What are some of these systems? As already indicated, the education system was a huge part of conditioning our minds. The other was the system of exploitation of the natural resources. The major infrastructure systems that were built were for the purpose of transporting raw materials out of the country and then later the importation of finished goods that had been manufactured using those raw materials. The Afrikans were told what to plant and taxes were levied to encourage productivity. Buganda & Bugisu produced coffee and Lango produced cotton. The Asian community that had been brought in to build the railway line were appointed as the middlemen. In my hometown of Aduku, Apac District there is still a ginnery that was operated by Asians to collect cotton and get it ready for export. The Asians also run the shops that littered the countryside towns were the people would go and buy the commodities that had been imported for consumption.
The other was a segregation of the different communities. From living quarters, to schools and even career opportunities, there was a clear map of the possibilities for the Afrikan and the Asian, with the white man being the boss, ensuring that everything in the protectorate ran smoothly. This created grave opportunity and income inequalities between the large Afrikan population and the minority Asian community. To their credit, the Afrikan leaders that took over endeavored to do away with the system of segregation but unfortunately, the coup in 1971 changed the style of going about it leading to a massive disruption of the economy.
I would like to focus on the system of exporting raw materials and importing finished goods. The protectorate system that had the Afrikan produce raw materials for export persisted even after “Independence”. Cotton was exported and clothes made from that very cotton were imported. This largely remains today, despite the fact that the government introduced a few industries to process cotton into a finished product. Of course the issue of capital to meet the demand of the entire country were at play, but largely it was the conditioning that finished products were to be imported that was driving the decision to continue this system.
The belief among the general populace that something imported has superior quality to that produced locally, coupled with the dumping of cheap second hand products on the local market have severely hampered the growth of the clothing industry. This cuts across several industries today. This has slowed down the locally produced finished products initiative and the drive for self-reliance because even those goods available have to compete with products that are coming in from abroad.
Right now, we are importing chicken from Brazil and fruits from South Africa! Some of these are products that do not need a lot of processing to be ready for consumption but the importation continues.
The extractive industry and huge infrastructure projects. The protectorate government established industries for the exploitation of the natural resources, for example Kilembe Mines for the extraction of copper in Western Uganda. Just like with agriculture, the Afrikan was only given the lower paying job at the bottom of the extractive chain. This copper was taken out of Uganda never to be seen again.
Large infrastructure projects like the railway line, tarmacking of roads and the building of the first hydroelectric dam were done by the British protectorate and the manpower that was brought in. It could be justified that we, the Afrikans, did not have the expertise to participate in the technical aspects of these projects but 50 years after “Independence” and thousands of engineers trained both home and abroad, we still have dams and roads built by foreign companies, with Afrikans taking on limited supportive roles.
When Uganda decided to extract its oil resource, the immediate thinking was to bring in expertise from abroad to build the infrastructure necessary to turn this black gold into finished products. Right now, there is a deadlock with investors who are insisting on exporting crude oil while Uganda insists on the “investors” building a refinery.
How easier would this be if we developed a deliberate policy to train our own local engineers in the special skills needed for these massive infrastructure and mineral extractive projects? Why is it that we do not have confidence in our own ability to build our wealth by ourselves? Why are we happy to give control of our own resources to someone else and then expect them to act in our interest?
The other serious issue is that, in classical imperial style, our very own leaders have a knack for taking kickbacks from these companies that come in to “invest” in our high profile and lucrative extractive and infrastructure industry. And just like imperialists clones, they invest this money in Europe and the US. They therefore perpetuate the bleeding of resources from our countries.