Broadening horizons

Posted: August 7, 2007 in Blog

On more than one occasion I have mentioned the dichotomy that plays itself out daily here in Kampala. Men in suits getting their shoes polished next to garbage dumps, girls wearing designer clothes and sunglasses stepping nonchalantly over open sewage gutters, the list goes on. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter in Kampala whether you drive a Mercedes or a beat-up sedan that should have died three countries ago—the crater-sized potholes aren’t selective in deciding what car’s suspension they’ll destroy.

Those who drive high-end cars often do so against a contrasting back-drop of mud roads and lean-to huts where the people living there have no access to clean water or toilets. Here is where the developed, and developing, world meets those trying their best not to be left behind.

Saturday I will be leaving Kampala, for a trip up-country, to a region that is struggling to recover from a 20-year civil war, and to a region where the people aren’t yet certain the fighting has stopped for good. I will be going with a fellow journalist and a couple others to do reporting on a number of issues affecting the region. So I will be in good hands, with people who know the area, the customs and the languages.

It will be a chance to see how the rest of the country lives, as I have explored Kampala knowing that this, the city that surrounds me with malls and office buildings, does not represent the lives of most Ugandans. Heck, the population of Kampala is between 1.2 and two million, depending on who you ask, in a country of 30 million people. There is a lot out there to explore, and though this is only a four-day trip into one region, it will be a taste of what future travels will hold.

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