Ugandans in Boston host ‘People Power’ mayor to victory bash in Waltham

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By EADM Correspondent

 

In Summary:  A red carpet was rolled in her honor. With pomp and pageantry, she majestically took the catwalk. She savored the moment. The hosts loved it. It was reciprocity for sure. No surprises.  She has opened her heart and door to Ugandans in the Diaspora from all walks of life. She has listened to them, counseled them, dined and partied with them; laughed and mourned with them. With unquestionable authenticity and unbridled enthusiasm, she has graced Ugandan events with her presence probably more than any political leader in the diaspora. She has tasted Ugandan food, donned the traditional kiganda garb ( the busuuti or gomesi), encouraged Ugandans to run for leadership positions in their local areas, and supported initiatives promoting development among the Ugandan Diaspora. Why? She loves Ugandans resident in Waltham, aka ‘Little Kampala’, a city she has served diligently for 15 years and still counting. In November, she won re-election to the delight of the Ugandan community. It was payback time, the Ugandan way with a victory bash in her honor.  To most Ugandans in Boston, Ms. Jeanette McCathy,  the re-elected Mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts, is more than just that. She is also the ‘People Power’ mayor! Can one get any more Ugandan than that?

Mayor Jeannette McCarthy at the appreciation dinner organized in her honor by the Ugandan community in Boston

Waltham, Massachusetts—Las month, the long-serving mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts Ms. Jeanette McCathy easily cruise to victory to retain her office. The Ugandan community in Waltham was ecstatic. A red carpet was rolled in her honor. She didn’t disappoint. With pomp and pageantry, she majestically took the catwalk. She savored the moment. The hosts loved it. It was reciprocity for sure. No surprises.  She has opened her heart and door to Ugandans in the Diaspora from all walks of life. She has listened to them, counseled them, dined and partied with them; laughed and mourned with them.

Mayor McCarthy displays the plaque she received from the Ugandan community in Boston

With unquestionable authenticity and unbridled enthusiasm, she has graced Ugandan events with her presence probably more than any political leader in the diaspora. She has tasted Ugandan food, donned the traditional kiganda garb ( the busuuti or gomesi), encouraged Ugandans to run for leadership positions in their local areas, and supported initiatives promoting development among the Ugandan Diaspora. Why? She loves Ugandans resident in Waltham, aka ‘Little Kampala’, a city she has served diligently for 15 years and still counting.

The message on the cake summarized the theme of the dinner

After winning re-election in November the Ugandan community felt indebted to demonstrate their love, appreciation, and support to ‘their own’.  It was payback time, the Ugandan way. A victory bash in her honor was promptly organized.  To most Ugandans residents in Waltham and the greater Boston area, Ms. Jeanette McCathy,  the re-elected Mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts, is more than just that. She is also the ‘People Power’ mayor! Can one get any more Ugandan than that?

Among the gifts she received was a beret from the People Power representative

By all accounts, Waltham is home to the largest number of Ugandans than anywhere in the diaspora. Little wonder therefore that Waltham is fondly referred to as ‘little Kampala’ within and among the large Ugandan Diaspora community and other residents of the city. It’s also a hub of various businesses and activities operated by Ugandans in the area.

Mayor McCarthy shares the dance floor with Pastor Samuel Mutyaba and Captain Jeffrey Rodley

It’s because of the strong bond mayor Jeanette McCarthy has built with the Ugandan community in the greater Boston area that they organized the dinner to appreciate her support to the community and to congratulate her on her re-election as Mayor of Waltham. The victory party, organized by the community leaders and held at the French-American club in Waltham recently, was a historic evening in its own right. Filled with pomp, dining, wining, music, dancing, fanfare, and memorable selfies, it was well worth the minimum of $30 merrymakers paid to relish the moment. 

Mayor McCarthy goes ‘paka chini’ with one of the revellers

Compounding the grandeur, all speeches delivered on that chilly Saturday evening showered praises on mayor McCarthy who was described by many as the Ugandan Mayor. She almost came to tears as different speakers not only expressed their gratitude to her for the service to the city but also presented to her an assortment of gifts. Among the gifts she received included a plaque, a Gomesi (busuuti) with a  sash, and, you guessed it,  a red Beret from the People Power movement!

