Crisis For Ignoring Hospitality In Our Industries

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On my visit to Soroti in the eastern Uganda, I was perplexed by how the Teso, `native community' have their leisure time. Most of their men who partake in the communal drink prefer having a round talk or meetings while taking the nutritious hot champagne known as ‘ajono’, a brew made from fermenting roasted millet and served from a pot while sipping using a traditionally crafted straw. During the round talk drinking moments, women or children take charge of serving them hot water, as the brew is best served with a constant flow of the said waters. As the additions are made the event becomes very lively, people will turn into pairs with general and some heated discussions echoing from side to side. These moments find some unbutton or get topless as the brew runs actively in them. Though the gentle ones take it loyal and back to back you get different narrations of some very good old school and current stories. Some will sip from that straw until they drop. All these good moments are marked by the good hospitality given by those women who serve ajono, from a place where some would expect to be overrun by unruly behaviours. It is a personal duty to be good and important.

Now, let us come back to what is the ‘sober’ reality that we experience in these parts of the uptowns where traditional is a crime either due to malice or the sad fact that it might probably kill you. Where everybody is a good ‘modern’ religious person where you would expect at least improved or better standards' of living. The sad fact that being modern does not really mean your standards of living are better, they could be worse than those from the poorest of some very many regions. Some of the events we go through unexpectedly and with the wrong persons will leave you questioning the sanity of this life. These are general outcries that can only be sorted by everyone by being responsible.

It is Christmas Eve, I had been working all day and all I wanted was to go home early at least get some rest as I prepared to usher in Christmas. There I boarded from the CBD taking a journey to my destination that would take about 45 minutes. But like it's the norm around these ‘modern’ areas, the matatu had three touts each shouting the 'minimum' fare across different drop-off stages. Before we could even leave the CBD, one of the conductors had began collecting the fare just minutes after we set off. Within this process, the fare differed basing on your destination or who you ‘consulted’ before boarding, which was not well received by the passengers. These fares are ever changing depending on how the crew feels is right. I got bewildered as to why the service men in this industry are not given any hospitality training? They earn a lot of money. A gentleman gave out a big note of currency, “Ngojea kidogo.” (Wait a bit), he was told while the conductor kept on with his business of collecting fare from the remaining passengers. When he got to his destination, he hadn't received his balance yet, which was not well with him and while on that pressure of alighting, he pulled the conductor on his way out only for it to turn to a police case. How different could it have ended if the conductor was just but a bit professional, just like how some professions like the hotel industry or aviation industry should be? The conductor would best be dismissed with some severe consequences.

Remember that in this industry, the service men earn better than many teachers, policemen, some of the civil servants and soldiers yet they get no training on hospitality and professionalism. They have also been able to assimilate a group of jobless individuals who find it their business to harass passengers with their relentless efforts to get you boarding a matatu like when someone wakes up and heads to the bus stations, they usually have no clue to where they are supposed to go or which matatu to take. The crew must in turn make a difference in the charges to pay them – plus their own cuts – bringing about expenses which are sponsored sorely by the passengers' pockets. This exposes the consistent negative outcomes we get from this industry. Imagine a case where the crew wakes up at 3-4am and sleeps at 11pm, and in two days will have carried more passengers than most pilots will have carried in a week, and not even a regular medical check up is required of them, let alone psychological checkup. The tragedy!

On the other hand we have the housing industry, mostly the care takers and the seemingly booming business of housing agents. Their professional name is cool but not as some are when handling their customers – the tenants. In the suburbs I see a booming business of home goods, auctioned or bought from the willing seller, but I put that to question. Are the laws fair to the tenant?

Most if not all of these agencies penalize a certain percentage for paying rent past a day agreed upon only by their management without involving the tenant, and one is obliged to sign without a question. You question, chances are you don't get the house. They will prey on the desperation of a tenant in need of the said premises and continue to offer very poor services throughout that tenants stay, a life full of threats every now and then. The constant reminder that they will lock up your house if you don’t pay within the stipulated time, all this while you will need to summon the repair gods for any type of repair work to be done in your rental.

Unfair as it sounds, landlords should adopt the trend in technology and banking systems. The services given by most of the housing agencies are oppressive to tenants as this is because a difference has to add up for their survival which is stretched directly to the tenant as the victim.

These are but just two examples that differ most with that land of ajono, a land where such pressures do not really feel a burden as such, as they are not big to give you ulcers. This clearly demonstrates how lack of proper leadership and regulations in these sectors breeds and grows a man-eat-man society. Just like how the late Mwalimu Nyerere observed, way, way back.


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