukararwe/Bushenyi/Uganda and Kronshagen/Germany to the extent that Bushenyi/Ishaka Municipality has also named a tree; Kroshagen Municipality tree and Kroshagen road in Bushenyi town.

Many Nations have different ways, strategies and approaches towards strengthening their diplomatic relations especially through opening Embassies, signing of Peace and business agreements, deploying Ambassadors/envoys, extending different forms of support like grants, loans, donations, exchanging projects and scholarships among others.

But some of the above approaches have been found to be difficult and expensive to sustain and as a result some of the agreements have been breached, embassies closed, projects closed due to lack of the capacity to maintain them hence making the sustainability of relations between Nations difficult.

There are simple and doable things like a Bushenyi Tree on a street in Kroshagen- Germany and a Kronshagen Tree and Kroshagen road in Bushenyi town-Uganda. Yes there are so many ways how Germany and Uganda have enjoyed cordial working relations for many years now but these two trees in the two Countries mean a lot also in deepening the relationship/collaboration between the two countries.

Unlike other agreements signed by Presidents or Ministers which come with a lot of expectations and conditions, the two trees are just an initiative of the two local communities that is; the people of Rukararwe-Bushenyi and the people of Kronshagen through Kronshagen-Bushenyi (KroBu.)  Unlike an Embassy which requires operational costs, the two trees are have a lesser expense to maintain.

It’s now up to the Uganda Embassy in Germany………and Germany Embassy in Uganda to build or benchmark from such a local initiative and expand it or grow it stronger. For the case of Bushenyi Tree there can be plans of supporting Rukararwe community to travel to Germany once in a year to ‘water’ this tree and while in Kronshagen they can always do an exhibition under this tree to showcase Uganda’s endowments, culture and other opportunities. And the Germany Embassy can also plan the same. This will promote exchange visits which will lead to appreciation of each country’s culture…..among others.

Remember these two Trees are community based unlike our Embassies which are Capital City based. The two trees will remain symbols of friendship, unity and co-operation between the two communities and also act as a platform to discuss how they can address issues of development especially climate change projects which has left many countries grappling.

My call and appeal to our leaders is that lets try to adopt cheaper and sustainable means of strengthening relations between Nations which will at the same time help us to address issues of development especially global climate change.

Chris Mugasha

Journalist.

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