Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069

2nd February 2011

Dancing with the stars by Keziah Berelson

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2 month anniversary …

I’m currently sitting in a youth hostel in Kampala having had my first hot shower in weeks! Amazing! We’ve had the week off this week, due to P7 exams, so we have finally started to explore Uganda.

We began by travelling past the equator (not too exciting when youre squeezed onto a minicab with 20 others, a chicken under your legs and an unusually dusty/potholed road for Uganda). To the Queen of Peace project in Nabiawanga to watch their music, dance and drama day! A day that was meant to begin at 9, but didn’t get started till 1, when we had to stop for lunch … Africa Time indeed … The events consisted of miming – where students put on a pop song on the generator powered hi-fi and pretend to sing a long with an unplugged microphone, various choral arrangements of the national and Bagandan anthems, we also had my first taste of classic Kiganda dancing, which is so awesome its ridiculous … needless to say, my joining in introduced a wave of laughter – which brought some mothers to tears.

After the day, which culminated in an interpretive dance about the evils of cannibalism, we attempted to hop on a minibus to Masaka, a major town in the South West of Uganda. After standing for one hour on the dusty road – so dusty that we couldn’t see what was coming, probably hindering our efforts, we finally plodded along to various trading centres with various foodstuffs stuffed into my face through the windows on obscenely long and bendy arms?

Taxis or Matatus, are the easiest way to get around Uganda, particularly for those of us who live along major roads … They are minibuses licensed to carry 14 in their lurid coloured chairs. I have never been in one with less than 18 and at least one form of poultry. The good thing is theyre cheap, fast, and a great way to practise my Luganda. A typical ride into Kampala will consist of 5 Ugandan men’s numbers, 3 breastfeeding women and a bottle of coke down your back – only for 1.50 pounds!

Speaking of my Luganda – I’m glad to say that it’s coming along nicely! Luganda is an awesome language, with really simple grammatical rules although the pronunciation is difficult (apparently I look like a chicken when I speak it). The language is based on pre and suffixes, for example I live with the Baganda tribe, in the region of Buganda, who speak Luganda, and whose cultural practices are Kiganda. Very confusing indeed, but I’m working hard in order to be able to converse with the kids properly, even if Im failing miserably at that – because they are too busy laughing to listen!

After our brief trip to Queen of Peace, we hurtled along the Masaka road, eventually reaching Lake Nabugabo, and small inlet from Lake Victoria, where we celebrated Hallowe’en in style by cooking our food on a giant bonfire, and trying to stop me getting eaten alive by leeches! Nevertheless, it was amazing to see a different area of Uganda. We’re so used to the lush red soil, and bright green grasses and plants – along with an abundance of banana trees in Mubende district, that its strange to see the forested areas and grey soils near to lakes.

Ultimately this experience cannot compare to Kozy’s trip to Lake Wamala. A beautiful lake, we see it everyday as we walk along the main road to school, and attempt to buy fish every so often from the honking fish touters along the road, while they attempt to keep the fish in their cart. We decided to finally get a move on and take a Sunday off to see it, we hopped on a matatu to Naama – a village we were told in good confidence was a 20 minute walk from the lake … after 2 hours, with the help of a lovely family and a dozen small following children, we arrived at the lake. Well, we arrived at a tiny fishing village, which consisted of 20 houses, a borehole, and a family planning clinic. And so we began the long walk home in the rain … we did still get some aubergines, and beautiful photos out of the trip, but perhaps next time well take a friend with us?!

I’ll be hopping back to my Project this afternoon after a well deserved, and probably excruciatingly long trip to the post office!

Ill keep you posted on my comings and goings as and when electricity in Uganda decides to remain on for more than 30 minute sporadic bursts …

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