I NEED to declare that another government agency gave me a Christmas gift of the following, sent to me two days before the article below was published in The New Vision:
I was very pleased.
BECAUSE IT is not too late to do your shopping for Christmas gifts, here is an idea – and if you have already bought all yours for tomorrow then consider this a New Year’s resolution tip-sheet:
Last week I was the gleeful recipient of a Christmas hamper, sent to me by a generous government agency office I have official dealings with.
This agency is quite efficient at what it does and is therefore useful to our national development by way of its ordinary course of business.
As I studied the hamper presented to me, I knew that the cost of all the Christmas hampers this agency distributed this year could not be so significant as to warrant the attention of any but the most nit picky amongst us.
My heart sunk as I unwrapped the cellophane, and all the good cheer left me just as lots of money had left Uganda in exchange for the honey, chocolate, wine and coffee in the basket – which basket itself also appeared to be foreign.
The agency in question here normally hosts me for meetings about once a month, and I am always loudly insistent on being served coffee and tea grown and packaged in Uganda, accompanied by biscuits of local origin.
For them to be crowning the year by presenting me with Arabian honey was a clear affront to me, and I wasted little time before calling them up to clarify the messaging intention of the gift pack. Their genuine apologies ended with a pledge that they would conduct a seminar for their procurement people and suppliers, ensuring that next year they buy Ugandan at every opportunity.
Christmas gift shopping is a major such opportunity. In a year when we have seen the shilling sinking into a quagmire that needs shoveling by increased production for export, the least we can do is buy as much as we can locally as individuals and organizations – every day.
If all of us do our Christmas shopping at the craft markets, and wrap our gifts in locally made materials, sending them across with cards made in Uganda, then spend the season feasting strictly on traditional dishes cooked out of food from the gardens closest to our kitchens, this economy would change even faster.
And if that attitude were carried on into the new year, then as we return to our offices we might introduce policies that have us serving strictly local products at our meetings, and procuring only t-shirts designed and made in Uganda, to be distributed in baskets woven by local women and youth in the countryside, and all decisions made sitting at furniture designed and made by Ugandan carpenters.
It is never too late to make these decisions and implement them; focusing strictly on Christmas shopping, if you haven’t bought gifts yet then consider avoiding the crazy last-minute city or town traffic just to buy some ‘Made In Elsewhere’ items, and go down to the closest market then buy a year’s supply of fruit or vegetables for your loved ones.
This year I bought someone some months’ subscription to The New Vision and his joy after receiving the first surprise copy and working it out still rings loud in my ears – though may not be as fulfilling as my own at having spent that money supporting the salary of someone here, and shareholders in my vicinity, while adding a small prop to an industry I care about deeply.
It is not too late – spend your money here and make a small change that may also translate into some long term change that our children’s children might benefit from, more than the children’s children of people in far off lands.