Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Out of Africa...Again

The Nile Rising from Lake Victoria - Uganda
I am almost out of Uganda after four previous attempts in the last two weeks.  Actually, I found Kampala can be very pleasant once out of the downtown area – lots of green and flowers and not far from a resort on Lake Victoria – built and operated by an Indian – that screams money.  The photo is of the source of the White Nile, which merges with the Blue in Sudan and heads to the Med. 
The economic dichotomy here between the “haves” and “have-nots” is, to say the least, wide – but equally interesting is the level of economic activity by everyone.  If there is a vacant piece of dirt along a busy road someone has established a shop.  Furniture, chickens, tiny grocery shops, iron mongers, car washes – anything that anyone needs.  Local roads are unpaved and look like the surface of the moon – but passable.  Hawkers walk among the truly dreadful traffic jams (usually caused when the traffic police take control) selling electric mosquito swatters the size of small tennis rackets, food, maps – everything.  Everyone is almost too polite.   
This then is a country ruled by one person essentially for more than 25 years.  Rising fuel and food prices have last week resulted in demonstrations which have not ended well for the demonstrators.  The leading opposition politician was shot in the arm while leading a “walk to work” protest and then whisked away.  I don’t know and certainly have not been here long enough to make any judgment on how this may end. 
With the unpaved roads, poor housing in many areas and high food prices, it is obscene that the government is paying Russia over $1.5 billion for top-of-the-line fighter jets to combat terrorists from Somalia.  Terrorists are not fought with an air-force – more could be spent on police and border patrols not to mention paving every road in the country.  And one bombing last year does not make a terrorist campaign. 
Anyway, I’m leaving for Qatar on Thursday and will miss the place a little. 

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