How else can someone tighten their belt ?

It was a Saturday night and as is my habit, I was expecting Galaxy Kafunda with DJ Herbert of Uganda’s Number one station, Galaxy FM. This time, it wasn’t music playing. It was a rare voice on the music station. No, it wasn’t a new presenter. I would know! It was the president. I put down my water – yes, I drink water even at night – and listened attentively.

I had been informed he was to talk about the economy. I was waiting eagerly for interventions that would reverse the escalation of fuel prices, the rising price of kikomando (my favourite food), the price of soap that now costs like a shot of Black label. So I listened and listened and listened.

In his usual calm demeanour and humorous style, the president explained well why things are expensive. Generally, our love for things foreign is the problem. If we lived like we used to when we were growing up, we would have fewer issues. I recalled that we used to wake up, drink milk or porridge from maize grown in our garden, eat sugarcane at break tea, lunch would be beans grown in the banana plantation, with bananas from just below the house. Sometimes we balanced it with cassava and potatoes, also grown in the same plantation. On the afternoons, we scavenged for fruits that were in season. At night, supper was from either matooke, from the plantation below, with beans, groundnuts or cassava, pumpkins e.t.c, all from the plantation.

For fuel, we had firewood from our forest. One main recreation activity that probably counts for video games now, was gathering firewood in a real forest and returning in one piece after dodging snakes, insects and other creatures that resided in the forest. Our only issue on pump prices would be paraffin but really, we used very little in the tadoba as the big lantern was reserved for visitors or if we had candidates who needed to read. But this would easily be substituted if we cooked and ate early before dusk and therefore, sleep in peace before darkness fell.

For Building, you needed only reeds from the valley and banana fibres to tie the reeds. Poles were from the forest and mud was in plenty. All it needed was some tonto (and that too was brewed at home) and some able bodied men would come and press – for lack of an accurate word- the mud to make the walls of the mud and wattle house. Those who couldn’t afford iron sheets, would use grass/ straw from the hills or banana fibres or papyrus.

Generally, the war in Ukraine wouldn’t affect us that much. We would survive.

The challenge is we are not in the village anymore and we have neither the plantation, the garden or the forest to go to. So how do we substitute the imported stuff as Mzee advised? We have to tie two belts.

We often say Government etuyambe but the truth is, government tejja kutuyamba kati, (government won’t help us). We have to help ourselves. Below is how I am trying to hazard how I can survive in this situation.

Car sharing; 

Often we are in Jam. Hundreds of people going to work, stuck in a traffic, burning expensive fuel, each in their cars. I am going to start looking for people to pass my route and we share fuel. I either hop into their cars or they take mine and we share. In addition to sharing, I believe we will meet more new people and talk without being bored in the jam. To cut fuel further, for every stop, the engine will go off. I know the car keeps consuming even when in stationary position in traffic. I won’t waste expensive fuel while idling. No.

Eating like a rabbit:

Beyond Dr Kasenene`s preaching, I realise that food in this town is sold according to nutritive value. Vegetables are cheapest, followed by starch while proteins are the most expensive. A big bundle of Nakati is still 1K. So, I bet I will finally add vegetables to my diet. The reason I’ll give to those with whom I have to share the meals is that we are eating healthy. The good doctor advises people to skip dinner. So, one meal is out. Sugar, Dr Kasenene said, is very bad. It causes cancer. Same as cooking oil and Wheat. Those things are expensive. Time to get them off the budget.

Work from home:

COVID-19 restrictions taught us that you can actually work from home and you won’t die. It’s true. Actually, performance for self-driven staff can be higher because they don’t waste a lot of time jamming or gossiping in the office. So, with the internet, for the kind of work that most of us do, home can still serve as an office. So, if we have a meeting, prepare to do it online. Why should we meet, wasting expensive fuel yet, we can finish everything on zoom or google meet?

Drinking Low!

I know we drink to get high… Right? It doesn’t have to cost a lot. We can drink low to get high! See, I doubt the tummy or the head knows which one is Double black, Black label or Bond 7. In most bars, Bond 7 costs 50k, Red Label 150k, Double black 300k, Moet 600k. Each of those hits almost the same. The hungover has no respect for what you drank last night. So why suffer and pay more for it. I’ll aim for the cheapest way to get high or at worst, just drink water. After all, it’s healthy.

Kindly comment below with other ways I can tighten the belt. Thank you.


What do you think?

Written by Dr. Innocent Nahabwe

The Writer is a Father, Marketer, Vet and Author: "TreatingSmall Business, Lessons from my Operations". Website

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