May 2015
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Day May 1, 2015

Workers’ Day and the Unfulfilled ugandan Worker

Another May 1, is here with us, offering a legitimate license of a whole day break from work (Uganda), and rounds of practiced speeches to be delivered by Labor Union leaders.

I think this year’s Workers’ Day celebration should be marked differently, for self reflection, critical assessment of Labor and Union leaders: It compels on us a sincere need to interrogate the reality confronting the Ugandan Worker, compared to their counterparts in major countries of the world that have long learnt to use as benchmark for their workers -the dignity of labor, the merit of hardwork, the reward of diligence and sacrificial patriotism.

The world of the Ugandan Worker was long designed by the capitalist colonial master fit only for exploitation, marginalization and pauperization. Those homegrown tyrants and compradors that took over the baton of “rulership” after the colonizers have characteristically and systematically abused the privileges and as such caused a volcanic systemic dysfunction. In effect, the Nation’s independence and self-rule has not been able, so far, to effect the Ugandan Worker’s desired change either, to the degree that once hopeful Ugandan worker under very dynamic leadership is long disillusioned, and now more than ever before is poised for a positive change that will make their lives more meaningful.




The answer to `why Africans are leaving their countries` is not supposed to be general in terms of outlining benefits of migration. I look at it differently. I think the focus should not be on seeking opportunities to export our people to countries where they suffer racist humiliation and all forms of discrimination. The debate is supposed to be about how we fix our countries especially those trends that compel our people (brothers and sisters) to leave. While those with sought after skills may be leaving happily, other Africans (the so called ordinary) aren`t that happy to leave their countries.

So, while i understand the argument behind the right of migrants to seek better opportunities abroad, dedicating so much energy on `creating and securing migrant corridors` to Europe and USA as some of you are suggesting our leaders do is misusing an opportunity to critically reflect on the implications of the current wave of migration and roles of various actors behind it and in fixing it. Such reflections are supposed to be at the center of the current migration debate.There are so many intelligent Ugandans being wasted abroad yet this shouldn’t be the case. For example, Why do we have a man such as the founder of UAH, Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba, in the UK doing byeyo instead of being a Member of Parliament here.

It is even worse when it comes to xenophobia which essentially represents a regression as far as African identity and the larger Pan-African dream is concerned. In 1970s, such dedicated Africans as the late Idi Amin were committed to liberating other African countries at a time when Africa was so `poor` than it is today. So, why are Africans expelling and killing each other today, decades after adopting neo-liberal policies and recording improvements in GDP etc? Isn`t Africa better today than it was then? In less than a decade, we have gone from having Thabo Mbeki (with his African Renaissance dream) to Jacob Zuma (who believes that Africans should stay in their countries). Another typical example of regression.

I think i am angry. Very angry.



A better question is ”Why do PEOPLE leave their countries”? Or even better: “why shouldn’t they leave their countries”? Human history is a history of migration, regardless of the associated push-pull factors. From time immemorial humans have braved high seas and dangerous unknowns in pursuit of better conditions beyond the horizons. There are about 500m people of European origin OUTSIDE Europe. The net EU immigrants in the UK outstrips those from all non-EU nations combined. Similarly, there are possibly over 500K South Africans outside of South Africa? Why did they leave their country?

Africa should not react to the fact that Africans want to leave their countries- our internal issues notwithstanding. I probably will go further by encouraging Africans to leave their countries if they want to. I have done some reading on the subject and I think there is good evidence that it is good for Africa. What we need to react to is the fact that Africans are DYING because of immigration and the fact that after all the other races have exploited our defencelessness in the past now they want to close their doors to Africans to benefit from immigration. This should make us angry.

What Africans encounter in the Mediterranean Sea in their quest to escape this continent is a tragedy. And what they suffer in this continent is a tragedy too. But what are we to do which we could not do before? Does this situation signify a worsening of the conditions in Africa? Situation can hardly get worse for most Africans. If fixing problems at home is not the top agenda at any given time- migration deaths or not- then there is no point in existing as people, is there?

Per capita incomes in SSA are half those in South East Asia, one sevenths those in Latin America. It takes five years for graduates in Kenya and Tanzania to find a job. Considering what people go through here, what you call racism and discrimination, be it overt or covert, is a little price to pay for their financial freedom. Why don’t we just make it a policy? It is cheap to train people here, then train them, facilitate their migration, then reap the rewards (including less pressure at home). If my memory serves me well, 30% of Cuba’s GDP is made of incomes earned by Cubans outside of Cuba. Cuba understands globalisation than most of its fans!

Also, please note that GDP per capita in 2007 for SSA was less than that of 1974, and that of 2013 was higher than that of 1974 by about $75. On average, Tanzania has never achieved even HALF of SSA averages. So, no, Africa is not better today than it was then. The previous generations of leaders failed Africa big, big time. It is a wonder that we even talk about them today. They really should be relegated to the ignominy of historical obscurity.

Like everyone before them in the past, and after them in the future, leaving one’s country to explore the possibility of better prospects is not shameful. It is a characteristic nature of an indomitable human spirit which in the time past moved to colonise lands far away from home. Even within a nation people move from one region to another for the same reasons. These are the push-pull factors which I acknowledge- albeit indirectly- in my post. The reason Europe would want to keep its door closed is that the push-pull factors will definitely result into net African migration towards Europe than otherwise. By affirming the right of the migrants to seek better prospects beyond their borders I don’t wish to imply that those that choose to remain should not do anything to improve their prospects. Not at all.

But as far as migration is concerned, African leaders should press developed nations to take more migrants from Africa. Regardless of our cries of brain-drain, our economies can hardly absorb even university graduates. In the past I was under the impression that Doctors fare better, but talking to one MD and recent PhD, there are many Doctors that are either also. If only there was a way of exporting these graduates abroad

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