Too Many People/Too Few Shillings

Last night as I walked from the Internet cafe back to my hotel, Williams Street (located in the heart of Kampala’s (Uganda) commerical district) was packed with people.  Many providing redundant services.  Many selling from the sidewalk.  But at night, most of the heavy commercial activity (loading and unloading of trucks) has died down.

My experience started with the stairs leading down to Williams Street.  There, I was aggressively approached by working girls.  Two at the top of the stairs and 5 at the bottom.  They were all very nice about it, but just a bit aggresive.  All in good fun.

On the sidewalks there were vendors of fruits and vegetables, grasshoppers (a delicacy), meat roasted on a stick, household supplies, telephone cards, misc. goods, etc.  There are also panhandlers, many of whom are severely crippled.  Most of the shops along Williams Street were still open.  The sidewalks were packed with people walking, I’m not sure to where, but they were walking.  Enjoying the coolness of an African evening.

By US standards, the streets and back alleys in Kampala are not particularly safe.  I don’t get the impression that crime on foreigners is much of a problem, but the sidewalks are frequently irregular, steps and holes can be a problem, garbage needs to be avoided, and crossing streets can be dangerous.

Our hotel is located in a truck loading and unloading area.  At night there are still a few “carriers,” men who load and off load large trucks.  Most of this activity seems to occur in the morning and early afternoon.  The “carriers” are capable of toting heavy and large loads on the heads and shoulders.  Walkers have to always be alert and stay out of their way.

Congestion on Williams Street as Seen from Our Hotel Window

The Ugandan people are very friendly, and I will be sad when I depart tonight.  But I wonder where the country is headed??

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