And how are things in Kampala?

For over two months already I have been living in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. If it is possible to compare countries then this has to be about the opposite of Holland. Efficiency is nowhere to be found and rules sometimes don’t seem to exist. However, life is also running here in Uganda.


At the moment, I live in Kyaliwajjala, a rather quiet area outside the overcrowded center of Kampala. When I walk out of my secured apartment in the morning, a hand full of Ugandan kids give me a warm welcome. “Mzungu!” (white man) they all shout, while some approach me for a hug, while others look  shyly from a distance.

Sometimes I take a walk to my office, but often I use a Boda boda to save some time. Boda bodas are men on motorbikes who often take one or two, sometimes three and now and then even four passengers on the back of the motorbikes to bring them to their destination. Bodas are very handy, because the infrastructure here is so bad that a in a traffic jam a car can take about 2 hours to only reach 5 kilometers further. The biggest disadvantage of  bodas  however, is the sincere fear you can feel when you’re maneuvering way too fast through a traffic jam, while nearly hitting the side mirrors of every car that you’re passing. It costs me 1000 shillings (about 20 cents) to reach my office.

There I work on my research on the use of mobile money in Uganda. Together with PhD’er Rebecca Kiconco, I’ve set up a data collection for which over 500 people from rural Uganda are interviewed about their use of mobile money. At the moment, I’m performing qualitative data analyses on this data.

When I leave the office, I buy some rice, potatoes and fresh vegetables at some small local spots. Meanwhile I’ve found some of them from which I know they won’t charge me a ‘Mzungu-price’, but just the local price.

One thing that Ugandans definitely excel in is partying. Besides the normal bars and clubs, you can find a place that has a live band playing almost every day of the week. Although there surely exist bars that are usually packed with Mzungus, I prefer to hit the local bars. It’s beautiful to experience how evenings can start so calmly and can turn into African dancing parties in only a couple of hours. And man, do Ugandans know how to dance!

Share this article