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The East African : Jan 12th 2015
The EastAfrican JANUARY 10-16, 2015 FOCUS ON ENTEBBE Special advertising section 47 A city that never decolonised its character fo≥ the≥e a≥e mo≥e men in a≥ms in p≥opo≥tion to the ≥est of the population than elsewhe≥e. Uganda, easte≥n Congo, South Sudan and Somalia, can’t affo≥d a chaotic Entebbe. It is the kind of place ≥ule≥s most desi≥e – fa≥ away f≥om the combustibility of dense u≥ban settlement, politics, money and the inevitable class clash that is Kampala. The colonial gove≥nment that set its headqua≥te≥s he≥e doubtless needed to be fa≥ f≥om Mengo. They also say it’s bo≥ing, that nothing happens in Entebbe. Sheesh! If you want a happening place, Entebbe’s not it. It’s t≥anquil, and that’s saying a lot. I hea≥d about The T≥ap, a blazing night spot whe≥e the fa≥e was as high as the ski≥ts, a full yea≥ afte≥ moving in. In a matte≥ of weeks, it had shut down, as if it was too much fo≥ these sedate sho≥es. Red Rooste≥s is still ≥ed and still c≥owing. Entebbe is often seen as the counte≥point to Kampala, the town that gets it ≥ight, sweeping lawns, g≥eene≥y and clean ai≥, o≥de≥ly housing. That it has thus fa≥ maintained its squa≥es and t≥ees can only be put down to a sensible Town Council. Yet Entebbe ≥emains the continue so fo≥ some time to come. But it is long past the time that Kampala was ≥eimagined. A botanical ga≥den – an A≥bo≥etum, ≥ight in the cent≥e of the city would p≥ovide it with the lungs it badly needs. But the city has been damaged by political fighting. The co≥e of a city ought to ≥emain outside of politics. The c≥eato≥s of the ≥uling Movement system made the mistake of smudging the line between elected o∞cials and law enfo≥cement o∞cials. No one who depends fo≥ A monument to evangelism: Kigungu where the first catholic missionaries landed in Entebbe in the 1880s. Picture: Isaac Khisa way it is because it neve≥ ≥eally decolonised. Colonial cities like Kampala we≥e bound to “fail”; founded on deseg≥egation, by which the Af≥ican populations we≥e kept in the poo≥ and di≥ty sections, these cities set themselves up fo≥ failu≥e, fo≥ o≥de≥ was founded upon sepa≥ation, and when the time came, that “o≥de≥” became the ta≥get. Colonial towns a≥e hence st≥ange places. The shadow of “Empi≥e” is eve≥ p≥esent in Entebbe, f≥om the Anglo Saxon st≥eet names, the Luga≥ds, Be≥keleys; Kito≥o, which is the beating hea≥t of Entebbe, the lo≥e goes, got its name fo≥ it was whe≥e the Bato≥o lived. Today, the population of Bato≥o is big. In this way, En- tebbe was like so many colonial towns ac≥oss the continent and still p≥esent in South Af≥ica, so divided; the ≥ich pa≥ts whe≥e Eu≥opeans lived, and the attendant hovels whe≥e the cleaning, cooking, ga≥dent≥imming Af≥icans lived. The distance f≥om colonial- ism gets longe≥, and the ma≥k they left in these towns will thei≥ paycheck on the ballot is ≥eally going to enfo≥ce planning laws against the same. We tend to see the Boda Boda, taxis and st≥eet t≥ading as the c≥ux of Kampala City Council Autho≥ity ≥oles. But the≥e a≥e less colou≥ful issues, like the manne≥ in which people build thei≥ houses; the sanitation laws lay down ≥ules on such matte≥s as the size and numbe≥ of windows a house must have. How many o≥ us know that the law exists which sets out the numbe≥ of people who can sleep in one ≥oom? O≥ that the size of window and ventilation must co≥≥espond to the numbe≥ of occupants of a house? One a≥ticle, which ha≥dly anyone knows (betting he≥e that the city councilo≥s themselves a≥e clueless about it), states that if someone dies of an infectious disease, the house must be ≥epainted befo≥e it can be occupied. KCCA does itself few fa- vou≥s by failing to emphasis the small but BIG issues. Yet the time is not past. With the const≥uction of the No≥the≥n bypass, the city expanded no≥thwa≥ds (admittedly into Wakiso). Now the Southe≥n bypass is nea≥ing completion. In about th≥ee yea≥s, the population of g≥eate≥ Kampala might well expand by a thi≥d. Much of it may lie in Wakiso, but Kampala will bea≥ the cost of this expansion. The≥e a≥e enti≥e sections of Kampala whe≥e even walking is impossible, let alone d≥iving, because of the shee≥ numbe≥ of people. Yet the histo≥y of g≥eat cities ≥escuing themselves in the nick of time is not unhea≥d of. But at this point, it seems, only a bold and ambitious p≥oject could save Kampala. As fo≥ now, citizens of Kam- pala will not know what a Ho≥nbill looks like. Bi≥ds, unlike human beings, don’t go whe≥e the≥e is ≥ot and decay – that is, unless they a≥e ma≥abou sto≥ks.
Jan 5th 2015
Jan 19th 2015