DRIVERS OF DEMOGRAPHY: THE HOE, THE ASSEMBLY LINE AND THE MICROCHIP


Dear UAH,

1/7 The Countries of the world can be divided into three clans according to the waves of major change that they have undergone.  “First Wave” countries are the agrarian countries, whose Court of Arms is the hoe..  For such countries, man has only made one major transition: from being the hunter-gatherer to domesticating innocent beasts and cultivating crops.  “Second Wave” countries are the industrial countries whose Court of Arms is the assembly line and “Third Wave” countries are the post-industrial or information age countries Court of Arms is the Microchip.

2/7  The way countries work, produce, consume, socialize, politic, celebrate the beginning or end of life, raise families, fight wars, etc ……the way we live is shaped by the wave of change that precedes our present mode of existence.  Uganda today is a “First Wave” country, that is, one of those countries still living off the First wave of change unleashed ten thousand years ago by the invention of agriculture…about 90% of us are peasants just like England in 1381 during the peasant wars, and the 100 years war.

3/7 As you know, the precondition of any form human advancement is energy.  First wave societies like Uganda get all their energy from “living batteries”: human/animal muscle power, or direct from nature…the sun, wind, water.  If anything, Uganda is at the lowest end of the first wave: we have not even dared yet to make the transition from the use of human muscle power to harnessing animal muscle power.  We are not yet where Europe was by the time of the French revolution when they drew their energy from an estimated 14 million horses and 24 million oxen which pulled ploughs and carts, with waterwheels and windmills turning millstones etc.

4/7 Look at Uganda : everything is dependent on human muscle power.  Economic productivity of a low- grade first wave society like us is a function of the pairs of hands available to operate the hoe.  It is not a question of “moral hazard” as any member of UAH would wish to think, or ‘dark nights’ as Professor Kamuntu believes, or lack of financial penalties on reproduction as Mr Obbo has mused.  Making more and more pairs of hands available is a functional necessity.  Unless we break out of agrarianism, our demographic profile will not change.  The question here is: does high population growth cause poverty or it is poverty that causes a high population growth? If at all there is a causal relation between high population and poverty, then the latter is the cause and the former just a spinoff.

5/7 Civil War America graphically illustrates the contrast between First Wave and Second Wave demographics.  That civil war was a clash between the industrialism of the North (Unionists) and agrarianism of the South (Confederates).  The leader of the industrial cause, Abraham Lincoln had two siblings, while Jefferson Davis was the last born in a family of 10.  You mentioned China ’s one child policy.  China came up with the one child policy as soon as they started making the transition to the Second Wave. That policy has not been there all the time, as Mr Obargot has pointed out: it was conceived of in 1979, and implimented wef 2000.   The policy applies only to 35.9% of the population: it is restricted only to the urban areas. It does not apply to rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without any siblings themselves, or special administrative regions like Hong Kong and Macao..

6/7 The argument on population explosion is not convincing on several grounds: I remember from the days I was a mortar man, whenever there was an explosion, there would be fragments all around..  With our population explosion, where are the fragments?  We would expect to see a lot of old people around, yet globally, Uganda has the lowest number of people over the age of 65.  Why? : Because of our high mortality rates.  Just today, 2,794 children will be born in Uganda .  By 13 March 2010, 184 of them will have died, not because today is Friday 13th.  It is because in Uganda , 65.99 out of every 1,000 live births do not live to celebrate their first birth day.  We rank No. 35 in the world.  For the 1.02 million that will be born this year, those that will die will be the equivalent of 170 Boeing 747s packed with babies crashing at Entebbe at the rate of three per week.  Here is the point: the rate at which organisms reproduce is always commensurate with the odds of survival.  We reproduce a lot because we reduce a lot.  It is not immorality, it is mortality stupid!

7/7 The high maternal mortality you have highlighted is incidental to those underlying factors.  Uganda ranks at No. 23 in the world, with 510 mothers dying in child birth for every 100,000 live births.  Sadly, as long as we remain a “First Wave” or peasant society that atrocity against the mothers shall only pass as an occupational hazard, the whims/political will (or lack thereof) of our lumpen-bourgeoisie notwithstanding.  We are simply pushing the wrong buttons….Bottom line: we have to find the final solution to the peasant question.

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick

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