Ask any Ugandan what their favorite name for Uganda is these days and if the have watched ‘Black Panther’ they will tell you it is ‘Wakanda’. I too like to think of Uganda as Wakanda. After all, the names do rhyme don’t they? The name Wakanda gives one a sense of make believe, of being in a fairytale place, of being gifted by nature, of milk and honey flowing along the foot paths.
It is where impossible is nothing! And these last two weeks have indeed been fairytale weeks. Let me share some of the quixotic things that tickled my cheeky self and made we love being a citizen of Wakanda. Not in the order they happened. But hey! I do have a right to tell the tale, as I want it to be heard.
First on my mind were our gallant sons and daughters who flew ‘Down Under’ to the to participate in the Commonwealth Games. I confess I didn’t think much of them until they connived to shock us. As I write this, they have four medals in the bag and are 14th in the medals table. Considering the level of investment in these guys, the return is shockingly massive. Kudos I say!
Having crawled out of their ‘mama yingiya pole’ huts everyday to a meal of porridge and a punishing sports regimen, they managed to get themselves selected to represent us at the Games. Now that they have won the medals, we have to celebrate a success in which we hardly invested. But that is the way of the world. It is not a fair place and if you ever think so, then you have a problem.
Second was the proposal from ‘above’ that we should be taxing Whatsapp, Facebook ‘nebigenderako’. If you don’t know what ‘nebigenderako’ means, ask you neighbor. Again this smacked of reaping where we did not sow but this being Wakanda, I guess we can make it happen. The Minister for ICT did give an ‘explanation’ as to how the tax will work and I hope you understood! I did not understand him but again, I guess he must sing for his lunch. On a more serious note, we are already taxing these services. The more you do ‘lugambo’ (rumour mongering), the more data you have to buy. And we are collecting the taxes from the telecoms. Maybe we shall introduce a specific ‘lugambo’ tax, which we shall impose on all these notorious gossips from Wakanda! Sounds good if you ask me. The devil, as always will be in the detail.
Next up was the ‘bank account saga’. The tax authorities want your bank statement. I think the taxwoman should have all the goddamn bank statements she wants. There is a lot she could find out. For instance how our humble civil servants have managed to arrogate to themselves into the role of ‘magicians’ in Wakanda. Many have been able to turn wine into water, and others have turned water into wine. They have achieved an incredible return on a pittance. Go on, I say, and give her all the bank statements.
Lastly, as a result of all the foregoing, we seem to have gotten our economic groove back. The guys who keep tabs on the performance of the economy felt it was time to tell us how the economy was doing. One group said the economy had had a ‘robust rebound’, growing at 6.9%. Another group however was a bit pessimistic, arguing that it was recovering but growth was more like 4% instead of the 15% required to deliver us to ‘middle income status’ whatever that means.
This being Wakanda, I don’t care what the growth rate is or is not. I am feeling good about the medals that our gallant sports stars will be bringing home and that’s more like a 6.9%. If the medals don’t lead to more children, at least they will lead to more love in Wakanda.
Samuel Sejjaaka is Country Team Leader at Abacus Business School. @samuelsejjaaka