In Uganda, you are either cheating or being cheated.
Eat or be eaten: We have finally arrived as a country. We have moved from being a country to a market. It is just not one market, but a collection of markets. From Naalya to Namasumba, from Gayaza to Nakawuka, everyone in this country is selling or being sold something. We are all living in one love, buying and selling, we are all in one big ride. We are on this giant ship, where everyone can play captain and none of us knows the destination.
The side hustle economy
Everyone in this country has a side hustle. If you do not have a side hustle, then you are not a Ugandan. The doctor in Mulago has a clinic on the side, the pharmacist has a pharmacy. Every employee has a side business. You just cannot survive in this country without a side hustle. You must always have something to sell on the side. Don’t you wonder so much why most offices are empty past lunch hours? We are all in the hustle economy. We use every available time. We use the lunch hour to engage in a gig.
Speaking of side hustles. We are also told that the Association of Side Dishes, aka Sidos, is finally in powwer. There is now a patron saint of side dishes, aka the Queen Consort. The gods have finally remembered the prayers of the side team. Now let the games resume in peace.
The player economy
Welcome to Uganda where we are all playing. We buy Range Rovers, they get stolen within a day, and get recovered soon after. The askaris pretend to guard, the bosses pretend to pay. The game never stops.
The politicians sell dreams, and tonnes of hope, the voters sell their vote, the politicians disappear as soon as the election is done. There is no loyalty in this economy. One must find something to sell, a lie big enough, a lie too sweet for everyone to believe.
We are all struggling but acting like we are the big boys in town. We are sleeping in apartments that are half our salary, we are living finger to finger, we have more days left at the end of our salary. We are all sinking but pretending it is all just fine. After all, we are the hustler economy. There is nothing we cannot handle.
The cheaters economy
In Uganda, you are either cheating or being cheated. You simply choose which end of the game to play. In the Ugandan household, the husband is cheating with the maid, the maid is the official bae to the askari, the mother is moving out with the boss, the children are playing with fire next door. It is a soap opera. And worry not, in Uganda, the HIV test is nothing other than; “when did you last test?” We have mountains of faith in Uganda, we trust, we believe, we hope!
Welcome to Uganda where children are creating imaginary trips to get more money from their parents. Parents are creating imaginary expenses to raise more per diem. The children are cheating the parents, the parents are cheating the children.
We buy cars we cannot afford to maintain. We cheat the mechanics by pretending to pay them. Not to be outsmarted, our mechanics are talking of inexistent carburetors, creating imaginary problems, just to match us. Who is fooling who? Our roads are expensive because there are thousands of people feeding off a road project. The contractor must pay the procurement agent, the procurement agent must cut something for accounts. The boy in accounts must complete that house for the pregnant sido lest she destroys his marriage. Everyone in Uganda is running from something, we are all chasing someone and something. “Why are we running?”
Our city authorities bless us with potholes, accidents arise as we try to dodge the potholes, in the end, we all end up in the same pothole, of lies, confusion, illusions.
But at the end of the day, we all end up in some church. Every Ugandan belongs to some fellowship. If you want trouble in Uganda, tell people you have no religion. You can scam any Ugandan if you come under the cover of morality, of God. Every thief that ever lived in Uganda, every liar, always had a cover of religion. In Uganda, if you put on the armour of God, we shall believe all your madness. We cleanse ourselves with lotions of religion. Everyone in Uganda is using smokescreens. Do not believe any story in this country, there is always the untold story. If there is someone banning Nyege Nyege, be certain someone is passing a ludicrous bill the next day. Yes, speaking of Nyege Nyege, husbands have told their wives about an upcoming business trip. The wives too have told their men about an upcoming village function. They are all away this weekend, they will all meet in one place, aka Itanda Falls. Who is fooling who? May the best player win.
Everyone is now a president in this country. It is now trendy to be something in this country. You are either a president, a chairman, a prophet, an apostle, an honourable, an engineer or counsel. Ugandans are obsessed with titles, and positions. Our ‘president’ pretends to rule, the ‘opposition’ pretends to ‘oppose’, the citizens pretend to ‘listen’, but we all know, it is a big game. We are all players just hoping none of us is a pawn.
At this rate, everyone in this country needs amnesty. If we did a time freeze in this country and did a lifestyle audit on every Ugandan, we could end up arresting the whole country. If we were asked to share our Form 34Bs, the economy would crash. Uganda as a country needs a national reset. One day, we must all accept that we have all stolen something, just that some thieves in Uganda are more equal than others.
In Uganda it is not a question of who is stealing, but how much is everyone stealing? When we get to a point when there is no more to steal, what will happen? Who will inhabit all the malls that spring up every day? Who will frequent all the massage parlours? What will happen when every girl in the country is now a Carolite? Or we just sell the country and we each get our share? Oh Uganda, May the best thief win!
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