Saturday, 27 October 2007
Thursday, 25 October 2007
The World Cup final on Saturday drew a huge expat crowd to 'Just Kicking', the main rugby showing sports bar. English were outnumbered 3-1 by South Africans but it was still a great atmosphere and one of those occasions here when you have to remind yourself that you're in the middle of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Another expat dominated event was the play I went to see on Friday at the National Theatre, titled End of an Error. It was, however, a rather unwelcome domination as several white actors had 'blacked up' for their parts, something that seemed totally unnecessary (to put it kindly) and smacked of laziness on behalf of the producers for not finding local actors to play the roles. The theme of the play, how land transferred from colonial owners back to Africans in the post-independent period, was interesting, if a little worthy. I just hope that next time they don't feel obliged to reach so readily for the make-up box.
Monday, 22 October 2007
- The death of reggae star Lucky Dube, in a botched hijacking attempt in Johannesburg, has really affected people here. A peace-loving musician who campaigned against racism, he had an immense following throughout Africa and was mobbed every time he visited Uganda. He was due here in a couple of months for another tour and will be sadly missed.
- The Government has dropped plans to giveaway part of the ancient Mabira Forest to commercial sugarcane producers. The 'Save Mabira' movement has regularly protested at the move and the decision represents a victory for environmentalists here.
- Brazilian President, Lula Da Silva, has called on African countries to develop their own lending and financing institutions to escape the clutches of the World Bank and IMF. He argued these 'rich nation' bodies do nothing for developing countries and hinder attempts to gain economic independence.
- The large number of boat accidents on Lake Albert has been explained by the discovery of British deployed metal spikes, positioned to repel attacks from Belgian run Congo during the 'Scramble for Africa'. Over 1000 people have died on Lake Albert since 1997.
Thursday, 18 October 2007
The main sports bar in Kampala, which is always packed full of expats supporting their teams, was a sombre place last night after England's capitulation in Moscow. Like Uganda we are left relying on other teams to ensure qualification, unlike Uganda we don't deserve any better, despite the clearly incorrect penalty decision. Let's hope Saturday sees a more spirited England performance in a final that will bring together the two largest expatriate communities in Kampala. Kicking-off at 10pm local time it is bound to be an interesting night.
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Dag Hammarskjold is the name of the postgraduate hall of residence where I have my room. He was the second UN Secretary-General and died in suspicious circumstances over what is now modern day Zambia. Recent discoveries suggest that MI5 and the CIA were almost certainly involved but the motive behind the killing remains unclear. Anyway why Makerere decided to name the hall after him I cannot tell you but the photo below shows the view from my balcony/corridor (it's not as prison-like as it looks like!) . The community here have been exceptionally welcoming and aside from one or two small incidents it has been an ideal place to live in terms of convenience and settling in.
Now I've found a system for uploading photos more easily onto this site I will aim to get far more for you to look at in the coming weeks.
Monday, 15 October 2007
Murchison Falls NP was one of Uganda's key tourist attraction until the rebel group, the LRA, began operating in the area but they have since moved on and visitor numbers are on the rise. The waterfall that the park takes its name from is incredibly powerful, squeezing the entire infant Nile into a ten-metre wide gorge. Although animal density is nowhere near the levels of, for example, the Masai Mara, now it is being protected properly (we saw three poachers being arrested on Saturday) there is every chance it will increase.
On Saturday evening, after a 'gift' of three bottles of Nile Special, our driver took us to the workshop of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority where they have satellite TV set-up. After a bit more persuasion we managed to get the rugby on to see England scrape past France, although I don't think the sport ever has a chance of being as popular as football here. George, the chief engineer of the UWA, is himself named after Best, has a brother called Bobby (after Charlton) and has gone even further in naming his first two children Terry and Lampard respectively (nb. not John and Frank). I somehow doubt these these Premiership stars have any idea of the dedication they attract here.
Having been away I will not do a news round-up this week, suffice to say that the tension between the leading political factions in Northern and Southern Sudan continues to dominate the headlines here.
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Yesterday I attended the launch of the Millennium Development Goals Progress Report for Uganda. It is striking how far so many of the goals are from being reached by the target date of 2015, not that Uganda are by any means doing badly compared to other Sub-Saharan African countries, particularly on HIV rates. It seems the most difficulty here is in cutting infant mortality rates and reducing the number of mothers dying during childbirth. The latter is a reflection on the fact that the majority of births here do not take place with a trained health professional present. My first thought was of the number of Ugandan nurses working in the UK...
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Monday, 8 October 2007
Come on you R'rrrrrssss!
- The President today opened Uganda's first pharmaceutical plant designed to produce generic ARVs at the rate of 2 million pills per day. This has the potential to drastically cut the cost of HIV drugs in the country.
- The polythene plastic bags known locally as 'buveera' (cheap and flimsy) have been banned in order to try and cut the pollution they cause. Although this seems like a forward-thinking law many market traders have vowed to continue using the bags, arguing they cannot afford to distribute anything more costly.
- Kenyan Presidential candidate Raila Odinga visited Makerere to rally Kenyan students around his Orange Democratic Movement. He has recently taken an opinion poll lead over the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, who is increasingly seen as an out-of-touch establishment figure.
Friday, 5 October 2007
This all came after over 100 students were expelled earlier in the week for producing false academic papers in order to complete their registration and 7000 undergraduates were revealed to have not paid any part of their fees yet. There clearly needs to be a shake-up in the administration of the university and many people are pinning their hopes on the new Chancellor to sort out some of this mess.