Sunday, 24 February 2013

Day 7.2 - Culture

After cooling down from reading Uganda's equivalent to The Sun this afternoon I picked up the other papers we got. These thankfully read much more intelligently. They mainly focussed on corruption and lack of access to public services. One had an article about a fire on one the highways that started when a full petrol tanker tried to overtake some cars.

We had a touristy evening planned, escorted by CALM's Ali. He took us first to the Bahai temple. There is apparently 1 Bahai temple on each continent and they seek to unite all religions. Inside the temple there are books of faith for each major religion and no religious symbolism. Strangely though, reading the literature, it seems as though Bahai is in itself a faith as well. Odd.

The temple is set on beautiful green grounds with a view over Kampala. Ali told us how when he was a child living in Katanga slums below, he uses to skip school and come to the Bahai grounds. For lunch he would rustle up some edible grasshoppers and jack fruit from the temple gardens. He was caught there in school uniform once and taken to the police station to wait for his parents to collect him.

Along the drive talk inevitably turned to witches. Leckie told Ali how not so long ago in the UK people were often accused of being witches and thrown into lakes to see if they floated. Ali told us that here, to test if a baby is yours, you take the umbilical cord, dry it out, then put it in water. If the cord floats the baby is yours. Apparently some men tamper with the cord to ensure it sinks. As if the men here need another excuse to deny their responsibilities!!

We went this evening to a cultural show that demonstrated songs and dances from across the region. Some of the dancers were very impressive. My particular favourite was from Rwanda where the men donned long blonde wigs and headbanged. It was like being back home in Camden.

The host was an excellent showman and had appeared in the movie Last King of Scotland. However, his talk of the great kingdom of Buganda, their democracy, how they distribute wealth to ensure all are taken care of and how well they treat women was a little hard to swallow after what we've seen. It make me wonder how much the tourists around us knew about what was happening in this country.

On the way home we were charting to Ali about something we had sewn yesterday. There was a huge military helicopter and as we passed the army blocked the street. While interested to know what was happening we thought better of hanging around. Recently the President's father passed away and as it turns out this helicopter was to take his body back to his home region. No such things as a quiet, uneventful day in Uganda!

I've had a query about sponsoring a child to attend Jolly Mercy. The top priority children at the moment are those in the Katanga slum, who would need to board. To sponsor a child to board at Jolly Mercy is £308 per year (around $450 AUD). This includes meals, healthcare, accommodation and uniforms.

If anyone else is interested please let me know and I'll email through the children's profiles.

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