WHILE Ethics and Integrity Minister, Father Simon Lokodo, was making loose comments about mini skirts the other week and getting Uganda priceless negative global headlines associating us with Idi Amin, Amos Wekesa was posting on his Facebook page about the solar eclipse of November 3rd, six months away.
Father Lokodo’s unfortunate, uncalculated and unstructured comment condemning the wearing of mini skirts by members of the Ugandan public was paid for by the Ugandan tax-payer in two ways: a) Directly – salary, cost of his position and his parliamentary seat, etc) b) Indirectly – via the investments and other business interactions lost because people suspect we are a nation of barbaric puritans.
Amos’ post, on the other hand, might earn us tourism revenues as a nation, through individuals and companies (Amos’ inclusive) from people that might come to Uganda on November 3 just to view this solar eclipse.
Disclaimer: Amos Wekesa is my friend, and I admire him for being a steadfast patriot who consistently looks out for the positives that Uganda has to offer.
“I have found that Australia last year on November 14 attracted 40,000 visitors who spent US$45million, Zambia attracted 20,000 tourists, the UK attracted 400,000 in 1999…earning over UK£4billion…this (eclipse) is an opportunity for us to open up the North for tourism!” Amos wrote.
Obviously, if we give this solar eclipse even a tenth of the attention we have given to the Marriage and Divorce Bill, Uganda will be rolling in foreign revenues.
The numbers he hopes we can get could be more than we hosted during CHOGM (mpozi what year was that?) yet we don’t have to fork out billions of dollars to build hotels, deploy government ushers, hold planning meetings and, later on, Public Accounts Committee investigations.
It may be a bit unfair to compare Amos Wekesa and Fr. Lokodo directly without context, but Fr. Lokodo’s Anti Pornography Bill will cost you more money – if you’re a tax-payer – for instance to facilitate the Anti Pornography Committee and whatnot.
Meanwhile, Amos told us, (and I checked on the internet to re-confirm) the best viewing areas for the total eclipse are in Arua, Soroti, Gulu, Masindi and Pakwach. All accommodations in Pakwach are fully booked and now the clever entrepreneurs are setting up camp sites.
Sadly, Amos’ post has not received as much media attention as Fr. Lokodo’s attack on the mini-skirt, but I hope Fr. Lokodo gets to hear of it today. His constituency, Dodoth County in Kaabong District, is just below the eclipse viewing line, but can still benefit should tens or hundreds of thousands tourists come to Uganda in November.
This lesson I remember from my primary school days, which section of education both Fr. Lokodo and Amos must have gone through, though one is a Master’s Degree holder and the other is of humble education.
The highly–educated yet casual-talking Fr. Lokodo represents 500,000 people from Kaabong, while my friend Amos services thousands of clients on tours across Uganda . He has thousands of friends on Facebook and Twitter, and gets tens of thousands of visits to his websites leading to millions of dollars flowing into Uganda each year.
Both gentlemen are important to Uganda.
But the efforts of many private sector people such as Amos would go much further if we didn’t have blundering people in positions of responsibility grabbing opportunities to make this country look stupid. Luckily, many people think it‘s a joke that we have a minister of ‘ethics and integrity’, moreover one who is a priest-turned-politician…
I don’t know where exactly the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity is located these days. But I do know that the road right next to Fr. Lokodo’s first base in Kampala, Parliament House, hosts street-side sex workers in public view. He could take seriously the saying that charity begins at home and either sort out dress code issues there (forgive the below-the-belt swipe <–and excuse pun), or attack the highly visible breach of the penal code by sex workersright outside his office (see 167 (a)).
And he can leave the promotion of our national public image to the likes of Amos Wekesa.
Mark the date and sieze the opportunity: November 3, 2013.