Daily Archives: March 30, 2015

A Tale of Two Cities

This afternoon we ventured into Kampala. Our purpose to get a SIM for Uganda and to see a bit of Western Civilisation – maybe even go to the Cinema. We took the local taxi (Matatu) equivalent to a Dala Dala in Tanzania and were deposited in Central Kampala. After 7 months in Mwanza it was a bit of a shock. It was so busy, so many people so many cars,  hundreds of Matatu and even more Boda Boda (motorbikes) equivalent to Piki Pikis in Mwanza.       

there were hundreds of little shops and  dozens of Shopping Arcades akin to Agoras in back MK – but not exactly what we were looking for. This was very much the centre for local Ugandans, very crowded. Think about Oxford Street in London on Christmas Eve  and treble it. We sorted out SIMS for the phones, then got directions to the Cinema. This was in a different part of town and might have been a different city, though it wasn’t. It was in the aptly named Oasis Shopping Mal. Here it felt like a drop of the West in the middle of Africa. A modern Supermarket (Nakamat), coffee shops, a multiplex cinema. We had not realised how much we had missed such things.  


We finished the afternoon with a film – Insurgent (from the Divergent series) in 3D and a free Pepsi to boot. We were the only ones in the cinema – if fact the film had just started so they stopped it and started again. We had a great time, then it was back out into the traffic of Kampala and off to our hostel.

Imaginary Lines

We humans have divided up our world into blocks and boxes. Some of these are geographically defined, mountains  rivers and oceans make for obvious boundaries. Some are derived by ethnicity or tribe, possibly dictated by the latter. Still  others are purely imaginary lines in the sand. 

Today we will cross two such lines – although one is mathematically derived, the other is a line of whom and fancy, dreamt up (no doubt in a foreign country).

Our first imaginary line is the Tanzania/Uganda border a straight line running West to East from the DRC to Kenya, crossing Lake Victoria. A strange border which completely ignores any geography. You have to wonder how it was derived, what negotiations took place to decide it or what randomness decided it. Almost certainly it runs parallel to the second imaginary line we will cross.

Our second line is geographically more significant, although just as imaginary and takes no account of natural features. This is the equator. Today we will move from the Southern Hemisphere back into the Northern Hemisphere for the first time in over 7 months. Last time we crossed this line we were 30000 ft in the air, today we will be on the ground. Hopefully we will be able to stop and straddle this imaginary line.

The last such line I straddled was the Prime Meridian at Grenwich when we visted Grenwich back in 2013. This line, even more whimsical separates East and West, it’s a linear crossed many times without a thought as we travelled from Milton Keynes to Harlow to see my brother. It is commemorated at Grenwich and had historical significance as it was first used as a way of measuring time globally at a time when this had been impossible to do so. The Grenwich Meridian runs North South from Pole to Pole. All times in the world are derived from Grenwich Meriian Time (GMT). Here in Tanzania we are GMT+3.