Weeks 3 and 4 of work (and play)

We are all now feeling well settled in to our work routines, and have enjoyed some really fun activities around Kampala at the weekends.

Weekend

The third weekend we were very kindly invited along to an Introduction Ceremony, by Heini’s host mum, Rebecca.

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Gomesi!

An Introduction Ceremony is a traditional engagement ceremony, in which the bride’s family is formally introduced to the groom and his family. A few of us got suited and booted for the occasion, in traditional gomesi. Needless to say we were looking very “smart” and received numerous compliments as such. After a plate of delicious food and armed with some free beers, we sat with the few hundred fellow guests to watch the ‘drama’ of the introduction unfold.

An ‘uncle’ from each family was equipped with a microphone, and ‘banter’ flowed between the pair, which we attempted to follow despite it being mostly in Luganda and Lunyankole. The groom’s family seemed to be bribing the bride’s family with numerous gifts, whilst the bride’s family kept bringing out groups of girls, asking, “Which is the one that you came here looking for”? When they finally identified the bride amongst them, there was much merriment, more exchanging of gifts, and cutting of cakes shaped like traditional pots!

The highlight for me was the traditional dances, which punctuated the rather ropey drama. A troupe performed some Kinyarwanda dance, in which the men whip their long blonde wigs back and forth and the women almost contort and stretch their arms.

Sunday meant catching up on hand-washing laundry, then exploring a new area of town down by Lake Victoria: Port Bell and Luzira. Kampala is hilly and green, so it looks so similar through the windows of a taxibus, yet each neighbourhood is unique and interesting. In Luzira I was treated to an incredibly syrupy sweet African tea from a cute old lady on the street, with Ugandan banana pancakes, which are deep fried and chewy, as they’re made with cassava flour.

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By Lake Victoria

Week

In the week, Naira and I continued our work on the Marketing Plan that we’ve been constructing for Waste Masters. We discussed some simple, new strategies, which our client will hopefully be able to implement to expand his customer base.

We had the chance to visit another couple of businesses too: Heini and Claire at MyCheckmate coffee house, and Joel and Zac at Seven Seasons banana juice producers. It was eye-opening to see the kind of challenges some of our colleagues are facing, which are completely different to ours. Whilst we are working with a service provider in a relatively unsaturated market, where a lack of environmental/health awareness amongst the population is one of the largest barriers, MyCheckmate and Seven Seasons both operate within the highly saturated drinks industry, so the challenges are many. The pairs that we visited this week are not only reviewing the branding and sales of their client’s products, but are also implementing simple financial records and reconsidering some areas of the business’ operations.

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Grinding coffee beans with Heinz

Weekend

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Friday May 1st was Labour Day here (and everywhere!), so we treated ourselves to the afternoon off. I joined some fellow volunteers for typical touristy activities: the Uganda museum, the Acacia Mall (which was unsettlingly plush – it reminded me of Dubai as it just seemed so out of place and had a very international clientèle), and a cultural show at the Ndere Centre. The show was brilliant! We saw dances from all over Uganda and East Africa, and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Kampala.

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On Saturday we celebrated Clare’s birthday with a picnic after the team meeting, then watched the local rugby in the sunshine at Legend’s Rugby Club. Good company combined with sports, barbecued pork, Ugandan beers and Afrobeats made it an afternoon thoroughly enjoyed by all!

On Sunday, Magic and I visited the Gaddafi mosque. As a woman, I had to cover myself completely (see highly unflattering image below) to enter. We had a little tour and climbed a tower with fantastic views over the city centre.

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Week

This week we started reviewing Waste Masters’ promotional material, as we would like to leave them with a really decent leaflet, which they can use for marketing from now on. I’m teaching myself InDesign, so. We also started constructing a Business Plan for their future five-year strategy. Our client has some great plans in place already, to set up the processing/recycling plant, but they are all in his head, and need to be put down on paper in an organised fashion, for both internal and external use.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Masaka for our mid-term review getaway weekend. Can’t wait!

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View from the Mosque tower
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