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Winner of the 2022 Africa Liberty Camp Essay Competition in Uganda



The adventure of Jonathan Gullible is a free market odyssey book authored by professor Ken Schoolland. As a young Economist and an advocate of free market I fell in love with this book due to its in-depth content on free market principles like property rights, individual rights and limited government. Additionally the book is written in the simplest English making it easy to read and understand, it also has interesting storylines making it’s reading fun.

This book has forty (40) chapters but for this case I will narrow my analysis to only two chapters and that is chapter 3(page 11) and chapter 18(page 97).

A common Tragedy (chapter 3 (page 11).

This chapter talks about the use and management of commonly owned resources like land, lakes, Forests and etc.

Relating the chapter to the local context, I will relate this chapter to the local context using three

different scenarios;

- The state of public schools in Uganda. ( Primary and secondary schools), These schools are

owned by the state to offer Free education to it’s citizens, however being publically owned,

these schools have not served their intended purpose, they are Ill equipped, with terrible

structural developments and limited number of teachers.This is all happening due to lack of proper management and accountability systems associated with commonly owned resources and which has also led to the low performance level associated with such schools.

State of some public schools in Uganda:

- Mabira forest. This is the biggest equatorial forest in Uganda covering 300 square kilometers and a home to many endangered species. However it being a common resource, we are bound to lose

this natural treasure due to the increasing deforestation doubled with uncontrolled charcoal

burning for commercial interests.

- Public hospitals in Uganda. Just as public schools are, public hospitals are also always

associated with poor service delivery, understaffing and lack of drugs. To a worse scenario, the

few available drugs in the hospitals and medical facilities are also misused, misappropriated and

sometimes stolen by the workers and staff of these medical facilities across the country which

evidently turns into " a common tragedy".

Lesson Learnt;

Unlike commonly owned resources, private resources are always faced with high levels of

accountability, better service delivery, better management and etc, this is evidenced by the thriving

nature of the privately owned schools in Uganda.

Uncle Santa (Chapter 18 (page 97).

This chapter talks about tax collectors who move around collecting a lot of money from people and

pretend to give back to them during special occasions in form of gifts.

Relating the chapter to the local context.

Tracking way back in 1953, the colonial government introduced a poll tax known as graduated tax in

Uganda. This tax was aimed at the local government which is the lowest administrative unit in the

country. This tax was collected by local defense and tax payers were promised gifts and services in

return as a reward for their compliance.

Occasionally these people could visit schools and give out different gifts like Sackets of salt, pieces of soap and etc which excited the students and prompted the parents to continue paying the tax. the receipts issued after tax payment were also viewed by the tax payers as a symbol of prestige and those in possession of it always claimed to be the only men in the society.

However this tax lost its popularity and was abolished in Uganda in 2005. This was because of its

coercive nature, tax defaulters were always subjected to beatings, arrest, unknown detention, and

in extreme cases imprisonment. Many people resorted to sleeping in the near by bushes due to the

fear of being arrested at night in their houses.

Lesson Learnt.

In this chapter I learnt that free things are the most expensive because people ended up with

sweets, pieces of soap and salt which they considered Free not knowing that they paid a lot of taxes

as compared to those things.

Compiled by;

Gideon Onduri.


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