Three experiences that taught me a thing or two about Ugandan culture

Two days of travel, two days of briefings. We’ve learned about the important international development work of the Canadian Co-operative Association, the history and mandate of the Ugandan Cooperative Alliance, and the goals of the Integrated Finance and Agriculture Project. The team has hashed out ideas for gathering and sharing compelling content. We’ve started bonding and we already have inside jokes. And today we’re heading to Masindi to begin our work.

After our briefing yesterday we revisited the Orange store to upgrade or fix our Internet connection sticks (can you tell I’m not a techie? I have no idea what those things are really called) and our SIM cards. Although this took longer than expected I was happy to conduct this type of transaction as it gave me another view into life in Kampala. Our driver waited for us for nearly an hour so we gave him a great tip. He even helped us cross the street, which is a major undertaking in Kampala – akin to a live game of Frogger at high speed.

Orange store in Kampala

View from the Orange store in Kampala

We next visited a craft market where I picked up souvenirs for my nephews and nieces. The shopkeepers were nice, each saying, “You are welcome into my store.” They were not too pushy and had a good sense of humour about bargaining. I’ve noticed that humour is a big part of my conversations with Ugandans, and I’ve never heard the word “welcome” so often as I have in the last two days.

Shop at Ugandan craft market

Shop at Ugandan craft market

Next we visited the Gaddafi National Mosque. From the minaret of the mosque is a lovely panoramic view of Kampala that is worth every one of the 308 steps you must climb. The women on our team had to cover their hair but Jim didn’t (Rolf stayed at the hotel). Our guide was really nice and answered every one of our questions about the mosque and Islam quite candidly.

View of Kampala from Gaddafi National Mosque

View of Kampala from Gaddafi National Mosque

Team learning at Gaddafi National Mosque

Team learning at Gaddafi National Mosque

Rayanne, Karen, Adele, Deborah and Lacey at Gaddafi Mosque

(Left to right) Rayanne, Karen, Adele, Deborah and Lacey at Gaddafi Mosque

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