The first elections in 'over 1/4 of a century'

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
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Trip End Apr 14, 2006


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Flag of Uganda  ,
Friday, February 24, 2006

Oh man I'm not having very much luck here... First off, let me apologise for not having updated my travelogue for a while and for the lack of photos. The site wasn't working on Saturday, and this is the first chance I've had to get down to Nansana all week. I cant upload photos here, however, so I gotta wait til I get into Kampala, which isn't going to be for a few weekends yet. So you'll just have to wait!

ALSO- I spent about an hour typing up a couple of days in preparation for coming down here on Jackson's (the headmaster of our school) computer, so I could just copy and paste from a disk- and I've just tried to open it, and it thought it was a virus (despite just being a Word file) and so deleted it off the disk... I'm not happy! So I'll just start from where I would've done anyway (last Saturday) and then when I get it off his computer again, I'll load Wed-Fri up sometime next week. Sorry if it confuses you!

So I guess I'll start on Saturday.We had a lazy morning this morning and didn't get the bus into town until 12pm. I'm afraid I've gotten too used to washing machines since I've been away, and I was getting sick of my clothes never being entirely clean or soap free, so I bundled up almost all my clothes and bedsheets into a big bag (which was very heavy) and took it into the launderette in town. I expected to pay about 5 quid or so, but I guess I've never been to a launderette where they do all the washing for you before. He sorted out all my clothes (they charge per item) and was going to charge nearly a pound for everything, including my T-shirts- and I had about 20 things! Half of it wasn't really dirty, I just wanted it to be washed, so I started to load it back into my bag, which they didn't like, so I spent the next 5 minutes haggling to get the price down! Then I had to haggle about what time I could come and pick it up. Quite worryingly, the old man who was working there seemed to take a liking to me and said that he would take me and all my friends out for a soda (I told him I wasn't allowed in bars after his initial offer) and gave me his business card. I told him I would only consider it if he got all my washing done by 4pm (they said 6 at first) so we had a deal, and I went joined the others in the internet café.

We were meant to meet Phionah so she could help us buy material for our gomeses- they're really huge traditional African dresses, tailor made, that you wear for formal occasions- and on Saturday we have an 'introduction party' to go to. Someone at church is getting married soon, and as far as we can tell, this is like an engagement party. So we have to dress up! Anyway she didn't turn up for 2 hours after we arrange because it was raining a lot so she didn't want to walk down to Nansana. It was quite cold, by African standards, too. So while we were waiting for them we walked up to the craft market- which is basically a collection of about 25 stalls full of African crafts such as bags, earrings, paintings, wooden carvings, aprons etc etc. I think it does cater for the tourist market, but it was cheaper than I thought it would be once you haggle for a bit. They had some really nice stuff- I'm gonna end up spending lots of money there before I go!

We walked back to meet Phionah and Liz and went to find some materials. We knew that they might be a bit pricey, so we wanted to keep the material cost to 30,000USH (10 pounds) but that somewhat limited what we could get. In the end we all found some nice patterned stuff though. We then had to go an buy the extras- lining, top and bottom, buttons, belts, trimming..... then list went on and on, as did the cost! We handed over our money, and were just about to leave when the shop owner (who had been sitting nearby for the whole transaction we had with the assistant) asked- how much did you sell those belts for? We'd got them for 15,000 but apparently they don't sell them for less than 25,000... so a biggish argument ensued, and the shop owner basically said- don't worry about it, I'll just take the extra 60,000 out of her salary (probably a months wages). So of course, we took our money back, left the belts, and found another shop that would sell them to us for 15,000. Chris got off easy- his Kanzu, what the men have to wear, only cost 15,000 in total- and we still had to pay to get ours made!

As we were walking down to the taxi rank (now exhausted, it being 8:30pm), I somehow managed to run into the guy from the laundry, who checked that I would call him to arrange for us all to go out. Hm surprisingly enough I've forgotten thus far.

