An American Leaves Uganda
Two days before I left Uganda, I was walking to check my mail in town and saw a mass of boda boda drivers, mashed up against the fence of the Speke Hotel trying to snatch a view of the Arsenal game. Their bikes where haphazardly strewn across the sidewalk and much of the road, enough to halt traffic. Knowing I was soon leaving, this provoked a onslaught of memories from the past year, which were now embedded in my mind as characteristics of Uganda.
The women running up to my bus where the Gulu Road splits off to Murchison Falls, selling cassava, chapati, and unrecognizable charred meat. Feeling something touch my feet on the bus, looking down that a live chicken had nestled up to my leg for warmth. Watching Nick Cage movies throughout several bouts of fake malaria, or the determination, through a prescribed drug induced haze, to carry out a planned trip to Zanzibar, even though I was severely infected by a venom spitting Nairobi eye. Hearing stories from Ethiopian dissident journalists hyped up on chat while dining on delicious $1 Ethiopian food at Rehobot. Spending the week at NisiColin's house fighting the goateed rat and eating matoke with the family. The sunsets on the cliffs overlooking the Nile in Jinja or sunrises spotted while running through Gulu. Goat races with Egyptians in Kampala, and rowing Lake Victoria in a fishing boat.
I'm leaving Uganda after spending much of 2006 here. This was my third time to come to the country, and I worked in fields ranging from microfinance to grassroots social work to tourism/education to transitional justice. In the middle of my third year working on Uganda issues, I'll continue to focus this blog on the issues facing the country. While the 'IT for development' and 'post-conflict development' sections will remain, in the next few weeks I will experiment with several themes to replace the 'Life in Kampala' section. I don't have plans to be back in Uganda in the next 6 months, but I know I'll get back there before long.
Thanks to everyone in Uganda, whether they know it or not, who made my experience memorable.