South Africa Dispatch ~ Welcome to Kampala City

Posted May 24, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 3,595 views


Barbara Birungi | South Africa Dispatch | Coming home to (Uganda) used to be a very exciting feeling, as they say “East or West home is best” As we drove from Entebbe airport, I was looking for the sign post ” Welcome to Kampala City”, but there was none.

My first welcome experience, when I suffered from food poisoning, anti I had amaddu for mandazi, rolex, roasted gizzards at wandegeya, My favourite goat place at Kabalagala. After enjoying all that in one evening/night, I fell sick the next morning. I first thought I had malaria, but it was impossible to have malaria. The next four days were spent in bed.

The most amusing experience was when people despised the car I drove. I drove my mum’s pickup. one side light was broken, a rope at the back and a few dents and scratches. Basically its a farmer’s car. I would go to garden city and Oasis mall( I think) all I got was ladies staring, as I got into the car or out of the car. I smiled back, as I remembered how success in K’la is measured by the type of car one drives. The toffee-nosed ladies were those driving Harrier, RAV4, Ipsum, Prado. I was really amused, how can one be judged from the car a person drives?? I think I saw Q7 Audi, X6 BMW, a couple of BMW X5( Including Psalm 145).

The most irritating experience is the driver behaviour- private car owners. When I left UG, I had to undergo two courses on dynamic driving, in order to drive correctly on SA roads. As a drove around, I realised that driver behaviour is so so appalling. It is terrible. A person changes lanes at a traffic circle(round about), People hoot. People who drive big cars think they have priority on the road. They will enter into the main road junction the way their brains tell them. They cannot give priority to the one on the major road. Simple signs like “Give way” means nothing. Does anybody know that you ain’t allowed to overtake on a solid line?

There is no slow lane on a dual carriageway. a slow driver should keep to the left. I never understood these RAV4/Harrier ladies. How does one drive with earphones in the ear? I know talking on the phone isn’t permissible but you cannot drive with earphones in your ear, holding a conversation. A driver must be aware of their surrounding I know Kampalans love fancy phones and cars. The purpose of having bluetooth on a phone is to avoid using earphones. With earphones in the ear a driver cannot be aware of his or her surroundings and thus compromises his/her safety and the safty of other road users. In addition cars have bluetooth. All these features are there to improve road safety.

I will not talk about the dirt in the city. Even in Kololo,Nakasero, muyenga suburbs have potholes and grass isn’t cut. I loved the new upcoming neighbourhoods- but people pave in front of their houses. Ok there is a need to also have more neat children’s parks. I went to centenary park to take my son to play, naye mama the hygiene scared me. You may think I have kajyanja, but in my neighbourhood, children’s parks are Clean. Facilities are clean. Even the parks in Central Pretoria or Hillbrow Johannesburg are better than what I saw. Ha! you walk the streets of wandegeya, Kabalagala, Nakulabye…. NO COMMENT!! Ha!!! the air smells. There are many townships in SA are cleaner than these places.

The state of the city tells you the state of the minds of leaders. I will also not talk about the potholes parts of Kampala and its subburbs. Those of us with relatives in Kawempe, Makindye division, with gravel roads, ogwa mukinya and you wonder whether you will leave. the gulleys at the sides of the roads, you wonder how to manoeuver the car!! Even the gravel roads in Muyenga… have gulleys. My son had an allergy and we had to run to IHK hospital. By the time we manoeuvered from Kawempe to IHK…via Namuwongo… the potholes were just enough to kill a patient… I wonder how a woman in labour can make it.

New Buildings: the finishes of the new buildings amused most of the new buildings have dark shiny glass. Naye oba why do we go to school. Dark colours absorb heat. when you put dark glass the building will absorb heat and that means the building is expensive to maintain because you require more power to cool it. Architects knew this- Look at former UCB, UPC House, Serena Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, Diamond Trust such buildings aren’t covered and thus enhance air flow. Also K’la has a lot of dirt in the air. why use shiny glass/white glass as a finish. That’s already high maintenance. Rough cast painted with earth colours forms easy maintenance( e.g Oasis Mall). Countries/ cities that have shiny buildings is mainly because of the climate. Shiny glass retains heat so they don’t have to heat the building in winter. The energy costs are in summer (I studied Facilities Management).

