"Ya Nos Vamos Pareciendo a África": Ojalá Edition

Corn oil? Do you want the 1 l. bottle, or the 5 l. jug?

A little photo essay from the Shoprite supermarket on Entebbe Road in downtown Kampala, Uganda, this morning.

As a term of abuse, “africanización” is doubly noxious: at once luxuriating in its own casual racism and then, on top of that, just plain inaccurate. The facile lament that “vamos a terminar como Africa” serves only to signpost one’s ignorance and conceptual confusion, as though scarcity and macro-economic chaos were somehow things that result from poverty.

Either that, or it comes from lazily imagining Africa as one big undifferentiated stew of war and disaster.

In fact, most of Africa looks like Uganda: poor, certainly, but very far from mired in economic chaos. Inflation is 6.7% here – yes, per year, it’s pathetic that that even needs to be specified. The middle class is growing, as is the economy. Supermarkets like this one aren’t the norm, for sure, but they’re far from exceptional.

Even further down market, though, basic goods are easily available for sale to everyone all the time. The idea of spending 3 hours standing in line for anything strikes the Ugandans I’ve spoken to as utterly bizarre.

Poverty is one thing, macroeconomic chaos is quite another. Venezuelans have just lost sight of this distinction. It takes a nice stroll down a Kampala supermarket isle to remember…

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