If you are not excited about this then you’re generally disinterested in science, your understanding of mathematics is rudimentary and your economics is poor – as poor as your country would be if you were in charge of things.
This eclipse is exciting because it is going to make us RICH! And FILTHY RICH at that, in just a matter of days!
The clever ones amongst us have already reaped the benefits since we first started talking about this back when Father Simon Lokodo was addressing himself to Uganda’s skirt lengths. This rare natural phenomenon presented Uganda with an opportunity, and today, this weekend and this week, we collect!
Some people, for instance, are paying UK£2,300 for a seven-day trip to Uganda. That’s just over Ushs9million (NINE MILLION SHILLINGS) for seven days; Ushs1.3million each day. This money is paid to tour operators who naturally make a profit off it – let’s assume it’s a profit of Ushs500,000 per person per day so that more of you are encouraged to go into this line of business and start selling Uganda better.
The tour operator spends the rest on flights, accommodation, transport and food for the visitors.
That is money into the pockets of people who grow the raw food, the ones who buy and sell it forward, and the ones who eventually cook it; also earnings for food transporters; and dealers in the energy used to cook (from firewood to Umeme)…the list is long but the money is also a lot.
Especially if you believe that there will be at least 30,000 people coming in through the borders for this weekend.
And it doesn’t stop with those monies either – they also carry extra money to pay for things like booze, souvenirs, snacks, more booze, like that, like that. If these 30,000 people are each going to spend Ushs1.3million a day, deduct Ushs500,000 as the tour operator’s profit and that leaves Ushs800,000 per visitor/tourist – which equals a total of Ushs24billion (TWENTY FOUR BILLION SHILLINGS)! That, in case you aren’t paying attention, is Ushs24billion EVERY DAY!
Catch your breath.
That’s almost enough to build another parking lot for MPs, if you already have Ushs12billion. Sorry. That was an unnecessary suggestion, since we finished with the parking lot.
But there is more money coming in by way of this eclipse; YOUR money. I am already in Masindi as you read this, transferring money that I would otherwise have spent in Kampala and spending it here instead. On top of those 30,000 tourists we anticipated last week, we could easily top up with another 30,000 Ugandans from other parts of the country, all driving up to Masindi, Pakwach and Nebbi to catch the eclipse.
I don’t know how much we will be spending right now, but this is the time for all those people who live and operate along the road from Entebbe Airport all the way to Pakwach to activate themselves. I know the aptly-named Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry might have already sent out these advisories so I am just re-enforcing the message with:
a) It’s not too late: Print t-shirts with the words ‘I love Uganda’ t-shirts or ‘I Watched The Eclipse In Uganda’ or even, for those who don’t heed the warnings, ‘I Was Struck Blind Watching The Eclipse in Uganda’ and sell them everywhere up to the airport
b) Build Sunglass Huts especially close to Masindi, and stock them with proper UV sunglasses instead of those knock-offs sold in Kampala traffic that will one day make eye-omelettes on our faces if the Bureau of Standards doesn’t wake up
c) All the people who live in those places just off the road from Maganjo to the top of Pakwach, dig up your raw food that’s ready to sell and sell it, dammit! Don’t let any potato, tomato or mango stay behind – you won’t regret this!
d) set up kiosks selling soft drinks at various points along the road, all the way
e) Caterers, please introduce some travel snacks on the Masindi-Gulu road to replace those roast sweet potatoes and cassava, and those suspect bits of meat we’ve seen since the ‘80s. In fact, all Rolex stands should relocate to that road and line up neatly a polite distance from the road.
Speaking of politeness, all of us must be at our most polite this week because these tourists might enjoy their stay here so much that they choose to come back every year on anniversary visits; plus, when they go back they will tell everyone they meet what Churchill said: ‘Focus on Uganda’.
Even Ugandans: Focus on Uganda.