By Daudi Ndi Mukoowu
Independence – freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.
Dependence – the state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid, support, or the like.
Normally success (independence) is celebrated and dismal failure (Dependence) is marked or noted, not with pomp and circumstance but with a sober mind to forge away from a parasitic existence. This reminds me of a friend of mine who comes from a wealthy family. His parents urged him to take his studies seriously. He was enrolled at a good university. But he never took his education seriously because he knew he had money and his parents were wealthy. After graduation, his parents built him a mansion, given to him fully furnished, bought him a sleek automobile, paid for his wedding and honeymoon. His Dad used his wide contacts to secure him a decent job with a reputable company in town.
He was never good at what he does at work, but the company tolerated him because his Dad was one of their biggest account. He spent most of his time “enjoying” himself, drinking quiet heavily, getting home very late every day. His relationship with his wife soured, he started to physically and psychologically abuse his wife and kids. Eventually he was fired from his job as his employer had had enough of his sloppy work, coming in late every morning but always the first to leave the office. He had run afoul with the law for DUI and domestic violence.
By now he was increasingly dependent on his parents for day to day living, for the basic maintenance on his house, repairs on his car and sometimes buying food for his household! They were even paying tuition for his kids who were at university. Sometimes he even borrowed from me money for cigarettes and drinks or a quart of milk to take home. Most of his friends now avoid him, he has become a beggar in fact a parasite on his friends. The guy had a very promising future, good family, good job, a nice home etc. All he had to do was to build on the foundation he was provided, work hard, make investment and provide for his family.
This year he turned 50, he begged and borrowed to have enough money to throw a grand party for his birthday. He still lives in the house he received from his parents when he graduated from college. The property is no longer suitable for human habitation, most window are broken, doors missing, plumbing does not work, UMEME disconnected him for non payment, etc. The once beautiful gardens surrounding the home are now a habitat for all manner of poisonous reptiles. His once lovely wife is a shell of her former self, she has seen better days!
I asked my friend why was he spending a fortune to “celebrate” his 50th birthday, when he could better utilise that money by paying UMEME bills, a coat of paint on the house, replace the doors and windows, etc. All he could say was “everyone celebrates their 50th because the average life expectancy is 48”! He was more interested in impressing his friends, with money he borrowed from them – I could not understand his reasoning.
This reminded me of the current situation in Uganda. When we gained political independence from the British, we had a firm foundation; better than some countries. In fact our situation was much better than many of our contemporaries that gained independence around that period. We had world class education and health system; envious public utilities infrastructure, a good road and rail network; and a dedicated, professional and committed public servants.
Fifty years later, we are a net beggar nation, in fact a failed state. We have to beg and borrow from our “massa’s” for much of what is in our budget. Our health and education systems have been run into the ground, our public utilities infrastructure are a hazard to public safety, we have no roads, rails or air transport to speak of; and our public service is a den of thieves. The little funds that we have are being spent on impressing the people we borrow from. What are our priorities as a nation, should we be celebrating our failures? There could be individuals who have been very successful in their personal lives over the years; and they deserve to celebrate their individual successes. But when it comes to “us” as a nation, is there anything we are proud of over the last 50 years? In my opinion we have nothing to be proud of, nothing worthy of such grand celebration. We just need to note/mark this milestone in our national journey; reflect and learn from our wayward ways and plan for the future. We should be striving to impress ourselves and not our neighbors or benefactors because they do not give a damn!
If we maintain the status quo, we are doomed as a people and as a nation. The prospects will not allow us to continue as a single nation much longer. Perhaps the “Massa” will come to repossess us and save us from our selfish and destructive ways. The NRM experiment has been a miserable failure. For 27 years society has been regressing, apart from a few households close to the centre of power. If we continue to simply talk about our misery nothing will be done.