Hurt never comes so easy…

By Eronie Kamukama

“….how do you feel now?”  He whispered in her cold ears. Mariana looked at him in between her half closed eyes, taking a breathy sigh, she said, “not so bad.” However, i can still see his rage-dressed face, the bulging veins on his sweaty arms…the image refuses to disappear,” she said with a voice so faint as if she wanted to cry.

Nathaniel did not know what to do with her. He had never seen her in such a worrisome state. He thought maybe a bit of what she needs to hear would help her get over the nightmare now turned, daymare.

“I am certain that you can get through this and i am gonna be here waiting for you to getback  on your two feet,” Nathaniel said but pondering on how Mariana had got herself into such a situation.

He almost made a joke but he remembered his earlier attempts did not even flex the muscles on her tiny face. “I am sorry, wish i could smile,” she said.

His eyes lingered over her shaggy hair, to her running nose, her red soaked eyes and peeling lips. He then held her hand. “Do not Nate,” she said in a torn voice. Her once stainless skin had turned red, on one side of her arm was a scratch not so deep but it sort of spoke to him. He wanted to hear the entire story as he could not stop his racing thoughts.

“How did you get here, Mariana?” he cut his wonder short.

The question raced Mariana’s mind back to 2012, the day she first met Pidson.On a Thursday afternoon, under the blazing sun, she saw him across the football pitch. She went about her routine drills, pretending not to see what was behind her.

But he was quick to interrupt. “Hi, you training alone under this hot sun?” Pidson said. “Why not? A woman has got to look good no matter the weather and a bit of sun doesn’t harm,” Mariana responded.

“Huh, sporty woman, basketball is a game for strong men, you must be up to something,” he said. By now, she’d studied him.

He was a fine man, different from her usual type. He did not look like the kind of guy that would give her any sass, she had said to herself. She seemed way ahead of him in terms of social status. She was outgoing, full of life while he was a bit reserved, too dull for her liking but before she knew it, unwary of the stranger in him, she exchanged numbers with him.

“That’s how i got here Nate,” Mariana said in between sobs.

… be continued….






Experts call for bridging skills gap among youths

By Eronie Kamukama

A couple of years ago, Alice Ariho, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education at a university in the far south western district of Kabale. However, this was never her dream course as she had always wanted to do creative arts.

Like many fresh graduates, she hoped to find a job immediately after school which she did in one of the secondary schools as an English teacher.

Her stay at the school was short-lived not because she lacked the interest in teaching but because she lacked basic classroom skills that help to teach students in the most effective way.

Ariho relocated to Kampala and padded its streets in search for a job. “I cannot remember how many curriculum vitae I have sent to different companies yet I have been unsuccessful in finding what to do,” she narrates.

Her wish is to improve her artistic skills to earn a living. Her story echoes the predicament of many youths in Uganda.

Youth and unemployment in Uganda

Charles Zirarema, the Director of Policy, Planning and Programming at the National Population Council Secretariat says 65% of Uganda’s population is 18 years and below, 23% is 19-30 years old which means 88% of the population is below 60 years.

Unfortunately, the spiraling youth numbers are not simultaneous with the creation of jobs in the market. The national unemployment rate stands at 9.4% yet universities continue to churn out 400,000 graduates in Uganda annually.


Youths line up at Kololo Airstrip to check for shortlisted names. Credit: Daily Monitor

According to statistics, youth unemployment is estimated at 62% and this is more prevalent among youths living in rural areas.

World over, there are 1.8 billion young people aged 10-24 according to a recent United Nations Population Fund report. This is the largest youth population ever, most of who live in developing countries.

However, majority youths are currently unemployed, a problem attributed to inadequate skills. United Nations estimates show that 74.5 million youths are actively searching for jobs but all efforts are vain.

The problem
Joseph Munyangabo, director for Policy Alternatives and Technical Advisor at International Republican Institute explains that Ugandan youths are ambitious and ready to work but lack the opportunities as a result of the mismatch between the country’s education and the people’s aspirations that would engage their physical and mental capacities.

“There are not many jobs for theoretical thinkers yet this is how our education system prepares them,” he says.

Youthful population: A threat or a blessing?
According to Augustus Nuwagaba, an Economist at REEV Consult International Limited in Ntinda, Uganda’s population is young, unskilled and unemployed. Therefore it has low income which causes a low purchasing power.

This implies that these youths do not have the capacity to purchase commodities and so do not attract investments.
Furthermore, he says this population becomes a liability to the country because it has no ability to spiral the country’s economic growth.

“When people are looking for where to construct factories, they are looking for areas where people can demand and buy their products. This is discouraging in a situation where you have a population that is young, semiskilled, unemployable and has low effective demand,” he says.

He puts emphasis on ensuring that the young population is healthy, skilled and gainfully employed, because then it would be an asset that will steer the economic development of the country. However, short of this, it can be a huge challenge.

Nuwagaba calls for a more hands-on education system. He adds “We also need to change the attitudes of these youths to love work because this same population also shuns work.”

