I spent close to an hour looking for a local food place in Nakumatt Mall the other day.
And when I finally found it(after a series of directions from cleaners, waiters, at Pizza Spots and Ice-cream parlor attendants) the place served nothing near to the yummy fresh fish and matooke meal Auntie took me out to savor the other day in Downtown Kampala – Old Taxi park to be exact.
But this was Nakumatt, not Downtown Kampala. That, however, didn’t stop me from thinking.
What befell our agro-based society? How did a country like ours, with indigenous coffee, yams, mangoes, pineapples, cassava, bananas et al.. end up with more trendy Italian ice ream parlours, coffee shops, Pizza spots than local taste spots in its uptown areas.
What may a typical African man from Uganda be able to eat locally without enduring the painstaking names on western menus that dominate his country’s so called “fashionable” restaurants?
But then I remembered how globalization and the TV lifestyles it produces may actually have blinded us to this country’s potential to nourish us locally, organically, and affordably.
I remembered how Pizzas and Sausages (their cholesterol content aside) are common on most birthday parties I attend compared to home prepared meals of cowpeas and posho. So to speak.
Speaking of birthdays, I am reminded of the new Buganda prime minister (katitkiro) Charles Peter Mayiga has reportedly banned birthday cakes on the King’s birthday’s replacing “cutting cake” with “slaughtering cow” as the traditional Buganda Norm.
Something about this guy gets my point maybe. But then again, there is a big picture.
Big picture is that we as a country may have put organic lifestyles to the backseat. No wonder statistics are pointing us to the increase of lifestyle diaseases like diabetes, high blood presuure etc.
Supermarkets are the new African gardens. Even when the soils in our home compound are fertile enough to nurture a tomatoe plant, we still keep the “tomatoe sauce “Jerry can on our monthly shopping list.
Not to mention the potential space for a chicken house back home that is now being “eyed” for a construction project.
I am told today, someone comes visiting Kampala, and on their way back to the village, they buy a cluster of Matooke.
Yes- from Kampala to the village.
Same mentality can be traced in a typical upcountry youth who sells acres his farm in order to buy a motorbike for a bodaboda business in the city.
Now, some of these things may be excusable in France but not in a country like ours with majority rural population.
And if Uganda’s unemployment rate still stands at 80% percent, with a “70% increase in Food production needed to feed a global population of 9 billion in 2050” (IFAD,RPR,2011).
Then maybe be a little shift in the way we think about this country’s agricultural potential and our long-term goals may change something.
Or just about everything.