- Hello. Can we meet you?
Hello, my name is Shubrah Kasozi Naiga, a female, Ugandan, aged 22. What defines me to the core is the fact that I am a born again Christian, and for me, each day is a chance to experience Christ in a deeper manner. I am a student of law at Uganda Christian University, former president of the Debate Union, and currently the president of the Rule of Law National Youth Council. I am a daughter to the wonderful Rehma Nakiberu and Mr. Kasozi Mubarak, a sister and a friend. I am also an author, having written and published the first and second edition of The Art of Debate. I am a debate coach and a judge at debate competitions at the high school and university levels. I am also an entrepreneur, the CEO of the Corporate Hanger, where we dress the corporate lady and gentleman.
- One of the first things that stand out about your personality is that you’re a published author. When and why did you write the book The Art of Debate?
I wrote the first edition of The Art of Debate during my Senior 6 vacation. At that time, I was 18 years old. I wrote the book because I love to teach and share knowledge. 2016 was the perfect time because I was done with High School and had won multiple awards as a debater for the six years I attended Mengo Senior School. I wrote my second Edition of the Art of Debate while at university, and it is now selling at all Aristok outlets in the country as well as Amazon Kindle.
- You seem to have had significant experience with public speaking. How did it start for you? What are your most memorable moments as a public speaker?
I started engaging in public speaking at a young age, about nine years old, and I just kept growing and improving at it. At nine years, I was in primary school, and that is when I gave my very first speech at a school speech day. I continued on the same path, debated in school competitions. But the defining time for me was when I joined Mengo Senior School, that is when I joined the Debate club. I dared myself to compete and verse different people at different levels. The most memorable moments for me as a debater are those times I argued for concepts I initially did not believe them but had to defend them with a passion!. While it was a challenge, it taught me to listen to both sides of a given story. The times I shivered while holding the microphone will never part with me either; I treasure them because they were formative stages of a bigger story.
- During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, you played a huge role in orientation. How would you rate the management of the pandemic in Africa, putting into perspective human rights and other legal issues that are incidental to the period?
The pandemic surely sent shock waves into most of Africa. We did not see it coming, and for this very reason, all procedures taken were responsive& reactionary as opposed to preventive. This shook human rights to the core because the passed guidelines went ahead to limit the enjoyment of a couple of rights: for example, the right to movement, the right to education, among others. While such infringements were only incidentally and reasonably justifiable in a free and democratic society, some were not. For example, in my country, we witnessed enforcement officers torturing people; women were caned by police officers and military for simply moving around, selling food items. The officers were so ruthless while at it! People lost their jobs, and the right to life and livelihood was also threatened. Girls who were sent back home from school were exposed to violence in their homes, child abuse; many were raped, while others were defiled. Many atrocities were committed, and regrettably, they were not handled well. This is why I created a campaign called Students Against Covid, which agitated for observation of Human Rights, ran an awareness project where we cautioned people to take care and follow guidelines. The campaign was also philanthropic in nature as we collected donations that we used to distribute food to the vulnerable. We also ran a menstrual hygiene campaign for women in the markets while giving them quality sanitary towels. We also offered a hand to a sexually molested, vulnerable girl who came to Kampala before the lockdown and got stuck, not knowing her way home. She was defiled by a stranger who left her sleeping on the streets and transmitted an STD to her. We had a case of a young mother who was imprisoned, along with her son, for sleeping on the streets of Kampala, yet she was initially homeless. All these situations go to show that there was gross Human Rights infringement that continues to date. It is worth noting that these challenges are not just in Uganda. Having joined hands with youth in Tanzania, Ghana, and Nigeria, and the US, I can surely conclude that many of these issues were universal.
- What do you do as President of the National Rule of Law Youth Council? What’s your perception of the respect for the rule of law among African leaders?
As the president of the National Rule of Law youth Council, I lead a team of very passionate and focused young lawyers in Uganda, constituted in Rule of Law Clubs in universities and Highschools. Together, we create clubs in institutions across the country; we teach young people about the Rule of Law and give them written materials that explain the concept. We encourage them to observe human rights, transparency, among other facets of the Rule of Law, with the guidance and patronage of the Uganda Law Society. We also organise yearly inter-university Rule of Law debates that attract all university students across the country, who compete in motions and topics designed in a manner that encourages research and reasoning across the lines of the Rule of Law.
In my opinion, African leaders, while many of them preach the gospel of democracy as they come into power, power clouds their judgement the minute they enjoy one or two terms of office. The struggle ceases to be one of adherence to the Rule of Law, but rather, they introduce the Rule by Law. Their intention is to be in power for years longer than is necessary and prescribed by law. This is where things go wrong.
- Africa is going through tough moments in its history. Nigerians are protesting against police brutality and bad governance; young children are being exploited in Congo; there’s an Anglophone crisis in Cameroon; and the vast majority of African nations are suffering from massive levels of poverty, autocracy, and resource exploitation. What do you think should be the role of international institutions in these situations?
I submit that the role of international institutions, in this case, should be to investigate the source of the problem and not treat signs and symptoms instead. African countries have only been moving from good to bad to worse over the years, and in my opinion, this is because they have abandoned many African sustainable ways. Ubuntu has always and should always define Africans. Institutions should preach the gospel of Ubuntu, love, and oneness among Africans; this way, an African will not find it right to pounce on another just because they are of a different nationality. Secondly, poverty in Africa cannot be alleviated if the only increasing tendencies of corruption are not dealt with. Only a few Africans in power enjoy African resources along with their families while the rest are left to succumb to hunger and starvation, and this is not right. The laws against corruption should be more stringent, and the penalty equally stricter.
- What areas of law do you wish to practice in the nearest future. How are your current activities preparing you for what lies ahead?
I hope to be a very resourceful commercial lawyer with a wealth of knowledge in intellectual property and Cyber Law. These are areas that intrigue me a lot because, as a global village, they are apart of us, and they only keep evolving. Being a year 4 student now, I chose the two areas as my electives in order to understand them more. That aside, however, I have a calling in Human Rights, something I cannot divorce from my journey as a person, and this is why I have Human Rights as an elective. The activities I engage I now prepare me to be a hands-on advocate, knowledgeable as well.
- Outside law, what catches your fancy? If you had another chance at life, what would you do differently?
Outside law, music catches my fancy. Though I do not sing, I love listening to gospel music and instrumentals. My favourite Ugandan gospel music is that of Dreign. Outside Uganda, I love Hillsong, Maverick City, Sinach, and Pompi. If I had another chance at life, I would have started out with love. I have learnt, with experience, that while everything else can cease, love should not.
- What are your final words to African youths who are currently demanding better living conditions in their countries?
To the youth, my final words are that I am proud of you for standing up against oppressors. However, while at it, I humbly pray that you do not lose your lives. Keep alive; only then will you be able to take on the mantle.