Tom Herriman's Journal
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News and Views
October 5, 2007-Arrival at Entebbe Airport
Friendly, at the airport. No customs inspections at all. Lwanga and Jimmy met me their Toyota wagon and we headed of to Nansana, passing through the outskirts of Kampala. Entebbe, the old royal capital of Buganda is 27k from Entebbe.

Nansana is 7k from Kampala. The country seemed enveloped in a unending pall of smoke. Most of it comes from wood and charcoal cooking fires in homes restaurants and roadside food stands. There’s some trash burning, and there’s a lot of diesel and gasoline exhaust. Traffic was very congested, though it was around 10 at night. The roads were full of cars, bikes and motorbikes, while the darkened roadsides were jammed with thousands of little shops, most of them a garage wide, with iron gates, lit with candles and kerosene lamps, often with charcoal cooking fires smoldering just outside the doorways…each one representing an entrepreneur trying to scrape out a foothold in the cash economy.

Unemployment is high, and anyone with no job, but some brains and ambition soon becomes a retail entrepreneur in groceries, take out food, cell phones, video rentals, hardware, hair cutting, and dozens of others.

There are no streetlights. Nor are there any banks of lighted buildings because there was no electric power. This is my fourth day in Uganda, and I still haven’t been in a building with electricity coming in from the outside. Lots of places have generators. The Kisa school generator runs for 4 or five hours each evening. On the highway the huge major brand gas stations are brightly lighted from their own electric power. As we got closer to Kampala, Lwanga waved his arm and said, there’s the city over there, you’d be able to see it if they had the power on. But all we could see were darkened hillsides. The smoky air and the twinkling candle and lantern lights in the shops created an atmosphere of a rural village, though in fact we were in the most urbanized part of Uganda.