Youth from Makerere University’s last graduation class staged a slightly amusing, somewhat thought-provoking and thoroughly useless demonstration exercise this week. They stood at traffic spots in their grad gowns holding placards with the question “What next?” bold-typed upon them.
It was vague, imprecise, and ambiguous.
Bambi, kids, already failing the first paper you have to take since you graduated: You are supposed to be educated now. That should mean you have learned how to answer questions. Yet here you are, waving placards in our windscreens, showing us that you have not even learned how to ask them properly.
Be clear and direct. Write, “Can I have an income please?” on the placard, not “What Next?”
The response most likely inspired was, “What is going on? What’s Next? The traffic light will turn green. Duh!”
The demonstration didn’t last long because the police soon arrived arrest them, probably through force of habit: that is all the police know how to do with demonstrating MUK kids.
That was ironic. The first actually peaceful and orderly demonstration staged by MUK kids in years, and they still get arrested.
This was not before someone was able to take the message and rearticulate it in a form we can actually engage with. Someone on the OTT explained that what they mean to ask was “Why Can’t I Get A Job?”
I don’t know if the fresh graduates were able to access the answers. There might be no network in jail (I have never seen any selfies from prison to prove the case) but there were a lot of answers given.
Speaking of social media, there is a person there I believe is called Sheila Kacumba or something– I know very little about her because I am 45 years old and outside her sphere of influence– but she is a very famous social media personality. Her fame is so vast that even us, at our big age, occasionally find ourselves stumbling upon some mention of her.
I don’t know what she does, but I do know that she has been making a lot of money for years.
Whatever she does, I doubt she didn’t wait to graduate to do it as successfully as she apparently has.
I have a placard printed that I am going to carry around during the next demonstration. It says, “How can Sheila Kacumba have a job and you, a graduate, you’re on the road asking what’s next?”
Okay, I admit that is a simplification of the problem. The fact that there are job opportunities available for Kacumba doesn’t mean the field is the same for all industries. Some professions are pretty much closed.
Like Urban Planning. That is a dead end in Kampala because you can’t plan a plan out of such chaos as this. Being an employed urban planner in Kampala is like being paid to wash mud.
I am oversimplifying again? Well, you started it by reducing a complex question into a pithy two-word placard. I do, however, appreciate that the problem of unemployment for University graduates is a complex one. To find the answer, well, I could go to a university and study Economics so that I can find out the answer. Maybe one of you kids should have tried that.
Young Ugandans, we lied to you. University degrees don’t entitle you to jobs, the rat doesn’t bring you money for your teeth, you are not the leaders of tomorrow (yesterday, when I was a kid, they told me I was the leader of tomorrow, too, but look at me today: still following the real leaders of the world, who are a tiny group of sixty-year-old CEOs) and the only time demonstrating yields the results you desire is if you are throwing stones in Makerere so that the taxpayer can continue and further subsidise the rising cost of your electricity and plumbing.
The truth is that in adult life no one ever knows what’s next. You can decide to take a few punches, take a few losses, learn a lot of hard lessons, make a lot of sacrifices, ditch the gown and don a thick skin of humility and face the challenging world before you. Or you can wait for the magic job fairy to come round and bequeath upon you a C.F.O. position with a corner office. It is your choice now. What’s next is up to you.
Edited by David Tumusiime