John Mushomi, a Population Studies lecturer at Makerere University says the youthful population presents an opportunity for Uganda.

Once the right policies are put in place and implemented in terms of skilling the youths, Uganda will benefit from what he calls a demographic dividend.

“We shall have an army of Ugandans entering into the workforce. If there are right jobs and they are well skilled, they will earn, save, invest and contribute to the economy.

Lawrence Bategeka, a senior research fellow in Economics turned Hoima Member of Parliament, notes that about 51% of Uganda’s population is below 14 years.

The working age which is between 18-50 years is a small proportion compared to the children. When one combines the young and old people above 60, the dependency ratio is very high. This means that the young adults have to work harder to feed those they are looking after.

He says Uganda can only benefit from this young population in future if they are able to live long.

He explains, “They are a burden so if majority of people who are dependent die when they are young, there is no way they can translate into a positive contribution to the Ugandan economy.”

This means the children have to be immunized as early as possible, grow up with proper health care and feed very well. They also must be educated and well skilled or they become delinquent.
He states that the government has to stop creating the problem from the bottom or the dependency ratio remains high.

“There is no way you are going to continue to have more children and expect to have enough resources to continuously turn them into an asset. You then must stop creating the burden of more children using family planning practices.”

He also maintains that there has to be a deliberate move by all stakeholders to stop the recurrent problem of high birth rates and then turn the existing children into assets.

In the wake of a number of criminal gangs like the famous Kifeesi, Bategeka blames the high crime rate and lawlessness of the youth to failure to turn the children and youths into an active labour force.

“What we are seeing now is the failure as a country to deliberately reap from this youthful population,” he says.

Munyangabo advocates for more investment in skills development in technical institutions. He insists that the government has to anticipate the upcoming jobs in the market and prepare the nation to work in this labour market.

Uganda has put in place opportunities through which youths can create jobs using their skills such as the Youth Livelihood Program but only time can tell whether this project will save the country’s job crisis.

Personal Finance: Getting your financial plan right is key

By Eronie Kamukama

It is that time of the year when scores of students have just completed their final year at university and are scrambling for every job opportunity that comes their way.

On the other hand, graduates are increasingly finding jobs and pensioners are yet to receive their arrears worth sh50 billion. All these groups of people are looking for a source of livelihood for the years to come but the dilemma most people go through once the paycheck comes through is what next to do with the money.

This is why you should plan for a sound financial future.


What is Financial planning?

According to Richard Ntulume, a financial consultant at KSK Associates in Kampala, it is about preparing how to use your money to meet your unlimited wants.

Financial planning starts when one starts earning income.

Ntulume says, “It starts when you start earning because you cannot plan on what you do not have. So you have to have a job, a source of income say may be transferred income or retirement fund.”


Doing it right

Everyone should have short, mid-term and long term goals. Ntulume says basing on your salary, you are able to project how much you will earn by the end of the year.

For one who has just found a job, you can plan to achieve your mid-term goals and this is slightly in a year’s time.

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Central to meeting these goals is knowing how much money you have, then prioritize the immediate needs and disregard what you think you can do without.

Make sure that you save for your high value needs and when immediate need for them arises, Ntulume advises finding external financing.

However, he cautions people on living or planning beyond their means.
“You have to be sincere with your earnings and once you know this, align your income to your needs,” he notes.


Achieving goals

To achieve goals in the long term, one can project earnings and save about 5% of the income to accumulate capital for instance to open up a small business. Ideally, every income earner should at least have savings, investments and expenses.

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Financial planning is crucial because one needs to be self-sustaining and so living by the day should not be an option.

“You have to have control over your financial future so that even in the eventuality that you lose your job, you remain financially independent.”

For anyone living a purposeful life, there has to be a plan in place because everything revolves around finances, be it health, social or academic life.

Ntulume adds, “If you are to grow financially, you have to plan and appraise yourself basing on the extent to which you have achieved some of your goals.”

Do not miss me

By Eronie Kamukama

Do not miss me my friend because u were never there

I implore you not to miss me when am gone
Do not even try to miss the sound of my fruity voice on your phone
Or the sincerity and audacity rooted within the rib tickling texts i sent you
Do not pick that telephone and call me
For i will not be able to hear your honeyed words
They will only fall on closed ears

Do not miss me i tell you
Do not even try to come to the airport
Or wave at me as i clean the fog off its window
Do not follow me later on check in near my university dorm
For i will be busy grasping community development models
Do not publish that highway billboard proposal
For my emotional reserves are completely depleted

Do not miss me
Do not especially when my candle is almost burnt out
Or ask me if your time with me is up
Do not bring me apples in the hospital
For my flaky hands will not be able to hold onto it
And my throat will be too sore

Do not miss me
Do not, particularly when i have met my heavenly Master
Do not dress in your black Paris suit and come to my funeral
Or wear your black shades and pretend to mourn
Do not buy daisies and come to pay your last respects
For i will not hear your dead voice

Do not miss me i order you
Just remember the name Eronie
And nothing beyond my baby laugh under the sun