This is a guest post from my partner Anya Whiteside, who has just started blogging at ‘Anya’s Blog‘ about our experiences living and working in Kampala, Uganda.
I return from my first venture into Kampala centre dusty, sticky and happy. I am eating fresh pineapple bought on the roadside and as I make my way back to the leafy guest house I ponder on all I have just seen.
The roads of Kampala are a riot of movement. Minibuses crammed full of people screech by with the conductor hanging out shouting to see whether anyone else want to be picked up and squeezed in. Boda bodas (motorbike taxis) weave their way in and out of the often stationary traffic, always ready with a grin to pull up alongside you and persuade you to grab a lift into town. Women carrying loads on their heads serenely meander along and everywhere people sit chatting, selling and doing business on the street.
We pass leafy gated communities alongside small shacks with corrugated roofs. We pass what must be the bed making area of Kampala, where everywhere carpenters concoct beautiful wooden bed-frames. ‘Muzenga, muzenga, how are you?’ people call as we pass. The word ‘Muzenga’ is not meant to be insulting and translates as ‘wanderer’ so is more similar to ‘visitor’ than ‘white person’.
When we get to the central minibus terminal the chaos intensifies. Everywhere minibuses move tailgate to tailgate while bodas whizz between and we have to squeeze ourselves through the gaps with the exhaust fumes blowing out onto our knees. Yet despite the cram it is remarkably well organised and good natured with minibuses somehow negotiating themselves into separate lines depending on where they are heading.
The market is like a river of movement with tiny paths in between stalls selling everything from traditional herbs to school uniforms. Sellers shout, displaying their wares, while men with huge deliveries on their heads rush past, perfectly capable of knocking you off your feet if you are slow at the dodging and weaving.
This is the Kampala I have seen on my first day. No doubt over the next two years I will see many more sides, but my first impression is of colour, movement and a tangible sense of fun.