CITIZEN VOICE: Should ordinary-poor Ugandans be patriotic?
Last Updated on: 28th February 2019, 02:47 pm
The World Bank simply defines a poor person as someone whose daily expense cannot surpass a dollar, and going by the current exchange rate, it means he or she has less than shillings 3,600 per day.
A 2018 report on the poverty index in Uganda released by Uganda Bureau of Statistics – UBOS shows that more Ugandans are becoming poorer.
According to the report, the national poverty level increased from 19.7 percent in the financial year 2012/13 to 21.4.
In northern region there was a reduction from 43.7 per cent in 2012/13 to 32.5 per cent in 2016/17.
The eastern region had the highest poverty incidence at 35.7 percent up in 2016/2017 from 24.5 percent in 2012/13.
Releasing the report then, Ben Paul Munyereza, the executive director UBOS said their findings also show that poverty incidence remains higher in rural areas (31 percent) compared to urban areas (15 percent).
The rural areas contributed 86 per cent of the national poverty.
Mr Mungyereza said the number of poor people was 6.7 million in 2012/13 having declined from 8.4 million in 2005/06.
It is upon this background that this week’s edition of the Citizen Voice, a TND News’ No.1 Digital Magazine we are asking, should an ordinary Ugandan in the rural countryside be patriotic?
Patriotism is simply one’s unfettered love for his or her country.
Citizen Voice senior reporter, Frank Oyugi spoke to a number of citizens and below are what they had to say.
Denis Jaramogi is a local political pundit in Lango and bends towards the ideological philosophy of the embattled Uganda People’s Congress party – UPC and also a sharp critic of the National Resistance Movement party – NRM and President Museveni in particular.
Frank Oyugi caught up with Jaramogi on phone and put this question to him, he excitedly went straight.
“In my eyes all Ugandans are happy about being in this country called Uganda, they love their country,” Jaramogi started.
The UPC stalwart says it is a natural duty for every man and woman born in this country to love Uganda and one does not need a special lesson or indoctrination for him or her to pay allegiance to his mother land like the current government has been doing.
Having traversed nearly all regions of the country, Jaramogi says its vividly evident that Ugandans are striving to develop, transform and make their country a better place to live in.
“Ugandans are developing their country on their own, a great sign that they love their country, I will cite for you one sector of agriculture and come here to Lango sub-region,” he said.
“In 2018, we were the biggest producers of the sun flower seeds used for producing cooking oil, and the same is happening for other crops elsewhere even in rocky places like Moyo,” he also noted.
On the contrary, he says Ugandans feel disenfranchised and demoralized by those in authority (political leaders) whose fundamental roles is to help them (locals) achieve meaningful life.
According to Jaramogi, literally the rural poor are patriotically demoralized because in their struggle to build the economy of Uganda through farming, they have been let alone to fight their own poverty because no better markets and linkages were created for their products.
“The other problem is that in Uganda, there are a group of people who think they are more Ugandans than others, and they think that they love this country called Uganda than others, but this is wrong,” Jaramogi continues.
He wonders why those identified by government to teach Ugandans on the value of patriotism have to clad on military fatigue, arguing that this could have a different connotation and interpretation by the Wanainchi.
Patrick Apita-Apita, an engineer-cum politician who currently plies his trade in the Eastern Uganda town of Soroti, also offered his opinion on the topic.
“Hahaha….,” Apita laughs heartedly when approached with this question and soon after, agrees that all Ugandans should indeed love their country, in other words be patriotic.
“But I wonder why we have carders running around secondary schools that they are teaching patriotism,” he observes, adding that they could be on a different mission.
Apita says most Ugandans have been discouraged from loving their country because those in charge of resources have not impacted on their lives.
When living conditions are unfavorable for the common man in villages, Apita says one finds it hard to be patriot, citing gaps in social services like education, roads and lack of drugs in hospitals.
“This is not any different for the educated or elites. One spends five years to study medicine only to graduate as a medical doctor and government begins to pay him or her a paltry 800,000 shillings, how can you stay and work in your country?,” he asked.
“Of course you go out for greener pastures,” Apita told the Citizen Voice Weekly.
He also observes that in the rural countryside, education has become a luxury instead of being a necessity because traditional UPE schools don’t perform well and yet many can’t afford the exorbitant school fees charged by private schools.
To validate this piece, Citizen Voice Magazine found it prudent to understand the real perspective of Ugandans who are struggling to make both ends meet amidst economic hardships.
36 year old Dorothy Akite is a fish monger at Lira main market but casts here vote in her native Oyam South village of Aber.
She is an example of a typical average Ugandan woman in the rural countryside whose life is surrounded by uncertainties.
Akite tells us that she truly loves her country and believes its one of the most peaceful countries in Africa that one can leave in.
“Yes, Uganda is a land of opportunities and has wonderful people,” she says.
The only difference for Akite is that she keeps asking what her country has done for her.
“You see, I am yet struggling to find a reason why I should love my country, I feel betrayed by those I voted for,” she added.
Tasked by the Citizen Voice reporter to explain her justification for this particular school of thought, Akite says she has been hustling with her business without any government support.
She goes on to say she wishes to wake up one day to a Uganda where commercial banks are charging low interest rates on the capital they borrow or government setting up agricultural banks to increase their access to credit.
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