Thursday, March 4, 2010

Disaster in the East

I have to claim extreme inattention.

I mean, I have been too busy and too crowded to blog. So, resolution of the day was first to clear some of the backlog, before I launched myself onto the net.

It is an overcast day. Just been drizzling, here in Kampala. Nothing but the drizzle, drizzle, drizzle that catches attention. An excuse for people not to go work, in Kampala.
It is amazing. But, also a matter of fact. Rain kind of shuts down Kampala. Simply because so much of the work, so many people's offices are right out there in the streets. So, when the crowds are not out, then the people are not working. 
Offices? Oh, that is very un-Kampalan. [cough]. I mean, such a few people have office jobs, that we have to redefine the meaning of the term 'office'. For most of us, the office is the bit of street where we hang out to strike a deal. A business deal.

Now, that I have been controversial enough to make a solid observation that is sure to anger fellow Ugandans, I can proceed to taking apart the news.

The landslide in the east of Uganda.

The New Vision shows off her reporting prowess. I guess one cannot reasonably censor a natural disaster.
Why do politicians see a disaster as a photo opportunity? And, why the hell is the President of Uganda putting on an AK-47 for this photo opportunity?

I hate the ill-logic of politics. But, that is its logic.
At least he found the right reasons for the disaster.

Human activities like cultivation and deforestation on the slopes of Mountain Elgon have exposed residents to such tragedies. The high population explosion has also exerted pressure on the eco-system."This should wake us up and make us act correctly. I will engage stakeholders after my countrywide tour in May so that we can find a lasting solution to the problem and seek better ways for a healthy co-existence between man and nature," the President said.
I am kind of worried that some nut case is going to blame it on the Gays of Uganda. Do you think I am unreasonable?

The pain, and individual loss of loved ones and pain continue. A time to weep, indeed.

Families losing one, or all but one.  Very personal stories of loss and disaster. Nothing is like a natural disaster to bring out the good and bad in humans. Not only the good. But also the bad.
And, those who tally the statistics are at their job.

The rains that caused everything? I have already alluded to the fact that it has been raining since morning in Kampala. A drizzle, drizzle which some find mind sapping. I like it. Love it, actually. So do I love the sun afterwards.
But, those excessive rains are continuing. El Nino, they call it.

In other things. Someone takes a business look at the effects that the Bahati Bill is having on the prospects of Uganda selling coffee in the US.

Oh, he is grim about the news of the Bahati Bill. But, why would Uganda mind?

Uganda's coffee does not enjoy brand visibility. Smaller coffee producers like Rwanda (about $50 million and producing one sixth of Uganda's output) have yielded better returns in programming quality, and spending wisely on promotion in the American market. It would seem that a strategy that avoids or harms the American opportunity would be foolhardy. The American coffee market is a marketing dream. The American consumes about 1.66 coffee cups per capita.
In 2003, this proposition translated into about $6.8 billion at the sales registers. Convincing skeptical American business people that Uganda is ready for anything is a tough sell. Uganda coffee, up to this point, still shows up at the bottom of the heap in the lower grades. Savvy producers dump their worst coffee and market it as Ugandan blacks highlighting the caffeine content and low prices in ways that other coffee producers like Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia would never countenance.

During the days of Idi Amin the madman, Uganda was involved in state terrorism. In the name of the Palestinian cause, an Israel plane was hijacked and flown to Entebbe. For a few days, that fool, that bastard Life President Idi Amin Dada grand-stood and primped like a peacock basking in the blaze of world news media and attention. That was 1975.
Yes, the Israel's came to Uganda. They rescued their people. And flew them away. The madman was left with egg on his face. In a feat of anger, he had one of the Israelis, an old woman who was taken sick during the hijack, called Dora Bloch, if I remember well, he had her murdered. She had been left behind because she was admitted at Mulago, if my recollection of the story is good enough.

And, of course Netenyahu's (current Israeli Prime Minister) brother was the only other casualty of that daring Israeli raid.

What significance is the Entebbe raid of 1975, eons ago?

I think as a consequence, Uganda lost the right to sell Coffee, our most important cash crop to the US. That marked the beginning of days of poverty.
One problem is, the argument is sound. But, who reads the long stories in the Monitor? Who follows up on the long winded arguments, presented in excellent English which most Ugandans will not understand?

Narrow it down to this. The Bahati Bill and its consequences will hurt the common man in Uganda. Because Uganda, on this fickle world market of coffee, will not be able to sell it for as good a price as we can. And, that affects the farmer in the village.
Of course, Ssempa has already rubbished PEPFAR, saying Uganda would rather kill her homosexuals, than have that divine right interfered with. Even if it means no drugs for the 200,000 Ugandans who are on PEPFAR drugs. You get?

We do live in interesting times. Who is complaining?



icearc said...

I seem to remember him retiring from the army, or is my memory rather foggy!

Paul Canning said...

There's also threats to investment in Uganda according to this Reuters article

spiralx said...

He "retired", yes... but there's that line about how old soldiers don't die - just the young ones! (or, if you prefer, old kings never die, they just get throne away).

Yes, the gays are to blame. All that lubricant, no doubt! We could offer help, I mean gosh, we could never pass up such a recruitment opportunity, now could we? Because, as we all know, being gay is SO what defines us as people....!

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