14 August 2016

Respect my office

I recently saw a sticker on a boda-boda that read: “Respect my office.” It was obviously a clear message to Ugandans suffering from what some have labelled “arrivalism syndrome” – a virus that attacks mostly young politicians, musicians and corroborate employees who have started appearing in the society pages of the local newspapers and think they are a special breed, way better than the ordinary mortals!

In this category are people who swear they would never be seen using a taxi because that would mean coming down a peg or two; it would demean their current station in life. In the same category you find girls who won’t date you because you live in a two-roomed muzigo in Bwaise. To earn their respect, you have to live in a certain neighbourhood, drive a certain car, attend certain corporate events, and hang out in certain places.

You know the heights most Ugandans scale while putting up appearances. We lie not just about the countries we have been to but also about the schools we attended, our education levels, the jobs we do, about our earnings and about how much we spend on pedicure and manicure!

I recently read an interview in which a local actress was bragging that her wig cost two million shillings. She sounded like she wanted us to bow down in respect because of that!

This being a developing country where many still live below the poverty line, I guess it pays to encourage oneself by putting up appearances. But when the kiss of good luck finally catapults us into grace from grass whereby even the paparazzi get interested, we get carried away and start looking down on others who are simply earning an honest living without pretending to be what they are not.

A boda-boda rider recently told me that on average he takes home 45,000 after the day’s expenses. Do the maths and see how much that is monthly. A homeboy who is a cobbler in Kampala bought a plot of land and is building rentals from mending shoes. I see from the clients of the guy I often buy rolex from that he’s generously cashing in.

So let’s respect each other irrespective of background, education, trade or social standing. In fact, we have a whole lot to learn from those we look down upon.


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