buying ugandan christmas gifts should set our pace for coming years

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:

Gifts made in Uganda - from a government agency

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.

everyone: to the Uganda Museum, this weekend!

Come one, come all <— we grew up reading this phrase on every single damn poster for every single damn event. Where did it go? Why did we stop using it? I liked it. It had authority and gravitas.

It invited you, and then on second thoughts instructed you to bring a friend.


Come One, Come All!

This weekend, for the following reasons (before or after reading the details in the picture-poster below):

1. To get an up-close look at some really beautiful flower and plant arrangements put together by passionate enthusiasts who actually know what they are doing.

2. To buy said beautiful flower and plant arrangements for your own home.

3. To buy said beautiful flower and plant arrangements as Christmas gifts for loved ones – which they will appreciate greatly unless you promised them a car, a busuuti or an Xbox-something.

4. To meet people who will be useful in helping you transform your home and make it amazing in 2015 – and THIS is the time to do this, since we are in the rainy season (one of them, for Uganda) and anything you plant roundabout now will certainly thrive!

5. To support something positive, if you are not going for the #PimpAkiba event sponsored by @40days_40smiles people today (Saturday). This #PimpAkiba event, by the way, is the painting of the Cancer Children’s Home that these young people have supported the whole year through with a dedication that would put most Parliamentarians and big corporates to shame for being so massively impactful yet pushed by gestures so little.

6. To take photos of these amazing beauties that Uganda has plenty of – the flowers and plants on display, that is. Your photos could easily be submitted for some global awards and prizes…

7. To take the business cards and contact details of people who will be useful to you when you are finally building that dream house, or renovating the one you are in, or organising your wedding, or just seeking cut flowers to decorate your ka-flat…

8. Visit the Uganda Museum, generally. Have you taken your children to learn about their own history? When were YOU last there? Here’s an opportunity, and one you come away from with a souvenir that you will never forget and that beautifies your home.

9. Very many other reasons that make absolute sense, whichever way you consider them.  And if I were vain or of the name-dropping variety, I’d list people you are likely to meet there, besides myself 😉 .

So now, the picture-poster:

Come One, Come All
Come One, Come All