BY ELAMU DENIS EJULU
The fact is the Ugandan middle class continues to remain detached from the common man, this has contributed to the predicament the country finds itself in.
With salient lessons learnt from the North Africa uprisings in the previous two years famously dubbed the “Arab spring”. Take it or leave it the role played by largely the middle class from public intellectuals, business and student leaders was pivotal to the success of the revolutions. The same has been attempted in Uganda to only a dismal showing due to passiveness and complacency from largely elites, who feel attached to their assets and interests, be it small or huge.
The fact remains, all democratic efforts at changing the repressive and corrupt order in Kampala, has been sabotaged by an aloof middle class (elites) though a few have remained true to the cause. Majority have had to pay loyalty to the hand that feeds them (political patronage) where they survive on the state for lucrative small contracts in whatever illicit ways earned.
Many arguments have made rounds in the public domain, on whether the middle class could join the popular protests “walk to work” and create the ideological base of the cause. This according to analysts has only been wish saying since a great number exhibit concern for their jobs, the little buck that comes at the end of the hustle, apart from this worsened by the arrogant attitude of having a better education in contrast to the false perception on those who participate in the street protests as semi-literates who lack tangible work to do.
Its believed Egypt and Tunisia owe the success of their uprisings to their sizeable middle class estimated at 79.7 and 89.5 percent respectively in contrast to Uganda’s 18.7 percent (ADB) by 2011.
Any way the debate after all may rage on by what determines the middle class in Africa! Since some critics think its almost not yet there but according to the African development bank, referred this group to one that is well educated, access to internet, small family and one whose annual income ranges from $1,200- $7,400.
This was argued against by Calestrous Juma of the Harvard Kennedy School, as not capable of fitting in the capital markets of the developed world but in African— terms they have disposable income and can afford to consume goods and services from a few western franchise.
Recently a friend of mine had a honest debate with Dr.Munini Mulera on social media challenging him on the failure of the Ugandan elites with some savings to support youth in the democratic struggle. The debate left the later startled at the fact that soon many so called elites will be inconsequential to what the country may face, as the disgruntled feel they have common interests with those pillaging the country’s resource.
For radical results to be felt the educated and well-informed citizens should sacrifice their savings to inspire young revolutionaries willing to fight for the restoration of sanity and rule of law in the land. Failure to cooperate will be an indictment on us and none will claim the moral authority to have rescued this country from the mess its entangled in!
Writing per -say is only part of the solution, but real participation is what will end this criminal rule of Museveni and his corrupt cronies. If only my countrymen realized that it took only one soul at self immolation to change the order in Tunis, then we can be counted upon to deliver our land from the bleeding today.
With many journalists arrested and intimidated for speaking truth to the hegemon, academics and other élites have continued to be —-passive——–while blaming the young generation of not taking visible action to change the wrong direction the country is increasingly taking. The cycle of impunity and lawlessness does not segregate the affluent from the poor, highly educated from the less and neither the propertied from the have-nots. The fact remains fate knows nobody and the statements of Richard Dowden, on the African middle class as put below capture the situation in Uganda best.
Are there two Africas? One in a bubble of western-style wealth inhabited by the rich and powerful and another Africa on the other side of the security fence – barefoot, one torn shirt, no money, no prospect of a job – “suffering and smiling” as Fela Kuti sang, but with big and increasingly angry eyes.
Elamu denis ejulu Is a social critic.