The war in Ukraine may be thousands of kilometres away but its effects are felt hard here at home. There is no place you get to feel such pain as it is in the pockets.
I was shocked last week, when I found most household items had more than doubled in price. Cement has been increasing by close to one thousand shillings per day for the last one week.
Soap, especially washing soap, is now at close to 1500/= in most outlets. Cooking oil is at 14000/- per litre, directly affecting the price of Rolex, the food not the watch, which is a staple here.
There are small things that can make a man turn into a monster at home. Growing up in the times of scarcity, where basic necessities like soap and salt were hard to come by, even with money, we were always worried about reporting missing items at home to daddy.
Everything was supposed to be used in a frugal manner. Sugar was for visitors, cooking oil for special days, washing was for the really dirty clothes and fire had to be preserved with ash so as not to waste a match stick.
I am serious, match sticks were scarce so that smokers didn’t light up with a matchbox but always sent kids to the kitchen to light up their cigarettes.
Actually many battles would arise as women pulled out a hot burning stick from the fireplace to light up much to the chagrin of the ladies who didn’t want their food preparation process interrupted.
Responding to the cry over escalating prices, the Prime Minister, the amiable Robbinah Nabbanja advised people to use natural alternatives.
When you would ask for soap too often, the old man would ask you whether you ate it since it was only recently bought. There were alternatives like some trees in our compound and pawpaw leaves.
I am told it had nice foam and washed just fine but my memory doesn’t serve me right on whether we used them ourselves.
For cooking oil which is now higher than twice the price of fuel, ghee served as a good and healthier alternative. It’s also a good time to hang the clothes in fresh air for easy repeat the next day till it’s really dirty. Yes, it’s that kind of time to visit jaja and ask how they survived.
That was not very long ago. It was in the 80s as we transitioned from Obote to the many other presidents like Godfrey Binaisa, Yusuf Lule and Okello Lutwa to now, NRA/M’s Yoweri Museveni.
When I am asked to bring soap, I very nearly ask the same question from the 80s, “ Have you eaten the soap?”. Only that kids of these days have rights and can’t entertain such questions.
The Russian-Ukraine war affected the price of fuel which was already high anyway, thanks to the speculation of the fuel dealers here and the unfortunate truck jam at the borders. Fuel is what runs literally everything. Our food comes from upcountry and it has to be ferried to the Cities and other urban areas. So a small increase in fuel will see an increment in food prices. It will leave us all hurting!
Seeing as things were hard as they were, it’s a good time to cut costs as it’s going to be a tough ride. I don’t see revenues growing for most people. So the sensible thing is to cut costs or drown. Or better still, find alternatives or substitutes for the things we have always taken for granted.