By Drew Ddembe
Migration is an individual right. It is not only a right for white people! I do not have to explain nor do I have to feel guilt or justify my need to travel, see the world or migrate! It is a wanderlust that is all mine but that was shared …by mans ancestors!
A country owes its people as much as each individual owes its country! It’s not just individuals who have a responsibility to their country. Citizens are entitled to good governance. Good roads. Infrastructure. Returns on their taxes. Garbage collection. Sewage systems. Electricity. Running water. Security. Health care! As it is we get nothing for our taxes and watch as thieves in public offices rob the kitty with impunity! We are spectators while a self styled entitled class rule us in perpetuity and promote their sons and kin!
I watched my father subsidise the government by going to work every day while supporting himself and his family from a private income given his government pay was not enough to pay his transport or lunch nor was it enough to pay a fraction of the school fees for one of his seven children or numerous dependents!
That is called patriotism but am not about to do the same! I owe it to my country to make a contribution. My country owes it to me to provide me with a level field and a living wage!
After working on three continents I went home starry eyed to enquire about work! My professors gave me “fatherly and motherly advice”! “Mwana wange nze nkubuliilira ng’owange ogila obeera yo eyo, ojja kudda edda”! I was shocked! But its the same advice they gave there own children many of whom I can track through facebook!
I attended the same school as Museveni’s son -and spent a lot more time studying and gaining expertise. if I believed that I could join the army, go to cadet school and get a captainship as my first commission on graduation, attend both Sandhurst and Fort Leveanworth, command an elite military corps as well as a major artillery division and move on to being in charge of a major external operation involving the coordination of ground and air troops then proceed to head all of the major elite and crack troops in oil related operations while living a life of luxury, all the time making it to Major and just waiting for the right time to give me a Generals’ pips, -all before the age of 35, I would be in Jinja cadet school in a flash.
While I have nothing against the guy who is actually a nice guy, everything I know about him from school suggests that his skills and aptitude are no better than mine. If anything if grades and academic achievement are any measure, I would venture to say that I should be capable of all of the above achievements but I know that it is not going to happen! “Technical know who” beats “technical know-how” every time in Uganda!
So no serving in his dads army for me – as am not a beneficiary of the hunt, I will leave it to his son to protect the spoils of his dads hunt!! The point here is that all Ugandans have got to believe in this change. We have to believe in the “prosperity” and the wealth ushered in by the government. As it is, a few live in the “kintu” while the rest are mere spectators!! So we do not! We all know that this is a family thing threatening to become hereditary with all of the trappings of family privilege!
I refuse to “eat where I worketh”! I expect to be paid for what am worth. It’s not only the Kagina’s of this world who take home more than 10,000 USD a month who are worth a living wage! I expect to work hard, put in long hours and the overtime but be looked after when I retire with a pension that I do not have to beg for or bribe someone to get! I expect to be respected as a professional doing my job and not be slapped around like some junior minister was reported slapping around nurses at their job! I work no less than the suckers in parliament who take home 15 million shilling salaries or have access to soft loans while having access to overseas health care while I have to make do with worse care than a dog gets in a veterinary hospital!
A colleague once told me he was being paid 10,000 dollars to put in a dogs pacemaker! This dog gets better care than a Ugandan does!!! My parents sacrificed for their country and family and sent me to the best schools my abilities and their money could buy! I refuse to kill my children’s ambitions and stifle their potential by taking them to Kaguta’s UPE kayoola schools because I cannot afford better!
I refuse to live off handouts from the public because they pity me and my poverty when am doing my job! I have always hated the idea of being tipped and having people try to stuff a few hundred shillings in my pocket because they think am hungry or that they will not get a service unless they provide “facilitation”! I prefer my facilitation to come in my pay cheque! I would rather not have to make several trips to the accounting or payroll officer before getting my pay minus their 30% cut! A payroll clerk once told me I did not receive my pay for a year because “I did not know how to do things”!!! Knowing how to do things meant negotiating with them and paying them their cut so I could receive my meagre pay!!! I refuse to play the game! As far as am concerned, I come to work, put in a full day’s work and unpaid overtime, I expect to get my pittance pay without having to waste my time talking to idiots or giving them a cut off my wages to ensure am paid! A brother of mine once had to forfeit six months of his salary in exchange for a job -signed away in advance! And this for an upcountry job without relocation cost reimbursement! He later resigned and went off to the UK after he refused to sign off on dodgy and illegal stuff that his boss was trying to get him to do!!!
When I get a living wage from the government, they are not doing me a favour. It is my entitlement and right for a job well done!!
Examples have been given of patriotism in other countries. Those examples miss the point -that in many of those countries, people expect and receive care from their government. They get paid well, they receive services from the government, they have great infrastructure, they receive reasonable pensions and retirement benefits and if they are war veterans, they will receive health care for life!
There are individual factors in migration as well as push-pull factors determined by the countries environment. The government of Uganda does not care for its professionals!
In one of the facebook debates I have been involved in, a gentleman called Tracy Kagarura has classified all those in the diaspora as street sweepers that are battling for a living.
To Tracy, I say there is nothing wrong with sweeping roads abroad. It is honest work and pays the bills.
It also assists family in Uganda and covers for the incompetence and inadequacy of the NRM government at providing services such as school fees, medical bills and even “unemployment benefits”! the remittances of the road sweepers provide a social security net thus covering for government incompetence!
Furthermore, it holds up the banking system. If you doubt this check out the inflation produced by the ‘summers’ arrival in Kampala at Christmas! The contributions of kyeyo match those of donors!
In addition it provides seed capital for numerous small and medium enterprises thus again covering for the incompetence of the state! These businesses generate taxes that the government collects to cover the other third of government expenditure!
Investment in transport services both private and public are contributed to significantly by those road sweepers!
Likewise investment in housing that provides both dwellings and rental accommodation of reasonable standards, benefits heavily from road sweepers!
Tracy is some low level government technocrat who comes to these facebook debates to expose his ignorance of uganda’s economics as well as the significant input of the ‘nkuba kyeyos’!
Yet these major donors to the NRM coffers are sidelined politically and even denied their basic right to voting -a right that Rwanda a poorer nation as well as Sudan until recently a non nation are able to provide their citizens worldwide. Ugandans in the diaspora contribute a lot to Ugandan’s economy, yet have to put up with being disenfranchised of their rights as well as putting up with abuse from jumped up low-level technocrats like Tracy exposing their ignorance!