On Monday 26th October, it was one year since I finished the Stanchart Nairobi Marathon (actually it was 21km, and I mostly waked, finishing in....sisemi!), got on the 5:45pm Fly540 flight and came to Kampala to start my consultancy, which culminated in an employment offer in February. One year seems to have gone by fast. I seem to have fallen in love with numbering stuff, but here are my impressions, in a nutshell:
1) It’s beautiful, greenly so. Earlier this month when I was coming from Mombasa, you could see the soil in the park from the air. Even the islands on the Kenyan side of L. Victoria were brown. Soon as you’re on the UG side, you go green with envy.
2) Good food. Chips and chicken is not considered to be food: it’s a snack
3) Nice people. I imagine people treat ‘strangers’ than Kenyans would
4) It’s safe, much safer than Nairobi, maybe than my village. I’ve walked at night, never had my pocket picked, never been mugged. I pray it remains this way
5) Kalina potential potential...that’s a line from Moze and Weazle (local musicians/ ‘celebs’). I feel like there are opportunities to make lots of money in this place. Housing...food (the place is productive and the food generally expensive, I think there are lots of inefficiencies one can take advantage of). The farthest West I’ve gone is Hoima (potentially, oil place), been to Katuna (UG-RW border), Malaba and Busia to the East, but never been to the North, though I plan to before going back home. I see a lot of opportunities all over.
6) Party republic: it may just be that I never have been a Nairobist for real. I mean, the longest I’ve been in Nairobi is like two months each time, once while studying for the GMAT. Other times I was chasing my passport or lost ID for a couple weeks, or checking on my HELB loan. Maybe that’s why Kampala looks like City of Fun because I haven’t quite experience the City in the Sun that way. There do seem to be quite a few events going down (in K’la) most of the weekends. Ekijjulo kya Record TV, Ekikompola kya Dembe FM, ekisomething kya someone else etc. Myriad album launches. The Kenyans in here too seem to know how to get down, too. Or, am getting old!
7) It’s expensive. More than Nairobi. I buy (brown) bread for UGX 1600
(~Ksh 64). The Blue Band margarine that goes for Ksh 85 bob in Nai retails for UGX 2500 (~Ksh100) over here. Quite a bit of stuff on supermarket shelves is from Kenya, a lot from further away. Did I say housing is expensive? I am comparing what you’d pay for a certain amount and what you’d get for an equivalent amount in Nairobi. This makes Nairobi attractive. Plus there’s more ‘stuff’ of my kind that goes on over there.
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