Friday, August 19, 2005

Bits and Pieces – Impressions from Uganda – Part II

Kampala. The town is full of life. Whenever I come down from Gulu and spend a few days in Uganda’s capital I am surprised by its growth. Every time I see something new. A new shop here, a newly sealed road there. Prices for access to the internet drop constantly and more and more goods are available in excellent quality and for decent prices. When I arrived more than two and a half years ago, many of the things now easily available in normal supermarkets were hard to get and/or horribly expensive. Not any longer. Not that you need all the stuff. But it is there. From computer hardware to French wine, from a Thai restaurant to new cinemas, from new ATMs to mountain bikes. Even ice cream parlors and cappuccino places. It’s all there. And it is affordable. Especially when you are being paid in Euro – as is the case with me. The first time I changed Euro into Uganda Shillings I got 1435. By now the rate is up to about 1:2330. Great. for me. Although not for Uganda.

Parents are coming to the school. Many of them. They have heard about the incident. And now they want to find out if their child is among the abductees. You can see the worries written in their faces. Hoping for the best, fearing the worst. Some are relieved. They are told that their son was among the lucky ones who managed to run away. Others stand together in little groups and console each other. They just got the news that their child has been taken. Like thousands before. And many of the parents have already lost children to the war before. In countless families more than one person has been killed, has been maimed or abducted. The ones left behind try to stay calm. Acholiland doesn’t cry. At least not in public. It is not part of the culture. If it started, a river of tears would flood our area. A constant rainy season.

My sister was here. Together with a friend. It was her first time on the African continent. And although it was just a short visit, not even two weeks, we managed to do a lot. One of the highlights was a visit to the area around Mt. Elgon in the very east of Uganda. Nice hills, deep valleys, breathtaking views over the African plains underneath and lots of lush green vegetation. It feels great to be out in nature. Especially since we hardly manage to do so up in Gulu. Too risky. Or to annoying. Often both. Depends a bit where you want to go. Far out of town is completely out of bounce. That’s easy, it’s rebel territory. Closer to town where you still find settlements, children follow you everywhere and want to say ‘Hello’ to you. What – most of the time - is nice and fun if you are still struggling with the local language (read: He is still struggling with the local language and a source of constant amusement for all Acholi-speakers). They enquire where you are coming from, where you are going to, they ask for pen friends, for school money, for sweets, empty bottles or what so ever. They laugh kindly about your use of the language and just enjoy talking to a stranger. Just as I enjoy talking to them. But if you want to switch off from your work in some solitude out in the fields, a group of 20-30 children surrounding you everywhere becomes quite annoying. Don’t ask me why but in the area around Mt. Elgon I managed to get some time in nature by myself. Silence. Just the wind, the birds, a cow every once in a while. But otherwise silence. It is great. A nice treat for body and soul.


Blogger iamnasra said...

I promise to read this as I have been pressed with time...Im not so sure do people of Uganda speak Swahili (I think)...

Well maybe I should no sad that i do not know

I speak a bit of Swahili but I can not write or read...As we have huge Omani comunity in here who are mixed with Zanzibarian..I was born in an island called Pemba I wonder if you heard of it..But my Dad is originated in Comoro Island...

12:42 AM  
Blogger Silly Adventures said...

hi nasra, swahili in uganda is understood, but not very much liked, since it was/still is the language of the army. it's a pity, since it is such a beatiful language. i should learn it.
i have been to zanzibar, but not to pempa. must be an amazingly beatiful place.

5:10 AM  
Blogger iamnasra said...

Pemba is very remoted Island..Not so many shops..its really nick for tracking...Yet it has amazing green nature ...

I never been to Uganda but Inshallah one day

quahairi/ masalama (good bye in swahili and Arabic)

3:59 AM  

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