Home is where the heart is! If you have read any of my blogs, you know by now that I, was born and raised in a beautifully green land locked country called Uganda, have you heard of it? Well, not to worry, most people don't know which part of Africa Uganda is let alone what the main airport is. I will tell you all, follow along with me.
Uganda is one of the five countries that form East Africa; the others include Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda's main airport is Entebbe, airport code (EBB). Entebbe is about an hour's drive from Kampala (the capital city). Entebbe unlike Kampala is less populated and has more of nature protected and is greener around the lake as well as the outskirts.
Parliament Building, Kampala, Uganda.
It is the location of the former State House - presidential residence during Obote's regime. Kampala on the other hand is overly populated if you ask me, but once you are there you are amazed by what you see. Okay we need to do a better job of cleaning up too (laughing!). Kampala seats on 7 major hills (some people say it is the city in the prophecies), well I don't know about that and that would be another blog all together. I, will not tell all otherwise your trip there might not be as "shocking" as it should be, ha-ha! Remember this is just the start, my journeys are just beginning; walk with me, will you? Here goes:
It is a small country with a land boundary of 2,698 km and is a land-locked country with no ports. It has a population of 31,367,972 people.
Taxi Park, Kampala
English is the official national language, taught in all schools, and is used in the courts of law, most newspapers, radio stations and parliament. Luganda is the language of the central people who account for 16.9% of the language groupings. Other languages vary from tribe to tribe (there are so many tribes, trust me you don't want to know (smile!). Do not quote me on the information, some of these figures and facts might have changed, if you find differently let me know so I can update my blog.I'm from the second largest language grouping known as Luo. Luo is composed of many dialects which form languages that are geographically aligned to villages. My mother tongue for example is Alur (which is a Luo classification), but I do understand and speak Acoli, and Lango and Japadhola.
Elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Luo is spoken in 3 of the 5 East African countries (Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania). When you search the web however, the so-called experts (who are not Africans) claim Luo is a dialect on it's own: totally wrong. Uganda became known to the world following the unspeakable atrocities committed during the Idi Amin regime. He played a great role in the history of my country that twenty years after he was over thrown, the world speaks of him as though he still rules. The media writes articles about his evil influence. I still remember it as if it were yesterday - I lived through it all, the grenades falling, people screaming and the smell of blood and car tires mixed in the air, totally inhumane; enough of the negative history. Why then after all the evil events does Uganda appeal to many travelers?
The Uganda of today was forged by the British between 1890 and 1926.
The name Uganda was derived from the Buganda Kingdom - please remember that before the white man proclaimed they "found and united" Uganda, it was already a united entity with kingdoms and dynasties. Under the Chwezi dynasty we had rulers like Ndahura (Ndawula), Mulindwa, Wamala, Kagoro, Kyomya, Mugasha (Mukasa) who reigned between 1100 AD and 1600 AD - they are from the Bantu grouping. But then the explorers decided that in order to aid the expansion of European influence, (people always ask me how I got the name Harriet - I tell them it is my colonial name, lol!!) they would go and find lands that are already inhabited and lay claim to have found them - isn't that hypocritical and demeaning? Anyhow so they used different methods anthropology, the Bible and the gun to venture into Africa.
Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park
In case you are wondering how I know so much, it’s because I'm an African (smile!) kidding. I was a student of History and Political science. My undergraduate degree is in Political Science, and I'm a master’s teacher with special emphasis on International Relations. I studied the history of Africa so much that my girlfriend Agnes and I on occasion talk about other countries as though they were cities within my country. That aside tourists are attracted to Uganda mainly because of what the explorers found so many years ago (I dare not quote years): The attractions of Old include the magnificent Murchison Falls, Sipi Falls, the Ruwenzori Mountains popularly referred to as the "Mountains of the Moon", and of late the hottest attractions being the primates (Gorillas & Chimpanzees).
On arrival at Entebbe Airport: Transportation is available through taxis, private pick-ups or hotel shuttles. Car rental at the airport is another option, however if you are a first time traveler, I do not recommend a car rental. Our road network is a safari of it's own, honestly, on a serious note do not drive from Entebbe to Kampala if it is your first time in Uganda, trust me you will thank me later. O' my sister who works in the foreign ministry was on the organizing team in the foreign embassy in London to prepare for the arrival of the Queen of England to my country last year (November 2007) for the CHOGM Conference. Well she said the road from Entebbe to the residence of the Queen (a little exaggeration of course) was all cleaned up and poor people forced to paint their houses.
I, can only imagine the queen smelling all the fresh paint in the air. Anyway, that means the road to Kampala is better than it was a year ago (I, will tell you more about this, let me consult with my best friend Agnes, she is a civil servant, lol!).
Update: July, 2008. I just returned back to the United States after a two week holiday in Kampala, I was taken aback by what I saw. I love my birth country with a passion and pride beyond compare, but sometimes it is hard to find something nice to say when there is so much that leaves a lot to be desired. May 29th, I began a long journey home to take my daughter for the summer holidays and to see my mom whom she had not seen in 5 years. What was so shocking on arrival in Kampala was the unbelievable traffic congestion and horrifying roads: pot holes deep enough to bury someone, drivers driving like they are mad and honking like it is fashionable to do so.
Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Kampala, Uganda.
The foul smell in the air is unforgivable. My poor friend Agnes who was the chauffeur was so stressed that on occasion she did not want to go certain places - I would have done the same. All in all, I had a great time with family and old friends I do not get to see as often as I would like.
"Travel is an exciting and adventurous passion, it is quite expensive but the reward outweighs the expense. If you can afford it, do it!" Africancrab.