Saturday, 23 February 2013

Day 6 - Eating Africa

Today there is a party at Jolly Mercy school. One of their staff has completed his studies and is now a fully fledged pastor. There will be large amounts of food and a good dose of African style preaching. Being atheist I declined to attend, heading instead into Kampala.

It's worth noting that while Jolly Mercy is a Christian school and pretty much everyone in Uganda is 'born again', CALM have mixed faith staff and I have not at any time felt pressured over religion. Occasionally one of the children will ask if I'm born again and look very confused when I say no, but that's about it.

Leckie and I are covered in bites this morning. Not sure if a mosquito got into the net last night or if it has something to do with the ants in our bed. They just seem to get everywhere.

It was nice to have a slow start this morning. We took our time having breakfast and listening to crazy Ugandan radio. It started with trying to explain to people that if you see an old person trying to get into a taxi you should assist them, not fight with them. Then it told girls not not to play hard to get or 'you will end up being a loser'.

Never far from starting on Ugandan radio is criticism of the current government. Today's topic is the missing 500 million donated to the public hospital. They said also that despite previous funds going missing, World Vision have donated more for Mulago Hospital to fix their pipes. Also on this topic was the belief that the government is inflating the price of malaria medication.

If there's truth to this one then it's extremely worrying. Many of disabilities we have seen are as a result of malaria being untreated and fevers being unable to be controlled. The government needs to make this medication as accessible as possible.

Our shared taxi to Kampala was typically overcrowded, impatient and in poor repair. The driver, growing impatient of the traffic, pulled out on to the wrong side of the road and drove down there. He then started honking his horn at the vehicles coming our way as if they were the ones in the wrong.

When we got to Kampala we headed for the craft market and got thoroughly M'zunugued (charged more because you are white) on some souvenirs. Then we got on a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and went to a restaurant called The Lawns.

I had told my boda boda driver a few times to go slow and careful and to his credit he was more careful than usual. This meant that when he was going to pull out in front of a car he waved at them first, minimised his driving on the wrong side of the road and missed giant potholes by about an inch rather than the usual centimetre.

The Lawns was a lovely slice of paradise in the middle of insanity. I definitely felt way too dirty to be in there!! But the staff were very polite to us nonetheless and served us a variety of animals. We had crocodile ribs, springbok strips and a steak sample platter of kulu, impala, springbok and blesbok. This was quite an upper class restaurant but still worked out so cheap with the conversion.

On the way back through Kampala we  changed some more money. The cashier informed us that as some notes were torn so she couldn't take them, but she could offer us a different rate for them (about half the conversion). So dodgy. So we took our money and got out of there.

After a short trip home to wash off the sweat and dirt from a hot day in Kampala, we headed a few villages over to Afro bar for a beer and to watch the football. Ugandans are obsessed with English football, with each person having picked one of the top 4 to support. Ugandans are actually very reserved people however and sat in silence watching the game, politely clapping whenever someone scored.

About halfway through the match though, someone came around and asked for money for concert tickets as a concert was about to start there. As it was only £1 we just paid it. However a huge argument erupted at the next table. A group of men had come to watch the football, did so every night and were not keen on paying to stay in their local bar. This all transpired in English so are were able to understand. At the height of the argument one man shouted at the ticket seller "You can understand only Luganda. You cannot understand English. You are stupid, illiterate. You cannot make me pay. Go away."

I've been using the small bits of Luganda I know frequently. Mostly people are really shocked and pleased. However, sometimes people look at me oddly and respond in English. I had started to wonder if it may have been that as they knew English they found my presumption that they may wish to communicate in Luganda a little insulting. Given what we witnessed tonight, it seems possible that it is a bit of a class thing.

After waiting a couple of hours for the show to start, and seemingly the whole village turning up, the show finally started. We watched the first 3 acts, all pretty much karaoke with a single person on stage singing to an overpowering backing track and decided to bail.

We grabbed a rolex for beer munchies - Uganda's beat street food - an omelette, sometimes containing tomato, cabbage or onion rolled up inside an Indian style crepe thing.

Sitting at home now though, it's 10:30pm and the loudest music ever is blasting from who knows where. We are next to a Muslim school and beside that is a plastics plant. I can't imagine either of them are having a party, but who bloody knows. This is Uganda.

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