development, ID, Uganda, visa

One Year Ago: Poor ID Management Infrastructure Prevents Uganda Little League Baseball Team from World Series Participation

Originally posted August 15, 2011

“Many Ugandans, if you ask them, ‘When were you born?’ They say, ‘I don’t know.'” (UPDATE:  Video no longer hosted at YouTube.com by ESPN)

Uganda defeated Saudi Arabia to become the first African team to qualify for the Little League World Series. Exultation turned to disappointment when many of the players were unable to obtain visas to the United States (apparently) because of an inability to provide enough biographical detail during the State Department’s application process.

The video linked below is taken from a documentary currently in production that was featured on ESPN over the weekend. Please watch it before reading the rest of this post. It is not to be missed. (UPDATE: Video no longer hosted at YouTube.com)

“…Little League was not ready for a country like Uganda to participate in the World Series.”
(UPDATE: Video no longer hosted at YouTube.com)

There is a temptation to place blame (upon the State Department, Little League, Uganda, Felipe Almonte, etc.) but the Ugandan coaches and players know the real source of their disappointment though they don’t use the exact same terms we use here: A legitimate ID is a prerequisite to full participation in the modern world.

The sad truth, and the true cause of the plight of Uganda’s Little League baseball team is the fact that (perhaps) billions of the world’s poor lack individual legitimacy because they don’t have an ID that can be vouched for by a trusted second party. These individuals are therefore unable fully to exert their talents through the world’s increasingly interconnected institutions. Because of this, we are all poorer.

Fortunately, and thanks in no small part to biometric technologies, the costs associated with maintaining an effective ID infrastructure are falling fast, enabling even poor societies with low adult literacy rates to provide their children with something they cannot reach their full potential without: a legit ID.

UPDATE – August 16, 2013:
Here’s a poor-quality YouTube video (someone filming their television) of the original ESPN spot referred to above.

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