A few weeks ago I travelled to the western part of Uganda for some work. Something which caught my attention the whole way round were sights of groups of people travelling by foot. Some groups appeared to have a leader at the front and some had someone at the front carrying a cross.
It was a cross section of people varying in age both male and female. Some appeared to be carrying babies on their backs but it turned out that was their way of carrying their luggage. Finally, it occurred to me that these were hundreds of pilgrims travelling by foot to be in Namugongo-Kampala in time for the June 3, Matryrs Day celebrations. Being an annual event, these pilgrims were travelling in good time to be at the event
I cannot begin to tell you how much this amazed me. I’m a firm believer in God but I cannot fathom if I would plan and actually set out to and travel by foot to a venue for a function. I was amazed at their level of commitment; something I have been pondering the last few weeks.
As a people, I think we Ugandans are generally hard working people. We toil hard, play hard and rest hard. What continues to perplex me though is that on the whole, this hard work has not culminated into wealth and success. You still see and hear many people crying about being very poor and impoverished.
I couldn’t help wondering albeit quietly what would happen if this same enthusiasm and commitment were translated into man hours of planning and working; I wondered whether these many people who had been planning this long pilgrimage had taken off leave days to do this journey. I wondered how many had saved for such a time as this and whether or not there was enough to ably cover them to and from this long journey.
You see looks are deceptive but many looked extremely tired and hungry. Granted they could have been fasting, but the impression I got was that these were part of the many ordinary Ugandans who like me and every Mary, Jane and Musoke are also working and looking for more money.
I still need to understand and I’m trying to see that my own children move beyond mere enthusiasm and commitment, that they translate it into work and smartly work their way upwards. I hate to think that they could fall in that same vicious cycle of going round and round and round and yet never really getting anywhere.