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The pressure to keep up appearances


FAKE LIVES: Check yourself and look around you…how many people can you count to be living beyond their means? Why are we under the pressure to impress? Who are we impressing?

You do not have to live for long in Uganda to realise that it is all plastic. It is all a lie. We are all pretending to live, the leaders are pretending about leading, the citizens are pretending about their own responsibilities. In Uganda, there is always something to blame. Everyone in Uganda will convince you that it is not their fault, but that of the people in higher places.

The poor Ugandans act like they are rich, and the rich act like they are richer. It is no wonder wealth does not last long here. We all love to flaunt it as soon as possible. People take their kids to international schools that they cannot afford. The kids then pile that same pressure on their parents.
“Mummy there’s a trip to Dubai”. But Mummy cannot afford that trip to Dubai. Thus, mummy now must take a cash advance, so little Jordan can make it to that Dubai trip.

In Uganda, everyone acts five classes higher than their actual status. Everyone is self-inflating. Everyone pretends they know someone that controls power. Everyone says they know a powerful lawyer, a powerful person in police, in the army. Everyone in Uganda pretends to know more than they know. People will even assure you that they sat through the meetings to discuss so and so’s firing or appointment.

When it comes to schools, we pretend to pay the teachers, teachers pretend to teach, and students pretend to learn. We are happy to announce their examination results. Congratulations, your kid just got 20 points, but can they find their way in the Ugandan taxi park? Can they bank their own money?
We have come to believe that the greatness of our parenting is how our kids score good grades, get obese and speak good English. After all, the maids can do everything. What is money if it cannot make our kids softer and lazier?

We show up happily on wedding days, post about our relationship goals, until you pass by the lodges and hotels in Kampala and realise they are all full to the brim. Who is fooling who? It is no wonder wives wake up to random kids at the funerals of their husbands. Husbands, on the other hand, have prepared themselves for a possibility of raising some other guy’s kids unknowingly.
We speak about corruption and then proceed to bribe the police officer on the road. Some proceed to bribe just to have their kids in the big schools. Our public lives are molded out of gold, our private lives are of copper.

The opposition will defy government on everything until it is time to increase their salaries and allowances. Then, you will be met by silence. After all, when a mouth is eating, it ought not to make noise.
When it comes to workplaces, employees pretend to work, employers pretend to pay. In the end, for every workplace, you find a Pareto principle. For every 100 employees, only 20 are doing 80 per cent of the work. Everyone knows the script, and we all keep playing to it.
One day this Ugandan bubble will burst. We shall wake up and realise we were all broke, but we acted rich. We shall realise that most cars on the road had been bought on loans. We shall find out that we all lived payroll to payroll, hand to mouth.

We shall go to hospitals and will be shocked that our doctors could not diagnose, and the patients could not afford to pay anyway. As it is often said, we are all a car wash away. A story is told of a certain Ministry of Health official whose family got an accident in the countryside. He could not locate an ambulance. The nearest health centre was not equipped to save the family. He was forced to learn the hard way. We do a great job sustaining our plastic lives. When subjected to a little heat, they will melt away. They are illusions.

But perhaps I could be wrong. Perhaps we all know our lives are an illusion and thus find a way to forget them by pretending about them. We go dance like crazy on nights out, we drink our sorrows away, we get that momentary happiness. We proceed to social media and cast the imagery that it is all okay. Perhaps that is the secret of going through our realities, we can simply pretend they do not exist.

Twitter: ortegatalks

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