Arriving Kampala


What an irony to have watched the Wolf of Wall Street on a plane taking me to Uganda , a landlocked country whose motto is For God and Country, it’s anthem Oh Uganda, Land of beauty.
Uganda is considered one of the poorest countries in the world even though it has fertile soil, healthy rainfalls – makes good coffee, exports fish from the large Lake Victoria and has mineral  and untapped copper, gas and crude oil reserves.
Dicing the traffic, bikes, pedestrians, cars, buses, and  trucks I think of the coked up Mathew McConaughey enticing Leo DiCaprio to join him as he beats out the money chant dressed in a starched white suit in a plush Manhattan restaurant telling the waiter that they will be ordering cocktails ad infinitum – “keep them coming every five minutes until one of us passes out”, he orders the waiter.
“The money comes in”…..he hums …..he bangs his chest…”The money comes in…”
If only…if only….back to reality ….most people here live on less than a couple of dollars a day.
“There is no nobility in poverty . I choose rich every time.” says DiCaprio, soon to be dubbed the Wolf of Wall Street for his avarice.
I am not sure I agree with him after spending the day in the slums of Kampala. 
Too hot to eat, we move from one person to the next – about 5 in total through the course of the day , all have been helped by the FXB model – a step on the rung of the ladder  towards self dependence, and some kind of actualisation, a foray into a life beyond that of endless grinding poverty.
Christine is selling bricks, as well as rearing and fattening up  chicks for prospective  hungry bellies.
Nambasa is making samosas to sell on the street – they look like they’re being filled with corn.
Male ( pronounced Mulleh with a dull ‘u’) is buying mushroom seeds cheaply by the bottle,  then growing them to sell at a profit.
They are all supporting at least six or seven children and/ or grand children.
Noble is a word I would use to describe every one of these dignified and extraordinary women.
Pierre Maelzer, my assistant,  has never been to Africa before this trip. He tells me that his overriding impression on day one has been how happy the people seem to be, children looking after other children lovingly. He thinks of miserable angry people in our day to day lives in London and muses ‘ it must be because we have too much’.
Here survival is all consuming. Living in the moment is key.  A big community spirit pervades . The hustle and bustle is overwhelming.

The long day ends with a dinner of Tilapia fish from Lake Victoria, some Nile beers and a long edit. Pierre is backing up the files and we are working across the corridor from each other with the doors open when Pierre comes in looking bemused. “Guess what?” he says,” I was just offered good sex by a neighbourly hotel resident – when I declined, she held her key number as visibly as possible stating that if I changed my mind, she was just a few steps down the hall in room  D39.” Most people work hard, run multiple jobs  - others simply decide to sell their bodies.

Deluge in Kampala between Slum Bwaise 3, Zone Katooga and  Zone Kawempe A,

Deluge in Kampala between Slum Bwaise 3, Zone Katooga and Zone Kawempe A, taken by Pierre on his little Lumix.


Bajaj Boxer bike Uganda

The Bike Riders of Kampala – all the bikes are red Bajaj Boxer type. The ad says “The All New Muscular Boxer.Stronger. Reliable. Longlasting. The bike that is half human”. Image by Pierre, a bike riding enthusiast himself.

4 thoughts on “Arriving Kampala

  1. We are confronted with the contrasts every day, in South Africa more so than ever. You seem to be experiencing the extremity of it. I hope that your determined resilience carries you forward to achieve your intended goal.

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