go home and set things right


Somewhere in the middle of a mellow evening snack earlier today an argument flared up (intellectual flare as opposed to vodka-shots flare) over what reason a Ugandan would have to go back home and set up his own company rather than work many  more years for a well-paying multi-national.

My Ukranian and Brazilian companions found my position to be weak. Quite simply, I have started a drive for all members of developing countries who wish to see development take place back home to actively take steps to make it happen rather than keep talking about it.

And I’m not talking about taking over political power because that solution has been proven ineffective and short-term (ironically because the tenure tends to become long-term).

Working in developed economies or for companies whose principals are all based in developed economies develops those economies even further, and indirectly contributes to the slowed development of developing economies. The big multi-nationals who employ the best brains in developing economies pay us well in order for us to exert our energies towards maximising profits for the shareholders, and the non-corporates who engage in menial tasks for higher pay and a “better lifestyle” are simply filling a gap that allows the developed economies to focus on higher tasks.

While we do this, we may (or may not) contribute to development back home by depositing our salaries or wages in banks at home and injecting our disposable income into our home economies in various other ways but this is deceitful. In absolute terms, our contributions would be much greater if we exerted our energies into turning our economies around altogether. Some of these great brains of ours, for example, should be deployed in government service and others into building local companies into highly profitable enterprises without the elusive Foreign Direct Investments that countries so eagerly seek. If we applied the skills, talents and knowledge developed and picked up in the employment of the multi-nationals that keep us in salaries and impending gratuity to building up the little companies that exist in various forms at home, there should surely be some beneficial change that will have a greater multiplier effect on the economy than the combined banked salaries of ‘corporates’.

There is not much new in this, so to dwell on it would at best attract accusations of recycling the thoughts of the Kwame Nkrumah’s and Walter Rodney’s of times past, and at worst induce somnambulance.

What is new is the personal decisions that will follow this and how many other people will take the same steps.

Che (nickname picked from the usual suspect) is a medical doctor working in Uganda who absolutely hates his job because his principals are Western doctors whose skills and knowledge are not significantly higher than his but…there you go. Let’s see what decisions he makes as these discussions continue.

World AIDS Day and Christmas!!


Spread the word
Spread the word

Today marks World AIDS Day, as well as the first day of Advent, I believe.
Nevertheless, I have said one word of prayer and another expressing my gratitude for yet another Christmas season.

First, World AIDS Day: I’m not paying attention to it just because I am Ugandan. This ethnic fact only matters because Uganda was the first developing country to tell the world that we had a problem with HIV/AIDS – a move that helped stop a disaster of nuclear proportions.

When Uganda first spoke out about this disease in the 1980s we were just climbing out of an abyss of ruin and war, and the euphoria of the day threatened to combine with the despondency and poverty we had lived through for decades till then to cloak us in suicidal ignorance.

When the United States declared HIV/AIDS an international problem I had a by-lined cover story in Newsweek (http://www.newsweek.com/id/98512/page/2)  but was too humbled by my experiences covering the progress of the fight against AIDS to revel in the achievement. Every year, therefore, I make it a point to pin on my red ribbon and get involved in some activity or another to spread awareness in the hope that more and more people will make an effort to avoid contracting or spreading the disease, and learn not to stigmatise those infected.

Last night my plan was to change my email signature to append the ribbon and then send out over a hundred official emails so that my activity benefits the company and offsets the cost of the emails (I am still rolling on the floor over this morning’s Globe House biscuit shortage rant!) But this year, here’s my contribution, as I have spent the entire day at my desk in Hamburg watching the sun do it’s half-day and “being busy” so much so that I have just remembered to raise a flag…or ribbon. (Insert short prayer or something here.)

But perhaps my attention was also diverted by the official start of the Christmas Season!!!

If you’ve got Windows Media Player on your computer, click on the icon, go to the tab labelled Guide, then it will load Internet Radio. Select the holiday channel and you will spend the day humming away giddily while getting lots of work done (seriously, get work done while you do this and nobody will complain or take away your biscuits). – If you’re on iTunes it’s even much simpler, so just do it.

Mind you, one’s mood will always be bright and uppy regardless of the sun’s laziness if one arrives at the office first thing in the morning to smiling young hostesses handing out sachets of Advent chocolates (one for every day from December 1 to 30) with the compliments of a keen office Initiative Team!