It was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who conceived the term “Pearl of Africa” pertaining to the small country teeming with magnificent scenery, wildlife, and friendly people. Uganda was really beautiful, until war tore it apart and left it in the clutches of poverty and underdevelopment. Uganda is a country in East Africa surrounded by other countries, making it a landlocked country. Its borders include Kenya on the east, Sudan on the north, the Democratic Republic of Congo on the west, Rwanda on the southwest, and Tanzania on the south.
The name “Pearl of Africa” may have been based on the fact that it is at the center of different countries and it had great wildlife and natural resources, as well as a very welcoming people. With all the good qualities Uganda possessed at that time, Winston Churchill was merely stating the obvious in saying that it was Africa’s pearl. At the time when Uganda was given the “pearl” recognition, the country was really a picture of abundance in terms of natural treasures. It was considered to be one of the most bio-diverse countries in the African continent (Kasirye, 2005).
It was blessed with jungle rainforests, boasting of more than a thousand species of birds, as well as other types of wildlife including mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates. It also has a site being passed by the Nile River, giving life to various animals and people inhabiting near the waters. Its diverse environment includes snow-capped glacier peaks, healthy and surviving rainforests, and a lot of wildlife all of which are great ecological importance to the people. At present, it is hard to say that Uganda still is the pearl of Africa because a lot has changed, following Churchill’s visit, when he gave Uganda its moniker.
It wasn’t only the physical characteristics that changed in Uganda but also its people. This aspect is really crucial because it is what defines a country, and the changes that took place in Uganda may have long-term effect on the country and its people. Uganda may still have teeming wildlife and abundant natural resources, but in the present time, this may not be enough for it to be considered the pearl again. The changes that happened were really formative, affecting people’s prejudices and biases, thus affecting their decisions and activities.
It was a common in Uganda’s politics to see one president getting overthrown by another. Most of their changes in leadership back in those days were results of drastic measures like coups and counter-coups. It was during the rule of Idi Amin when Uganda saw a really big change. It was not on the positive aspect though. Amin ruled over Uganda alongside the military, so anything that crosses his path would have to be illuminated. Many Ugandans died, while some were forced to flee to nearby countries. The Indian minorities which served as a backbone of their economy were driven away, causing a great fall in the country’s economy.
Idi Amin tried to make his decade-long stay in power worthwhile by passing stricter laws to regulate the people and maintaining peace in the country (Short, 1971). His cruel means wouldn’t go unchecked when the neighboring Tanzania invaded Uganda with the help of Ugandan exiles. The Uganda-Tanzania war overturned the whole country, all in order to remove Amin from his position. His rule ended in 1979, replaced by another person that would also be removed shortly after (Fallers, 1955). After a series of coups and wars, the abundant resources that gained Uganda the titular “pearl of Africa” seemed to be getting smaller and smaller.
It is true that the country is still teeming with wildlife, but the problem is that Uganda is running out of space to house that wildlife and its people. Uganda’s people aren’t just expanding in numbers but also expanding in expectations (Myers, 1971). After the problematic years of wars and settling political differences between leaders, they seem to be facing a problem of a different level, something that can’t be easily solved by taking arms and fighting one another. Uganda has a land area of less than 200,000 sq km, about twice the size of Pennsylvania.
However, Uganda’s population of more than 30 million is ten times more than that of the said state. Now, we can no longer say that Uganda is still the pearl of Africa. Even though it has the resources and wildlife to boast, it’s still not enough to support the consumption of its population. It would have stood out if it could cater to the needs of the people of Uganda along with being a global wildlife landmark. But the predicament it is on right now is more of a pressing concern than maintaining its position as the pearl of Africa.
Many people are cramped up in a small country, so it is expected that there would be a shortage of space and opportunities for the people. Uganda is more of a dead fish right now, instead of being the pearl of Africa. It tries to survive with the international aid from other countries, but still the problem continues. The population continues to grow, the number of moths to feed increases, the number of food and space available continue to shrink. In a nutshell, Uganda is suffering and is barely able to support its people. If these events continue, then the future would be vague for country.
One problem that was worsened by wars and political unrest in Uganda was the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which was evident not only in the country, but all throughout the continent of Africa (Hooper, 1987). Sexual abuses brought about by war worsened this problem, as it spread throughout the country, affecting 20% of the population back in the early decades. It easily spread throughout the country because it was left unchecked, with political leaders more concerned about their positions instead of focusing on the welfare of the people. Coupled with poverty and overpopulation, HIV/AIDS easily spread throughout the population.
