Everything Uganda: The Festive Season That Was

Everything Uganda: The Festive Season That Was

. By Eric Barigye Welcome back to this most special of weekly blogs, which explores a particular aspect of Uganda life, to learn more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other!    It is the first week of the year, but before we go forth into a new decade, we will be looking at Uganda’s take on the holiday season of 2019! Uganda is a predominantly Christian country. When all denominations are put together, some people put the figure at just over 80% of the population. This being the case, one wouldn’t be surprised when I say Christmas Day holds special significance for many in the country.  Like in many other places of the world, Christmas is very much a family day – the more the merrier! Many families in the country are not concentrated in the same place. Rural-Urban migrations mean that several generations have been started in towns far away from previous ones and so on this special family day, the journey is made out of Kampala and surrounding parts, back to the village. Christmas being in the middle of the week this time round meant the journey was further complicated with many leaving on the same day(s). The traffic jam was near gridlock level even for people who left as early as 5AM on the Monday and Tuesday. On Christmas Day itself, it is customary to go to church in the morning and later have a big feast for lunch with the whole family. Common foods include specially boiled chicken, matooke and beef. While the culture of present giving...
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...
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