Friday, October 23, 2009

Wealth of tragedy; and tragedy of wealth

I took a while without blogging because I experienced a personal tragedy and needed time to recover. On 20th September, my favourite paternal Uncle and friend, David Kiiza Amooti passed away.

He was a serving officer in the Ugandan army, at the rank of Major and was commanding officer of the tank unit in the Artillery and Air Defence Division.

He used to phone me and I would familiarly respond, "Sir! Yes Sir!" before he would burst out laughing on the other end of the line. I recall growing up and when I would accompany him on travels, he would hand me his pistol to hold. I was young and I set my destiny was the military. But somehow, ambitions change.

Sure, ambitions change especially in a country where we have poor diligent workers, dubious smugglers, tax-evading merchants, landed heirs and heiresses, smart corporate executives, corrupt civil servants, to the pilferers of workers' money.

So, living in a low income country like ours, we swim in a sea of poverty, where souls strive to reach the shore by all means available. I have seen souls wallow in deplorable conditions with no hope; while others have swam ashore and kicked up their heels in joy like this man in the photo on the left.

Others are still lost at sea, hanging onto splinter woods, trusting providence. Growing up, I was drowned in childhood story books and imagined myself to be a character in Mark Twain or Robert Stevenson's books. Daily, I dreamed of chancing upon hidden gold on Treasure Island.

Maybe that moment will come. But while I wait for it, the picture on the left was taken sometime in April this year. The person appearing prominently with arms spread is a businessman who owns commercial property in Kampala's ramshackle tropical charm.

He is one of the lucky few Ugandans who has swam ashore; and that night, he held bundles of cash. Without care, he scattered some of the money to the ground... Yet it is highly probable, that while this chubby chap frolicked that night, somewhere in the north of Uganda, a toddler went without dinner waiting for World Vision to provide the next meal.

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