5 Sketches of Life in Uganda

My latest Global Voices piece, available here. I think posts that help us understand what life is like in other countries is what Global Voices is uniquely useful for.

Here are some sketches that detail the contradictions, complexities and beauty of daily life in Uganda.

In Apac, two women go in search of vegetarian food:

Thus it began: the most epic search for food I have ever experienced. We didn’t ask for much: beans, rice, maybe chapatti — something simple and easy, common Ugandan staple food. Our quest took us all over town, onto two bicycles and to six different restaurants, all of which were staffed by women who told us the exact same thing:

Smoked meat. Fresh meat. No beans. No rice. No chapatti.”

It was an anti-vegetarian conspiracy, developed and manned by a gang of sisters who ran Apac’s food distribution behind the backs of the LC5. An entire city — a district seat, no less — and no beans to be found. Rebecca and I sat in our hotel room for a minute, wondering what we would do.

In Kampala, Glenna Gordon explains the contradictions that exist at Cafe Pap, the swankest coffee shop in town:

I sat with Ali, a stranger to me, at our dirty Café Pap table because it had the only open spot at a smoking table at the crowded cafe. Pap, which sits just below Kampala’s Parliament and just above the main thoroughfare, is Uganda’s version of Starbucks, only with even more mediocre food and an even more stratified social milieu. Mbu, this is Uganda, where the average family lives on less than a dollar a day, and a cappuccino at Café Pap costs two days’ income. There are 28 million people in Uganda, 1.2 million in Kampala, and about 20 people at Café Pap at any given lunch hour.

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  • Josh, your work is marvelous. I have never found another site that gives such vivid portraits of Uganda in such an economy of language.

    By Blogger J Isaacs, at 9:41 AM  

  • 4 June 2007

    After the storm, my mine cleared.

    And a high wind arose and blew the tropics north.


    running quartz crystals through a blender.

    sand through your engines.

    bubble in your bays.

    estuaries reaching out toward forbidden seas...

    sand through your eyes.


    5 June 2007

    Calm as baby's breath

    as peaceful as the storm's eye

    Clouds spread and drawn with rough strokes of stratospheric winds

    a warm and windy tropical day.


    7 June 2007

    Black water at dusk.

    Lighting on the horizon.

    Warm winds coming in across the darkening waters.

    A flash of white wings as an egret takes flight.

    And Thunder like God clearing his throat.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:16 PM  

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