Captain Jeffrey Rodley of Waltham Police addressing the gathering

The city of Waltham is the nerve center of the majority of businesses, institutions, and residences owned by Ugandans in the state of Massachusetts. These include stores, offices, salons, barbershops, night clubs, places of worship, and car shops/garages. Of all the businesses, the Pearl of Africa store runs away with the bragging rights of being the pioneer Ugandan business in Waltham.  The store was founded and opened by the late Hajjati Safina Mbaziira in the 1990s. Pearl stores deals in, among a variety of items, Ugandan products ranging from clothing, foodstuffs, crafts, jewelry, spices, and the famed Mulondo, a Ugandan herbal ‘viagra’,  a root used for male sexual enhancement. Currently operated by the deceased’s son, Ismail Rajab, the store stands out as a one-stop center for all goods from Uganda.

Another iconic Ugandan Diaspora-operated business in Waltham is the Karibu Restaurant which serves predominantly Ugandan dishes. It’s a meeting place for people from all corners of the world salivating to taste Ugandan traditional foods. Club Rendezvous also runs a restaurant for both Ugandan and a variety of fast foods. There are also churches, mosques, online Radio and TV stations, Homecare and Taxi businesses. The city is also home to the largest Ugandan Roman Catholic community whose  700-strong congregation church home is St. Mary’s parish.

One common denominator that draws a large number of the Ugandan Diaspora community to operate businesses in Waltham is because of the high level of tolerance, security, and friendly environment, part of which is attributed to Mayor McCarthy’s wise leadership.

Politically, Waltham has also not left members of the Ugandan Diaspora community behind either. The city is the first in the United States of America to have elected a Ugandan to a political office. Ugandan-born Ms. Sherline Nabulime was elected in 2018 to represent her multi-cultural community on the Waltham local council. Running into people speaking Luganda on the streets or supermarkets in Waltham is not an uncommon occurrence. Oftentimes, one would think they are in downtown Kampala.

Speaking at the well-attended dinner,  Mayor McCarthy said she was humbled by the gesture of appreciation extended to her by the Ugandan community. “I fell in love with the Ugandan community because you are hard-working, law-abiding and because you hold strong family values,” the visibly enthused mayor told the diners. Mayor McCarthy said it is her wish to see Uganda return to democratic rule and have a peaceful transfer of power.

Recently, the mayor raffled feathers of the regime in Kampala when she met the member of parliament for Kyadondo East Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi and openly voiced her support for the legislator’s bid for the presidency of Uganda during the forthcoming 2021 election. The mayor and Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, appeared and jointly addressed a Town Hall meeting in  Waltham where she endorsed Mr. Kyagulanyi’s candidacy and pledged total support to the leader of the People Power movement.

Mayor McCarthy addressing members of the Ugandan community in Boston

Mr. James Bakiika, one of the proprietors of Club Rendez Vous, said the number of Ugandans living in Waltham has exponentially increased. Bakiika told the mayor and the revelers that since the first Ugandan family settled in Waltham in the 1980s, the number of Ugandans has not only grown but the demographics of the Ugandan community have also changed. Today, there are tens of thousands of Ugandans cutting across cultural, generational, gender, and other backgrounds living in Waltham and other cities in the greater Boston area and Massachusetts in general.

Most Ugandans in Waltham describe Mayor McCarthy as a down to earth person. She mixes and mingles with Ugandans freely. All the speakers at the dinner shared their different experiences with Mayor McCarthy and all of them saluted the gregarious and multiculturalist leader for her inspiring and positive attitude towards the Diaspora communities. 

Mayor McCarthy greeting Ugandan religious leaders in Boston

Mr. Geoffrey Simple Nsereko, one of the event organizers and a co-director of Radio Uganda Boston told the revelers that during the annual Summer Splash, Mayor McCarthy is always the first one to appear at the Waltham square where the events take place. “She usually hangs around, interacting with the merry-makers of all kind until the end of the event,” Mr. Simple Nsereko disclosed, adding, “She even helps to clean up the place and practically picks up trash that is often littered around.”

Mayor McCarthy with Geoffry Nsereko Simple of Radio Uganda Boston

For Pastor Sam Mutyaba of New Life  Church in Waltham, the mayor is a true reflection of a selfless leader. Pastor Mutyaba said that his first interaction with the Mayor was when his church invited her to preside as Chief Guest at one of their previous Father’s Day celebrations. “She missed her family’s gathering and came to spend the whole day with the Ugandan community at our church,” Pastor Mutyaba said.

Mayor McCarthy with Captain Jeffrey in a group picture with the organizers

As many more people shared their experiences with the Mayor, there was no doubt she had won the hearts of many a Ugandan living and working in Waltham. The dinner was attended, among others,  by Captain Jeffrey Rodley the Patrol division commander of Waltham police. Captain Rodley encouraged Ugandans to join the Waltham police department so they can fully participate in serving their community.

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