Eid observed at the field near Clock Tower.
A family prepares food for Eid.
The gran couldn't make it to the mosque so she listened to prayers on her radio.
Looking at photos of Eids past.
More images on Demotix.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Scarlett Johansson was in Rwanda last week to visit AIDS clinics and support Bono's Red Campaign. Which was all know is a very effective way to save Africa.
George Bush, the Ghanain president, and the cast of the Lion King. Hat tip Africa is a Country.
New York Times reports on Jews and Muslims sharing a holy day in Jerusalem. Ehm. Yes.
Americans in Uganda register to vote in the November Presidential Elections.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Transparency International said recently that Uganda is becoming more corrupt, not less corrupt.
- My mom sent me a package via FedEx. They want to charge me taxes on it that would be 80 percent of the declared value of the package. Eighty percent! The officially published rates on package imports are about 40 percent, with certain items excluded from taxes. I asked them to get some paper work for me and verify this, and they haven’t. I asked them to call me back, and they haven’t.
- We gave a guy who works in our compound some money to get plants and pots and put them on our balcony. The first time we did this, he got us nice plants and terra cotta pots. This time, when we gave him more money to bring big plants, he brought us plastic buckets with partially dead vines.
- A local NGO that I did some work for, helping them with their media strategy and online presence, hasn’t paid me. I did the work months ago. Given that they don’t even bother replying to my emails, I’m guessing they don’t plan on paying me.
- I bought a phone from MTN that was supposed to be enabled for web access so I could check my emails while out and about. It wasn’t. I took the phone back to the store and asked for a different kind, complaining that it didn’t do what the sales person had said it would. The manager told me “Do you expect all of our sales people to be familiar with all of our products?” I told him yes, yes in fact I did.
I could draw some big fancy conclusions here about corruption trickling down into every interaction, blah blah blah. But I won't. This isn't a news analysis - it's just me venting.
I will say, however, that there are no repercussion or consequences for anyone on this list for their less than stellar conduct. The only consequences here are those felt by me and my pocketbook.
Friday, September 26, 2008
For more than two decades the town of Gulu in Northern Uganda has held its breath while rebels kidnapped, mutilated, and terrified residents and villagers. But, as two years without an attack have passed, things seem to be settling down. A huge influx of aid workers have arrived in Gulu as a base for operations to rebuild Northern Uganda. This has led to jobs and cash in the otherwise strapped economy. While no peace treaty has been signed between the rebels and the government of Uganda, many are hopeful that the current lull in activity will continue. Recent news that rebels had been active in Democratic Republic of Congo left many residents exasperated, but still with hope that things will get better and not worse. More photos on Demotix.
For more than two decades, most of the population in Northern Uganda has lived in Internally Displaced Persons camps (IDPs), with up to 1.8 million people staying in these cramped environs at the height of the conflict between the government of Uganda and the rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army. A ceasefire agreement was signed two years ago, and though there has been no final peace treaty, Northern Uganda is now much more secure than it once was. Aid agencies and the government are encouraging people to leave so-called "Mother Camps" and move to new "resettlement camps." The new camps are closer to people's original land, allowing people to begin farming and lessen dependency on food hand outs. However, the resettlement camps are remarkably similar to the IDP camps, with only slightly more space between each home. More photos on Demotix
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Okay, so the "bar" is really the "UN General Assembly" and "walk" is really "sit down and pose in front of photographers."
AFP has a decent shot of the meeting here, but I thought I would post the two photos sent via the Media Center to all the journalists in Uganda. The email with the photos didn't specify, but I can only assume these are the Presidential Press Unit (PPU) photos.
And in other, only slightly tangential news....
MPs Pay Conmen for Cabinet Jobs
Members of Parliament are dishing out money to city conmen posing as President Yoweri Museveni's aides in return for fixing them on the short-list for ministerial appointments ahead of an expected Cabinet reshuffle.
Daily Monitor has learnt that a number of MPs, especially from the NRM, who are interested in ministerial jobs have fallen prey to the conmen.
One MP from western Uganda reportedly paid more than Shs500 million, in the hope of becoming a minister for works to replace Mr John Nasasira, who in the last two years has been under pressure over the deteriorating state of roads.
Daily Monitor cannot name the MP for legal reasons but information from other sources indicated that other MPs are paying between Shs500,000 and Shs2 million - for inclusion on a shortlist in a scam that has now forced Dr Beatrice Wabudeya, the Minister for the Presidency, to issue a warning to the MPs.
And in other, only slightly tangential news....
A post on my Walrus blog...
Last week while I was waiting around in a rural area in Northern Uganda, I was speaking to a friend on the phone and sitting nearby family of ducks in front of someone’s hut—eleven little ducks and a mom. My friend told me to take a photo. They are sweet, here together as a family, but they are dirty, not very photogenic, I said. Ragged and brown where they should have been yellow and fluffy. And they were drinking from a small container of murky and opaque water, more brown than clear. My friend asked if it made me sad. Not really, I said. This was my umpteenth trip North. I was hardened, and I’d seen worse, after all. And ducks weren’t people, after all. People need clean water more urgently, I thought. MORE...
Monday, September 22, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Another post on the Walrus
This is not a safari
The Ride North
GULU, UGANDA—A man in nicely pressed yet worn shirt and slacks stands in the cramped bus aisle, jostling for space among ladies selling candy, young boys with loaves of bread, hankies, knickknacks, bottles of juice—anything a passenger might want to buy before setting off from Kampala to Gulu, a town in Uganda’s northern region.
