Friday, 21 September 2007

Chantily Quintet

A German Quintet visited Kampala last night, playing to a 'who's who' of the well-heeled Ugandan and expatriate communities at the plush Serena Hotel. It would be fair to say classical music has a niche market in Kampala, lagging far behind reggae, gospel, local hip-hop and American rap in terms of popularity. Indeed many of the audience were clearly there to 'be seen' and seemed far more interested in the waiter service that ensured drinks flowed freely throughout the recital. That and the Ugandan propensity to not only keep phones switched on at all times (lectures, meetings and concerts not withstanding) but also to answer them, meant it was difficult to listen properly but to my untrained ear they seemed very good. That said a new piece based on animal noises was excruciating and seemed like a rather cack-handed idea to make the concert seem 'African'.

I recently made a trip to the United Nations Volunteer Office in Kampala, but the process of putting your name forward appears long-winded in the extreme. There is a lengthy form to fill in, which needs to be sent to the processing centre along with two sealed references. That would seem reasonable but the centre is in Cyprus and even if accepted you only join a roster of approved candidates. From there you must wait until the Uganda office submits a request for a volunteer fitting your description. Even then they may ask you to work anywhere in the country, not taking into account those of us who are already settled in a particular area. While it would be a great opportunity to get one of these placements I'm not sure it justifies the time and expense of the application procedure for what remains a voluntary position.

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