Poor kids in oil demos as real owners of oil study hard and eat corn flakes

Author: Gawaya Tegulle. PHOTO/NMG

What you need to know:

  • The kids whose parents control the oil, are nowhere near the demonstrations.   

Really heart-breaking to watch video footage of school kids noisily demonstrating (in heavy rain) about “our oil” at Crested Towers in Kampala, where the European Union Delegation to Uganda sits.

Kampala has many schools nowadays, so it was hard to make out the exact schools involved. But what was easy to work out was what calibre of schools we were looking at – schools meant for the wretched of the earth, where the owners of the country will never take their kids. Think!

In the good old days, before schools got run down by the ascent of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) administration, there were primary schools that ruled Kampala. The top three were arguably Nakasero, Kitante and Buganda Road. Then you had Shimoni Demonstration School and others lower down the rungs.

The kids from these schools then, quite predictably, went to the likes of Namilyango College, Kings College Budo, St Mary’s College Kisubi, Busoga College Mwiri, and other big name schools for the boys, and the likes of Gayaza, Namagunga, Nabbingo, Nabisunsa, Ndejje, for girls. Oh, Budo has some girls; Ndejje is mixed.

Then, they would go on to Makerere University and, for the really wealthy ones, universities abroad. These are the chaps who then would dominate the job market. So the benefits of going to these schools ensured both academic excellence and great strategic networking for the future.

Now that has changed. Middle class parents, with a few exceptions, no longer send their kids to Nakasero, Kitante and Buganda Road. The NRM administration ran them down. Shimoni, a government school, has since been replaced by the Kingdom Kampala complex, a private property – and we the taxpayers pay billions in rent for government offices.

Middle class kids go to the likes of Lohana Academy, Kabojja Junior, Kampala Parents, Naalya Hillside and international schools. From there, some will go to the secondary schools we just talked about; while others will go to secondary schools on international curriculum – there are many around the city now. 

Then they will split up: some will go on to Makerere University, Uganda Christian University and others; while a good chunk of the really rich kids will fly out to universities abroad. Then they come back with masters and doctorates from European and American universities and immediately get placed in juicy positions in the oil industry…dominating its complex supply chain. Think!

Say, where does a parent whose official salary is less than Shs2 million get the wherewithal to educate his kids in international schools and then fly them abroad to some really good universities? Simple. Some are hardworking, battle-hardened, Ruto-esque hustlers who work their socks off. But the majority are in the category that the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and police would be really anxious to interview. 

Then there is the dicey matter of government scholarships: you look at each closely and you’ll realise that the same names from certain areas and certain families keep showing up. 

Chicken and egg story here: some of these young people are given scholarships abroad to study fields that government will need soon – courses you can’t get in Uganda. 

At other times, jobs are advertised, yes; but the qualifications spelt out are custom-tailored to fit the elite kids’ curricula vitae (CVs). These two factors squarely knock out competition. Think!

In short, the kids whose parents control the oil, are nowhere near the oil demonstrations. They are busy studying – or watching cartoons and playing video games, over a milkshake, a bowl of ice cream, or cornflakes. 

When they are done with studies, they will control the oil industry. The ones who demonstrated about “our oil” will work in the lower ranks, if they get there any way, as office messengers, guards, cleaners and garbage collectors. 

See, most wouldn’t have gone far in school – dropped out due to lack of tuition, or lost concentration in school because they were fighting for their oil or got preggie, went on drugs and so on. Think!

Mr Gawaya Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda    

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