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Kampala Urban Tour Day 1 - Makerere University



Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and there is only one word I can think of to describe it: dizzying!

After very little sleep, we departed from 2 Friends Beach Hotel in Entebbe early to make the 42 kilometer drive to Kampala and to resume our planned itinerary of events. This drive was our first daylight look at the Ugandan landscape, filled with rolling hills, lush vegetation, and the big sky. Lining the city streets are small business establishments selling clothes, hardware, even furniture, alongside temporary food vendors who are part of the informal sector of the economy. These vendors typically bicycle to town from the outskirts, laden with their fruits and vegetables for sale, and select a roadside location at which to conduct business for the day.


Entering the Kampala area, we found the city streets teeming with pedestrians, bicyclists laden with bananas or other goods for sale, cars and vans and matatus (taxis) driving in no particular lane, along with the ubiquitous boda-boda motorbikes for hire. We made our way through the city to Makerere University, where we met Dr. Paul Mukwaya, a professor in the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climactic Sciences. Dr. Mukwaya delivered a lecture focusing on the physical environment and historical development of Uganda. At the end of the lecture we received the first of many instructional talks about how to try to commmunicate in different regions as we moved through the country.


Makerere University is in the central district, and the heart of the Buganda kingdom. Here, the tribespeople are referred to as the Baganda people and the language is Lugandan. Tutored by Dr. Mukwaya, we practiced some greetings in this language as well as in Ankole, the language of the Isingiro district in the western part of the country, where we were to travel in a couple of days.


After Makerere, we drove the city streets, where the socioeconomic stratification is evidence in the hills themselves: at the bottom in the valleys are the slums where the poorest reside, and the property values and representtion of wealth increases with the altitude of these hills.

Our day concluded at the home of our host, Jimrex Byamugisha, whose extended family welcomed us warmly and who had prepared for us a traditional homemade Ugandan feast of beef, goat, matoke, peas, greens, potatoes, groundnut sauce, and dessert of passionfruit and mango. After the delicious meal, the family entertained us with their traditional music and dancing. It was quite a memorable day and evening!

Posted by lindaconnor 10:22 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Kampala Urban Tour Day 2 - Namirembe Hill

The first part of Sunday's tour.


Still rushing to exchange our money, get our emergency phones in order, and catch up to our planned itinerary, we drove by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Kasubi Tombs, established in the eighteenth century as a burial ground for kings. The gates were impressive but alas, a tour will have to wait until next time.


We spent considerably more time at the impressive Namirembe Cathedral, a beautiful structure built in the colonial era which began as a Anglican Church and is now a Church of Uganda cathedral. We could not photograph the inside of the cathedral because we visited on a Sunday, but we walked among the parishioners and the Sunday School students after worship. We loved the expansive views of Kampala from high on Namirembe Hill.


The Kabaka Palace is the official residence of the King of Buganda and is situated on one end of the Royal Mile. Anchoring the other end of the Royal Mile is the Buganda Parliament building. The king does not actually stay at this residence any longer, due to the violence that occurred here in 1966 at the orders of Milton Obote and carried out by Idi Amin, who was then a general in Obote's army.


I love the view of the street in the photograph which shows a downhill view of the Royal Mile. At its center is the Kabaka Roundabout, a traffic circle around which all vehicles travel; however, when the Kabaka is on the road, the gates of the roundabout are opened so that his entourage can travel straight through without diverting. Wow!

Posted by lindaconnor 09:14 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Kampala Urban Tour Day 2 - Nakivubo Channel

The Second Part of the Tour


Our Sunday urban tour continued with a stop at the Kasanvu Slum located on the Nakivubo Channel, a stop which was arranged in advance by our guide Kenneth Rutundo. It was sobering to view the dire conditions of polluted water, limited infrastructure in terms of road maintenance and garbage collection, and the tiny housing units on the crowded and narrow streets. There are two main flushing toilets available for the entire community. Kasanvu slum is located at the bottom of a hill in the Namuwongo section of Kampala. We were able to meet the de factor mayor of Kasanvu, a gentleman named Masengeri who is the long-time council leader of the slum. I was surprised that such a position exists, and crestfallen that an organizational structure of this type signifies more permanance than I had recognized.


As we drove up the hill, we again noted that the homes increased in value with the slope. At the top of the hill are more spacious homes complete with landscaping and fencing, with a view of the slum just a short distance away on the right in the valley we had just driven through.


Posted by lindaconnor 04:18 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Kampala Urban Tour Day 2 - Ggaba Beach



We stopped for lunch at the relatively posh Ggaba Beach Resort, situated on Murchison Bay. This is a gated establishment located just blocks away from the bustling Ggaba Beach Market, where small stands sell everything from fruits and vegetables to construction materials. Our hosts ordered our meal at the resort, and then we spent a half hour walking around the market. Unfortunately, we were advised not to photograph the vendors, but the stands piled high with tomatoes, bananas, mangoes, along with the aromas of roasting fish and the like are forever embedded in my mind. There is a landing dock for fishing boats and the fresh fish is hauled up to be sold right away. Nile perch from Lake Victoria is one of Uganda's largest exports.


When we returned to the restaurant, we feasted on roasted whole tilapia, one of the best meals we enjoyed during our Ugandan adventure. This fish was seasoned to perfection!


Although it may have been the novelty of eating with our fingers that captured our fancy, most of us finished our fish down to the bones (but that is not an appetizing photograph to share!). We washed down our meal with Tangawizi ginger beer and enjoyed the beautiful breezes off Murchison Bay, a relaxing time watching as the fishing boats and the woodland kingfishers passed by.

Posted by lindaconnor 04:33 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Ndere Cultural Center

Preservation of the musical heritage of Uganda


The Ndere Troupe is a performance group dedicated to preserving the cultures of Uganda through music, dance, and drama. Their home is a compound just north of the central business district in Kampala, where they train, perform, and live. The instruments they play are unique wind, stringed, and percussion instruments modeled after those crafted and played by the indigenous tribes of the country. We attended a Sunday night performance at the Ndere Center, including a buffet of traditional Ugandan food, that we won't soon forget.

What I love most about Ndere is that they scour the country for talented musicians and provide them with educational opportunities that they might not have been afforded otherwise. I met one musician whose parents are gone, and who is the eldest of many siblings. Through his Ndere affiliation, he is able to support his younger siblings. This is just one example of the many situations we encountered in which the concept of community was quite evident to us.


Posted by lindaconnor 04:08 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

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