Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back Roads Restaurants

Other than one more table, this is the entire restaurant.
The rush has just passed.
While Kampala does boast restaurants designed for the Western tourist, restaurants also exist for the local people. Just down the road from Entebbe Stage where I typically get a taxi from Kampala to home, one of dozens (maybe even hundreds) of restaurants is tucked into a building that houses small commercial printers. While the rain released its normal afternoon gush, I stepped inside to have some copies made and decided to eat while waiting.

Cleanliness and food preparation standards are always questionable but you must get over such things to live here without starving (or going broke). Rice, matoke (boiled banana), gee nut sauce (peanut sauce), and sweet potato that was white and not red completed my meal all for 3,500 UGX (about $1.75).

Under that pile of banana leaves is matoke (boiled banana).
I learned that rent on this 8x10 room was 500,000 UGX ($250) monthly. You might be thinking that’s a great price. Yet this amount requires 142 meals to be sold in one month just to cover rent. While the number may not seem staggering, remember the cost of supplies and employee wages too. This combination of business venture, like so many others, necessitates working six days each week from dawn till dusk to get only enough month to start the next day and perhaps pay for a modest room in one of the nearby slum areas.

Women work for these kinds of restaurant owners and they go out into the city taking orders for food from workers, construction and otherwise, and then deliver that food when ready. Wouldn’t you love having someone come to your office and ask you what you want to eat and then return with a hot plate mounded with food?

These ladies, I’m told, earn about 5,000 each day or 150,000 each month. From that they must pay transportation to get into the city each day, probably 2,000. This leaves 90,000 for rent, food, clothing, medical care, and the like. I’ve not seen a place to rent for less than 90,000 but they must be there. When people say life is hard in Uganda, I can see what they mean.