Uganda has been in the news for various reasons this year, from declaring itself a middle-income economy to having its own citizens de-campaign one of its major projects, the famous EACOP. Because EACOP is a major illustrator in this article I would like to clear the air by stating that EACOP is far from being a project, rather it is a fully registered company in Europe.
Now let’s delve into the discussion, as a country we have tried to implement various projects that are either linked to climate change or have a direct impact on our climate but often times our success rates are not only low but insignificant. These outcomes are not because our projects are wrong but because we do not involve those who need to buy into the whole idea in the first place.
A group of well-polished and read gentlemen and a few ladies sit in AC-filled rooms and decide the future of the country and ignore those who will be most affected by these decisions. Our climate conversations are held in four-star hotels with after-meeting dining and drinking and just like that, our future is innocently eaten and drank way to the stomachs of those who have had the privilege to speak the white man’s language and wear neatly pressed suits and ties.
How then do you expect us to react?
Us from the countryside that has long been forgotten. We are remembered seasonally when we lose our brothers and sisters to the flooding of river Nyamwamba because you decided to destroy the water catchment error for your own selfish economic gain. Ohhh I forgot, the development you call it. Forget my ignorance, I didn’t have the privilege to be part of the team that decided that our water catchment area should be destroyed because ohh I don’t know the white man’s language and my dirty garden dress would not only embarrass the men, and women in suits but also dirty those very expensive seats at Serena hotel and the worst case scenario for the country is the investor mistaking me for a beggar.
So the reason I oppose you is not that I don’t want development, I simply don’t know what it is and I am only staying true to my reality. The reality is that I may not see another year if the river floods. The reality is that last year I lost a brother due to the same floods, a sister in the previous year and a very knowledgeable grandmother just the year before that, so you see am scared of dying too and no matter how loud I shout you just don’t hear.
Your ears are shut by dollars and pounds from the white man and your brain can only interpret the unique English that he speaks through the nose. You have given him access to the shores of lake victoria and when lake victoria flooded you didn’t care, oh you did, you issued a statement in the white man’s language, only yours didn’t come through the nose.
Now you have risked thousands of lives along the oil pipeline because this time the Whiteman didn’t just shut your ears, he covered your eyes and nose too. You can’t hear us shout or see us demonstrate and you have ignored the smell of the sweat from the various attempts to reach you.
We are not asking much, we are not stopping you, we are simply saying listen to us in our mother tongue, allow us to share our reality, and consider us and the future generation in your planning so that we are sure that this project will not be the very end to our existence.
For people and the planet.