Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Interview with Ugandan Parliament representative

Here I publish interview with Ms. Nalubega Mariam Patience from Uganda whom I recently met in Brussels on the European Development Days. Mariam is National Female Youth representative in the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda. Interview is about Africa and development.

Me: What do you think, why Africa needs help? And why European countries should help Africa?

Mariam: Africa is needy country as you may know and we need a lot of aid.

I assume that you don’t know anything about my country Latvia. And in my country people (most of them) don’t know anything about Uganda. What would you tell to Latvians about Uganda?

Uganda is actually pearl of Africa. Very very beautiful country, very beautiful weather. Very good climate and lots of sunshine. Actually the best country in Africa. And many people would die to come to Africa! Equator is in Uganda, Nile (river) is in Uganda, plenty of water, a lot of green, environment is green so you can enjoy staying in Uganda. Many tourist attractions – wild life, elephants, buffalos, good museums, actually when you come to Uganda you can never get bored. You learn a lot of things. We are friendly, we love people, any time you are welcome, we will have nice company and we will greet you. We would give you anything that you want. You should come one day!
But - it is very poor. Uganda is developing country, with very bad traffic, poor transportation. We have also problems with power and electricity. Our neighbors are going to open markets for us, we will have some kind of federation in which countries will be able to import and sell within neighbors.
We have limited access to the health centers, many young mothers die in the villages and remote areas are cut off facilities and education.

Do young people have opportunities to get education?

We have free education from primary 1st to primary 7th. Then we are entering free secondary education. But problem is the infrastructure. As a pupil you may often have to walk 6 or even more miles to reach school from your home. It is really long distance which limits many people from the school attendance.
In Uganda we also lack industry. We have a lot of raw materials but we don’t have any industries where we could process those materials and make our own products like shoes or clothes.

Why Uganda and Africa is poor?

We have a lot of wars that has impact on stability. Many people have to stay in camps and they can not do anything. Our political regimes are very instable. There is also very big corruption.

Don’t you think that in many parts of Africa main reason for poverty is dependence on Europe and other developed countries which are controlling many resources and production?

Yes, that is true. But I don’t think that Europeans want Africa to be behind and be dependent on you.

Is Uganda former colony of some country?

Yes, British.

You know that we (Europeans) are taking many products and we are not paying properly to those people in Uganda and other African countries. There are many resources that we take but don’t pay fairly. Do you agree with that?

Yes, that’s true. There is big exploitation.

Is there exploitation in Uganda made by international companies?

Yes, too much. In coffee production and actually in most of the agriculture. The backbone of our economy is agriculture. Those products are exported out and go to Europe. We don’t have food processing factories and when we grow products like coffee, cotton, apples, passion fruits, and then later those products are sold back to Uganda at higher price.

So you say that Uganda produces some goods, exports them to Europe and then imports products made of those exported raw materials at higher price? Do you think this is fair?

No, it is not fair at all. We need our own things (production) that we can not be only dependent on Europe. Aid that we get from Europe doesn’t have tangible results. They give us much of their money for trainings, to raise awareness and things like that. We need road construction, technology development, and we should make cars in Africa. Why should we buy those from Japan? We don’t need lectures about how to wash our hands and how to behave in toilet because that we know. We don’t have enough money to build factories in our villages. If we could get money that could help us to build factories then that would be good help.

Do you agree with statement about development co-operation that Europe is doing a lot but not well?

Ahaa, exactly! They are not doing it right. I really appreciate the aid that comes from Europe, but the way it is spent isn’t the right way.

What are you expectations? Do you think that life in Africa will become better?

Well I hope so and I will pray that it will become better because we don’t want to suffer. We are tired of suffering and begging and being in need all the time. We also want to be in a way that Europeans come to Africa and feel like at home.

What you expect from people, let’s say in Latvia?

Maybe what I can request from people of Latvia – If they have a will to help Africa to develop they should look at infrastructural development, technology development. I want Uganda to become a Pearl of Africa where everybody can come and appreciate it. If you come to Uganda you find many nice children, but children who have no hope, they live on the streets, they beg, they have no shelter, no hope for tomorrow. Children should have shelter, access to education, health and facilities like any Ugandan and African. So I ask people of Latvia to think about Africa, try to understand what Africa really needs, and come and help Africa!

1 comment:

Sintija said...

interesanti struktureeti jautaajumi! Domu uzkeeru :))