Friday, January 15, 2010

My Uganda Experience - Kampala

My flight landed at the Entebbe airport around 10 p.m. on Tuesday night. It took about an hour to claim the luggage and complete immigration formalities.
The city is about an hour’s drive from the airport. We were taken to the Shalom Guest House, a very clean and comfortable place that provides transitory accommodation and breakfast to visitors. Very much like a B&B.


The capital of Uganda is a big sprawling city. The terrain is hilly and the traffic is very heavy except late in the evening and early in the morning. The city is lush with lots of trees and plants and vegetation. And, with their red-bricked roof tops, the homes sparkle in the sun. There is a golf course right in the city centre which adds to Kampala’s beauty.

The British influence is evident everywhere from the traffic on the left to the use of English. Ugandans are very soft-speaking people and with their heavy accents, I have to listen very carefully. I expect that this will become less difficult as time goes by.

Kampala is a global city. Its 1.4 million population is highly diverse and there are Chinese, Italian, Indian, Thai and European restaurants to cater to the preferences of the city’s residents. Temperature has hovered around 25 + which is not difficult to take coming from -20 in Ottawa.
Two main modes of public transportation in Kampala are Bodas and Mututus. Bodas are motorbike taxis driven by whoever has a motor bike is able to rent or borrow one. The drivers are reckless and they do not wear helmets. In fact, helmets are almost unknown in Kampala and we have been strongly advised not to hire a Boda. There are thousands and thousands of Bodas. The Mututus are old, very old rickety minibuses that have been converted into ‘shared taxis. I have taken these a few times and the one this evening had 16 people in it including the driver and a conductor. They stuff passengers like sardines. They are a lot less expensive and safer than the Bodas.

Wednesday evening I met a group of ex pats for dinner. There were 25-30 ex pats at this posh Indian restaurant located on the terrace of one of the most modern shopping malls in Kampala. The mall also houses a glittering Casino. The place is as modern as our best malls in Canada complete with underground parking. Many of the ex pats at the restaurant were from England, some from Ireland, a few from the U.S. and I was the lone Canadian. A number of them were volunteers, while a have been here on business or with diplomatic services.

Ugand is called the Pearl of Africa and it is a landlocked and neighboring countries are: Sudan in the North, Kenya in the East, Tanzania and Rwanda in the South and Congo in the West.
Uganda gained independence from Britain on October 9, 1962.

Some facts:

- Population: 32.3 million - 50% of the population below 15 years of age
- Religions: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9%
- Languages: Over 40 languages spoken - English Official Language - Ganda or Luganda most widely spoken followed by Swahili and Arabic
- Currency: Canadian $1 = 1,820 Uganda shillings

My next blog, depending on Internet accessibility, will be from Kasese located in southwestern Uganda. This is where I will be working for three months. I go there tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. This makes a very fascinating reading. Enjoy your stay in Uganda, stay safe and keep well.

    Harish Trivedi