Woman's Description Of Her Homeland Puts What It Means To Be A 'Third World Country' Into Perspective

She describes a country with a deep sense of community and a people who take care of each other — things we can only dream of here in America.

Third world county woman surrounded by food and community Akandwanaho TarzanLyts, margouillatphotos, ayagiz, Wassiliy | Canva

America prides itself on supposedly being the wealthiest, most advanced country with the highest standard of living in the world — the top example of a so-called "first-world country." But it's becoming harder and harder to justify that title for America, and not only because of all of our problems.

As a woman from Uganda recently shared on TikTok, a lot of the places we think of as "undeveloped countries" are far more advanced in a lot of ways than the United States has ever been, and it might be time for us to rethink how we're defining which countries are and are not advanced.


The woman's description of Uganda calls into question what it means to be a 'third-world country'.

"Why do you call us a 'Third World' country?" TikToker Aketch Joy Winnie opens her recent video about her home country of Uganda, regarded as one of the "least developed countries" by the United Nations. "Least developed countries" is one of several newer terms, including "developing countries," created to replace the phrase "Third World countries" because aside from its outdated origins in the Cold War, the often racialized and classist overtones of "Third World countries" marginalizes those nations as supposedly inferior to the predominantly white, Western countries thought of as "First World countries." 


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"Least developed countries" is meant to denote the parts of the world most struggling with poverty and related issues like hunger, homelessness and a lack of infrastructure, or as the UN puts it, "low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development."

But as Winnie revealed in her description of her home country, those criteria don't tell the entire story. Because the picture she paints of supposedly "Third World" Uganda makes American life look downright deprived by comparison.


Winnie describes Uganda as a place with a sense of community that is disappearing in America. 

"Why did they label my country a Third World country? Someone tell me why," Winnie says in her video. "Is it because of the community? Is it because my neighbor's child is my child?"



She goes on to describe Uganda as a diverse place full of innumerable disparate languages and cultures that nonetheless has a shared social fabric that values working together above all else — a stark contrast to America's individualism.

"Do you know that if I'm going to get married, my neighbors, my relatives, everyone concerned is going to gather around and then contribute financially?" she shared. "And even after contributing financially... they're going to pull up with amazing gifts."


She went on to share how this community and togetherness impact the financial hardships many suffer in Uganda.

"There is no way I'll go hungry when I'm in Uganda because I know I can go to a shop and borrow something and pay back later," she said. "It's a rapport we create. It's something we create that money cannot describe."

This creates a culture of trust in Uganda that she says is pervasive and ensures that everyone looks out for each other. And she thinks the way we in "First World countries" are defining what constitutes "developed" is completely backward. 

"What criteria did you use to label most countries that have the things that hold more value?" she asked. 


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Meanwhile, the United States is ranked very low among other 'First World countries' when it comes to basic needs like healthcare and education.

The United States, considered among the most advanced countries on Earth, has some stark contrasts to the Uganda Winnie describes, but not in the ways most would expect. For example, we have the worst health outcomes of any other "developed" country, despite having the highest expenditure on healthcare in the world. We also have the highest rate of poverty among the OECD countries, a group of nations with democratic governments and market-based economies. And we lag far behind other OECD countries in education, falling in the middle or the bottom, depending on the subject matter. 

And when it comes to that sense of community Winnie spoke of in Uganda? Well, first of all, imagine what would happen if you asked to "borrow" some food during hard times — you'd probably at best be laughed at, if not have the cops called on you. 



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More importantly, America's sense of community has all but evaporated. Memberships in everything from civic groups to churches — the sorts of things that used to foster a sense of community — have plummeted in recent decades, and one study found that people 15-24 spend 70% less time with their peers than 20 years ago. Other studies have shown that our well-known loneliness epidemic is so severe that most Americans have at most a single close friend. And there is an abundance of data showing this is at least partly to blame for the political divisions that are tearing not just our society, but our families apart. 

So we're sick, we're poor, we're insufficiently educated, we're lonely, and we're at each other's throats — but we're supposedly the First World while countries like Uganda are the Third? It's no wonder that calling America "a Third World country with a Gucci belt" has become a common internet joke. 

As Winnie put it in her TikTok, "we may not be talking about... the latest Valentino, but yo — I know how my neighbor is doing."


It seems we could learn a thing or two from these "least developed countries" we're supposedly superior to, and start rethinking what constitutes "developed" in the first place.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.