In Uganda you can not work smart


First off I want to say I don’t like making this platform a personal front to prove people wrong but I believe you’ll benefit from this.

This week I had an argument with two people on Facebook, over a quote by George Monbiot;

hard work

And it was re-shared by David Wolfe and re-shared by Gertrude Oyella one of my Facebook friends and this is the comment I left on this quote;

This is a stupid quote, hard work can’t be referred to an African woman carrying firewood…she isn’t selling it, it’s for her family…this would only be shared in comparison with a factory worker or a government worker or business woman/ man.

And it stirred up a one Hellington Musoke he called me out to give a fact based reply supporting why I would wave off the “intellectuals” quote according to him…unfortunately I didn’t have time but now I do and I’m feeding off a mental delirium that is so high my mind is rushing but let me hope I will write down everything I need to.

Now Musoke and Oyella and whoever will read this to benefit from it or supplement on it. Here are some ideas by some said intellectuals I also strongly believed in.

Martin Ravallion, a World Bank Economist and his team wanted to set a poverty line and they came up with figures that defined people living under the poverty line and it was found that most people in developing Countries lived on 370 dollars a year. In what he calls an epiphany he made a mental calculation over dinner and came up with the one dollar a day concept to define people below the poverty line.

I was a believer in this concept in fact I couldn’t dispute the intelligence that went into those calculations until I started working with Andrew Mwenda. This guy gave me an intellectual dress down on this concept and this is what he said;

The people at the World Bank use that concept to calculate Purchasing Power Parity, or PPP. They look at the prices of several goods in developing countries. And then with reference to national accounts, household surveys and census data and calculate how much money you would need in each country to buy a comparable basket of goods that would cost you $1 in the USA.


Now what they didn’t understand is that the 1 dollar a day concept doesn’t correlate well with most African Countries where you have people getting tomatoes from their gardens, milk from their cows, food, from their gardens, firewood from the forests around them and can even live for more than a month without purchasing anything.

To Ravallion and his colleagues, this calculation led them to a conclusion that anyone who lived on one dollar a day or less was under the global poverty line. Wow!! My grandmother cultivates everything she needs and those that she can’t cultivate sometimes don’t require her to spend more than 1 dollar a day or even a month.

My grandfather passed away living her with 15 acres of cultivatable land, a full kraal and other domestic animals but she is under the global poverty line. My distant grandmother (an aunt to my mother) has only one acre of land, cultivates everything she needs and doesn’t purchase any basket of goods in a day or week. Last time I visited she candidly confided in me saying it’s so hard for her to have 10,000/= as personal money.

May be she lied may be she didn’t but she also lived below the “poverty line” right. Now should we all purchase a basket of goods above 1 dollar a day to escape this supposed poverty line or get everything we need to survive in a day from our gardens and save the little money we have.


This takes me back to the quote that fueled this post, if wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.

With all due respect George Monbiot, I believe you made this statement with the idea of the policies that foster growth in your home Country but not with the African kind of policy set up in mind.

True story, I read every financial book that declares itself to be the heavy weight among the heavy weights and in hindsight being the doer I am I came face to face with solid rejections. I was 25 very fresh with solid dreams I that I wanted to happen, after reading losing my virginity the biography of Richard Branson I and my friend Duncan went out to test the old genius’ wisdom in Uganda.

First we tried the idea of promising a Land Lord to let us operate in his arcade for a month with a solid Business Plan at hand. We tried Kisementi, Mabirizi and Galilaya Plaza. You don’t want to know what they said but I will relay it. First they called us Conmen, they called security on us and at Galilaya we looked so pathetic it hurt.

But it didn’t hurt emotionally because we wanted to prove whether the get rich quick schemes and the working smart ideologies would work in Uganda.

We pulled out Rich Dad Poor Dad, trust me in Uganda nobody is going to give you food stamps, there are no homeless shelters here that when they seize your house or when government wants to seize your assets you file for bankruptcy.

It’s not in Uganda, In Uganda filing for bankruptcy means ending up in Luzira Maximum Prison that is where our Country sends the Bankrupt. If it doesn’t send you there, banks seize your property. Let me hope you remember what happened to the Sembule guy, our Ugandan own self-made entrepreneur (Government didn’t save him irrespective of the countless attempts he made to reach out to them).


Our Business systems and political systems don’t support working smart. You may try to invent it but the ignorance with which you’ll be met with will force you to push crazy marketing plans, extra working hours to come up with ideas on how to capture the market.

For a Ugandan to say they work smart in Uganda or Africa per se is such a big lie. Let’s first bring it home to just getting a paying job or contract, how much working smart can you involve there?

The labour laws are so bad that they are just there as a form of show. If you show me one graduate or employee who has sued a company for firing him/her without notice or before their contract ended then I will show you a liberated Country but for now Hard Work is all you got.

Let me get back to Monbiot; he says every African woman works hard. Now Monbiot traditionally an African woman carrying firewood on the head is not hard work that is called responsibility.

This woman owes it to her family to deliver a healthy meal and if it means carrying a load of firewood or water downhill she’ll do it not as a form of hard work but love. Aren’t you the guys who preach find what you love and do it?

Fortunately in your Country Monbiot, the government systems have made it easy for the women, when they need water, they open a tap and water flows, when they want to cook they switch on gas or electricity. Is your quote really informed?

This is to you Monbiot, ” if wealth was the inevitable result of working smart, all British women would be millionaires” Sarah Namulondo

dish washer

It is no secret that African women love their families more than anything, they don’t give up their kids for adoption.


You have that option but African Women don’t have it (by the way here am not talking about the phony African women). In fact in Uganda if you abandon your child, there is only one place you end up in once caught that is prison. And if by any chance you don’t get caught you stand to be ridiculed by your peers.

I find it really ridiculous for you to compare how hard African women work to the elevation of wealth. A person like myself who has a degree can’t compare the level of opportunities availed to me by the mere fact that I can read and write something someone who didn’t go to school doesn’t have.

We may both work hard but granted we have different opportunities. When you want to start a business, get a new job or even write a book you have to put in consideration what your starting point is, what your opportunities are before you can compare yourself to other people’s success stories or wealth stories.

It’s so unrealistic to expect ourselves to all perform equally at the same level as Bill Gates performed in the U.S with his software. When I was a practicing Journalist I did an online story about a young Ugandan Guy who had created a program called Desktop. This program was created by a Ugandan for Ugandan’s but how many of you use the desktop software? How many of you even know about it?

Granted this young man worked smart but without hard work nobody knows or talks about his product. Whether you like it or not in Uganda if you say you work smart you are the biggest liar April 1st ever left behind.

I am still delirious but will keep updating this post with every fact that I come across or runs through my mind.

For now.




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