Many people have embraced the tradition of having to contribute to weddings. However, shockingly, graduation parties are fast following this trend, writes Stella Nassuna
A lecturer at Makerere University recently shocked everyone when, after completing his six-year PhD abroad, returned with a sh32m budget to hold his graduation party.
Before he even set foot in the country, his former colleagues and friends were already frantically fundraising for this party. They sent text messages, held meetings and even gave out pledge cards. The whole thing was given the treatment usually reserved for wedding preparations.
Granted, he had studied hard to attain a PhD, but isn’t sh32m a bit too much and rather dramatic? Many people have embraced the tradition of having to contribute to wedding parties, even the traditional marriages, but graduation parties?
Sam was as broke as a church mouse before his graduation last Friday. His peasant parents sold everything to put him through school. If anything, he could only manage to host them to a small luncheon. But with all the excitement, he decided that he would hold a party — against all odds — if only, to show off his achievement to envious villagemates.
He had an idea: He would borrow sh50,000 from as many friends as he could. By the end of this venture, Sam had raised sh5m for his party, but he celebrated under stress: How would he refund all the money he had borrowed?
“Now I need a well-paying job as soon as possible to recover the money,” Sam says.
PRIORITIES GONE WRONG?
Shalima Munene, a banker, reasons that even if a graduate has sh32m, instead of throwing themselves a lavish party, they can use this money to start up a business. She says for a graduation party, a small function is enough.
Edwin Ongom, a sales manager, says he never had a graduation party and has never regretted it. “When my mother gave me money to have one organised, I took it and started a business in South Sudan and it is doing well right now. I am glad I did not use it up,” Ongom says.
Angella Katatumba, a local artiste, does not see why people should not be content with the little they can afford.
“People should know their level. If you know you cannot afford something, why should you stretch hard to get it by putting the cost on others? You do not impress anyone. Besides, people who attend are those who helped you raise the money,” says Katatumba.
Jamal, also an artiste, concurs: “I would call myself crazy if I helped a friend, especially one who does not have a stable income, to collect outrageous amounts of money for a graduation party. What next after the party? They become broke and helpless,” he argues.
Why a party is a big deal
Ronald Kato, a news anchor, believes that it is acceptable to ask friends, relatives and colleagues to help meet your budget. But it should not be exaggerated.
He observes that some people do it to disguise their plans and make a quick save on that money. A story is told of one young woman who, in the name of fundraising for her graduation party, was only looking for a top up for her air ticket to Nairobi. As soon as she had enough, she fled the country. There was never any party, leaving everyone embarrassed.
Another is a tale of someone who used the money to buy a plot of land and on the last day, when everyone was gearing up for the party, he vanished.
Edgar Ntenze, a businessman, is in full support of fundraising for a graduation party.
“If you can afford to foot half the budget, then why not? It is everyone’s dream to have a memorable celebration at graduation,” he says.
Many often feel out of place when they do not hold a party. Just a few years ago, when people graduated, the celebrations were limited to just a few friends and family members.
These days, however, graduates attend their own graduation parties and then those of friends. So as one’s party is being attended, the question iss: “When is yours?”
ALL FACTORS CONSTANT
“The question comes down to: Can one afford it?” says Anthony Kituuka, head of corporate finance at Kenya Commercial Bank, Uganda. He adds that there are people who are wealthy and “therefore a huge sum of money like sh32m is just pocket change.”
“My only problem is with someone who cannot afford it, but insists on throwing a big party,” he adds.
“I know we live in a community where celebrating life’s milestones is important. People have always shared costs to help an individual reach this cause, some still do it even today. If someone has such help then that is fine, but why would you spend it on a one-day event, yet you could use it to start up something sustaining?” Kituuka says.
“People should avoid spending money on things they cannot afford to please neighbours they do not even like, who happen to not care at all,” Patrick Mutimba, a director of an investment company, says.
He adds that there is a reason why people do the things they do, but before they see their actions through, they need to be guided by a financial counsellor. Unfortunately, we do not have many of those in Uganda.
Mutimba advises that people read financial books to shape their spending habits.
“These will help shape their daily expenditures and groom them into financially responsible individuals, who can make the right financial decisions in all their endeavours. You will be surprised at how much one’s spending habits change when they walk in financial discipline,” he says.
What do you think?
Must you spend so much on a graduation party?