This week we’ve been busy: straining to glimpse African Presidents flying overhead in their Chinooks and swerving off the road as the Presidential motorcades plough past, to and from the African Union meetings being held in Kampala. It makes me sick to think I might be breathing the same air as Robert Mugabe.
There’s been sickness and death everywhere this week: our house girl’s 20 year old neighbour died after having an abortion done ‘in the village’ and a 15 year old boy bled to death after having a tooth removed. He was haemophiliac and had been losing blood for two weeks before being admitted to Mulago Hospital. It was too late by the time they gave him the transfusions.
Just when I think I’m used to life here, stories like this remind you how black and white life can be for people in developing countries. I’ve criticized the UK on many occasions but I never forget how lucky I am to have been born there. ‘An accident of fate’ we truly don’t know how lucky we are. Both of these deaths were entirely avoidable.
But the deaths that have really affected me this week are of my friends’ dogs.
Patrick and Victoria are crazy about animals. If they see a stray or neglected animal, they adopt it, and my lovely Baldrick is just one of many they’ve reared, trained and loved. Two months ago they had seven dogs, now they only have one. A rumour was circulating about dogs getting stomach cancer from posho (maize flour) which we feed the dogs, mixed with mukenne (tiny fish a bit like Whitebait). While at the beautiful Lake Mburo last week-end, I received a bizarre text saying his dogs were dying. Two days later five of them were dead. They were too upset to get autopsies done but the vet says they died of ‘severe poisoning.’ Foul play is not ruled out and now the concern is they’ll be robbed. You do hear of people’s dogs being poisoned before a break-in.
So I’m thinking of renaming Baldrick ‘Lucky.’ As a small puppy he was saved from drowning in a drainage ditch, his paws full of maggots. If he’d been with his old pack this week he would’ve been another victim. Needless to say he’s been getting lots of extra cuddles this week.
[PHOTO: live chickens last seen leaving Kampala on the back of a boda boda]
Back in Namuwongo, the street food vendors are back after the Cholera alert. Four people have died and 35 cases identified so it seems to have been contained. A number of houses have large red crosses on their walls (those without pit latrines / sanitation are marked for destruction).
Last week’s letter from the City Council of Kampala stated:
Reference is made to introduce our field staffs to you who are entrusted with the carrying out fumigation services to eradicate the spread of diseases such as Dysentery, Yellow Fever and curb any causes of Cholera, and to kill cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies, bedbugs, bats, snakes, rats etc on behalf of City Council.
They are supposed to charge an amount of 5000/= for the septic tanks. If it is a pit latrine, it is 1500/= per each stance of every toilets.
We requested you to cooperate positively to enable us carry on this noble health work easily to avoid the spread of diseases within our areas.
BUT IT’S NOT ALL BAD NEWS
Like Lake Windermere on a grey winter’s day, camping at Lake Mburo after the heavy rain hardly looked promising. But as the sun emerged, so did the wildlife.
[PHOTO: Dung Beetles totally rock!]
Driving along dark roads in Africa is not recommended so we’d stopped halfway, at Hotel Zebra in Masaka. Wonderful breakfast, fantastically friendly staff but not a zebra in sight.
“Grim” was Keith’s description of dinner down the road in Nyendo (I had to laugh). He was given meat in groundnut “g’nut” sauce. “I don’t even want to think about what it was” as he prodded it (I laughed some more).
My comment to the waitress “silya enyama” [I don’t eat meat] produced some hot fried cabbage. That, served with a big slab of matooke had me wondering how loud the night was going to be….
But then for just one British Pound what do you expect? Lesson here: don’t turn up at 11pm. Once the food’s all gone you just get given whatever’s left.
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