Times are hard but do not panic

Author: Angella Nampewo. PHOTO/FILE

We are dealing with a lot at this time. Prices of essential goods are rising. When you think about fuel prices in terms of  boda boda charges and the price of a litre, you feel like a cheater offering the fare that we do. 
When I heard about Uber exiting the Tanzanian market over unfavourable regulations, I wondered how the Ugandan service manages to remain operational with the current costs.
This is just one level of stress. Peel back the layers and you will find much more. Actually, the evidence in some cases, can be found in our capacity to crack jokes about the dire situation. 
In fact, within the laughter, the mockery and the memes, you will find the frustration on the price of soap expressed. It is in here, within the comment section of the WhatsApp group thread, that you will hear the questions and concern over the situation in Karamoja discussed. 
We carry our stress around to the bar, discuss it in the market, the hair salon and the walk or ride home. 
While there is no lockdown or curfew anymore, our activities and movements are being curtailed by a different kind of control, the economic squeeze. 
To make matters worse, many sectors had not quite recovered from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown. Out of force of habit, businesses still close early and commuters start their journey home even earlier. Walking to and from work has become a fact of life for many. 
The rising cost of fuel seems to be putting a permanent stamp on that too. Even the numerous boda boda around the city are starting to feel redundant. 
It is impossible to take a walk down a city street without being accosted by scores of motorcyclists, each asking or offering to take you somewhere. No wonder we have a section of riders now using their machines for crime instead.
This Easter and fasting season makes one long for better days. The spirit of neighbourliness displayed during the times of the Covid-19 lockdown is still needed this time around. 
There is a lot of quiet suffering, scarcity and tightening of belts through which we can’t seem to find a way out. Even the Finance minister seemed as helpless as the rest of the country when he said, “The main causes of increasing commodity prices are external and beyond the ability of policymakers in any one country to deal with.” His advice, stay put, do not panic.
I hope you are in position to do that. Not panic. The year is still young and who knows what surprises lie around the corner; good and bad. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters dealing with displacement, instability and hunger. May the risen Lord help the rest of us to keep steady in the rocking boat. 
Perhaps the spiritual lessons on hope and patience will help to keep the stress levels down and carry us through this season of scarcity and hardship. 
A trip out of town recently reminded me of a simplicity to life that I had almost forgotten. I was reminded of the pleasure of just breathing the fresh air unpolluted by smoke and noise, and slowing down from the pace of an urban existence. 
Of course, I do not let the romantic fool me that these places are immune from the pressures of a high cost of living but there, for a moment, I could shed the burdensome cloak of the urban hustle, the worries about fuel, rent and such and like our policymakers, leave everything to God for a moment.
Ms Nampewo is a writer, editor and communications consultant     
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