The Story of Ugandan Beggars and the Precious Stone


By Prof Dominic Byarugaba 

The fore fathers of the great nation Uganda had a lot of wisdom but

were very selfish in hiding it in proverbs, idioms, tales that are

most times scaring nevertheless,they remain icons of wisdom. Readers

allow me to support these great grandparents by hiding my story in a

philosophical tale as well.

It is important to know that danger came one time when traditionalists

killed a missionary in Eastern Uganda and even it is on record that in

Ankole (Ibanda) a one Rutaraka  killed a white(Galt)! Reason our fore fathers had cultural routes tagged as bad omen and others tagged safe and clear.

 The killing of this missionary did not stop the accolade naming of

our motherland the Pearl of Africa; forgive me on what came first

whether the naming or the killing but still Uganda is the pearl of

Africa.Let us use it interchangeably to suit the tale the same way all

the scaring tales can never be proved but have shaped society over


 Indeed Uganda is the Pearl of Africa and we should cherish, guard it

jealously and save it from all ills so that it lives the taste of

time. This long paragraph should not bore you let’s just get to the

gist or cardinal point of this article-

 Are all Ugandans aware of the beauty, riches, wealth, precious,

unrivaled cultural settings and many other attributes that go with any

part of Uganda? We mostly talk of natural beauty and natural endowment

but let me tell you a brief story something not characteristic of my

writing skills of late! Recently I have learnt how to write essays

because I missed essay writing all through my formal training as there are 

no stories in chemistry and biology but just equations and short

factual answers to natural issues!

Do we know that we sit on Gold or Diamond or a precious stone

not known to physical chemistry professors and start going all over

begging for peanuts? One day a steady physical chemistry professor who

can identify the precious seat and stone we sit on daily and use it to

launch our begging sprees will earn a fortune and we will be left with

nothing but to perish when time to crumble has not come but has just

been strategically accelerated by our lack of knowledge which most

writers and classical thinkers or philosophers call basic issues

common to all organisms with the acumen to distinguish two close fingers

as two separate fingers not one finger implying that the visual acuity

of most Ugandans should remain upright, steady fast, accurate and spot

on not to lose the precious stone we have sat on to beg for less

instead of utilizing the seat we launch our begging exercises to

develop and transform society. It is just a jig-saw plan.

One afternoon I was travelling to Nairobi and I met a celebrated

Professor known to many as Tarsis Kabwegyere and he narrated

an identical story of sitting on a precious rock as a daily seat and

begging for small returns. He went on to tell us that when someone

identified the precious seat he offered a better daily offer to the

beggar and the beggar immediately abandoned the seat and eventually

the person run away with the treasure.

 So fellow Ugandans, let us look around our seats, identify them

carefully like physical chemistry professors, check out our

environments where we reside, scrutinize our work places, examine our

land where we plant our cash and food crops, investigate more on our

earning avenues for our living and relate all these to this

philosophical story of a beggar who sat on reaches and never realized

how precious his seat was but when offered a better donation he

abandoned the would be lifelong treasure! This is the shop focus

called greater Uganda where the influx of global interests is pointing

day and night and unfortunately as Ugandans we seem not to know the

treasure we hold in the pearl of African as was named by Winston Churchill.

Alas let us think, reason, debate, moot ideas for prosperity not

destruction like the beggar who lost it all in a twinkle of an eye.

Imagine if you were the one and the donation melted in your hands only

to return to the strategic point seat you find it is taken. There is

one very proverb in Runyankore, however, obscene it sounds when

narrated in local language its intrinsic meaning when well interpreted

and followed then mankind can sustain the woos around him and develop

irrespective of churning out circumstances and environments that do

not warrant discussion here in this article. The proverb goes “Ngu

kyokugaburira agaya nobwe ogaburira acuguura” literally meaning that

instead of feeding someone who is not grateful you would rather feed

someone who has diarrhea all the time. Therefore life and particularly

society transformation right from stone age to present social media

era was never and will never be championed by many but a few who

have the charisma, acumen and reasoning eventually thinking on behalf

of the sleeping giants. Who are these? Recite them globally,

regionally and come home with good examples as we move to this new era

of crafty social media platforms, mad human beings as a result of

limited rest, implying it will take us time to research and get the

culprits of wrong doing as we all hide in skins of cherished prey by

the predators and yet some of the prey are very aggressive in the

cherished skins and a short touch you pack to your ancestors e.g. in

science the best biological weapon is an envelope containing anthrax

pathogens- imagine microscopic organisms killing even a big elephant

in just hours.

God bless the pearl of African citizens to reason, debate, think and

not beg while seated on a precious stone that when transformed and

when value is added then begging will end. I rest my philosophical

thinking that Uganda was, is and will remain a precious shopping

centre for knowledge, resources, climate and even some of the

resources therein are not yet known implying Noah’s Ark could have

been placed around Uganda as almost all investigations and researches

zero on the great lakes and the Ituri forest zones in the theory of

creation visa viz revolutionary evidence. Can all Ugandans identify all

these precious resources and guard them jealously in perpetuity for

all generations- mind you the greatest resource is termed human.

Prof Dominic Byarugaba is a Director of 

African Institute for Capacity Development


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