31 January 2013

Uganda: Painful Tale of Cheated Ugandan Diaspora

Charles Kayemba, a former player of sports club Villa, had worked for some time in the UK.

During that time, he used to send money back to his family so that he they could put up a house for him. When he came back home, he discovered that the money he toiled for was used on something else. Heartbroken, Kayemba chose a tragic solution: he hanged himself!

It is not just Kayemba who suffered like this. UPDF soldier Herbert Rwakihembo, while serving in volatile Somalia, used to send money to his girlfriend to build a house too. His wish was to come back home on holiday and stay in a comfortable house. When he returned and asked for the accountability of the funds he sent to build the house, there was none.

So much happened thereafter, but what is clear is that Rwakihembo ended by shooting dead the girlfriend, and two other people. Rwakihembo is in jail over the murder of the three. Kayemba's and Rwakihembo's stories are part of a long list of Ugandans who have been duped whenever they sent money to build houses.

Adrian Ssali, who works for Key Africa real estate, an East African property management agency, thinks that many Africans and Ugandans in particular in the Diaspora have lost a lot of money because they overly trust their families.

This is wrong, he said. "Ugandans should learn to separate business that involves their hard-earned savings from the emotional attachment to their family when trying to acquire property. Instead they should seek the advice of a professional real estate agent who can be able to guide them when it comes to the decisions about which property to buy."

Ssali explains that before anybody who is abroad decides to build a house or buy property home, they should first study the situation before rushing into anything.

"Deal with a professional agent from a reputable real estate firm who has a reputation to protect. Ask him or her as many questions as possible and you should also involve a lawyer who is also knowledgeable about real estate if you are planning on acquiring property or land to build a house back home."

Today, the property companies have exploited some of these problems to design products that target people in the diaspora. Some people abroad have decided to save their money to buy a house, avoiding the disappointment that comes with family.

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