Friday, June 17, 2005

Uganda 101

I have moved to, and i have also migrated all posts and comments. YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE SO CHANGE YOUR BOOKMARLS/BLOGROLLS ACCORDINGLY!!!!
Kampala is chiefly composed of hills and corners. The town planners appear to abhor straight lines and insist on putting curves and corners along the roads. Rather than have old fashioned T-junctions, a popular design of making a left turn requires you driving 50 meters further down the road, (away from the turn) before turning back and then taking the turn. This helps break the monotony.

The obsession with curves and corners keeps drivers busy with their gear levers. The cheerful chap who is driving me around seems to believe that it is unlikely you will ever get to gear 4, let alone 3 because just as you get a bit of weight on the accelerator you are at a corner.

As air goes, Kampala's is definitely an acquired taste. It's hot. It's stuffy. It does not appear to want to move and stays merrily in place, like Mwai Kibaki. I have been forced to dispose of my long sleeved shrifts and stick to their short sleeved brethren. Attempting to put on blazers, sweaters and waistcoats will get you followed by screaming excited children that will have concluded you are a circus clown.

The people are remarkably friendly, and apparently possess some instinct that allows them to detect foreigners in an instant. Conversation generally goes as follows:

Kampalan: Good morning sir.
M: Good morning. I wonder if I could trouble you for today's papers?
Kampalan: Yes sir! No problem sir! I'll get them at once sir!
M: Thanks. And there's no need to call me sir!
Kampalan: Yes sir!!

As currencies go, Ugandan currency is the most wallet unfriendly. The Ugandan currency boasts a 50,000 shilling note. A soda is 1,000 shillings. Fuel is 1,990 shillings to the litre. Transactions seem to be rounded off to the nearest 500. A good meal is about 10,000 shillings. A chap I met deeply resents the 50,000 note on the grounds that when the inevitable parasites that are related to you make an appearance and request your IMF support, it is entirely possible you may give away the wrong note instead of the 1,000 that you wanted to get rid of the bugger with.

When it comes to food, Ugandans don't do things by halves. A table is laid with matoke (boiled and mashed bananas) and a dish of groundnut sauce. At this stage it is not yet considered a meal. Shortly people staggering under the weight of assorted pots will strain the table legs with beef, chicken, beans, ugali and assorted vegetables. Dessert with invariably be pineapples or bananas, or any combination thereof.

Eating is taken very seriously and from an informal survey I have carried out, the Britney Spears look is completely eschewed. (Smart People!)

The chief languages appear to be English and Buganda. Swahili is also spoken, but chiefly by the army. However it is apparently gaining popularity

People generally tend to dress colourfully. However, as with most rules there are always exceptions. The Karamojong apparently prefer to be attired in nothing. But when it comes to accessories, the prefer the Ak-47.

George Bush would have a heart attack of Uganda became the Unites States 52nd state. It is impossible to go two blocks before running into a chap sitting idly with a gun, or a chap riding a bike with a gun slung across his back. Security guards are empowered to carry guns. A chap I saw just yesterday appeared to be cleaning his ear with his rifle.

The police themselves are armed to the gums and dart around in open backed pick-ups, scowling furiously to clear the traffic before them. A popular way of cutting down of red tape (arresting, booking, transport to court etc.) appears to be shooting crooks in the head. Most of the Ugandans I have talked to are in favour of this method of dealing with crime.

Apparently there are over 300 MPs in Uganda. (Poor Ugandans!) But when it comes to producing hot air they are leaps and bounds behind their Kenyan counterparts. The current issue of the day is whether presidential term limits should be abolished for the incumbent Yoweri Museveni.

To rocket scientists (you know yourselves) when I tell you I shall be in Uganda and while there I shall be using my MTN line, even a Government spokesman will suspect that trying to contact me using my Safaricon line (pun intended) will not on the whole be effective.

The Game - Dreams