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Poverty is a State of Mind

Whatever the language, the first thing that they would say: “we are poor.” Everybody says: “we are poor, give us something, we are poor.”

I walked in the rural areas of Teso. You know, there is some place called Toroma that is in Katakwi, towards the lake, Obalang, the other side. It is now a district, it used to be in the other district next to Katakwi. There is Katine in Soroti.

When I went to our home here in Acholi. I come from Acholi, by the way. I went to Amuru. You know Amuru is the most fertile place in Uganda and they were saying they are poor. “We are very poor you see, you give us something.”

The something that they are asking is money. And if you give them Ug.Shs. 20,000/= (twenty thousand shillings), before you have even moved, they have already finished drinking it. “We are poor,” they say, but they were sitting on acres of land. Thousands of acres, the most fertile. And they say they are poor, you get it? It is the mind.

I went to Kitgum and to Adilang, I found some Iteso buying Shea butter oil and they bring it here to Lira to sell. That oil is second to Palm oil. It is the second in the world, and it is here in plenty. Now, those who have such things, are they poor?

But there, they were even cutting the Shea tree for making charcoal. You get it? Are we poor? No. But do we have money in our pockets? No. Are we poor? You have already said we are not, but we don’t have money in our pocket. I was very sad when I was walking in the rural areas.

Uganda is so wealthy. We have a lot of wealth in Uganda. But we are very poor. Indeed we are very poor. We are poor not because we don’t have resources. We are poor because we have locked up our heads.

By Mr. Alex Okello Bwangamoi – part transcript of the speech that he gave as the Guest of Honour during the graduation ceremony that CPAR Uganda held on Friday, 14th February 2020 at its Lira Learning Centre to awarded certificates to its first cohort of young adults who had successfully completed the first of four modules, “Understanding Poverty in Rural Uganda”, of its project: “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators against Poverty.” In addition to the graduating young adults, the invited guests in attendance, included elders from Lango sub-region.

Photo credit: Emmanuel Owaraga

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