We are just over two weeks into the New Year. You have probably made some resolutions and you have started implementing them. If you haven’t made any, what about thinking along these lines?
‘Buy land; they no longer manufacture it’
Mark Twain, an American humorist, allegedly made the above statement many decades ago. It stands true today. Kampala is expanding at an unbelievable speed and it is putting pressure on land. People need accommodation and we still have a culture that compels most people to buy land and build houses. There is need for open spaces and recreation centres.
So, get land anywhere within a radius of 60km from Kampala road and the returns you will get a few years from now are unbelievable. Land that was going for under 20m less than 10 years ago is now going for over 100m in 2019. The pressure on land will continue for many years creating lots of value for people.
Grow some food or invest in it
Uganda has one of the fastest growing populations in the world. They will need to eat. So, if you grow some food, there will always be a market for it. I have been to banana plantations, for example, that earn their owners lots of money every week.
There are some restaurants in Kampala where you have to wait to get a table on some days. We also import lots of food into Africa; if you grow some of it, you may stop that trend. And by the way, if you bought land, growing food on it will give you returns as you wait for its value to rise. Also, you will protect it from land grabbers.
Pay your debt
Don’t think that you are the smartest guy in town and, therefore, you don’t have to pay your debts. You can only run so far. Pay back those you owe money. Pay a visit to those friends you owe a visit. Be in touch with your colleagues even when you don’t need anything from them.
If your children need dinner with you at home, find time. If your cousin needs you to put in a word for them to be shortlisted for some gig, do it. If you need a service or a contractor, first look among your friends and relatives (if you aren’t in public office). If they are professional, give them a chance.
Read a book, that isn’t a Bible
Some people say if you want to hide something from Africans, hide it in a book. I also hear people who say they have no time to read. When you read, you exercise your brain and also learn something new.
They say you are what you know. We live in a knowledge economy, those who know more, will rule the world. Whatever you do, learn more about it. Read more about it.
I didn’t say fly. I said travel. When you travel, you learn something, you get exposed. What stops you from boarding a bus to Arua or Karamoja and see what the country has got to offer?
Exposure makes a lot of difference. The person who may change your life might be on that trip. But don’t just travel. There are many trade fairs across the region or some market days; go for them. If you visited a cattle market one day, maybe you would learn something. If you attended a cultural festival, maybe you would see an opportunity.
Get a new skill
The smartphone made everyone a photographer but do you know that there are very few people that can take good photos? What if you learnt how to take and edit photos, or fly a drone? What if you learnt how to change a tyre on your car? What if you learnt how to design clothes?
What if you learnt how to use a computer? What if you taught yourself how to code? You may be bored in your current job or even hate your boss but because you aren’t skilled, you can’t even think of quitting. You are a modern slave without anybody dedicating that to you. Learn a new skill this year; you don’t know where it will take you.
However big your house is, you can only sleep in one bed per night. You can’t wake up and sleep in another bedroom unless there is a big problem in your room. You can only wear one pair of shoes at a time; you can only drive one car at a time. Help others who may not be so lucky.
Join a voluntary group that supports others like Rotary. Teach children in your community maths, how to bake, coach a village team soccer or give them a chance to show what they can do.
Don’t forget to live your life
British billionaire Richard Branson once said in one of his books that the only thing you can’t get back after losing it is your life. Somebody told me last week that sometimes as he works hard, he remembers that once he is dead, he won’t be able to audit his heir.
So, as you invest for your children and indeed as you help others, remember that you have one life to live. Live it, enjoy it. Living your life means that you take great care of your health and enjoy a bit of it. Go out on a cruise, do what makes your happy. Once you are dead, that will be the end at least for those who don’t think that they will drive a Ferrari in heaven.
The writer is a communication and visibility consultant.