Local school children performing traditional songs and dances
I'm in Kampala this week on VSO In Country Training (ICT). Because I arrived in Uganda out of cycle and by myself in mid-December I went straight to my placement and so have now joined with a new group of volunteers who arrived last Sunday. I took the post bus from Masindi to Kampala on Saturday, a journey which should take about 4 hours, but by the time the bus stopped to drop off/pick up post at local post offices along the way and also made various stops to allow passengers to buy bananas and pineapples on the roadside, it ended up being just over 5 hours. The post bus is known to be one of the slowest public buses but also one of the safest as they tend not to travel at high speed unlike many of the bigger buses and they also limit the number of passengers they take.
I met up with a group of Kampala-based VSO volunteers on Saturday evening, we went out to a Thai restaurant, which was a real treat - there's not much social activity in Masindi and few, if any places to eat out. It was nice to meet up with other volunteers and to hear about their experiences, which are often very different to those placed up country.
Part of the VSO ICT training involves learning one of the local Ugandan languages, so today I started having lessons in Runyoro, which is the language spoken by the Banyoro tribe who live in Masindi district. It's certainly not the easiest langauage to learn as many of the words tend to be really long and have spellings like 'oi', 'ii', 'nny', and 'nd' that take some getting used to. Although Runyoro is the local language spoken in Masindi, the staff at the hotel come from many different regions, each with their own dialects and languages, so they generally tend to speak to each other in Kiswahilli. I'm planning to start Kiswahilli lessons when I return to Masindi as I think it'll be more benefical for me.
On Sunday evening VSO had arranged for the new volunteers to attend an outdoor cultural show at the the Ndere Cultural Centre in Kampala - it was a great evening, with lots of traditional dancing, singing and music - see photos below. The energy of the dancers and drummers is amazing especially as it is so hot here.