Unless there is a big turn for the worse in the Covid-19 pandemic, Ugandans should start celebrating September 26 as the Holy Day of Healing, the day most faithful who subscribe to Christianity returned to church after a lengthy second lockdown. And for the deeply religious, September 26 is also the day of pharmacy for celebrating the medical twin brothers Saints Cosmas and Damian, who practiced pro bono during the third century in present day Turkey.
In matters secular, it was the day the Africa Climate Week was launched, virtually hosted by Uganda. Deliberations and presentations were generally in the spirit of “accelerating collaboration and integrating climate action into global pandemic recovery”.
But the host country could do a bit better in internal collaboration. For example it is doubtful that even a quarter of the faithful knew that their country was hosting the Africa Climate Week, though three quarters of the population access radio and a third access the internet. Even the government did not make any prayer suggestion as people returned to church. There was no common prayer theme. No collaboration.
Well, at least in many churches congregations got to hear a call in Swahili (not our favourite language) to use sanitiser sprays, one measure for curbing the spread of coronavirus thus: “Leta spray!” (let us pray), at which command whoever is poised to lead the next prayer is given a sanitiser spray for the microphone.
The next day, Monday 27, was World Tourism Day, the sector most hit by the pandemic lockdown world over, and particularly in Uganda. Nearly two years since the pandemic started, we are still bungling up the sector and that week, Uganda’s tour operators bitterly denounced the Covid-19 tests (mis)management at the country’s only international airport of Entebbe.
They claimed the testing mess had caused a 90 percent cancellation in bookings. No authority saw the need to rebut the alarming claim, leaving the public to believe it.
Instead, we only heard of a plan (bad guys may call it a plot) to set up an airport testing facility costing about $20 million. We didn’t get to hear why they don’t just deploy supervisors to regulate the private labs already at the airport who have already made the investment. No collaboration to avoid wasteful duplication.
That same week, we got to hear an expert report on the country’s energy sector saying that ongoing public investments (using loans) will next year have raised the country’s electricity generation capacity to 2,000MW, though consumption at peak time is 700MW. The privately done report claimed that the country will suffer an extra annual $950million cost for power it cannot consume because it has to pay the generating companies whether their output is consumed or not, and to repay the loans of course. The $950 million figure could exaggerated, but is the only one to hear as the correct one is yet to be given by the concerned authorities. Collaboration?
Clean energy is actually at the heart of combating climate change and the excess electricity we are generating and paying for should be used to power many activities from cooking to locomotion and public conveyance. Our energy balance sheet therefore doesn’t manifest collaboration, as we spend over a billion dollars importing fossil fuels that accelerate warming and pollution. Leta spray this changes.
At least we have the continuous call for disinfectant “Leta spray” in our endless calls to God to help us solve our problems without putting in too much effort on our part.
We have a lot of faith, you know! No wonder, officials of the Uganda Cancer Institute said the same week that most of our people who get cancer die and the reason they can’t be cured is that they waste too much time seeking faith healing and report to real hospitals when it is too late.
So leta spray again and again, to disinfect our infected sense of rationality.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail:[email protected]