We love Man U, we don’t com­pare our­selves with our dwarf neigh­bours

The East African - - OPINION -

Uganda en­ters 2019 seem­ingly un­sure whether to re­main an an­gry dwarf or an ad­mirer of gi­ants. We spend a colos­sal amount of time ad­mir­ing English foot­ball clubs and spar­ing none for our own lo­cal league. While English soc­cer is loved world­wide, in Uganda it runs deeper than re­li­gion.

The na­tional league fi­nal in Kam­pala is played to an empty sta­dium, while ev­ery bar is packed by fans watch­ing pre­lim­i­nary English Pre­mier League matches.

But this is the same coun­try where half of us get re­ally an­gry at news of in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment in the neigh­bour­hood. In fact, if we went to war with Kenya or Rwanda, all they would need to do is keep send­ing ex­ag­ger­ated sto­ries of their de­vel­op­ment and with­out fir­ing a shot, they would kill us with jeal­ousy-in­duced blood pres­sure.

Para­dox­i­cally, when­ever one ad­mires neigh­bours’ de­vel­op­ment ef­forts, they are told not com­pare them­selves with fel­low dwarfs. So we get stam­peded into watch­ing Man City vs Liverpool half a year be­fore their fi­nals.

Try to talk of Kenya and Rwanda’s na­tional health in­sur­ance schemes and you are told how small and weak they are. No won­der big Ugan­dans pre­fer to fly to South Africa and Europe for treat­ment, rather than cre­ate a “dwarf” na­tional health scheme.

While Kenya’s big men and women could be more cor­rupt than Uganda’s, the Kenyan pop­u­la­tion never tires of de­mand­ing ac­count­abil­ity. Avowed Kenyan ri­vals are pushed into rec­on­cil­i­a­tion by na­tional de­mand, but dare you sug­gest such a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Kam­pala and you will be rudely shut up.

Se­nior ap­point­ments in Kenya are made after rig­or­ous open com­pe­ti­tion with in­ter­views tele­vised live. In Uganda, ap­point­ments are mys­te­ri­ous and where they have to go be­fore par­lia­ment’s ap­point­ments com­mit­tee for vet­ting, pro­ceed­ings are held in se­cret.

No won­der even Kenya’s cor­rupt man­agers can­not kill gi­ant na­tional cor­po­ra­tions like banks and air­lines. If you want to send the blood pres­sure of the Ugan­dan elite soar­ing, men­tion the ex­ploits of Kenya Air­ways and

Rwandair. They will rush to ac­cuse you of com­par­ing us with fel­low dwarfs. Then come the Tan­za­ni­ans. Those ones an­noy us even more be­cause we are re­minded how their sol­diers who kicked out our mil­i­tary regime in 1979 had never seen a TV and would even use a ma­chine­gun to grab a wrist­watch. But now even their coun­try is flour­ish­ing, and Dar es Salaam city has un­der­gone amaz­ing phys­i­cal transformation. Their peace­ful change of govern­ment with clock­work reg­u­lar­ity is an­other source of an­noy­ance. We have even lost count of how many liv­ing for­mer pres­i­dents they now have. But we re­main de­fi­ant and would rather con­tinue ad­mir­ing in­com­pa­ra­ble over­seas pow­ers than ac­knowl­edge neigh­bours’ ef­forts. We even claim the du­bi­ous hon­our of Kam­pala be­ing the “en­ter­tain­ment city of the re­gion.” This is bound to hap­pen when neigh­bours turn your house into their play­ground be­cause you have no re­stric­tions, pos­si­bly be­cause you don’t value your space that much. It is like the Philip­pines or Thailand claim­ing to do bet­ter than the USA be­cause Amer­i­cans like to go play­ing you-know-what in Manila and Bangkok. Uganda needs to de­fine it­self soon.

Siri, should I trust black mar­ket or­gan traders?

Eight years ago, a 17-year old in Chengzhou, China, de­cided to sell one of his kid­neys in or­der to buy the iphone 4 he couldn’t oth­er­wise af­ford. So, Xiao Wang be­came a celebrity in his school. But for eight years after the op­er­a­tion Wang, now 24, has been un­able to live a nor­mal life and is per­ma­nently dis­abled and de­pen­dent on dial­y­sis. It is emerg­ing that Wang fell into the clutches of shady char­ac­ters

Nether­lands-based startup Spacelife Ori­gin group wants to send a preg­nant woman 402km above the Earth to give birth to the first ex­trater­res­trial baby in history. Kees Mul­der, CEO of the Dutch startup, says, “If hu­man­ity wants to be­come a mul­ti­plan­e­tary species, we also need to learn how to re­pro­duce in space.” The group says that in or­der for an ex­o­dus into space to be a suc­cess, the hu­man species

Fight­ing fire with fire, Penn­syl­va­nia style

A 19-year-old vol­un­teer fire­fighter from western Penn­syl­va­nia was re­cently charged with ar­son and crim­i­nal mis­chief after al­legedly set­ting two houses on fire out of bore­dom. Ryan Laub­ham, a lo­cal vol­un­teer fire­fighter, was ar­rested for al­legedly set­ting fire to a pair of oc­cu­pied homes on De­cem­ber 3 and 10. After in­ter­view­ing wit­nesses and checking CCTV footage, au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied Laub­ham as the prime sus­pect in both cases, and he him­self admitted to the crimes, say­ing that he had set the houses on fire be­cause he was bored. The teenager was sent to county jail after fail­ing to cover the $200,000 bond. “He’s scared. He’s a young man who has a bright promis­ing fu­ture. He’s ner­vous,” said Casey White, Laub­ham’s lawyer. first has to learn how to re­pro­duce in space, by hav­ing a woman give birth in zero grav­ity con­di­tions. But as­tro­nauts say it is crazy idea be­cause the ab­sence of grav­ity would pose se­ri­ous prob­lems, like the lack of as­sis­tance when the mother pushes the baby out. Even though a hu­man birth in space has never been done, there have been ex­per­i­ments con­ducted on rats, fish, lizards and in­ver­te­brates.

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