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"Seven weeks to look, see, learn, and share some skills in Conflict Resolution…
For over a year this journey has gradually been coming together. But the seeds were sown over 40 years ago when serving in Tanzania with the Peace Corps."  

July 29, 2007- Sunday - Kampala Rocks!


The city of Kampala is said to rarely close down, stores stay open til all hours, people are awake and boisterous and noisy. From my hotel, I hear cheers from views of a soccer match resounding throughout the neighborhood. This is a cross between Hong Kong and Zanzibar at night.

The story begins yesterday when I spent more money in cab fares getting my bus ticket for a 10 hour ride from Kigali to Kampala than the cost of the bus ticket.

Despite the high fares, Kigali has some progressive practices like the banning of plastic shopping bags, banning of public smoking anywhere except your own home, two hours off on Friday afternoon for sport, and the last Saturday morning of the month devoted to community clean up and discussion of latest government policy.

Anyway my bus left at 6:00am and I just made it by about two minutes, had a brief discussion with a man and his son about the son being in my reserved seat, but when I realized they were travelling together, I backed off. Chatted with the father at the next rest stop after a 1 and 1/2 hour border crossing delay, business as usual thank you and a fifty dollar visa to go through Uganda. The father, Justin, it turned out was on his way with son for son's post chemo check up. Emmanuel has Hodgkin's lymphoma just like Jacques. He's fifteen and just had the highest school leaving score in Rwanda. Won a special award from the American embassy. Then we discover that we both worked in cooperatives in Africa, and Justin told me about a traditional method of mediation that the government agency he works for is promoting in the countryside. Could I be inventing the wheel? He will be sending me more info. In fact since he realized that i had no knowledge of Kampala and no plan, he invited me to come along to their hotel and share the cab. I could reimburse him when I got money changed in Kampala, which was the original thing I intended to ask him about. This exchange of conversation lasted over an hour while we stood up in the bus because our seats were so uncomfortable. Kampala was the first place on this whole trip where I knew no one and had no one who would be meeting me. Didn't matter. JUstin turned up just like that .

George

 

 

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I'm safely in Bujumbura after a beautiful bus ride down from Butare today. I did a two day trip in order to see Butare, the site of the national univesity of Rwanda. Stayed at a very nice catholic guest house la procure de Butare. Just wandered around and relaxed. Then this magnificent ride and I had the front seat next to the driver and could take pictures that I never had the opportunity to take before. The conflict was settled here several weeks ago, and there are still a lot of soldiers along the roads maintaining a fragile peace. Some UNO troops as well.

When you come out of the mountains , Bujumbura lies on a flat plain and touches the north edge of Lake Tanganyika. You can see it from 15 miles away. It is hot like going down into the Zambezi valley used to be. The town has a lot of old colonial buildings from the early twentieth century and a number of modern ones too. The president's palace is up in the mountains but can be seen from the town.

I'm in the midst of nice people, the quaker volunteers. There are five , four college students and a professor from Frederickton, New Brunswick. He and I did a walk through town this late afternoon. As there is no room for me in their building, I'm in a hotel for a few days. I'll have my meals with them.