So Ugandans are the happiest people in East Africa; that is a surprise!By WILLIAM G. NAGGAGA | Wednesday, April 25 2012 at 10:26
According to a recent international survey, Ugandans emerged as the happiest people in East Africa, beating Kenyans, Tanzanians, Rwandans and Burundians by far! Out of almost 160 countries surveyed in the world, Uganda took 138th place in the ‘happiness line-up’.
The Norwegians and Danes that took the number one and number two positions respectively, are the happiest people living on Mother Earth. There may be some happier fellows on other planets but we don’t know very much about them and have no idea of what constitutes happiness in those far off places.
I am still surprised though as to whom the researchers talked to, for them to draw the conclusion that in this part of the world, we are blissfully happy! Is it to people like Tamale Mirundi, the ‘unbaptised Catholic’? I know we are “gifted by nature” but are we so blessed with happiness? We have the most dilapidated infrastructure in the region, the dirtiest capital city, the most quarrelsome politicians, a brutal police which operates as if it hates people and a host of other negatives which make you wonder how we manage to live here.
For the rich, of course things are different. Uganda is probably the best country for them to live in. I had an American friend living here two decades ago who said, “This place is a paradise and a land of opportunity”. He left when his money run out.
Another recent study painted a different picture. It showed that 78 per cent of Ugandans were dissatisfied with the way the country was managed by the NRM government. While the government was pleased with the happiness survey, they reacted angrily to the governance deficit survey or poll. It was condemned by the usual suspects, posing as spokespersons of the President and the government.
To them this survey was done by some ‘ignoramus’ who doesn’t have the slightest idea of the great things this government has done for Uganda. I, for one, would agree that NRM has indeed tried to turn this country around, but it abandoned its Ten Point Programme way back and the chance to build a better Uganda.
After an uninterrupted 26 years reign, it is only natural that people get tired and clamour for a change. The high disapproval rate is no doubt due to the government’s failure to eradicate corruption, nepotism, impunity, etc and to deliver basic services to the people; as promised way back on January 26, 1986.
Another recent study revealed that 70 per cent of the people in Uganda walk to work. Forget those politicians of the “Walk-to-Work” fame who do so occasionally, after parking their 4 x 4 wheels on the roadside. I certainly mean no disrespect to these brave men and women who have weathered beatings and teargas from police. The study, however, talks of the ordinary citizens who cannot afford taxi fares because their salaries are too meagre to cater for transport, food and other requirements. To those downtrodden masses, taxis, boda bodas and buses are simply out of reach. Most of these people eat one meal a day, have no access basic to social services.
Ugandans are resilient and adaptive people. They are probably the easiest people to govern because their level of tolerance can be extremely high. But with youth unemployment now exceeding 50 per cent, and the cost of living soaring, this resilience and tolerance is being tested to the limit and the government should not take too much comfort from the happiness survey.
In a way, Ugandans are also to blame for some of our economic problems. We have the lowest labour productivity among the three old East African countries. You need four Ugandans to do the work of one Kenyan and three Ugandans to do what one Tanzanian does. Our people are lazy and may be that is why they appear ‘happier’ than their more hard working compatriots in the region.
Mr Naggaga is an economist, administrator and retired ambassador.
Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?speak out
Read Story: Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- Nigerian deportee demands pay for Kenyan officials' release
- Tanzania innovator lands $300,000
- Ethiopia secures $300m Indian rail loan
- 7 Kenyans held in Lagos over deported 'Nigerian'
- Nile saga: Ethiopia and Egypt now favour dialogue
- Clinton to visit Senegal ahead of Obama
- Nairobi in pictures: Past and present
Beyond the ballot