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Why money tends to come with weight and disease in Uganda

Have you observed that in Uganda, and maybe many other parts of Africa, when money sets in, it rarely leaves our bodies the same?

That one of the easiest ways of finding out if one is gainfully employed is by observing their body size? If one remains lean after finding a good job, we often wonder if all is well.

What worries some people elsewhere is a sign of doing well here. However, it is not difficult to understand the roots of this inclination. Our social backgrounds dictate many of our practices in later life. And knowing that the majority of Ugandans come from backgrounds of deprivation answers a big part of the question.

What is considered to be a modern life is characterised by shunning most aspects of the life we lived in poverty; including those that were otherwise beneficial. You don’t want to travel, eat, spend leisure time like the poor. In today’s speak, it is a moment of ‘okwekubako enfuufu’ (dusting ourselves).

For instance, those from families without cars used to do a lot of walking. For many, school was not near; some up to 7km away. One had to do considerable trekking to and from school, from Monday to Friday.

The walking was mostly because there was no alternative, not that we appreciated its value. So, when you can eventually afford paying taxi fares or buying a car, you even want to drive to a shop 50 meters away from home. Indeed, when you have money and are seen walking, the public impression is either that waggwaamu (you went broke) or you are a miser.

With the exception of a few that are starting to appreciate the value of exercise (often after a health threat), the typical day of the urban-based office worker is spent like this. You wake up in the morning, sit on the toilet. You are saved from the pit latrine where you had to squat and keep in steady equilibrium; it was an exercise of sorts. If you have a bathtub in the house, you bathe while seated or laying on your back.

You then have breakfast while seated; get into your car and sit to work. You enter your office, and sit. If you have an office messenger or secretary, it’s their duty to do the walking. Bring this, bring that... If it were possible, you would send them to the toilet on your behalf. You only want to stand where you must.

You may go out for lunch or eat at your desk, seated. After work, some will go to the bar and sit, for beer and a huge tray of pork. You go back home, sit and watch news, take dinner (late). Then you go to bed. Ultimately, you have sat for around 95% of the day! All along, weight and disease are watching you with keen interest.

A potbelly is not such a bad idea for yesterday’s poor. It is an important social statement that you finally climbed the class ladder - and sometimes that you found something to steal (isn’t this how we caricature the corrupt?).

So, you have to tuck in properly for it to show. People will even say: ‘he has developed a potbelly; he must be doing well’. And you must struggle to sustain it; otherwise, they will say that waggwaamu.

Back at the major seminary in Nairobi, there was this interesting friend of mine from Masaka who had a hanging belly. He would ask us while proudly caressing it: ‘Do you know the cost of maintaining this stomach?’

At every opportunity, he told us of the respect it earned him in Kalungu. And he is not alone in this mindset and class victimhood. It’s rare to find a Ugandan who has ‘made it in life’ without a potbelly. These days, many office-going women have joined the belly club too - beyond the usual provisions of ‘baby fat’.

Unfortunately, formal exercises are generally a foreign thing to us. We switch lifestyle without accordingly picking the necessary discipline of exercise as well. Weight gain becomes inevitable.

Before ‘modernity’, exercise was (is) traditionally entrenched in our work and way of life. Many of our traditional games engage(d) the entire body through jumping, running, pulling, pushing, hopping, bending, sliding... It is very rare to find an obese child in the village; maybe a visitor from town where they play with lazy toys, sedentary video games, and sit to passively watch cartoons.

In the garden, the hand hoe, panga, and pruning knife worked the entire body. We had to walk to the well too, carry water and firewood. Others walked an entire day in the fields with cows and goats. And, whereas villagers lack a number of basic things, they generally eat healthy - though not really by choice.

Meanwhile, when you cross to a new class, you do not want to be seen eating foods of the poor (call them ‘local foods’): entula, malakwang, nakati, omugoyo, doodo, lumonde, muwogo, malewa, osobi, katunkuma, atapa, eshabwe... Besides, you still want to compensate for all the foods you were deprived of in your childhood that are perceived to be for the rich – especially the junk food, the soda you only used to take on special occasions, and meat.

You thus fill your fridge with soda and other beverages full of gas, colour, sugar, and preservatives. When you don’t see oil on the surface of the sauce, then the frying was not well done. Three spoons of sugar in one teacup! Yes, our parents used to hide it from us. Now we are fully in charge of the tin. All the way, weight is smiling, and lifestyle diseases are preparing to report for duty.

jsssentongo@gmail.com

The author is a teacher of philosophy.

Comments   

0 #31 Wooden K. 2019-06-18 19:02
Lakwena again , you make a very good point in # 27.

Beti Kamya is unsteady and operates like a snake .

