How countries’ populations are becoming roots of instability

Author: Karoli Ssemogerere. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • How do you address abortion, for instance, in countries which are staring down the demographic cliff, rapidly aging populations yet little interest in more childbearing like China where the one-child policy vastly under-estimated its effects? 

I am on downtime. I did attend two of the Easter Masses, Palm Sunday, with the Passion of the Christ, and Easter Sunday in two remarkably different churches. One a city church, one-time probably Irish or Italian or Irish-Italian, in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York where big industries of the petrochemical era once reigned supreme, turning the Hudson River into a toxic mess.

I was born further north in the upstate of the Empire State very different from New York City, its commercial engine. On Easter Sunday, Mass was in sunny Florida. The sunshine state can summon the sun at all times. Many former New Yorkers flock here for retirement and accompanying them are symbols of their former lives. Former President Donald Trump is down here waging a record third consecutive run for president, battling the entire US judicial system, federal and state. Trump likes to describe himself as a winner, even though in my time in law school, we read more about his bankruptcies. His narrow edge over Joe Biden has the political class scared. More so, if he closes the financial gap. As the presumptive Republican nominee, one with at least four criminal trials pending before him, he can command millions more in fundraising even if most of it is going to pay legal bills.

Both priests energetically interact with their congregation. The ones south are wealthier, retirees, the ones north are a mix of working class and spots of retirees. The choir in Peeskill on the Hudson is just one chorister and one conductor. The one in Gainesville, a college town of 200,000, has both a baby choir and an adults choir, the kind of show that Cachemco, the Catholic Centenary Choir for years, used to put on, conducted by Vincent Kirabokyamaria, onetime minister of Industry and later Ambassador to Italy.

Listening carefully, no politics, no mention at all of politics. Abortion, immigration and the border are the red button issues.  Yet the choir describes how America is moving south and with it the fulcrum of America’s political system. Electoral college politics is thinning energy from the industrial north to the agricultural south. Mr Trump, a former New Yorker, is running again; against Mr Joe Biden from the former industrial state of Pennsylvania.

Miles across in the United Kingdom, a third katikkiro emerged in Wales, half Welsh, half Zambian; Vaughan Gething.  Zambia in recent times, 2014-2015, had a Zambian of Scottish descent, Guy Scott, who became president after his predecessor Michael Sata died in office. On a recent trip through Heathrow, the immigration counters were partly replaced by machines to reflect this new colour-blind future passport readers that now admit legal immigrants, while illegal immigrants are left to the vagaries of weather and extremely dangerous run-arounds of physical borders, by boat to the United Kingdom, in caravans crossing Mexico or from Asia into Europe. Everyone is on tension. You have to sit in the passport interview cubicles at the Ministry of Internal Affairs to understand the different levels of proof our brothers from border communities have to go through to prove they are Ugandan.

At the centre of these sentiments, written into policy, are the consequences of uneven economic growth. The wealthy and the powerful have continued to accumulate resources, while the poor are staring at them. In our religious institutions, this situation has become a paradox. Do you protect the historical mission of these institutions, a task now being abrogated to evangelical movement? Or do you protect the tithe, failing to say a word about economic inequalities and the dangerous politics they breed? How do you address abortion, for instance, in countries which are staring down the demographic cliff, rapidly aging populations yet little interest in more childbearing like China where the one-child policy vastly under-estimated its effects? The one billion Chinese will be about 600 million at the end of this century. Is the invisible hand going to continue to support south-north immigration? Canada wants one million immigrants a year to fill out a vast country larger than the United States. Russia’s wars of conquest are also driven by a vast underpopulation, just 140 million in the world’s largest countries. This and other questions cannot possibly be answered by priests or even departure lounges at different airports or the caravans, they are for humanity itself.

 Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]