When you get a chance to be out on the street for long, you get to see how the rest of humanity goes about making a living. You also realize that it is not all ‘normal’ as in the way your mama told you it was supposed to be done back in the day when you told all and sundry that you wanted to be a taxi conductor when you grew up.
Kampala keeps on attracting people from all over the country. Not only that, they are coming in from all over the world. Seems there is something we are not seeing that foreign people see. We have stopped asking how the Asians make so much money. They make the money wherever they are thrown by fate (Iddi Amin, et al) whether in Uganda or in Canada.
In Kampala, you will probably not find the big money in traditional trades. The doctors are all running away from their offices to make a dime on the side. some of them are happy about the doctors’ strike at Mulago because they get to spend more time at their clinics and charge obscene money.
There’s this dude who went to the country after school to slave for UGX 400,000 while doctors else where were fighting to work in K’la where they would get the extra cash brought in through the efforts of desperate patients who have been bred to pay the doctors more than they are officially entitled to.
On the surface it seemed like the dude in question was one shinning example of a selfless medic but he a long term plan. He worked for 5 years and stood for MP in the area. He lost. Apparently, the people in his area did not feel like losing him just yet because he was the cheapest dude around. Everyone knew that he would never ask for money on the side.
He slaved for another 5 years and stood. This time, he won. The rest is history, as they say in my village. He went to parliament and some sharp eyed sycophant of Kagu dropped a good word for him in the President’s ear. Now the good doctor is one of the youngest state ministers and he is suddenly looking very different. He is the state minister fro primary health, Mr. Otaala.
It is about what you believe can happen. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to come to fruition. The good doctor can pass off as a guy who didn’t really go looking for the big time. He was elected by grateful people for all the good things he had done for them for ten years. They elected him not because they thought he should earn an MP’s salary. They elected him because they felt he could go to parliament and represent them more ably than the clown who sat in the seat before him. Because he had spent enough time with them to know their problems.