Community, Diaspora and Immigration

WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT: Why Uganda is Ranked Happiest Nation In EA

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“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worst than it is, and the future less resolved than it would be” –Marcel Pagnol (French Writer, producer and Film Director1895-1974)

The UN last week released the first ever World Happiness Report.

In the report, Uganda is ranked the happiest nation in East Africa. Uganda is placed at position 128 out of 156, and followed by Rwanda at 132 out of 156 countries.

Columbia University’s Earth Institute report considered factors like economic and social support, absence of corruption and degree of personal freedom.

According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Uganda’s inflation rate slumped to 21.2 percent in March from a revised 25.7 percent in February 2012.

The Central Bank of Uganda ramped up its key lending rate to 23 percent last year after inflation soared on the back of high food and fuel prices.

Uganda’s unemployment rate is at 3.5 percent and that of the youth is at a whopping 32.2 percent while for those with degrees, it’s at 36 percent.

In 2007 Transparency International ranked Uganda 117th most corrupt country out of 178 countries in the world Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

The World Bank report (2005) estimated that Uganda loses $ 300m (510b shillings) through corruption and procurement malpractices.

Last week, the government banned a pressure group Activist for Change (A4C). A4C is campaigning for good governance and freedom in Uganda.

Having mentioned all these snapshots of happiness indicators in Uganda, the question is; with all this poor record, why are Ugandans the happiest nation in East Africa?

There is no single definition of the word Happiness. However, Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Happiness as, a state of wellbeing and contentment; also: a pleasurable satisfaction.


University of Minnesota Professor David Lykken in his research concluded that, “50 percent of our happiness is determined by our genes (the happiness set point) and the other 50 percent is determined by other circumstances of life”.

The happiness set point refers to the resting position when nothing unusually wonderful or unusual is going on in our lives. Other researchers like Sonja Lyubomirsky confirmed this thesis and attributed the other remaining 50 percent to be broken down into intentional activity(under our control) 40 percent and life’s circumstance (not under our control) comprise of the final 10 percent.

This means Ugandans have made better use of their 40 percent than other nations because we have control over it.

This means if your gene makes you a happier person, it gives you a better chance at having a more lasting happiness. Positive Psychology expert illustrated it in formulae as:

H = S + C + V

Enduring Happiness (H) = Set Point (S) + Circumstances (C) + factors under Voluntary Control (V).

Secondly considering Uganda’s historical past and their present reaction to unfavorable economic situations as compared other nations in East Africa; Ugandans seem to have very low expectations from their government.

This makes them less disappointed. For instance, the average pay for a primary school teacher is Shs275 000.

Depending on the grade and qualifications, Secondary School teachers earn Shs330,000 and 500,000 respectively.

While in neighboring Kenya, the lowest paid non-graduate primary school teacher at the Group F level earns around Ksh13,000 (Shs372,114) while the highest paid graduate teacher at the Group R level earns on average about Ksh37,000 (Shs 1,059,159) per month.

Conclusively Frederick Koenig wrote: “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting what we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

Ugandan civil servants especially nurse and teachers don’t keep in their jobs because of the love of money but the appreciation of what they have.

Happiness is a choice and Ugandans have made the choice to be the happiest.


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