A day life of an African Village in Uganda
A visit to the Village of Kitaisa, Uganda and what life is like there in words and pictures
It is about a 1 1/2 hour drive to get to Kitaisa Village from Kampala. Not many stop here, there is not much here but some maize fields, matoke banana groves, gardens filled with beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, French beans, and lots of fruit.
Not even the President has been here on the stump for his fourth election. There are just plain not many visitors to Kitaisa, and not much that would bring them there unless they know someone. I mean, if you blinked, you would be through it since most of the villagers live a distance from the main road and where they live are mostly paths and bit difficult to traverse, especially during the rainy seasons.
As you turn off the road there you are greeted by some boda-boda motorcycle taxis, there are a few dukas (shops) selling oil, sugar, tea, flour, maize flour, candles, paraffin. There is no petro station here, but one will find a school across the main road, a small government hospital, no doctors here, just a few nurses and medically trained staff. A big banner greets you out front announcing the fact that pregnant women should be immunized so that their babies are not born with a type of tetanus.
There is no long line of people waiting to do so, but you can see some staff moving between buildings. It is still early and people are going outside to cook their meals over firewood for the most part, children in uniforms and mostly without shoes are going off to school, making their way through muddy paths from the night's rain.
You can see some working out in the gardens, picking beans, or tilling the ground around maize plants, some children are carrying water toward their homes from the nearby creek. Some people are sitting outside of their homes having breakfast of some kind or another. No coffee and toast here. Children will have some porridge out of a cup, the family will eat left over posho, or plantain bananas called matoke. Meat is not eaten often, protein comes mostly from beans.
The land is green and lush as one drives through it, there is not a dried out blade of grass, just green. A morning mist hangs over the land, the sun is peering out as I reach the house of my friend's mother. She greets us warmly as she comes from her kitchen, a lean-too on the back of the house scorched by smoke of many a fire. There are beans and even rice cooking...in the store is only salt, no sugar, oil, margarine called for the most part "Blue Band."
I thought life in the slums were tough, but here they might even be tougher, there is simply lack. Some chickens are running around and I am told that they are basically for eggs, though one was caught and given to me, "alive" and tied up for the journey home later. If it was not kept alive it would spoil on the journey home in the heat of the car.
There is a lot of land around, much of it cultivated, people enjoy eating, not much of it is sold, since most everyone grows their own vegetables and the things that are eaten. There is even quite a bit of cannabis grown around there, sold for a dollar a pound from the grower. I never realized how much of it is consumed here in Uganda, but it abounds in the slums where it is consumed in many cases to still the pain of hunger.
Here in the village there is food, lots of it grown, mostly farmed by women. 87% of the farm labor consists of women, yet only 5% of the land is owned by them. Mom Mustala owns her land and her home made of kiln dried bricks. There are two rooms inside, one to sleep and one to sit, there is no TV, no radio, a mobile phone is on a small table.
Grandchildren are running in and out of the house, playing with a dirty and very worn soccer ball, the clothes are very worn but clean. One woman is washing clothes with a packet of Noni detergent, one of my pet peeves here in Uganda. The detergents here including the one made by Unilever is filled with phosphates which harms the many lakes and rivers in Uganda, but there is no move to stop using them as they did in the West years ago.
Many children are not in school, since there is no money to pay for school-fees and there is no government school near where and education could be had. There is a large Muslim school since this community is mostly Muslim. Uganda is about 11 percent Muslim and it goes back to before Christianity was brought by the Catholic White Father's from France and the Anglicans from England. No matter where you live in he central area of the Buganda Kingdom. Islam was brought by Arab traders from the coastal area of Kenya and many even on Kabaka's (King's) court converted to it. Everywhere in Kampala and in many villages you will hear the call to prayer beginning at 5:30 am.
After some food and conversation it was time to go for what we would call a memorial service...here there are called condolences and I was told would last for 40 days. The man had died some time ago, but now it was the right time for it.
As we approached the Mosque, there are many people that have already gathered, women cooking, you could smell the pilau rice, the chicken, the beef and goat. Under a large tent the proceeding had begun, various people spoke, some cried, the Iman said a few words and then it was time to sit and eat. The portions were large, the food was good, the children enjoyed the sodas that were there and people sat in groups talking about life, about the man who had died. Children ate and played soon afterwards, some sat and told stories to one another. In this village like in all others that I have seen, there was no playground, there were no swings, slides, merry-go-rounds.
As I said before, the word is simply.. There is no library here, I saw no newspapers at the shops, when it came to airtime for my phone, they had only 500 or 1000 shilling refill cards, not the 5000, 10,000 or 20,000 as are carried in the city. There was a little restaurant with someone outside chairs, a beauty shop, and about 8 places where food and other supplies were sold, but there were no lines. People use what they have at home.
People in villages live shorter lives for the most part, since there is no infrastructure here, there are no ambulances, and if you do get sick there is no money. The nearest pharmacy is 15 kilometers away in Busunju, but even that larger town lacks facilities, a medical clinic is there with a doctor unlike the small facility in Kitaisa which has a few things. The problem with government medical facilities in Uganda is that the medicines are often stolen and sold to pharmacies or clinics by staff. This has the government making plans to specially mark government medicines that at times are given at reduced cost or free so that they cannot be resold in pharmacies.
The other obvious problems are water and sanitation. Water taken from creeks has to be boiled and boiled and treated. It is not, I saw pit latrines but because the water has to be carried from a distance it is used sparingly and children as in the slums of Kampala become ill with diseases that could be prevented through the use of soap and water.
Jobs in the village, unless you work in a store or have a boda-boda taxi service, work in the clinic or teach, there are no jobs except your garden. You can try selling food along the road such as tomatoes, beans, potatoes, maize, or fruit, there is no way to make money. You learn to live on little and making every shilling count. At times there is support from relatives and if you visit someone in the village, you bring those things that they do not have and when you leave you leave some cash.
Village people in Uganda are friendly and hospitable, kind and show their graceful ways to outsiders, especially to a Westerner such as myself. Kids just hover around, adults come up to you and greet you like they have known you forever.
On my visit to the village market day was taking place, an open air market that was held twice a week, fish in various forms from dried to filets was all there on that day, shoes, plastic tubs and basins, roasted meat was being cooked, it was a festive atmosphere after the condolence memorial gathering. There was music, laughter, shouting, people trying to buy something cheap. Second hand clothing was all around, Kitaisa was alive and if you had some money, you could buy something just for you.
I left with my car being filled with things, from pop-corn to bamboo sticks, from bananas to tomatoes all from the garden in the village. The people waved goodbye and back to Kampala...jon
A Day in the village of Kitaisa in Uganda
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