China Experience: Uganda Has Potential to Rise and Shine


viagra approved physician geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%;”>I remember the quietness and total silence when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died in 1978. The streets of East African cities could not believe that Mzee had gone. Villagers could not talk but looked at each other in deep shock.

The songs praising Mzee was allover East, Central and parts of Southern Africa. It was the year when UNLA (Uganda National Liberation Army) were in the final touches of invading Uganda to remove the Field Marshal General Amin Dada.

I had just entered Kenya on foot without shoes and a very torn shirt showing off my tender back to the sun and rain. My shorts had two big openings on my bum. We had just gone around Amin’s soldiers, downhill to river Lwakhakha and climbing up a few hills towards Chebukube (Isoko Yamagendo).

Then here comes an expected announcement on Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. “The big tree of Africa has fallen. The lion of Africa has slept,. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta has died in Mombasa”. That was reknown “Je huu ni ugwana” Kenyan broadcaster Mambo Mbotela.

Security was tight on the Kenyan side of the boarder due to Idi Amin’s erratic response to issues. He had early on in 1977 threatened to reclaim Uganda’s first borders right to the Rift Valley up to Turkana.

So General Service Unit (GSU) paramilitary were armed to the teeth along the Uganda border. We sold coffee and started walking back to Uganda. The Kenyan soldiers let us through as usual. We crossed Lwakhakha River with our little commodities in our jute sacks. (By then, there was no functioning sugar, blankets, mattresses, iron sheets, bakery and even biscuits factories in Uganda. Almost all factories were dead).

Uganda was not just the poorest but the most unlucky country may be in the world then. We looked cursed. Every one smelt the originals of poverty apart from those who confessed to be Muslims and those who were close to Amin.

The only best transport then was our feet. The lucky ones had bicycles or “Mukoko Teni” wheelbarrows with wooden wheels. The vehicles were rotting away due to sanctions. It was not the best time to be alive in Uganda. But somehow, Ugandans lived through it all.

When I look around Uganda now, I see very few or not thin, ugly, malnourished, hopeless, and very worried people. You may ask worried from what? Well, there was murder on the large scale. So many people were killed by Amin’s soldiers.

Unlike in the past, I see a country with very healthy and a lively population despite the fair condition of some of our health facilities. It seems there is major hope and anticipation from everyone.

Oh yes, and Ugandans can talk for heaven. Freedom of speech is plenty. Some experts say that there is just too much freedom that people do not think before they talk. That may be true; however, that was one of the benefits of NRM government.

At present, Uganda has everything to offer as far as basic commodities are concerned. You can buy virtually everything just around the corner. People who were born after those years may take what has been archived for granted or even abuse what they have.

They may think that Uganda has been like what it is now always. No wonder why many cry for change nonetheless, they can’t define the change they want.


Well, on my wild research; I read that in the same year, that is 1978, China was among the poorest countries in the world. My friend Ching Hai Lee, from one of the finest Universities in China remembers that year as the worst in her country’s history. China was among the poorest nations on earth.

Author: David Masinde

During our conversation in Britannia Free House, Euston London, she remembers how people used to die paddling their way to Japan and South Korea for basic commodities. Looking at her return ticket back to the country poised to be the biggest economy by 2018; she smiles and wishes me and all Ugandans well.

I could feel her hope and encouragement. “Uganda will be better than what you see here in Euston,” she gasps.

“But people say my country is one of the most corrupt,” I replied. “Corruption will take care of itself,” she replied.

“Take care of itself?” I asked. “Or yes, China was four times than Uganda. But now see what has happened,” she pointed out.


When Communist Party leader Mao Zedong took power in 1949 he was determined to transform China from a rural economy into an industrial giant. Farms were collectivised into large communes and resources shifted to heavy industry, which was nationalised.

But by Mao’s death in 1976 it was clear these reforms had failed, leaving China impoverished and isolated.

In 1978 Deng Xiaoping became leader and began an ambitious programme of economic reform aimed at raising rates of foreign investment and growth.

China now has one of the 10 largest economies and is an important engine for economic growth across the globe. China consumes more steel, coal, meat and grain than any other nation. It is also the world’s fifth largest exporter, trading extensively with the EU, Japan and the US. In 2006, 80 percent of the world’s consumer electronics were made in China.

Yes, Uganda is a small country, but people have started to be fact finders and restless. That is a good sign of a people showing readiness to development. She sipped her nicely made Uganda coffee and posed a question; “Where is this coffee from again?” “Uganda of course,” I answered.

“Then Uganda is a wealthy country. You can at least export something which most people love and can’t do without.” Ms Lee said with her hands on her hips while leaning forward to make a point.

UGANDA VISION 2040 looks to be a distant to some people in our country. Nevertheless, the signs look ripe for serious development in the East African region. What has happened in China will be done in Uganda.

The change of Dubai. Doha, Astana and Tushkent are just a few examples where people change dreams into reality. Looking at that beautiful place Karuma where a proposed new city is poised to be built, I see a major development before 2040. Ugandans, it is our time to turn dreams into reality. We can relate to that change.

David Wangusi Masinde.

CEO Wanmas Consult

London United Kingdom


Header advertisement
To Top