Common Sense-What identity do you have as a Ugandan?

Tuesday August 30 2011

Common Sense-What identity do you have as a Ugandan?

Revellers dancing in a club. While many people do love to go out and have some fun, not as many care about issues until things like the give-away of the Mabira forest come up. PHOTO by Eddie Chicco  

By Robert Kalumba

Don’t you sometimes feel like you are constantly in a daze, lost in some maze of confusion, wondering exactly about the identity of Ugandans as a society and whether as a nation we do have a future that’s representative of who we are?

If the press reports are anything to go by, how can the gross salary of a civil servant amount to Shs500m minus all the perks like transport allowance, medical allowance etc? The whole of KCC’s salary structure right from the Executive Director and the Lord Mayor all the way down to the support staff in a month- after tax – amounts to more than Shs100b! That is more than one trillion shillings in salary for a year. Again that is minus allowances.

If this is not madness then someone please tell me what is. If your mandate was to improve the city, fight corruption and graft, does that cost you a trillion a year? If so, how about soldiers who literally risk their lives to protect all the 30 million plus Ugandans? How about the doctors and nurses responsible for the health of the nation? Shouldn’t all these people earn Shs20m a month for what they do? Or is what they do secondary to making sure that Kitante Road is swept daily?

Why don’t our leaders understand the power of perception? What perception are they sending to those they serve about themselves when they ask for a back breaking figure for salary? Why do I see Nasser Ssebagala choking with laughter? And we thought he was bad when it came to money…

You ask your Environment Minster about the availability of a sugarcane factory in Mabira forest and they get back to you with the answer as no. They do so with all the expertise and statistics to back it up. But you still go ahead with the idea. So why then did you seek advice in the first place? The church and Kabaka offer you alternative land, then the Presidential spokesperson argues that because they are settlers in the said land, the government can’t take it. Really?

How about compensating the settlers and taking over the land? The government does that all the time. How about working with those same settlers about that project? I’m sure if they know that they and their children will benefit from such a huge project, the smiles on their faces will stretch from ear to ear. How about that than giving us all this political hullabaloo?


Not just the government
You dear reader say that the government is wasting taxpayers money on jets and how broke the country is courtesy of an out of touch leadership, yet come Thursday till Sunday you are constantly in the bar getting drunk. Where is the honesty in critiquing the government’s financial behaviour if you and your friends can’t wait for Chameleone’s album launch, then look forward to Sean Kingston’s show after that? Where is the validity in the argument that, “Poverty is killing Ugandans?” If we are that poor and petrol prices are so high, how come you have never left your car at home and changed your lifestyle? How come all the bars and night spots are always full?

The singer Chameleone walks into a mosque and converts to Islam. The next day he says he was “conned” into converting. How can a grown man with children talk of being conned when it comes to religious matters? “They got me to recite a prayer that I didn’t know,” he said. What nonsense! Are you a two year old that blubbers whatever you are told?

The above is sadly what defines us. We are hypocritical, obsessed with trivialities and honestly don’t have the country at heart. We just pretend we do when it suits us. We have no sense of who we are. We are all headless chickens occupying a space called Uganda. One moment it’s Mabira, next day it’s Chameleone. One time it’s Musisi, next day it’s Besigye. Sadly it’s the nation that suffers. Don’t you then pity our children in kindergarten…what are they going to inherit?