Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kampala to Kiniwataka

Brick and mortar buildings give way to wood and plastic shacks as the taxi leaves Kampala and enters one of its many boroughs. The transition is hardly noticeable because the population never dwindles and the traffic congestion is never relieved. As in America, the poorer people are pushed away from the city by the little expansion taking place in the city proper. Yet these people stay nearby hoping for the opportunity to sell their goods to the many people who work there. Without vehicles or money for transport, they rely on their feet to get them into and out of the city each day.

Over 1.5 million people live in Kampala—that’s six times the population of Grand Rapids in almost the same amount of physical land space. This huge population draws street vendors of every kind: fresh foods, processed foods, clothing, and air time. Many of these vendors sleep in their stalls at night. The bright red apples call to me from the distance. Just 12 feet separated me from those apples, which equated to crossing through even more lanes of people traffic to get them…another day maybe.

Near the taxi park the roads are jammed with more vans than the streets are wide. Taxis on either edge aren’t afraid to drive on the curb where a vender may be situated so as to shimmy their way into traffic sooner than later. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes, sweat trickles down my legs…finally the taxi moves. Forty-five minutes later the taxi is left behind in favor of walking the short distance to the church where the Bible study is held. Kiniwataka is a village just East of Kampala off Jinja road. Its situation proper is like that of a suburb to Grand Rapids city proper such as Burton Heights.