Jinja/Bujagali Falls, Uganda
Day 12: 9 August 2002 8:30 pm
Dissension among the group as food supplies dwindle and group members can no longer be bothered to do their chores.
Breakfast was scrapped together from the last few remaining provisions and
people seemed oddly absent when it came to washing up. Not only that, but
an insect colony has set up residence in one of the cutlery containers.
Reminiscent of “Lord of the Flies” if we don’t stock up on food soon. As
I’m waif-like due to continued weight loss, the group won’t be chasing me
round the African bush.
Most of the group went on a guided village walk (population of village: 3700)
for US$5. Tom and I discovered a poster in the bar two days ago,
advertising a guided village walk with traditional lunch in the guide’s
house. All proceeds would go to the local community. No one had mentioned
this trip to us as an option before, so we spoke to our driver, who knew
nothing about it. We asked everyone if they were interested and surprise,
surprise, most of them jumped at the chance (excuse my sarcasm).
Our guide of 42, suffering from malaria, was absolutely excellent. The
village elects a chairman and nine councilors every five years and holds
monthly meetings that everyone attends. Taxes are paid based on land
ownership and assets, such as livestock and crops, but only if the family
earns more than Ush 25000 per month.
When a family has money, they do not save it, but invest in assets such as
goats or buy bricks over 3-4 years to build a house. Educating children
is also seen as building up assets, as a child can contribute to looking
after the parents when they grow old. Not that they expect to grow old here
– life expectancy is 41 years old. Families own their land and pass it down
from generation to generation. The villagers we observed all seemed fairly
We wandered up to Kyabirwa Primary School and were introduced to the head
mistress. She explained that primary school education was free but
secondary was not. 965 pupils attended the school with a maximum of 100 to
a class. The children were wonderful and sang songs to us in English and
Luganda. After applauding their efforts, we donated some pencils to the
school and departed.
Elsewhere, our group had given pencils and sweets directly to the children,
but our guide said this was inappropriate as the children do not understand
why they are given the gifts and then associate all whites (‘muzungus’) with
presents. This encourages begging and leads to children playing truant from
We went back to our guide’s house, where his wife had been slaving away,
preparing lunch. This consisted of papaya, passionfruit juice, matoke
(mashed plaintains), assova, posho (maize meal) and some kind of spinach
sauce. The cassova tasted woody and everything else was gritty and
flavourless. You do not need to eat much without feeling that there is a
brick in your stomach. We are both relieved that we do not exist on this
food on the truck and realise how lucky we are to have such a wealth of
choice of food back home.
The group then talked about giving a tip to our guide and this was fair
enough, but some suggested Ush 2000, while others Ush 3000. We thought that
Ush 1000 each was appropriate when you consider the average monthly income.
We did not want to give the tip as a group but individually and yet again we
were overruled. In the end, we just handed our money over to Belinda and
then noticed that Philip and Rose gave an additional Ush 20000 for malaria
drugs. Everyone will think that I’m cold hearted, but this kind of
generosity sets a precedent that affects future travellers taking that walk.
I’ll get off my high horse now and calm down. Roberta and Beth were
surprise attendees on the walk after proclaiming, “If I wanted to see black
people, I’d go to Brixton, I don’t need to come all the way to Africa.”
Culturally void came to mind. They babbled incessantly throughout the walk
with inane comments of “Daddy knows someone who owns a house in Colorado,”
“If you don’t play hockey internationally or nationally at Loughborough,
you’re nothing.” and various other gems. In the end, Rose told them to “shut
it” as no one could hear our guide talking.
In the evening, the lake flies swarmed, covering every possible surface and
light. I’m sure I’ve eaten quite a few flies, as it is impossible to stop
them flying into your food or drink (all added protein).
Postives: Informative guided walk that allowed us a glimpse of the real
Uganda and village life.
Negatives: If Roberta carries on in this fashion, she’ll be up for