As always I had problem at the border. This not the first time that happens! Is it my hair? or my passport? or the way I breath or walk?
“Your passport expires today”, the Ugandan officer said. “Yes I know. I was told from the Kisumu immigration office that my visa expire at midnight and now is 5pm. They told me that was ok to cross the border the same day my visa expires.” I said. “Whoever told you this puts you in the shit” “and anyway you shouldn’t ask to the Kenyans immigration officers but to the the Ugandan as you going into Uganda not Kenya.” He replied. “How exactly would I do that if I didn’t get to Uganda yet?”. He smiled. “100$, to cross the border.” This was another bribe that I could not handle. I tried to keep my mouth shut and be polite and nice. “Officer I should pay 50$ for the Ugandan Visa, not 100$”. “Do you want to cross the border today”. “Yes”. I said desperately. “Pay this money, then”.
In the end I opted for an East African Visa which will allow me to enter to Rwanda and Kenya (which is not one of my destination as I come from there) without paying any additional money (hopefully). The visa cost 100$ and gives you free movement for 3 months between Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. You SHOULD be able to go back and forward between those countries freely within the 3 month visa duration. “I need additional $50”. “Officer I really don’t understand why you want more money”. He invented many excuses really. The reality is that it was another bribe. I left him $150 in the end. I was incredibly piss off. When I will cross the border with Tanzania I will opt for an e-visa to avoid anymore bribes.
On the bus towards Kampala I met Christine. She was a computer technician and a Kenyan, migrated years ago to Kampala because of work. A beautiful soul and very friendly. She is a mother of two of which one is autistic. She asked me if I would be interested in giving an art worksop in the Kampala Neurological Centre where his son was going to school. I said that was a great idea as log as the centre would provide the materials and that we would keep in touch.
I was having trouble in getting connected to Wi-Fi once crossed the border. So I couldn’t contact my friend T. from Kampala. She offered her Wi-Fi so that I could keep in touch with T. She also made sure I would drop off at the right bus stop and ask me with a concerned voice if there would be someone to pick me up as I was a foreign in a city I never been before. It was also 11pm. I reassured her that my friend would come to pick me up right where the bus would leave me. So was it. T. was waiting for me there. I said goodbye to Christine and said hello to T.. He has a beautiful project in Kitintale slum in Kampala. He is a skater and managed to put together a few skate ramps at the centre of it. With the support and love from the community, the skatepark is helping street children to participate and learn new skills for competitive performances diverting them from the ghetto street life. The area also hosts the biggest scenario of street art and graffiti. It is great place to be in and its a must go if you are in Kampala. Ask around about the skatepark in Kampala (or just visit ‘travel info’ section).
I live in Kitintale slum. Every time I loose my way kids are helping to find it back. They know me already. My apartment is cosy and I live with many cockroach and little mouses. The other day I had a bacterial intestinal intoxication and so fewer, nausea diarrhea etc. My mum gave me some pills for this kind of situations so that I was able to sort it out in about a day. I thought I was about to dye. My friend wanted to bring me to the hospital but I declined as I really didn’t want to get stuck in an hospital. Please be careful when you eat street food in Africa!
My neighborhood is very friendly and welcoming. After work (which is going to a caffe and working on the computer all day) I go and visit the skatepark. I don’t need to call anyone. I know I will find my friends hanging around there. It really reminded the vibes we have in Italy. The sense of the community. We don’t really need to use phones. You already know where people will be. It’s amazing to go back to the very roots of the community.
Kampala is the capital and the largest city of Uganda. Also was ranked as the best city to leave in east Africa. The city grew as the capital of Buganda kingdom, from which several buildings survived including the Kasubi Tombs (built in 1881). In 1894, the British established an official protectorate expand to cover the Ankole, Tore Kingdom, and Bunyoro kingdoms too. In 1905, the British declared the country to be a British colony. Until its independence in 1962, the capital was relocated to Entebbe and back to Kampala when Makerere University was founded. In 1962, following the independence, Milton Obote became president of Uganda, and held the position until 1971, when sergeant Idi Amin deposed his government in military group and tarted to exterminate Asian residents leaving in kampala and the Jews population. Amir was a cruel dictator. In ‘the shadow of the sun’ written by Kapushinski (one of my favorite writers). Amir is well described and there was a sentence that really enlighten me. He says something like: “the most brutal human extermination are made by the people of the same color”. In 1978 he invaded Tanzania, and in return the government started the Tanzania-Uganda war which destroyed most of the building in Kampala. Since then the city managed to get back to its beauty. Kampala is called the city of the 7 hills. However there are many more.
Looking forward to start my wall in Kampala in Kitintale. If you are visit Kampala don’t hesitates to contact me. I will be painting with a big smile and many friends!