Building of our nation, have we sown well?

What you need to know:

  • After a very moving speech, the MD announced that in exchange for the man’s hard work of 25 years, he was going to be gifted with the house that he had just built.

There is a common management story told to illustrate an important lesson, “we reap what we sow”.
According to the story, there was once a man who after working for a construction company for 25 years decided to call it a day. He was one of the lead builders in the company and his responsibility was to oversee the construction of houses for clients of the company.

Unfortunately, this man was dishonest and often siphoned off building materials that were meant to construct the housing units. This meant that he would construct the houses with less building material than was required. For instance where he was supposed to use five bags of cement he would use three. He therefore built sub-standard homes.

The company received his application for retirement and felt they should “reward” him for his service of 25 years. They asked him to undertake one last assignment before they could retire him. They asked him to build one more house which he willingly accepted. The company intended to hand him the house but decided that they would surprise him with the offer of the house. This however was not revealed to him.

Being the dishonest man that he was, he saw this as yet another opportunity to make some quick money in his usual dishonest way. As he usually did, he used less than the required quantities of building materials and pocketed the difference. The house he constructed was therefore sub-standard.

On his last day of work, a farewell party was organised for all staff members and he was the chief guest or rather the “thief guest”.
It was a colourful ceremony and as the ceremony came to a close, it was time for the “devoted” worker to receive his gift.
After a very moving speech, the MD announced that in exchange for the man’s hard work of 25 years, he was going to be gifted with the house that he had just built.

To the surprise of everyone, the big smile on the man’s face quickly turned into a big frown. He could not hide his feelings of disappointment. He knew that the house was sub-standard.
The man had been beaten at his game. He could not imagine that he got a poor quality house for all the 25 years of service he had given to the company. But it was his fault. He had built the house.
The story is very relevant to us as a country.

Many people in the leadership of our country, Uganda, or serving in different critical positions who should be contributing to the building of this nation, are like the builder in the story above, doing otherwise. They are doing sub-standard work because of dishonesty.
From the human resource officers who recruit non-qualified people while the qualified roam the streets, to road engineers who use less than the recommended building materials to construct roads, to the procurement officers who award tenders to unqualified people, many are acting like the builder in the story. 

We have become a nation where dishonesty has become a culture. Where income or property accumulated has no correlation with remuneration. We have even found a fancy name for it, “enjawulo.” Those who don’t play this game are now the strange ones.

And as sure as day follows night, we are already reaping from our dishonest practices of the years.
Roads are now impassable with the tarmac being washed away even after a light shower, flooding is now a common occurrence because people have built in the wetlands, road carnage has reached unprecedented levels, criminals are taking over our streets etc.

We are all aware of the dramatic story sometime last year when a former minister of Health could not be attended to in the health centre of his constituency.
 We need to realize that collectively our dishonest actions can turn this nation into a failed state. On the flipside we can deliberately start to act more responsibly starting with our small circles of influence and build our nation.

Failure to act responsibly, we shall end up like the builder in the story and we will have to put up with a nation we helped “build” or rather tore apart.    

For God and my country                      Edward, Makobore        Afronomist and farmer.