Theory of Tired Ugandans uprising

My Theory is that not until Uganda[as a country] achieves a life expectancy of about 75 years would we have the kind of protests in Algeria, Libya,Syria,Egypt and Turkey. These countries unsurprisingly have better standards of living than Uganda.In Turkey life expectancy is 73.9 years,Libya 77.88,Syria 75.84,Egypt 73.20 Algeria 73.0 Causes cited by the protestors in Algeria include unemployment, the lack of housing, food-price inflation, corruption, restrictions on freedom of speech and poor living conditions. We have all these and more in Uganda where life expectancy is a mere 48 plus years or there about. No Uganda leader would love to be unseated by popular revolt and so what our leaders would do is keep life expectancy to a minimum and to keep majority of the population poor and uneducated. That’s my theory

A bad leader will invariably want to stifle his people of the “excessive freedom” and use force to repress it. A bad leader will set up units to monitor what people say on social medial and will also control the media in the country.The psychological impact of it is that you can repress the freedom of the people for a limited period of time. It cannot be repressed forever.

As Jean Paul Sartre says, “Man is freedom” and there seems not to be limit to this freedom. Without freedom there cannot be knowledge. It is from freedom of expression that we become knowledgeable about ourselves and the environment we live in. Take that natural gift from humans then they are not homo sapiens any more. What defines us as humans is fundamentally this freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to make choices etc.

The mechanism through which it works is by creating the environment whereby people can say what they want. If you fail to do this, the day they have the slightest opportunity to protest, it will be like wild fire. And that is precisely what happened in North Africa which we called Arab Spring.

Arab political leaders thought that by giving their people the basic essentials of life there would be no reason for anyone to criticize them. They were wrong. See what is happening in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen etc where their people are denied the right to exercise their freedom. It is conflict and war all over the places.

Education plays a vital role in this. You cannot silence intellectuals, academics, political elites from exercising their right to free speech or freedom of expression. Women are coming out in droves to say no to men domination. They can voice out today than ever before because of their access to western education.

President M7 may succeed in having his son as the next president of Uganda but he will be temporarily suspending a future rebellion in our country. If he loves Uganda, let him drop that so called ‘Muhoozi’ project and at least build a similarity of independent state institutions before he is called by his creator. Yes, he will die one day and this is the best he can do for Uganda before this happens.

Freedom! Freedom!! Freedom!!!

Check out Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs:

(i) Physiological needs (oxygen, food, sleep, excretion {(sex?)} – so basic that their depravation stops the body functioning.

(ii) Safety and security needs (shelter, clothing, job, medical, education) – When the physiological needs are taken care of, people then aspire for safety and security.

(iii) Love, belonging, identity – When physiological and safety needs are met, a third layer of needs shows up – affectionate relationships like family, friends, clan, tribe, race, nation, religion – a sense of community.

(iv) Esteem needs – After the above basic needs are fulfilled, democracy becomes a motivation to fulfill the ego-centric need for self-esteem, freedom, status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, dominance, confidence, competence, achievement, mastery and independence.

(v) Self-actualization is the highest level of ego-centrism, involving the continuous desire to fulfill potentials, to “be all that you can be.” Self-actualization becomes stronger the more it is fed. Unsurprisingly, therefore, dictatorship is a fulfillment of self-actualization!

Basic needs must be taken care of before needs for democracy manifest themselves. If you are hungry, you first scramble for food; if you are unsafe, you are continuously on guard; if you are isolated and unloved, you wallow in self-pity; low self-esteem breeds constant defensiveness. When basic needs are unmet, one can’t devote her/him (self) to fulfilling other needs.

During Gaddafi’s 42 years, Libyans’ basic needs were fulfilled. Tunisians needs, with a GDP of US$ 82B for her 10M people to Ugandas GDP of US$ 8B for her 33M people, are fulfilled. Just like Libya (used to be), all social services in Tunisia are free. Tunisia was ranked 17th in the category of “Highest Quality Education System in the World” by The World Competitiveness Report of 2009. Tunisia, much smaller than Uganda, has 30 airports, 4 national airlines, while the Capital, Tunis, is served by tram system for transportation. Out of a population of 10M, there are 700,000 people unemployed. Most Arab countries faced with the current upheavals – Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait occupy the ranks of developed countries and offer free social services to their citizens. They crossed the red line from basic needs and now seek self-esteem and actualization. How, then, do Libyans and Tunisians aspirations compare with Ugandans?

Is it surprising, that while it was easy to get thousands of Libyans, Tunisians and Egyptians onto the streets for democracy, a handful of Ugandans are on the streets, demonstrating, while the majority continue their pursuit of “basic needs”? the demand in Uganda is for services’ delivery (roads, hospital, schools etc), but in Egypt, uprising are on governnce, democracy, aelf-respect etc

itizens of poor countries are entitled to and must fight for their rights, but leaders need to appreciate that their populations still strive for basic needs, and are therefore, not yet motivated by esteem needs, so they will not go to the streets for similar reasons as their more developed peers. If we want them on the streets, it’s basic needs, not lofty, fifth and sixth hierarchy needs that will motivate them.

Africa’s problems are not a reflection of Arabic countries’ problems and will not be fixed by picking solutions from a pharmacy in Libya or Tunisia, on presentation of a prescription. Africa, like other continents, has her unique history, so, we cannot cut and paste solutions to her problems, but design and custom-make them for her. It takes deep reflection and innovative leadership.

Beti Olive Namisango Kamya -President, Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) / (256) 783 438 201


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