James Onen nailed it on 25th June 2014 in Sanyu’s morning show – that many middle class goons on Kampala live an artificial life in which they want to impress others. People have been swallowed into a culture of ‘consumerism’ to service the pervasive habit of ‘showing off’. As a result, they are increasingly in need of money to sustain their lie of a life. As a result, the banks and money lenders are laughing their way to the bank as people are trapped in debt. Others rent 2 million a month flatlets, with 2 nice cars but not a single saving. This is the new form of innumeracy: Financial illiteracy. He concludes: ‘Modesty is strength’.
I remember, bank agents could come to you and tell you that going by your salary level they can get you a 5-year loan of 30M/= within 2 working days! Now, if you are not careful or calculative, you can easily fall into that debt trap! I usually say that life is the best judge.Problem started around 2002/3 with the advent of salary-based loans or a few years earlier when Shoprite came to town and started Hire-Purchase schemes. Suddenly, you could get that music system, fridge, TV, double-bed that you couldn’t buy for yourself without strict saving discipline (and for many months).with time the culture set in as more providers/recipients came on board………..Its something we didn’t know in Uganda! its now good that insurance companies have come to the aid of salary-based loan recipients, otherwise you could harshly find out the other side of banks (and court bailiffs) when you lost that corporate job. We all make decisions in our lifetime and come the time when we hit 60s and 70s we shall be in a better position to judge who made better decisions while growing up. For now, its an open field.
And the new trend of continuously acquiring all sorts of additional academic papers (MAs & MSc’s). Studying that would equip one with ‘skills’ is good but not this in disciplines so different and irrelevant from what one can practice.All that aiming at promotions and job hunting whose return on investment is a joke!
Resources that would start up a longterm selfhelp project are squandered during one’s productive years.
All this stems from our open embracing of the Capitalist systems. They are inherently designed to run on spending power of people. In America, when spending reduces among the people, the economy takes a very big hit. So, the idea that you will spend beyond your means is also good for me as an employer because it means that my employees will not easily jump ship and can only do so when they have better deals. Bing in debt is an incentive to create economic slaves. Capitalism is there to benefit the owners of the resources (Queen Bees) not the generators of the wealth (worker bees). The situation is definitely going to get even worse. So, while some workers are noticing it and becoming wiser, most will not, to the joy of the Queen Bees.
But why is this a big problem under NRM and Museveni? In previous generations, a child would be raised by family and even upon completing school/university, the family would continue guiding the young adult on success management. A young adult had role models or people to look to which forced living a responsible life; not to fall in traps of bizarre behaviour (like being a spendthrift, indiscipline or ‘wannabe – showoff’) despite having a good education, job or earning big. Could there be a disconnect now, where young ‘successful/Corporate Lie’ adults are not in touch with elders/family to seek guidance and wisdom anymore?
My observation is that successful young adults that remain close to their families tend to be more responsible and less wasteful than the ‘arrivalists’ living a Corporate Lie! Just my observation.