Everything Uganda: Birds of Masaka, Part 1

Everything Uganda: Birds of Masaka, Part 1

. . By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which explores a particular aspect of Ugandan life, to learn more about the people, place, and today – the wildlife that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other. . . This week we will be looking up at the sky and seeing which of our feathered friends fly passed! Masaka and Uganda, in general, is a very green place with many water bodies scattered across the area. This means birds have a lot of opportunity to nest before taking flight again. To tell us more I called on Wycliffe, a native Ugandan, who grew up in Masaka and worked with his family in their local guesthouse for many years. From an early age, Wycliffe was fascinated with wildlife and his goal was to create a business to blend his business acumen with his passion for Uganda’s natural resources and training as a safari guide. During the Marathon week, Wycliffe leads a 2-3 hour walk through the town where some of the birds below can be seen!  The Shoebill Stork (pictured above) is distributed in the freshwater swamps of central tropical Africa. This wonderful bird occasionally visits the Masaka Nabajjuzi Swamp. On a lucky day, it can easily be spotted in its statue-like posture because of its slow movements and tendency to stay still for long periods. The plumage (ie. the feathers) of adult birds is blue-grey with darker slaty-grey flight feathers. The breast presents some elongated feathers, which have dark shafts. The juvenile has a similar plumage colour but is a darker grey with a brown tinge....
Everything Uganda: How to Make Grasshopper Pizza

Everything Uganda: How to Make Grasshopper Pizza

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which explores a particular aspect of Ugandan life, to learn more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other. . . This week we will be learning how to make our very own Grasshopper Pizza from Marathon friends, Plot 99 – a local restaurant and coffee house based in Masaka. We are currently in Grasshopper Season (November – December) and the flying insects are a very popular snack for many in Masaka. Mr. Masereka Isaac, the chef at Plot 99, will be telling us how he infuses this local delicacy into one of the world’s most popular foods. He has been a chef since he was 21 years old and 7 years on he is still very much growing his craft. Inspired to go into the kitchen by his Uncle Edison, also a Chef, Isaac knew what he wanted to do right after college and went to catering school to achieve his 2-year course. After that he was referred to Plot 99 by his friend who worked there and he was taken on. Like a good chef, it wasn’t his first time hearing the words “Grasshopper Pizza” when his boss brought him the idea. Isaac had learned of the concept when listening to a radio show about a food festival in the capital city, Kampala. He knew he could pull it off. We start with the dough which includes warm water, olive oil, yeast, salt, sugar and white flour. After the dough is kneaded, he keeps it in a warm place for about...
Everything Uganda: How to Make Marathon Medals

Everything Uganda: How to Make Marathon Medals

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which explores a particular aspect of Ugandan life, to learn more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other. . . This week we will be learning how to make something very close to our Uganda Marathon; the Medals! And who better to teach us than the man who makes them, Mr. Otto Alfred (pictured below) of ‘Masaka Vocational Rehabilitation Centre’. Masaka Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (MVRC) is a special place that skills mostly vulnerable youths in a variety of vocational skills that includes tailoring, metalwork, computer literacy and woodwork. Started as part of a Government initiative in 1983 to benefit the people of Masaka, the former refugee camp has kept going all these years since despite the many challenges it has faced. MVRC has also been apart of the 7-Day Adventure in both the 2015 and 2016 Marathon as a supported project. Since then, these grounds have continued to play host to our hugely fun ‘Upcycling Day’ in the Marathon week.  Mr Otto’s own story with the place begun in 1991 as an instructor in knitting, tie and dye, and painting bags. He has kept the same title all these years but has gained some very valuable skills as all our previous runners can attest to with their medals.  The first step is to get fine wood of a eucalyptus tree, sized at 3.4*5.8*1.1mm. The wood is sandpapered before a hole is drilled into the wood. The wood is then cut to circles with the help of a machine here in Masaka town....
Everything Uganda: Buganda’s Last Six Months of the Year

