By Denis Wabuyi
“To be African is to be an underdog in the world, to be a Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa………”
This assertion is very close to the truth but the question I ask myself everyday is; “who got us in this mess?”
We have read various comparative theories putting Uganda at the same economic and political level as some of the South East Asia giants just half century ago.
In those 50 years countries like South Korea have built giant economies, reputable political systems, perfect education system to mention but a few.
In comparison, Uganda has only and consistently been increasing in the number of inhabitants as reflected in the population census of 2014.
On the issue of population we are competing favorably well and may even overtake countries like South Korea, and Thailand in a few decades.
But of course this can be achieved by anyone and in fact their relatively planned population increase is part of what makes them tick and we not.
Over the weekend I got chance to move around some struggling families in my village and I have 3 case studies.
A family we have supported for 2 years has now grown their assets from zero to 4 chicken and 8 goats (unfortunately one of the goats has been killed by bees). To the village standards, one can say this family can now walk on their own.
However the mother told us they still can’t afford 2 reasonable meals a day. They therefore eat their lunch at 3 then take tea for supper. As we were leaving I asked her what she wishes for us to help her with and this was her answer, “since we are on the roadside, I request that you buy me 2 bags of cement so that I can plaster my house”.
“Okay we shall see whether we can do that”
We then went to another family. This one was doing fairly well but we asked them why they hired land and left the piece we bought for them unused. Answer; “This piece of land is small and we wanted to plant on a bigger chunk to maximize returns”
It seems to me that there is a hunger looming over this area of ours though.
Then we went to another interesting one. They sold 2 rabbits and bought a male dog. Because they can’t feed it, the dog is malnourished and terribly sick. The children were not better, they kept beating the poor dog and had inflicted a number of injuries upon it.
Now you may say that is at a local household level but we know that there are youth who borrow to make lavish weddings, buy a fuel guzzling vehicle or rent an expensive apartment thereby taking investment as the opportunity cost.
Amidst all this critic, have our governments been any better?
Answer: It depends on your political affiliation.
Whereas a staunch government supporter will passionately defend that it is right to have good roads leading to hospitals with no medicine and unpaid doctors, the one in the opposition will argue that there should be balanced allocation of resources to all sectors.
Well, the one in opposition will say that as long as it doesn’t hinder them from acquiring big luxuries on the tax payers’ bill. We saw the FDC legislators tear themselves to pieces over the vehicle money and Cecilia Ogwal spend billions of our taxes seeking votes for Dr. Specioza Kazibwe who has/had no record to run on.
Back to our economy and the 3 households, Uganda to me seems to be copying a leaf from the 3 families or the families are copying from government if at all it is not contagious to have a skewed mind that thinks in the box.
When you ask why Africa is an underdog in the world, Uganda in Africa and even East Africa, it reminds me of some piece of the writing I read somewhere that: WHEN WE REACHED CROSSROADS, WE TOOK THE WRONG TURN. ⤵
The writer is an accountant, researcher and has no political affiliation. He writes the X-Files from the village weekly for Thursday. You can find some of his work on The Insider and by using Google on his name.