On Sunday church was OK- didn't really gather that there was much point to the sermon though, but during all the songs we were dancing in the aisles with all the hostel kids- its great now that they're back theres twice as many children in church, all dressed up in their dresses or smart trousers. Stephen gave out some more shoeboxes, to those children who go to church but not the school. It wasn't quite as organized however (because we didn't do it, of course), so we walked home before too long. We walked down to Nansana in the afternoon to get measured for our gomeses, which only cost 10,000, which was a nice surprise. So the total cost was 62,000 I think- around 20 quid for a dress I'm only ever going to wear once, but I plan to reuse the material when I get home and everyones seen it! I attempted to clean the bathroom when I got home, but I didn't do a very good job and left soap everywhere as much as I tried to rinse it! We made some cool shaped biscuits before bed though- butterflies, cars, people- tasted good too. :D

On Monday I was back to school as usual- teaching went pretty well, apart from the nursery class being a bit slow picking up on what was essentially just drawing zig zags. I don't think it helps that they speak very little English. I cant imagine what I'd be like if someone tried to teach anything to me in German when I was 5 years old! Before lunch, Esther Liz and I lay on the (broken) trampoline in the sun- very relaxing until the kids got wind of this and came to join in- and it didn't help that we were falling down the gaping hole in the middle as it was! It chucked it down with rain this afternoon, so once it had had stopped, we made a speedy trip home, getting back just before it started to rain again.

While Chris and I were cooking Spanish omelette, the kids from next door came round to ask for stuff- first it was some food, then an egg, then a pen, then a book, then money for a book etc etc. I did want to give them something, but if we start giving them our food (we do give them any food we don't finish in the evenings) they'll be round every day. Plus theres lots of them! I have started a kind of library service with 2 of the older ones, loaning out my books that I got free from work so that they can improve their English. Funnily enough, one of them was made by the Ugandan Bible Society! It had obviously been sent to UBS in Reading, until they decided they didn't want it anymore- and I brought it back! We didn't have power for a 2nd day today.

Tuesday... All that really happened today was other than my normal teaching lesson, I played tic tac toe quiz with them- girls v. boys, if you get an answer right, you get to draw a 0 or X. They got very excited and in the end the girls won the 1st one and the boys won the 2nd. They were jumping around the classroom screaming 'hahaha We're better than you' etc etc. It was really funny! Cant remember the last time I had to scream so loud, just to get them to hear me though. When I'd finished, Florence (the maths teacher with me) turned to me and said- 'they have music now- can you teach them a song?' Came a bit out of the blue, and its quite hard getting them to repeat stuff let alone sing it (in the boys' case, at least), but I did my best- Karen came to help half way through, and by the end, we had them all up the front of the class singing 'so loud that they can hear you on the other side of the school'.

Some of the others went down to Nansana- with the school keys- so we had to stay at school til 5 (like we should do every day anyway). Had an interesting conversation with Paul (the main teacher of P3). He really wants to visit the UK- he pictures it to be like heaven, in the sense that we have so much stuff, and its so different to Africa. Lots of food, money, possessions.... We told him that Uganda was better than England in lots of ways too, but its kind of hard when you know the teachers only earn 30 pounds a month. He's going to pray he finds the money somehow (about 600 pounds) so that he can come and visit us all.