It is common to expect this kind of problem in countries like Uganda. With political unrest, leaders give little interest to the things that really matter to the populace. There is insufficient funding for the efforts to solve the problem; worse, there could be no efforts at all in solving this kind of situation. Less developed countries like Uganda have very limited funds, and they’re often spent on things that won’t do the people any good. These funds would also be subject to the corruption of the political leaders, so only a small portion of the small budget would be appropriated for large scale problems like spread of diseases.
On a lighter note, when the government of Uganda settled after the war and political unrest was resolved, the HIV/AIDS problem was given proper attention. Uganda’s HIV/AIDS problem was a success story because they were able to reduce the prevalence of the disease from almost 20% in the 1990s to just 5% in 2002. Well, compared with other countries, it is still high, especially with a population of 30 million. But the degree of the problem was greatly reduced, proving that it is not too late for Uganda. If they’re able to solve one problem, it is likely that they can solve more.
Another matter of concern for Uganda is education. With the increasing number of population, more and more people are not able to go to school, both because of poverty and the lack of educational facilities. Consequently, the decline in the quality of education available for the people is hurting Uganda, as it causes them additional financial constraints. Education provides the people a chance to land a stable, good paying job, and for the government, this means efficient taxation. But with people unable to get good jobs or at least any job, then they would be a great blow to Uganda financially.
The education problem is prevalent not only in Uganda but also to other parts of the world. It goes along with poverty, since poor families wouldn’t really be able to send their children to school. Instead of paying for education, they’d rather use whatever money they have to put food on their plate. The children are also expected to work to earn additional income for the family, instead of attending school. With the sheer number of Uganda’s people, the schools get filled easily. Even if a student is willing and able to go to school, if there is no school available, then they have no other choice but to do other things.
Because of the wasted opportunities and financial constraints brought about by Uganda’s education situation, the government exerted more effort to finance education in the country. One set-up that they focused on was the introduction of student loans for the higher education in Uganda (Kajubi, 1992). Through this way, students would be encouraged to finish their studies even if they don’t have the money. Those who would be able to finish their studies with the help of these loans would be able to land better jobs or work for the government, and that would be the time for them to pay their loans.
Currently, government efforts to solve education problems are just being executed. The short run effects aren’t really obvious, but the long run outcomes are the ones being anticipated. Focusing on education problems would hopefully solve their problems, though it would take some time to really see some concrete effects of their efforts. But still, there are a lot of children who are unable to go to schools, so the government still has to intensify their efforts to solve the problem of education in the country. There are also government efforts to revive Uganda’s title “pearl of Africa”.
Promotion of the country is being done through websites and magazines, featuring Uganda’s nature spots and rich wildlife (Africapoint. com, 2008). Through these campaigns, Uganda is again being promoted as a tourist spot, just like what Winston Churchill did a few decades ago. With the help of contemporary mass media, people from different parts of the world learn about Uganda, and hopefully, attract them to come and visit. Tourism offers a source of income for the people, which could in turn help them with their daily needs.
Uganda is a good example of how political mismanagement, wars, and other factors affect the development of a country. Uganda is not an isolated case. A lot of other countries experience the same situations as that of Uganda. But that shouldn’t stop them from desiring to improve and develop. Despite the constraints experienced by Uganda because of wars and political unrest, they are slowly recovering, with the help of the international community. More and more projects are pushed through, all for the improvement of the country and its people.
Its global connections are really a big help, and hopefully, it would continue to benefit Uganda, so that they would again deserve to be called the Pearl of Africa. References: Africapoint. com. (2008). Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Glows Again. Retrieved April 1, 2009, from http://72. 14. 235. 132/search? q=cache:OqX1jq7MkQQJ:www. africapoint. com/downloads/Uganda-Tour. pdf+pearl+of+africa&cd=5&hl=tl&ct=clnk&gl=ph Fallers, L. (1955). The Predicament of the Modern African Chief: An Instance from Uganda. American Anthropologist, Vol.
57(No. 2). Hooper, E. (1987). AIDS in Uganda. African Affairs, Vol. 86(No. 345). Kajubi, W. S. (1992). Financing of Higher Education in Uganda. Higher Education, Vol. 23(No. 4). Kasirye, V. (2005). Uganda the Pearl of Africa. Retrieved April 1, 2009, from http://72. 14. 235. 132/search? q=cache:55WX2tzvlaYJ:www. worldharvestmission. org/Uganda_Report. pdf+pearl+of+africa&cd=10&hl=tl&ct=clnk&gl=ph Myers, N. (1971). Wildlife and Development in Uganda. BioScience, Vol. 21(No. 21). Short, P. (1971). Amin’s Uganda. Transition(No. 40).
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