Sit still, daughter of mine, so I can tell you how things really were before all this ‘development.’ It is important that I write this down now because something tells me the status quo as it stands, will last for a limited time only.
In the era your generation probably refers to as BPO (Before the Production of Oil), there was a hard period when scarcity seemed to go on endlessly. It was a national thing; when MPs got elected, they quickly started stealing as much as they could. Because they believed there was so little, not enough to go around. But there was a glow over the western town of Hoima.
Over there, the expectancy could almost be physically felt.
We wished, nay, we hoped against hope. We spoke in future tense. It was always “when the oil starts to flow…” inserted in every sentence. The beautiful people on NTV always had an unistakeable smile playing on their lips when they spoke of the yet-to-be-produced resource.
We were so close to glory, we could almost feel the crisp dollars in our hands. Because we were told there was going to be so much money in circulation, we would start pushing it away with our feet. Some of us feared we were just being Dick Whittingtons but that did not sour the mood one nit.
In those days, the cost of living was so high and we shrugged unbelievingly when the new Finance Minister, a lady who always smuggled something red into her attire everyday, said taxes on kerosene and sugar had been slashed. It was a village dweller’s budget that year.
In those days, people parked their Ipsums and borrowed the Toyota SEs of their friends who had already abandoned the foolhardy practice of driving to work. Some of us were still driving, you know even as all the smart kids said we should walk-to-work.
Scientists were the wretched of the earth back then. Politicians, most of them lawyers, were rolling in clover.
But we did not give up because we believed when the oil started flowing, we would be home free.