Everything Uganda: Buganda’s Last Six Months of the Year

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which explores a particular aspect of Ugandan life, to learn more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other. . . This week we will be continuing our study of the Buganda Kingdom’s (of whom Masaka is part) months of the year. Last time we looked at the first six months stating with Gatonnya (January) and ended with Sseebaaseka (June), which you can read here. We will start with Kasambula, the name given to July. As mentioned previously Sseebaaseka is a month of great harvest. The farmers among us will know that after the harvests are complete, the land has to be cleared and that is where this month gets its name. “Kasumbula” literally means clear the land. This is done in preparation for a new planting. The month of August bears the name Muwakanya. “Okuwakanya” can mean argue or dispute, and is the inspiration for the name for August. This month is filled with rain showers and thunderstorms. It became folklore that there was a great fight raging between two seasons in the sky.  Depending which one of these seasons won, a time of plenty or less would follow, hence the name. September is given the name Mutunda. Like Kafuumuulampawu this is another month that gets its name from white ants. The “Ntunda” white ants that surface during this month are different to the “Mpawu” which appear in April. As mentioned previously, white ants are eaten by many among the Baganda people and this is also where this month gets its name....
Everything Uganda: A Day in the life of a Grasshopper Hawker

Everything Uganda: A Day in the life of a Grasshopper Hawker

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which will be focusing on a particular aspect of Ugandan life and using it to teach more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other.  . . It is always an exciting time for many in Masaka when it’s Grasshopper Season! These flying insects are an extremely popular snack in these parts and we are lucky enough to be taught about the business by Masaka native, Kasule Muhmad, who explains a day in the life of Grasshopper Hawker. . Muhmad has been in the grasshopper business since he was 10 years old after dropping out of school early aged 7. He started as a plucker (where grasshopper legs and wings are removed before they are fried), then became a catcher (grasshoppers are found in places of high vegetation cover) and now he is a hawker, selling the product.  Muhmad wakes at 7AM and does his morning preparations before heading to work where he arrives at 8AM. Once there he has some breakfast whilst waiting for the grasshoppers to be prepared. They are bought early in the morning after catchers have gathered them and then taken to the headquarters of Muhmad’s employers to be plucked and fried. At 12PM they are ready – he and the other hawkers are given buckets (left), which are filled with anywhere between 14 and 20 500ml cups of grasshoppers (pictures above – the orange cup). Muhmad then free walks around Masaka’s business centre where he is stopped by those interested and sells.  With 50 cups of fresh-caught grasshoppers...
Everything Uganda: Buganda’s First Six Months of the Year

Everything Uganda: Buganda’s First Six Months of the Year

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which explores a particular aspect of Ugandan life, to learn more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other.  . . This week we will be learning the names and meanings of Buganda’s months of the year. The Buganda Kingdom (of which Masaka is a part of) has a proud and rich history that is reflected in their language. A clear example is in the names they give to the 12 months of the year! We start with January that is named Gatonnya. The word ‘Okutonnya‘ in Luganda varies depending on the context it is used in – for example it can mean: raining, dipping or dripping. Green bananas (matooke) are Buganda’s main staple food. January is a peak season for bananas ripening and harvesting, and as those who know how many bananas can come off even one tree can attest; it is no easy task to get them all. Inevitably during this month, the farmers get overwhelmed and it literally starts to “rain” (ie. ‘Okutonnya‘) bananas from the tress. This phenomenon is where the month gets its name!   February is next and is called Mukutulansanja. “Nsanja” are banana leaves. “Okukutula” can be used to mean tear. Having said banana leaves are an important food for Buganda, we find their season ending in this month. The heat of February finds the now post-harvest banana trees and dries them up. The banana fibres that cover the stem of the tree start to whither and peel off, therefore getting torn and serving inspiration for...
Everything Uganda: A Day in the Life of a Masaka Barber

Everything Uganda: A Day in the Life of a Masaka Barber

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which will be focusing on a particular aspect of Ugandan life and using it to teach more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other.  . This week we will be spending the day with a barber in Masaka. Scott Jovic (who prefers to use the same name as he does on social media) is a 20-year-old who has been plying his trade for 2 years now.  It all started for him at High School back in 2016 after realizing there was a high chance, he would soon be unemployed like many others he knew who had completed school.  He started to look around for what to do. The answer came in the form of a friend who was running a saloon near where he stayed. There he began training for a year and a half and picked up a lot of skills and knowledge before starting his own business after completing High School in 2018.  The day begins when Jovic wakes at 8:00 AM. After the usual morning lineup, he is at work by 8:30. He opens up the saloon, turns on the T.V and sweeps the floor. He has breakfast at 9:00 and waits for customers. His first customer that day walks in at 10:40 AM – a middle-aged man he knows by name who gets a trim and hairline shaping in 7 minutes. After this customer, no one walks in till the lunch hour at 1:00 P.M. Ordered from the restaurant two doors over, Jovic eats as he browses his...
Everything Uganda: Katogo!

