Monday, June 23, 2008

Why Only Small Fish Will Always Fry In Uganda

I thank Dan Ogwal and H.G.K. Nyakoojo for their letters in The New Vision of 16th June in which they point out MPs’ selfishness in their boycotting of the Budget speech in parliament. The habit of thinking mostly about themselves does not stop with our MPs but also spreads to all of our politicians, it seems. Miria Matembe added her voice to the issue of the recent police harassment of two female MPs criticising everyone but herself.

In my opinion, she should be in the same dock as those she is pointing her finger at. Thousands of women are facing some form of injustice everyday right under her nose but she will not say anything because they are ‘small people’ who are not likely to attract a quote in the news media. Matembe and her peers see them everyday that they drive along Kampala streets sweeping, raking and digging without any protective wear or protection from potentially getting knocked down by vehicles. The upcountry hotels they sleep and attend workshops in pay their girls peanuts for 15-hour shifts of work. Young women employed in small businesses that Matembe may sometimes transact with face the worst working conditions on top of insecure terms of employment.

What people like Ogwal, Nyakoojo and I are saying is, like Shakespeare’s Shylock, when we commoners are pricked, we too bleed; when we are tickled, we too laugh. The women in the situations above face injustice every single day of their lives, which should be more significant compared with the few hours of discomfort faced by the harassed MPs. But, alas, they are just small fish in a big pond where only the big sharks are noticed by Matembe and her likes.