By George Okello via UAH forum
This is the famous MATOOKE HOUSE, Ugandan grocery store in Deptford, South-East London. Around the corner is AFAB STAR Restaurant run by Michael Meme, and further up the street 5 Hair Salons run by Baganda women, AND A MINI CAB OFFICE RUN BY ANOTHER MUGANDA MAN.
To the East is Pechkam where there is a very huge African population.
To the south, 3 miles away is Greenwich and then Woolwich where you will find the famous watering hole called Wandegeya. This small area of London (Peckham, Bermondsey, Greenwich, Charlton, Lewisham and Woolwich has the largest concentration of Ugandans in the UK.- numbering anything between 5,000-10,000. It is also the area where I have spent nearly 20 years of my life ( actually the area I have lived longest in my entire life), my children are born here in this area and is a place they know as “HOME”. Many Ugandans have started to set up small businesses, but a large number also remain unemployed and unemployable sadly. The distinguishing feature of ugandans South East london in the UK is how united they are. If only they behaved this way at home, our country would not be in the mess it is in today.
These Ugandans we have here in the UK are the people we will need to build the new Uganda we all want. And I mean all of them- from the professionals, office workers, to small scale business-owners like the ones in Deptford. And ofcourse the young ones who are still at school.
Take the small sclae business-owners- like the Hair Salon or Mini Cab owner. These people have now acquired business acumen and skills that an ordinary Ugandan can only dream. You and I know if you give a Ugandan £1,000 now to start a business, in two weeks he or she will be coming back to you to ask for money for repairs or to buy fuel etc. In a month they are flat broke and dont want to see your face or hear your voice.
But here, it is totally different. The Hair Salon woman- like Goreti, will have borrowed £2,000 from the bank to start the salon. She has to have a proper business plan, and the bank and local organisations would have helped her with this. This is now her source of income, so she has to make it work. She has to hire space in a shop on the streets, buy equipment etc, market her services, etc. and then put in 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Only after a year or more will she be able to break even, employ more staff and make profits. And the profits can be reasonable. These are real hard working entreprenuers, and imagine you took them back to Uganda and they transferred these skills into our economy- cant you see what a huge difference it would make?
Uganda as it is now has a totally unskilled and untrained workforce for an economy of the 21st century. This really has got to be our focus for the future. As we try to remove Museveni from power, in fact we are now looking far ahead, as to how we cany set up the building blocks for the New Uganda- and how we will encourage the people in the diaspora to join us in this great undertaking.