Wednesday is by day off teaching, so I sat through all the lessons. Had another conversation with Paul- he asked if I could send him a digital camera from UK when he saves enough money, and he plans to have a 2nd income, taking photos (and eventually videos), with his own studio and so on. Sounds great, but as he said, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the money. He's building a new home (well, 2 rooms) but it doesn't even have a roof on yet, so I don't know how long it'll take to earn enough money for a camcorder. After break I put up the painting of Noah's Ark that mum gave me to bring out here in the nursery class- they loved it, and I tried to tell them the story (though of course they didn't understand much)

This afternoon we were feeling a bit idle, so Esther, Becca and I did aerobics and in my case a trunk circuit- still aching a bit now, but aerobics was really fun! We're gonna try and do it most days from now on. Also- Emily (an avid Scout/Ranger/Guide whatever) informed us all that today was World Thinking Day- when brownies etc think about people in different countries. So we had a multi-national meal for dinner tonight! Mashed potato from Antarctica (?), Potato wedges from North America, guacamole from South America, tomato curry from Asia, G-nut sauce from Africa, pasta from Europe, and pineapple from Australasia. It was a culinary feast indeed.

On Thursday, Becca and I got our hair braided! We wanted to have it done while we were here, and we thought we'd take advantage of having a day off school (due to the elections) and being before the introduction ceremony. They started at 9:20am, and mine was finished at 12:55- over 4 ˝ hours- and Becca's took even longer! It was a bit uncomfortable on the floor, but now my hair is in over 150 tiny braids! Its cool!

I was going to make warm chocolate brownies (a recipe found in a magazine) but we didn't quite have enough eggs, so I wandered down to Kyebando to get some more. On the way, I was somewhat accosted by a young girl who more or less leapt out of the bushes- her name's Jovia, and she wanted me to find her a sponsor... I said I'd ask all my friends and family but I couldn't guarantee anything, at which she replied 'so how long do you think it'll take?' She really wants to go to secondary school but cant afford it, and so assumes that I'll be able to find someone willing to sponsor her. Its kind of hard because she assumes I'll be able to find someone just like that. She told me to come round any time, day or night, when I've found someone.

I got back home just before a HUGE storm- it started with a gentle breeze, every thing was really quiet apart from this building wind (kind of like in Twister). People were picking up little children playing outside to take them into the relative safety of their mud huts, we were closing the windows and doors (buttoning down the hatches I like to think). Then the heavens opened and the rain hammered down on our tin roof- it was pretty loud! Thunder and lightning too.

Anyway, when I got home, all ready to bake the brownies, I discovered that the electricity had gone off. Typical. To be expected though, I guess.

We had a sleepover tonight- although our only guest, Teacher Dorcus never came (because of the storm). So really it was just an excuse to stay up late eating popcorn Pringles and sweets. Of course we couldn't watch any films or anything, so we each did a short play, in 2 teams. They were really funny. Costumes, props and all. In my team I had Chris Karen and Liz- I was a sick person, who was first visited by Ja-Ja (a lady I haven't met but apparently is very forthcoming with her magic herbs), who gave me the tub of mixed herbs to heal me. Didn't work. Next I was visited by a crazy (and really quite scary) witchdoctor Chris, dressed up in a blanket, with toothpaste squeezed onto his face by Liz, who scattered magic talcum powder over me. Still sick. Then an (equally scary) Pentecostal Christian (such as Liz- played by Liz too) came and very forcefully healed me. And I was healed!

The other team of Phionah Becca Esther and Emily did a play on the elections (which were today). 2 of them were for Museveni, the others for Besigye (the 2 main parties). Incidently we listened to the BBC world service for the coverage- we made the 2nd headline! It was really strange to hear such a British accent. There haven't been any riots so far- when Phionah went into Kampala to vote she had to stand outside in the storm (the polls are taken outside to try and make them more out in the open) waiting in a long queue to vote- she came back drenched! I think its quite a close call between the 2 at the moment- but Museveni appears to be winning. He's been the president for the last 26 years (on all the radio reports they refused to say '26 years'- preferring instead 'over quarter of a century')- since the civil war in the '80s- and these are the first multi party elections since! Anyway their play was very funny- there was some rigging of the votes, which caused a riot- lets hope it doesn't come true!

Then- much excitement- the electricity came back on at 10pm! So I made the chocolate brownies (mmm) and we stayed up til about 2am chatting and dancing to the spice girls (felt a bit bad for Chris).
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