The architects of Oasis mall did the best job as their building has air circulation, it feels cool and has earth colours- to combat the dirt in the air.

Cost of living is HIGH- 10K note is like 500shs. I even had to convert the prices in UCHUMI and NAKUMATT to rands. as a lover of red meat, instead of going to nakasero market stalls, I decided to head to the abattoirs. Now economics had to come into play- to drive to City abattoir or the outskirts abattoirs. Cost of fuel to City Abattoir, cost of the red meat. I headed to Gayaza abattoir. I choose the goats I wanted, waited for them to be slaughtered I also love pork, what better way to buy it from Gayaza( Kifefe’s area). I also saw the final touches of a slaughtered cow. I left with nice fresh meat. In my opinion the value of the Uganda shilling is so low. having 10K is like having 500SHS. What does 10K buy.. only two litres of petrol.

I have a weakness of spending on electronics: Cameras, TVs and Home Theatres. I always want the latest. I don’t even mind changing them every year. This time I headed to Garden City and Nakumatt to look at the Electronics. I saw HiSence LED TVs at 11million. I laughed..because that’s crazy. How do I spend $5000 on a TV. The same TV in Johannesburg is $2000. HiSence is a South African brand. What I found cheap was the airtime. I talked and talked. 1 shs per second… My recipients had to stop me.

The surroundings of my parent’s home turned into a mini trading centre. By 0530hrs, I am woken up by youths shouting, taxis hooting. During the day there is loud music playing. When there was a match on Sunday, 08 May, these youths screamed hitting the walls of their tinned cinema each time a goal was scored. I was really amused because here in my neighbourhood, we don’t allow noise greater that 5 decibels. we don’t even allow hooting or loud music played from cars. If the neighbour is noisy I have the right to report him or her to the police, as they are breaking the law.

My greatest shock I found was with Kampalans.Ubuntu spirit doesn’t exist. Emitima or Omutima gwe gwanda gwa ffa dda!!! The value system had degenerated so much that people pride themselves in stealing gov’t/public funds.. People are so selfish as they look after themselves. Kampalan’s success is based on how many billions of public funds have been embezzled. Here(SA) wealth cannot be accumulated in swindling gov’t/public funds.

Ethics and Integrity are one of core values of ESKOM. If an employee stole money for transmission cables or the cement for building power stations whom are they hurting…They are hurting the nation. If there isn’t electricity there will be no investors or jobs. If there are no jobs then there will be high crime. Just a simple thing like doing substandard work can have a trickle down effect. Its very easy to investigate a person here. Even if you kept money in the house, your expenditure has to match your income. Systems are in place. You cannot have an X6 BMW and ten mansions when you take home $2000. At my work place we have Crime Intelligence/ investigative division, and corruption investigation is a phone call away. Personally it so disgusting that one prides themselves in stealing public funds.. yet they proclaim to be Christians.

MTN has the worst customer service. you dial 123 and the ladies talk in different languages, when you choose 2 for English it hangs up. I was told to try several times.. what poor customer service.
The most refreshing moment was when I went to Bwebajjya, and the Golf Course at Akright city was functional. Its an 18-hole golf course. as the environment was very refreshing. The view was spectacular. The air was very fresh. This made me change my mind that I wasn’t selling my plot. as usual I was shown my neighbours. Judge X, Minister Y, Ambassador Z.

As the plane took off from Entebbe Airport, I had mixed emotions. Happy and sad ones. The saddest was that the ubuntu spirit had vanished. Simple things like honesty have faded from my people. . Because my value system has changed so much,I felt like a foreigner in my own birth place, I felt that I could never fit into the place I grew up in. As I drove from O.R. Tambo to my house, I realised that I was home.. I have come to accept that SA was my new home as Home is where the heart is.

Barbara Birungi
Chief Engineer- Civil
Generation Business Engineering

Eskom Business Park, Building 3
Simba Road, Sunninghill 2157 Johannesburg
Office: +27 11 800 5867
Mob: +27 73 347 4096

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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