Tag Archives: Kampala

Our 2017 visit to Uganda in Photos

The first great pleasure was to get together and chat with our friends and colleagues, the Senyonga family.

Our first day get-together with George, Berna, James, Esther and Maria

An early task – and a very pleasant one at that – was to help perform the opening ceremony for the new Vocational Training Centre at Golden College Nsaggu. The project is in its very early days, but has an enormous potential to change for the better the lives of a large number of young people.

My attempt at addressing the company in Luganda

At least George and Berna found it amusing!

The prefects showing off the charity t-shirts that we donated.

The student body

Making a start on vocational activities

Meeting with Golden’s sponsored students

Some of the senior students are spread far and wide across the region. That meant quite a lot of travelling to meet them…

Zachaeus – doing well at his new school

Joweria has moved away from Kampala, but is a great success at her new school where she is Head Girl.

The link between Stockport County and the Maganjo Wisdom Academy has prospered for almost 10 years. Thanks go to the SCFC Community Foundation for their donation of tracksuits.

The boys showing off the tracksuits donated by Stockport County Community Foundation.

The next generation of players?

Bulumbu’s scout group met us on the road and – slowly – led us to the school.

Ten years ago there was not even a school at Bulumbu – nothing. Now it is a fully functioning school and, following a great deal of financial support from generous donors, there are two blocks, each housing 3 classrooms. We were delighted to be able to participate in the official opening of the second of these blocks. The occasion was made even more memorable by the presence of a group of these donors.

The children had gathered to greet us.

Among the invited guests

Cutting the “ribbon” to officially open the new classroom block.

Visiting various craft villages to bargain for and to purchase crafts is always an important part of our time in Kampala

Buying crafts

A Kampala craft village

With around 75 children sponsored at the infant and primary school levels, it is a major job to make sure that we see as many of them as possible.

Alex Sekibule

Gerald Tendo

Rose Nalukwago

Our final official event was at Bubebbere, with lots of singing by the children and – of course – speeches!

Pupils prepare to entertain us at Bubebbere

A major development has been the progress made in enabling our sponsored students to benefit from vocational courses and giving them increased chances for employment. This does not mean that we neglect academic achievement. We already have one young woman at university and two more hope to join her later this year.

Brenda could not go to secondary school. Now she is studying Cosmetology.

Tamale is following a course in building and construction.

Polline is the latest young woman to attend Nangabo Vocational Institute. She will become a nursery teacher.

Café Victoria on the banks of the Lake at Entebbe for a plate of tilapia is a regular destination for us to relax by the water. On this occasion, we stopped off on our way to the airport for this year’s departure from Uganda.

Tilapia and chips on the banks of Lake Victoria.

Finally, let us say thank you to James Ssenyonga who accompanied us throughout our two weeks in the country. It was not only helpful to have him with us, but also a great pleasure. Here he is sampling the delights of jackfruit.

James enjoying a slice of jackfruit.

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“No hurry in Africa”

“No hurry in Africa” is a commonplace; a view expressed to demonstrate the difference between the way of life on that continent and that in Europe. There is though a changing ethos in Uganda, which is moving along from the days when truly the clock was of secondary importance to the rising and the setting of the sun.

Nowadays many things operate to a timetable which is more or less adhered to. A concert  or a film at the cinema for example will start at the hour which is ordained on the ticket (sometimes more promptly even than here in France). Departure with your tour company , if you are going on safari, occurs at the hour printed on your itinerary.

 Our driver is not quite ready yet!

Our driver is not quite ready yet!

But there is still enough of the “plenty of time” attitude which is at the same time both refreshing and frustrating. It is relaxing not to have to be consulting your watch every five minutes. Most of the time, I go with the flow and accept the minor inconveniences that result from a laid-back approach to time-keeping. Ugandans have a talent for waiting which I have never fully gained.

It is nevertheless part of the British mentality to make a real effort to be there at the appointed hour. On one Kampala occasion (I was the driver), we made an appointment to be at our friends’ house for nine o’clock in the morning ready for an early departure for the villages where our projects are centred. We wanted an earlyish start because I prefer to be back in town before the rapid descent into the Ugandan darkness. I was finding night driving around the city increasingly difficult to negotiate, with its lack of street lighting and with so many vehicles only putting on their headlights when it is 120% necessary. That is to ignore the dangers of bodies darting out into the carriageway to cross haphazardly between vehicles.

The traffic, as always in Kampala, was horrific. I have been told that I drive like an Ugandan; one of the things that means is that you do not leave even the tiniest of spaces between your vehicle and the one in front; which is an invitation for the gap to be filled many times over, delaying your journey even more. So I was delighted, after such a rush across town, when we arrived no more than ten minutes after the appointed hour. That was truly early in Ugandan terms. We were ready to be off.

But then ten o’clock came and went without any sign of our departure. It was only after eleven o’clock that  – becoming rather frustrated – I approached George and, pointing determinedly at my watch, commented, “Aren’t we rather late?” A quick look at the time was followed by a relaxed, “Not really, no.” Ah well; sit back and wait; another example of how time trembles and modifies itself to meet the needs of human beings.

One of the first things that I had to learn very quickly is that the word “Now” has a completely different meaning from what it signifies in UK. In the beginning, you have to  puzzle when somebody tells you, “I am coming now”, and nobody arrives. For many Ugandans, that word signifies “soon”, or at least in a while. It is important, if you want something done immediately, to use the word twice; it is now-now that means immediately. That is logical is it not?

Earth roads in a storm do not speed things up!

Earth roads in a storm do not speed things up!

The truth is that, even in the capital, there is a mix of time cultures. The mindset of traditional village life when the rhythm of the day was all powerful has still not entirely disappeared. Yet people aspire to the routine of a 21st century, business-like society, when “time is money.” Things are not helped by the madness on the city roads which almost slows movement down to the pace that you can attain on foot; the traditional mode of transport. Of course, the perpetual city “jams” give everybody a ready-made excuse. An hour late? It was the traffic. It is quite possibly the truth; or maybe not. You can never know for certain. We have met one person who missed his flight from Entebbe to Paris because he had plenty of time to get to the airport. Unfortunately for him, he had not.

You cannot always accept delays with equanimity. It was our final day in Uganda and we had an afternoon departure from Kampala to be ready in time for our flight that night. I do indeed hate being late. However, there was work to be done, so we agreed on a venue and I made appointments with three different people to rendezvous there. Meetings were planned for midday, 1.00 pm and 2.00 pm. Nobody will be surprised to learn that all three arrived at the same time; at 3.00 pm. But at least we caught our flight.

Keith Mills