I recall reading a piece in which a non-Ugandan shared with glee that one of the major reasons she liked living in Uganda was because she could go to the market with the equivalent of ten dollars or less and be able to buy fresh food items, including loads of fruit and vegetables, that could feed her and her family for over a week.
Indeed, yesterday, for only twenty thousand shillings (about five dollars), from Kitoro Market, I was able to buy six tomatoes, five onions, cauliflower, lettuce, a cluster of sweet bananas, two apples, two mangoes, and two cucumbers. And this got me thinking, if this is what I have paid for these premium fruits and vegetables, how much then was the farm-gate price?
Please appreciate also that in Uganda we don’t have a minimum wage. Employers pay however and whatever they like and so the majority of Ugandans are low paid wage/salary earners. in comparison to the true cost of living in Uganda, that is. It is hard sometimes to tell who is the worse off, the fresh fruit and vegetable farmer or the low paid employed.
From what I heard of what went down at the official Labour Day Celebrations on May Ist, these are not the issues that formed centre stage nor are they the issues trending from the celebrations. Instead, for the last couple of days, “muwogo” or “cassava” is trending on social media for Uganda.
“If there is no bread eat muwogo (cassava). Africans really confuse themselves. If you’re complaining that there’s no bread or wheat, please eat muwogo. I don’t eat bread myself.”President Museveni is quoted as having said.
Sadly, President Museveni has horned his expertise in generating such red herring diversions for the enjoyment and entertainment of many. In reality, such diversions are costly for us as a nation and are in fact the basis for the terrible viscous cycles that impoverish us – not holding duty bearers to account.
We urgently need to interrogate and address the root cause of why Ugandans find President Museveni funny in this context, when, in fact, his “muwogo” comments are similar to those that generated major discontent among masses elsewhere in the world. His comment is no less insensitive and offensive as was “let them eat cake” to peasants who couldn’t afford bread; as was “why don’t they eat porridge and ground (minced) meat” asked of people who were starving for they could afford rice.