I stayed with a friend in Kampala in a village called Gayaza. The main mode of transport is motor bikes taxis called Boda-Boda or a local mini bus (like the Ghanaian TroTro). Their main dish is Matoke which is green banana often wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed until tender and eaten with a blended peanut stew. The national languages are Ganda/Luganda and Swahili, but the most widely spoken local language in Uganda is Luganda. Ugandas climate is tropical and the rain season falls between March – May, but it was the beginning of June and still raining so I did not leave the house for 2 days on my arrival.
On the 3rd day I was blessed with some sun and went outside Kampala to visit a few village community projects – one being a bee hive. We passed by natures plants of coffee beans and jackfruit.
In order to gain some history of Uganda I went to the national museum which was very full of memorable, ornaments and history about the many regions such as Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro and Toro cultures. http://www.ugandamuseums.ug/
Wow check out the Mweso (originally called Omweso) board game which is the national mancala game of Uganda. This board game is also found in Congo and Malawi. The objective of the game is to win all the opponents pieces (seeds). The Mweso game is played similar to Owara (African chess) but it has 4 rowes of 8 holes. I even tried my amateur skills at playing the musical instruments.
The guide talked about the barkcloth, which is an ancient craft and has been a part of Ugandan culture for centuries. It is a sacred fabric which defines the spirit of the Buganda kingdom. The inner bark of the Mutuba tree (Ficus natalensis) is harvested during the wet season and then, in a long and strenuous process, beaten with different types of wooden mallets to give it a soft and fine texture and an even terracotta colour. Barkcloth is worn like a toga by both sexes, but women place a sash around the waist. While common Barkcloth is terracotta in colour. The cloth is mainly worn at coronation, healing ceremonies, funerals, cultural gatherings also used for curtains, mosquito screens, bedding and storage.
I purchased some bark cloth at the crafts market amongst many other ornaments and adornments that I could not pass. I put my African bartering skills into action as I was on a budget and of course I had to buy some earrings, bags and sandals. I was well under budget and got some great bargains as the Ugandans give in too easily.
Being cultural enlightened it was arranged for me to go to a theatrical African performance, which I sat in the front for full effects. It was an outstanding performance which presented the history of East Africa through dance and storytelling. The highlight was when the women danced and sang while balancing pottery on their heads.
During my Earthstrong week I spent 5 days in a town called Jinja which is about 2hrs drive from Kampala and visited 2 villages. As it was the world cup it was very hard to avoid and of course rooting for Team Africa I spent a lot of evening s in the hotel dining room shouting at the tv and big-in up Ghana when they drew against Germany.
On the day of my Earthstrong I took a boat ride to the Source of the Nile which flows from Lake Victoria . It was a unforgettable day sweeping my hands through the water of the Nile. The Nile is said to originate from Uganda http://www.reizen-langs-rivieren.nl/the-rivers/nile-river-from-source-to.html
The boat went passed some shops on Victoria Lake which was unfortunately flooded by the Lake.
A few days later I went to Itanda falls which is in a village called Budondo. The scenery is very unspoilt, rushing roaring waters and a sacred place where people can come and worshiped the ancestors. We took a moment to do the same and gave thanks and praise and asked for continuous guidance.
On the trek through the wild bushes and narrow path where plenty of spots to chill whilst looking beyond the picturesque sites.
I learnt a lot about Uganda people, political, culture, landscape and was given a book about the Buganda kingdom on my last day.
On the way back from Uganda I passed through Kenya where I purchased some lovely colourful beaded sandals and Kenya tea. It was a long flight back and I was really tired by the time I got home in London – but no rest for the wicked as in the afternoon I had to do 3 headwrap demos at to the Locs Appreciation Day organised by Cherelle (LocsnNtatts) in Brixton.
It was my first time in East Africa and I look forward to visiting other countries in East Africa on my ventures to the Motherland.
Bless – Sister E