Everything Uganda: Katogo!

By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which will be focusing on a particular aspect of Ugandan life and using it to teach more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other.  . This week’s topic is Katogo – the Masaka people’s number 1 breakfast order!   To learn more about it we go to Friend’s Point which is a local restaurant and a 2017 Uganda Marathon Charity Project. They start the day early going to the market at 7:00AM to buy the Matooke (green bananas) that make up the main part of the meal.  Katogo has been a meal for as long as anybody can remember. It can be translated into English to mean “Mix” and this is because while it has many variations, they all involve mixing Matooke with something. Matooke can be prepared with beans, meat, fish, peas and groundnut sauce to make Katogo.  Friends Point buys Matooke worth 3,000 shillings (just under 1 U.S dollar) which comes to around 27 bananas for their breakfast dish. On this day it is the Katogo of beans option.   . . After peeling the bananas, they are put in a saucepan that is filled with water, before putting it on the fire. The left-over beans from the previous day are then added to the newly soft bananas about 20 minutes later. For flavour, two onions, two tomatoes and a green pepper are cut and fried with vegetable oil in a separate saucepan. They are added to the boiling banana and beans mix, along with salt and curry powder, and then left to...
Everything Uganda: The Pearl of Africa

Everything Uganda: The Pearl of Africa

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which will be focusing on a particular aspect of Ugandan life and using it to teach more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other.  This week we feature a poem, kindly written by Lisa Nabuchabo, which gives us insight into what the Pearl of Africa, her home country, means to her. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and Film in Kampala – the country’s capital city.  . The Pearl of Africa.   Draped leaves rustle their way towards a blessed Motherland.   The lavish green runs far and wide across a nation dipped in the glory of diversity. It shines through the eyes of its people,  A light that kisses you like the morning sun  Perched in reflection, mirrored in perfection Looking nature straight in the eyes in gratitude.   A land of growth where even stories are cultivated and sprout to remind us who we are. We feed and nurture them in quest for our place to remain home and indeed it is home. It is the pearl that Africa continues to wear around her neck, a beauty that never gets weary.   A land where peace settles at the entrance of a house as our farmers leave at dusk, With assurance of returning with fruitful harvest.   Draped leaves rustle their way towards a blessed Motherland.   A Mother who’s wild is wild enough to live life like in a banquet on the savannah, Where wildlife brings our culture to life,  We are one with...
Everything Uganda: Independence Day

Everything Uganda: Independence Day

By Eric Barigye Welcome back to our weekly blog which will be focusing on a particular aspect of Ugandan life and using it to teach more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other.  . This week the country held its most special of holidays on October 9th, Independence Day!  Uganda peacefully gained Independence in 1962 and celebrated its 57th birthday this week on Wednesday. A lot has happened since the country’s conception – let’s view a summary.  The country has had 9 leaders in the years since independence with the shortest reign lasting just 10 days under Paulo Muwanga and the longest reign still running at 33 years on under His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The population has grown massively from 7,240,000 in 1962 to 44,658,252 according to latest U.N numbers in 2019, with the median age put at 16 years. The numbers have grown in spite of the fall in birth rate from 7.04 children per woman to 5.59 births per woman.  . . While a lot has changed, some things have also stayed the same. For example, as it was in 1962, Agriculture is still the country’s biggest earner and employer, and accounts for about 40% of Gross Domestic Product. Uganda is the African continent’s second-biggest exporter of coffee. Uganda is still a country rich in tradition and the customs of many of tribes that were present for Independence are still going strong today. Kampala has stayed the capital city since Independence and is a part of Buganda Kingdom.     Masaka, Uganda and Buganda The Masaka District, where the...
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