Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kampala Riots

Last week in Kampala, students "rioted" over increases in fees at the university.

Monday, the "riot" was because the President had the opposition leader arrested.

I'm on the Kampala outskirts and have no intention of going into the center. There are a lot of police visible and business as usual is going on around me. It seems that these "riots" were protests first-and-foremost, but some overzealous angry people got a few rocks involved. Bullets and tear gas followed. "Riot" makes it sounds like the entire population of the town is tearing each other's hair out, which is far from the truth. Children are in school, people are going grocery-shopping, and life goes on. Okay, a uniformed guy with a really big machine gun demanded to know if I was carrying a gun into the shopping mall today, but when I told him no, he accepted that and allowed me to proceed to the money-changer.

No one seems real impressed with the arrest. Me included.

The real issue as far as movement is that Kampala has totally outgrown its infrastructure and downtown is a clogged-up mess. There's one main road and lots of tiny roads where traffic crawls on any given day. Add some protesters and some rocks--boom--instant paralysis.

After a unpleasant night in a shabby budget room at the Blue Mango, I've splurged and gotten an a/c room with an ethernet connection at Fang Fang Hotel. It's not a splurge on the level of the Sheraton, but by my standards, it's a little slice of paradise.

Here are some photos of the "riots," courtesy one of the local papers.

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