She issues statements such as " M7 is more intelligent than all 77 Ministers combined "
She said . " I have never seen a man with so much stamina like M7 .. I will give him 82% of Kampala votes "

Now , if someone was mildly clever , they would be right to conclude that Beti Kamya , who is on record for having said that M7 was a foreighner who was here to revenge and destroy Uganda , is "fascinated".

No one in Mengo has EVER EVER EVER said that M7 is all those things. Mengo leads the Nation of Buganda , which just happens to be in Uganda that is ruled by a dictator called Museveni.

In its 800 + years of its life , Buganda has had to face all types of dictatorships , including the tricky colonialists, cruel and unpedicatable Amin and Obote.

Just staly alive ; even this one will come to and end

PP !!!
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+2 #32 Remase 2019-06-18 19:34
WK, " we refused his body to be driven on Buganda soil of flown over Buganda space . He exited Buganda through the EAST, which means something in our traditions."

WK, who is protecting Sabasaja Mutetebi?

Sabalwanyi M7, who provides him with the SFC guards. In other words, it's the army that protects Mutebi! It's the army that attacked Lubiri.

You clearly know the history. It's the army that leads Uganda and yet people lost their lives and blood to have a civilian govt which respect the rule of law.

It's 33 years and we are still led by the army and in the worst position than that of Obote who only led Uganda for 9 years, so if Obote was that bad and you, on M7's orders (it's safe to say that it was M7), "refused Obote's body to be driven on Buganda soil," what will you do to M7's body when he dies?

Like I have said before, there is no prudent person who can be fascinated with M7! Just mention 33 years of autocracy is enough, however, M7/his family/relative are looting Uganda.
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-1 #33 Wooden K. 2019-06-18 21:33
Remase , with every comment to write , you expose your lack of reasoning . I repeal that you think worse than a small child . As a parent , I can only guide and help you .

How do you connect the first quote with the following question ?

Ssebasajja kabaka leads more than 15 people in His kingdom . Of course he has every right to be guarded and protected by THE PEOPLE ., especially when the Remases are still hiding and nursing their hatred and would do whatever they can to light a deadly fire.

Oh yeah , M7 , his family and recruits have done things that will damage Uganda for a very very long time .

But , there is nothing that they are doing that we don`t know . One day , this will end, i promise you.
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-1 #34 Wooden K. 2019-06-18 21:57
Obote led Uganda for only 9 years ???!!!

Only YOU can say that because you think like a small child .

Wiser minds know that Obote has never stopped ruling Uganda .

OBOTE was the fly that landed on a good piece of meat , laid a few eggs and left us to deal with the maggots .

Do not, therefore, talk of being ruled by the army if you do not know who introduced gun rule into Uganda`s politcs .

Idd Amin , Yoweri Museveni are all bi products of Oboteism . He tought them to how to capture and keep power using a tribal army while letingt other tribes fight or share left-overs.

Obote stood in Kololo and mocked Mukulu Kawanga : WHERE ARE YOUR GENERALS !!!!

General Tito Okello beamed .
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-1 #35 Wooden K. 2019-06-18 22:06
Well , Mukulu Kawanga, having been arrested and kept in Luzira without trial by Obote until Amin toppled his maker , is now retired and enjoying his evening .History is his General
Obote is lying in his grave with none of his Generals in sight .

Meanwhile , Obote`s son has donated his wife to the guy who promised to shoot Obote ( the ghost) on sight and not even touch the dead body with a 12ft pole.

This is BUGANDA; this is UGANDA buddy !!
Nothing is parmanent except that which is parmanent.

PP
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+1 #36 Lakwena 2019-06-19 09:58
Quoting Wooden K.:
Lakwena again , you make a very good point in # 27.

Beti Kamya is unsteady and operates like a snake .

She issues statements such as " M7 is more intelligent than all 77 Ministers combined "
She said . " I have never seen a man with so much stamina like M7 .. I will give him 82% of Kampala votes "

... Just staly alive ; even this one will come to and end

PP !!!


Wooden, I forgot to tell you that in the palace or State House, there are also bastards.

And do you remember when former VP "Prof. Bukenya" said something stupid, which I suppose he now regrets? Mahogany said that Mr. M7 is "credibly incredible".

Otherwise, unless God is personally against me, I am trying to be as careful as possible; so that I live to see Mr. M7 in a straight jacket being wheeled out of our State House legs first.

Have a nice day and stay alive too!
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-1 #37 Wooden K. 2019-06-19 13:04
Kop ango Lakwena !

True , there are bastards everywhere .

Rucifer was an angel ; Adam was supposed to have been God`s perfect creation ; Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 men that Jesus chose.

Moses was a murderer before God chose him to lead His People back home.

St.Poul was a bandit before God chose and made him one of His great messengers .

If went by Remase`s "thinking" , should we say the God`s Kingdom was all corrupt and "fascianted " by Evil men ?

What we do is to separate individual`s actions , weaknesses or wickedness from those of an institution , its aims and sense of purpose.
Nice day to you too !
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