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Ugandan, Is the Stuff You Read From the “Whites” Applicable In Our Third-World Setting? (Part One)

A Discussion of a Long-held Mindset That Is Holding Us (Ugandans) Down More Than Its Elevating Us

Last weekend, my cousin, Shakiirah Ramah (yeah, that’s not a typo; it’s spelled with two “i’s”) was moving into her new place because the semester for a new year is almost upon us. So I decided to go and help with a few things to help set her up comfortably. Among the volunteers was my other cousin, her sister, Tifah Ramah and another friend.

Like most times, we indulged in lengthy discussions on a variety of topics (including a long one on the lessons in the movie “Acrimony” by Tyler Perry but I will save that for another day), and as usual, some were deemed to follow a heated path of hotheadedness. One of those topics was the viability of reading and application of the lessons in non-fiction books written by foreign authors, most notably American authors. This has always been a challenge I have had to deal with especially with my peers that do not read at all so let me explore it here. Although I know many of my antagonists will never read this — but like Ryan Holiday quoted in “Ego is the Enemy”; “The effort is enough.”

First and foremost, you have to understand that reading in this context is beyond classroom/lecture room(and all the other forced reading you do for exams because you cannot afford another retake— sighs). Reading also does not include lengthy nonsensical Facebook posts that only serve to erode your eyesight capability, WhatsApp jokes and especially not those WhatsApp prayers with the end line saying: “send to 100 people in 5 seconds otherwise you will get diarrhea for 2 months.” (Geez). Reading here refers to that reading that you do for self-nurturing, mental health, increasing your understanding on a particular subject or even for resourceful leisure, of course among others but I’m sure you get the picture. The source of knowledge can vary from blog posts and books (nope! Newspapers do not count).

Now, I have been notoriously known by those around me to advocate for solutions based on things I have read from self-help books especially and in turn, I have received a fair thrashing with statements like: “Ebyo by’osoma tebikola wano!” This is translated from Luganda to mean: “The things you read cannot be applied here in our setting!” And this was the birth of our argument with my cousins and my friend, Brian last weekend. We were talking about parenting and like I always do, partly because of my incessant inability to learn from past mistakes, I mentioned that Ugandan parents should take on a conscious learning approach to parenting by indulging in reading some books about the subject for a better understanding of the psychology of kids and how to raise them. And then the war began.

This post is followed up in my other post “Ugandan, Is the Stuff You Read From the “Whites” Applicable In Our Third-World Setting? (Part Two).