Ugandan Culture Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Uganda Culture





The country known as Uganda was once a British colony just like the majority of its neighbors in East Africa. It was initially intruded into by the Arab traders led by Speke and the British explorers led by Stanley in 1862 and 1875 respectively. They both paid homage to Mutesa who was the King (kabaka) of the Buganda. Uganda remained predominantly under the colony of the British until 1962 when they were granted internal self-government by Britain (History World, 2011).

Uganda is a country that covers 7,108 sq mi in area and a host of 33.3 million people found in East Africa. It is bordered by Congo on the West, Kenya on the East, Tanzania and Rwanda on the south and Sudan on the North. It enjoys the equator since it crosses through it and has three major weather areas; the fertile plateau, swampy lowlands and the desert regions. The famous Lake Victoria is found to the southern part of Uganda (The World Factbook, 2011).

The topography of the population is such that the life expectancy is 52.9, the growth rate is pegged at 3.5%, the birth rate is 47.5/1000, the infant m ortality rate is 63.7/1000 and the density per sq mi is 392 people (Pearson Education, 2011).

According to Encyclopedia of the Nations (2011), the economy of the nations is dependent on agriculture with 80% of the population relying on agriculture for employment and in turn produces 90% o f the export of the country. Uganda also has some deposits of copper, cobalt and the recently discovered oil, however, Uganda just like most of the African countries remain to be among the world's poorest nations.

Health background

The Ugandan population is majorly consisting of poor people who live on a dollar or less per day. They can barely afford basic health care which not provided for by the government. HIV is a widespread disease in Uganda with a prevalence rate of 6.5 among the age bracket of 15 to 49 years old according to UNICEF (2010). Malaria is another disease that is predominant as well as the water borne diseases.

Some of the most emerging and re-emerging agents of the waterborne diseases are; Cholera which is caused by the ingestion of water that is infected by Vibrio Cholerae. This is a painless form of diarrhea characterized by watery stool. Dysentery which is caused by Escherichia Coli. Typhoid that is caused by Salmonella typhi which is usually accompanied by fever is yet another disease. Gastroenteritis diseases caused by Giardia and Cryptosporodia and some species of hepatitis are also known to be caused by water (CDC, 2011). These disease causing agents find their way into the human body through infected water that people from the poorer communities in Uganda use and have no option of cleaner water.

Some of the measures that the government has encouraged to help curb the problem is boiling of water. This is the cheapest option since the government cannot afford offering iodine tablets and the water filters. The Uganda Red Cross Society has also done its best during every outbreak of cholera like the severe 2006 incidence where more than 300,000 people within the capital city of Kampala were affected directly by the cholera pandemic (Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, 2008). However, this is treatment and not a preventive measure. Even so, this cheapest option available does not solve the problem totally since a wide population cannot afford the fuel and charcoal to ensure the water is always boiled. More so, in the agricultural dependent community like Uganda, the young boys who go for grazing cannot afford bottled water to carry hence end up drinking together with the cattle at the rivers.

2. Economy

The economy of Uganda in general is still falls under the least developed countries category or the third world economies. The GDP as at 2010 was estimated at 5.2%, in 2009 it was estimated at 7.2% growth and 8.7% in 2008. These are the GDP growth on an annual basis that has already been adjusted for the inflation (IndexMundi, 2011).

A. Trade

Uganda has always had an open trade relationship with its neighbors and even afar away countries like the European countries for quite a long time. It is a member of the major trade associations and even became a member of World Trade Organization in 1995 hence making it a significant member in the trade in the region.

The largest trade partners that Uganda has are Switzerland, the UK and Kenya being the destinations of its exports and sourcing its imports from Kenya, UK and Japan. The country has a wide range of export items that it deals in like coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, flowers and cereals. Uganda also has a host of several minerals that supports its economy like cobalt, Columbium, Tantalum, gold, tin, tungsten, cement, shale, limestone, phosphate rock and vermiculite among others (Thomas R. Yager, 2002). With this vast range of resources backed up by a free and friendly trade environment, the GDP of Uganda has always proved to be much higher than those of the neighboring Kenya and Tanzania.

B. Agriculture

As noted above, agriculture is one of the biggest economic activities and foreign earner in Uganda. Majority of the population, indeed 80% of them depend on agriculture in one way or the other for the daily earnings. Agriculture supports a significant section of the Ugandan economy with coffee remaining to be the most important crop for the country catering for almost a third (31%) of the country's export commodity (Encyclopedias of the Nations, 2011).

It is worth noting that the economy of Uganda is predominantly agrarian which caters for 36% of the GDP, providing 81% of the employed labor force and a further 31% of the export as already noted above. One third of the land in Uganda is under cultivation, however, subsistence production is the major occupation in the agricultural sector. Indeed, 70% of all the agricultural production taking place in Uganda is for local consumption. In the agricultural sector, it is women who provide more than half of the labor force with a primary focus on food and not cash crop production. The food crops that are in large production are plantains, sweet potatoes, bananas, sorghum, corn, millet and cassava.

C. Industries

Uganda, just like most third world countries, has a limited industry. The few industries which are available in the country deal with processing of agricultural products like curing of the harvested coffee, manufacturing of light consumer goods, beverages, textile, electricity production and cement.

It is noted that one of the highest barricades to the development of the industrial and commercial sector of Uganda is corruption, where bribes are solicited for any service as simple as supply of electricity to homesteads. Despite the hindrances, the increased domestic security, tax breaks and market reforms have worked together to see the growth of Uganda's manufacturing sector. But, even with the growth in this sector, there have been even higher importation rates hence subjecting the country to perpetual borrowing of huge sums from the foreign donors and becoming increasingly indebted (U.S. Library of Congress, 2011).

There are changes that have been realized particularly in the industrial sector, with the government encouraging privatization in order to meet the contemporary national economy, there is hope that the industries will gain from this effort and the government subsidies that parastatals are bound to benefit from. These privatization plans include the largest dairy processor in the country, the government-owned Dairy Corporation and the Kilembe copper mines.

D. Currency

The very first Ugandan currency was the Ugandan shilling (UGS) which was introduced in East Africa shilling in 1966 and due to inflation, a new shilling (UGX) was put into use in 1987. The shilling is now the predominant mode of transaction in finances in the foreign exchange market. The U.S. dollar is also widely accepted for financial transactions and to a smaller extent the sterling pound and the euro as well. In May 2010 the Bank of Uganda introduced a new redesigned banknotes which also saw the 1,000 and 5,00 Uganda shillings notes given new security features and a longer life span and at the same time a new 2,000 Uganda shillings note introduced with an approximate equivalent value of U.S.$1.

3. Communications

The nature of communication on Uganda is such that there is a significant amount of freedom that is required for a free and efficient communication industry. There are numerous communication channels just as they are in the developed countries, ranging from the media (TV, radio and print), the mobile telephone services, fax, use of internet and the mail system. There is enough freedom to invest in the telecommunications industry in Uganda, that is why there are several FM radio stations, various mobile phone service providers like Uganda Telecommunications Ltd. (UTL), MTN Uganda, airtel Uganda and still space for any other players who may be interested in…

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