Jul, 2020 back to Sep, 2010: (nothing)
I'm going home.
Flying away makes me examine my experiences. I reflect and reflect until I worry the mirrors inside me will shatter from over-thought.
To the countless greens of Rwanda, the dusty infinities of Tanzania, the blissful bananas of Uganda, the recently-peaceful politics of Kenya, the picture-perfect beaches of Zanzibar and the friends and strangers who unify and diversify the land with all with your culture, beauty and warmth: kwa heri.
Every once in a while in East Africa, you stumble across a seemingly-absurd sign. They're usually in cities, but I saw one in a village this week.
In a village near Mbarara (Uganda), there is something called "goat technology".
It's brilliant: villagers transform this...
Warning: this entry is graphic, but it's not illustrated and it's not happy. I suggest you skip it if you don't like morocity. Morose-ness. Whatever.
I've promised myself I'd keep pristine memories many times: my first kiss, my first visit to a refugee camp, my first near-death experience, and just last week, my closest view of a death.
But even this latest one is blurring already, just like all my other memories.
It was on an express bus from Kenya to Uganda, and I can't remember which country we were in. I was in the front row. The bus slowed as we approached a village, and we saw crowds up ahead. I remember colours: women wearing colourful vitenge and buildings wearing colourful cell-phone advertisements. I can't remember which colours or which cell-phone companies.
Aug, 2010 back to Jul, 2010: (nothing)
Julius, Carleton University's Rwandan superhero, invited me to visit his family in Uganda.
Crossing from Rwanda into Uganda, the road becomes unpaved and the border officials and bus ticket vendors happily try and scam you.
The pineapples become tastier, too.
Bananas spring up everywhere. Even Rwandans agree the matoke (mashed banana, Uganda's staple food) carries more flavour on this side of the border.
Jun, 2010 back to Sep, 2009: (nothing)
I am about to leave my Software Engineering career in New York to study Journalism at Carleton University (in Ottawa). I am constantly asked to explain such insanity; so I am reviving an old essay I wrote (after returning from Uganda but before volunteering in Tanzania) which might help explain why I am more interested in journalism at this stage of my life.
Would you like to hear about my most shameful moment?
I was about eleven years old. I had been left alone with satellite television: quite a novelty for my pre-teen self, who grew up with no television whatsoever. I was new to the concept of channel-surfing, and as such I was quite inefficient in my quest to uncover the needle of cartoons in the haystack of hundreds of channels of Sunday-morning programming.
At my level of channel-flipping street sense, it is understandable that I got stuck on an infomercial for a minute or so. I was knowledgeable enough to never consider buying whatever was for sale; I was also well-informed about how infomercial-viewing is a faux-pas. But alone with the remote control, I allowed myself one minute of guilty curiosity: I watched a paid advertisement.
Aug, 2009 back to Jul, 2007: (nothing)
I have uploaded pictures from my travels in East Africa to http://picasaweb.google.com/adam.hooper/UgandaRwandaTanzania. For Google-agnostic viewers, the same pictures are available at http://adamhooper.com/photos/?galerie=Uganda-Rwanda-Tanzania.
Jun, 2007 back to May, 2007: (nothing)
This will be my last Uganda blog entry. As such, I feel I should end with a flourish: my ultimate opinion of the world? My avid readers may remember my two previous opinions: that education should be separate from religion; and that everybody is ignorant of most things and we should all acknowledge and accept that fact. For my final opinion, once again, I will approach my conclusion in a roundabout manner.
I should begin where I left off on a previous topic. Last Thursday, I mentioned riots in Kampala. I promised to revisit the topic of sugar cane and environmentalism.
Will I give my opinion on the matter? No, but I will try to give others' perspectives.
Imagine yourself as a manager of a sugar company. A series of fortuitous events has led you to a business deal unlike any other: a godsend! Are you responsible for the country's welfare?
Time for Opinion Number Two.
In the course of my time in Uganda I have been keeping a journal. At one point in February, I wrote down one particular paragraph which seems appropriate for this blog entry. It is slightly naïve, but surprisingly less so than most things I wrote in February:
I feel awareness in the first world is terribly important. I feel throwing money at a problem will never solve it. I feel most people cannot fathom what it's like here. I think humility should be everywhere: it would decrease HIV, increase first-world support, stop sexism.... Most people are wrong about most things; I feel they should be open to that possibility. I of course include myself.
Let me explain myself, in a roundabout manner.
Some time in the late 19th century, an explorer named Speke made his way along the famous River Nile, starting at the delta in Egypt and ending in what he named Lake Victoria. The village which was here was called Jinja, and Speke discovered it.
Naturally, in the century following, the village became a hotspot for adrenaline junkies. After all, not only is the river suitable for kayaking, white-water rafting, river boarding, and other extreme sports: it is also the Nile.
I am a visitor to Africa within an age bracket which gives me no options: I had to do it, sooner or later. And so, on Saturday, I went white-water rafting down the Nile.
I was part of the majority in our raft who had never experimented with white-water rafting before. Our guide taught us the ropes with some conveniently-placed small rapids. We then got to the real fun. Scattered along the first few kilometres of the Nile are five class five rapids. (Whatever that means. I'm told class five is pretty impressive.)