Madness, an eminent psychologist said, manifests by doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting to get different results. Health officials recently told us that 14 million Ugandans — that is a third of the population — are afflicted with mental challenges.
We are not mad, but we tend to act in accordance with that symptom of doing things the same way and expecting different results.
Take this rampant exportation of the country’s youngest adults and expecting that we shall develop the country that way. This is not new. It has been done before colonialism when the continent’s strongest young men were shipped off to the Americas.
They helped develop that now developed part of the world but they did not develop their home countries. Even the development of those Africans has been more for exceptional individuals. And the one who rose to the highest office of the world was of very recent Kenyan origin, not a grandson of slaves.
The colonialists became smarter, and decided to exploit the African from his home ground, and together with the riches of his land.
For decades, the African slaved at home and became even more disgruntled. The exception that confirms the rule happened when the African was taken to go and labour on the battlefields of European wars. The conscripts who fought in the first and second world wars helped fuel the independence struggles and helped win freedom for their countries.
After that, it is hard to tell which human export has greatly developed an African country. Frustrated by general economic mismanagement of their own countries which makes it difficult for one to prosper by exploiting the resources — citing lack of skills, lack of financial capital, lack of opportunities, the young Africans have been exporting themselves and been exported by others in the hope of garnering enough capital to spur development.
But what have we seen? Many say they will work for a few years, accumulate enough savings and come home and invest big time, to grow old among their own people.
Many have been lucky, gotten stable employment and entered they system where they work for the rest of their productive years servicing mortgage, educating children, paying bills upon bills. By the time they know what, they are 60 and a visit to the motherland reveals that they just cannot fit anymore.
You meet them and they lecture to you how home is so bad and they cannot risk their children coming here. They blame the government and everyone else except themselves, and pity you for having wasted the many chances that you had to relocate but never used blah blah blah. You down the last drink and promise to look them up next time you pass through their glorious new home and so on.
And now the present craze! The rate at which we are exporting our young ladies to go and work as housemaids and the young men to become guards in the Middle East and other countries with strange names like This...stan and That…stan, and expecting that we shall get enough foreign currency to develop our countries is amusing, just like watching a mentally challenged person trying to walk on his head and hope he will cover a long distance.
Now many of these young people leave after selling off their family land and now we see some of them being brought back as indescribable corpses. Those are the “lucky” ones.
Our minister of Security (Internal Affairs) has been saying some of those destined for Saudi Arabia are actually sent to Thailand, their organs removed for the medical tourists and the rest of the bodies fed to crocodiles. He is a cabinet minister talking, not some man on the street.
And any doubting Thomases have seen for themselves a now vegetative young lady on TV who was brought back minus a kidney, probably explaining why the labour exporters/importers insist on children they take being thoroughly examined and confirmed to be in perfect health.
Anyway, we continue exporting them, expecting that they will bring back enough dollars to make our countries rich.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail: [email protected]