Its October 9th 2062, I am just twelve years shy of my own centenary but Uganda is celebrating its centenary. Seated on a couch in the living room surrounded by my grand and great grandchildren who have come for the Uganda@100 celebrations, a discussion ensues.
“Jajja (Old Man), we can’t believe that at one time Uganda never had enough electricity. How was life then?” asks one of them. “Well, you have grown up not knowing what life is without all these things you take for granted. Because you have encrypted electricity that cannot be used at all without decrypting and systems that store excess power when not in use preserving it for those times when we have peak demand, this means that theft and wastage of electricity has been brought to a halt.”
“But why didn’t they encrypt the electricity back then? You guys couldn’t think about something as simple as that?” another interjects. At a loss of words, I summarily state, “we were still low tech then. What you see today, is a world where energy is harnessed from the Sun, Water, hurricanes, lightning and wind only to be stored for use as and when the public demands. This may seem obvious to you but when I was growing up, we instead used to run away from lighting and hurricanes thinking they are merely destructive tendencies of nature. Today, I am amazed that from one lightning strike alone we generate a month’s worth of electricity to power 5000 homes. ”
“But Jajja, you always say that the roads in this country were very bad, what do you mean? Can a road have pot holes? Can one lack means of transport from one place to the other?” the 18 year old challenged me.
Clearing my throat, my mind raced to the times when I would travel to Apac, Arua, Soroti, Butaleja and other rural regions of Uganda and get stuck in roads cum gardens. “I don’t know how to describe to you what a bad road is since you have not seen a pothole in your life. At the moment you are spoilt for choice if you have to travel from Mukono to Jinja because you can take the express highway, the Speed Bullet Train, our family plane or even a submarine ride. You just don’t know what it means to be in a life where these alternatives aren’t in place. In 20 minutes you can find your way to the village in Butaleja a journey that used to take me 4 hours driving along an excuse of a highway called Jinja Road then.” “Wow!! Jajja, those must have been very tough days. You guys really suffered” interjects the 18 year old.
As I am trying to rummage through my decades old electronic albums to pick out some of my famous bad roads photos taken in Apac and Arua, Jean my great grandchild just walks in with her mother Nina and they are all smiles. She is just returning from her first holiday to the moon. Within no time, she narrates to us her first experience of zero gravity, the beautiful sight of mother earth from space, dancing ballet in floatation mode, and she is all grateful for the holiday home that we built on the moon. Her only complaint is that it takes long to get there. A flight through space of 6 hours is too long for her.
By the time she is through with her narration, I am tired and all I want is to sip my fruit juice mix, bird nest’s soup while nibbling the high protein fried crickets, mopane caterpillars and beetles.
Back from my dream, I nevertheless believe that Uganda@100 will be eons ahead of Uganda@50 if we believe and start working at it together. Finger pointing and armchair analysis of Africa’s challenges is one of our biggest antidotes to development.