If you have been watching the news you probably cannot help but wonder what is going on in this country and whether there is any hope.
But then again if you have not been watching the news it’s probably for the same reason.
In the privacy of our homes or around a beer we engage in besting each other with the most shocking stories of corruption, government and company incompetence and dare devil boda bodas.
Our expressions go from open mouthed shock to tearful laughter and finally to the thousand-mile- stare of befuddlement.
Thankfully or not, we Ugandans don’t stay depressed too long.
I have a friend who supports a soccer team which has fallen on hard times for what seems like for ever. After every outing of his team, he always has a logical answer for why they performed the way they did and despite the loss the future is bright for the stragglers.
He cannot understand why I don’t share the same passion for his team, which is actually our team. I chose to save my emotional energy for more profitable endeavour, I tell him.
For the majority of us we have one country and we will sink or swim with it. Just because we do not have a Uganda flag sticker on our bumpers or don’t know all the stanzas of the national anthem does not mean we are any less patriotic than the next guy.
We work, we pay our taxes, we obey the law and we invest to make this country a better place for our children and their children’s children.
Patriotism? A love of one’s country as opposed to nationalism, which is the belief that your country can do no wrong. It is possible to be patriotic without being nationalistic. After all nationalism is the last resort of the scoundrel.
Patriotism is a personal endeavour whereas whether you are a nationalist or not is often decided for you, often by the government of the day.
So it might be fashionable to write this country off. To throw your arms up in the air and give up. To mutter under your breath at the unfairness of the system and to vow on your mother’s grave, to fly out at the earliest opportunity and stay there. Whichever way you think it you will not be solving anything for yourself or your country.
Even worse are our cousins abroad who, regale in the TV footage of demonstrations being dispersed with teargas or click their tongues at the latest scandal or jeer at flooding at clock tower or kyambogo.
They see these as what is wrong with “home” and why they would rather stay put in their rented wardrobe of a flat, with their double shift lifestyle and affected accents.
Good luck to them in their new found home country.
So what to do when the bad news is like a heavy downpour beating you down, keeping you down, threatening to kill your spirit?
In a strange, masochistic way we like this deluge of bad news.Why?Because like our cousins abroad, it justifies our mediocrity, our unwillingness to reach deep and become all we and our society can become.
So because there is corruption or the public transport is not ideal or because your neighbours’ children are running around butt naked, therefore we make no effort to improve ourselves. It is therefore okay to be worse than average human beings.
You cannot improve your environment if you cannot improve yourself.
As you might have guessed this tirade was prompted by a whiner, who I did not have the presence of mind (blame it on the Guinness) to respond to adequately.
So to Mr Whiner.
This is our country, your country. Our obligation is to be the best we can for this country whether it means sweeping our patch better or putting in that extra hour of homework or slogging away at our business despite the hard economic times.
Even those who face up to a system that they think is unjust and the ones who face them down, are working to make this a better country, the best way they know how.
As in life, there are no guarantees. You do the best you can and hope for the best, even if you know that by some coincidence of fate even your best effort may not be enough and everything can be blown up to hell.
It is true our county is a mess in so many ways, if you look.
Who is going to fix it?
Because if we don’t, no one will do it for us. And if we leave, we will be fixing someone else’s mess wherever we go – that is assuming we can lose our whining ways.
The problem of criticising is that it gets in the way of doing things and as Robin Sharma says, “Critics are nothing more than dreamers who got kicked down and didn't have the guts to get back up” … it doesn’t reflect very well on you.