Saturday, November 29, 2014

Must We Greet Everybody?

I was a delegate at a conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo recently, a conference that was opened up by President Museveni. Touching briefly on a comment he made about the Chinese, this is what he said: “The Chinese have small eyes because where they live is so cold, that their eyes are always half closed.” Hmm!

At the same conference, there were a number of delegates from abroad, including a US senator. And seeing it was a conference that had weight, everybody who rose to speak had the same opening gambit - the need to introduce everybody. This was First Speaker

“Your Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Mrs. Janet Museveni who is the patron of the association, Mrs. Maria Mtagamba, the honourable minister of Wildlife Tourism and Antiquities, the senator from New York, the delegates from America, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, North America, our partners at Brussels airlines, Speke Resort Munyonyo, the government of Uganda…” The list went on. At one point there was a danger that Speaker was going to mention everybody in the hall for this intro went on for 4:17 minutes. I know because I was timing.

Seeing that First Speaker had established and recognized everybody who was important, when Second Speaker took to the podium, this is what he said:

With a variation here and there, he said: “Your Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Mrs. Janet Museveni who is the patron of the association, Mrs. Maria Mtagamba, the honourable minister of Wildlife Tourism and Antiquities, the senator from New York, the delegates from America, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, North America, Speke Resort Munyonyo, all protocol observed…” It took him a little over 5 minutes to get through the ramble.

Third speaker clocked just over four minutes as did the fourth.

If the greetings were not impressive enough, all speakers felt that they had to end their spiel with a lengthy thank you note. This was First Speaker.

“I would like to thank his Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda for agreeing to come and open this conference, the minister of tourism and wildlife, Brussels airlines (where are you? Could you please stand up for recognition) Mrs. Olivia Kigongo, from Uganda Chamber of Commerce (please stand up) Pastor…….. (please stand up).”

Time spent? 3:20 minutes. I know because my stopwatch was running.

Second Speaker also felt it necessary to spend 2:42 minutes saying: “I would like to that his Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Speke Resort Munyonyo, the minister of tourism and wildlife, Uganda Tourist Board…..” And so on it went with the third and fourth speakers.

But, do we really need to greet everybody at a conference or ask them to stand up for recognition just because we perceive them as being important? And how do we define who is important and who is not?

At a  recent wedding reception, MC, after a lengthy introduction, he felt he would be doing the guests a great disservice if he did not greet, introduce and ask his wife to stand up for recognition. Why would he do that?

Getting back to the conference, I voiced my concerns about my not being introduced and not being asked to stand up for recognition. Even Miss Tourism 2014 and her two runners up were not introduced. What about Moses Zikusoka, who is a prominent Musoga? And Belinda Sebunya, who is almost the face of Brussels Airlines? What about the sound engineers at Speke Resort Munyonyo for without their technical know-how, nobody at the conference would have heard the intro speeches, the thank you’s, as well as M7s Chinese quip?