The man in slacks is selling one booklet with illustrations of anatomy and another, an English-Swahili phrase book. He reads the phrase book aloud, though it’s unclear if this is an explanatory or sales tactic, or both. My seatmate, a man with distinct Northern features, inquires about the anatomy book. Five k, or about $3, such a high price because the book was printed on South African paper, the man in the slacks says.
Unlikely, I think.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I'm off to Northern Uganda again tomorrow morning (Monday) so this blog will be quiet next week.
UPDATE: Monday, 6:40 PM: Internet in Gulu much better than the last time I was here. The link is now fixed for the English verison of this story.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
More photos on Demotix.
Uganda's Muslim community - about 12 percent of the general population, observe Ramadan this month. Idi Amin, Uganda's infamous dictator, was Muslim and his legacy has tainted the image of the community throughout the country. As his memory fades, and many exiled Asians return to Uganda, the Muslim community has grown in vibrancy.
What better to do on a Saturday afternoon than a photo shoot with none other than Scarlett Lion? There's also no better way to convince the askari that I am crazy than hunching down in the grassy area of our compound with my bulky camera and a plastic lion.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Peter from the Road to the Horizon tagged me in a meme:
"On your blog, publish a picture of what you see through the window when you wake up. Forward the meme to five of your favorite blogs."
This is my bedroom window around 8:30 this morning, the sun streaming in through our gold and teal curtains. My dad frequently asks me about the weather in Kampala. The first year I lived here, about once a week I'd have to remind him that it isn't actually that hot where I live, since it's hard for him to not automatically do the equation Africa = hot. But Kampala is quite temperate. Almost every day is sunny and lovely, and not too hot. When it does rain, we complain as if we lived in London.
It stormed a bit last night, but today is just another lovely day.
Five more people to participate in the meme:
Sara Without the What?
One Degree North (Appfrica)
Bianaoh (Tristan in Sierra Leone)
And you, I miss you, and I would tag you, but I don't think you have a permanent window yet. If the N-Y-C housing scene is too brutal, there's a room for you in K-L-A.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This book wasn't on my original African Reading Challenge list, and I wrote this review for PlusNews, but, there was one thing I wanted to discuss here that didn't really fit with that review.
First, a bit from my review:
In a new book, Genocide by Denial: How Profiteering from HIV/AIDS Killed Millions, Dr Peter Mugyenyi tells the story of the AIDS epidemic in Uganda from its frontlines: hospitals, orphanages, graveyards, witch doctors' homes – everywhere but from a drug supply cupboard.
Mugyenyi was one of the founders of Uganda's Joint Clinical Research Centre for HIV/AIDS (JCRC), which pioneered the provision of life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment in Uganda in the mid-1990s.
The book is a personal account of "throw[ing] a bucket of water into the towering inferno" of Uganda's HIV epidemic at a time when the country could do little more than look on as its people died slow and preventable deaths.
After doing his medical training in the United Kingdom, Mugyenyi returned to Uganda to find a mounting death toll from AIDS. Every day he watched parents burying their children and children burying parents. The drugs that could save his patients' lives were available, if they could only afford them. "The vast majority of my patients died not just of AIDS but of poverty," he writes.
The vast majority of my patients died not just of AIDS but of poverty
Mugyenyi had to turn away thousands of patients, including some of his own relatives, because the life-saving medication was so prohibitively expensive; neither his relatives nor his many other patients could understand why, if there were drugs for their condition, they could not get them.
In his narrative about Uganda's battle for affordable AIDS drugs, Mugyenyi recalls details that are almost unimaginable in today's world of $10-a-month ARVs: how at the height of the epidemic people started planning funerals as soon as their relatives began coughing; and how Kampala's ubiquitous pork eateries gained popularity as people sought to avoid the weight loss associated with 'slim' disease [a local euphemism for HIV/AIDS].
What I wanted to add, I will quote directly from the book, about the combination of two topics I write about too often: orphans and misguided attempts at aid.
Setup: well meaning aid workers trawl the slums looking for AIDS orphans to help, many of whom are staying with relatives and extended family members. The aid workers provide blankets, school fees, and other assistance to the orphans - just the orphans.
What these well meaning benefactors did not immediately realize were the dire circumstances endured by all children in the home. They all lived and shared the same miserable conditions. The added burden of orphans in their destitute family had made their dire situation much more miserable. All the children spent nights huddled together trying without success to keep warm in the dilapidated dwelling as they all had no blankets. Reportedly only two of the children were now going to school... It does not take much imagination to visualize what the atmosphere in the shanty home must have been like after the departure of the naive donors.
See more of my PlusNews reporting:
Using mobile phones to fight AIDS
Marriage, the new frontier in HIV prevention
Dating is so hectic, I put a personal ad in the paper
Overcrowded Prisons heighten TB risk
The government is only looking after straight people
Change brings new risk for the Karamojong
(The list goes on and on - a good portion of the PlusNews reporting from Uganda comes from the Scarlett Lion laptop.)
(And yes, the red background behind the book cover pictured above is indeed my dining room table.)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
No matter what's wrong, there's always Kingo there to cheer me up. I'm not sure if the two cartoons above represent two different messages or two reiterations of essentially the same thing.
If anyone knows where I can find out more information on Kingo, please let me know.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I was so tired of my old routine in Kampala - I just wanted to find something new, feel lost again in a city I felt I knew too well. A new photo opportunity is helping me do just that. I'm doing more shooting, more of the time now. And I'm really, really enjoying it.