Kisenyi; a case for urban poor in Uganda

Right in the middle of down town Kampala is a slum called Kisenyi. It’s a place  with a mix of many language spoken in Uganda, Eastern Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The roughest Kampala neighbourhood I have ever been.  We visited Kisenyi on Saturday 28th with friends, some of whom I know personally and others through twitter after @AndyKristian called us for a photo shoot. I had only passed by the outskirts of Kisenyi as a journalist. I had never seen anything like that before. In just a few minutes from the crazy crowded bus parks we were in a place where we felt visibly foreign.

It wasn’t long we were moving through the garbage, heaps of polythene bags, flowing sewage besides little wooden houses which most people sleep in. We were with a young man that runs a program for kids in that neighborhood and that’s why it was easy to move around.

Kisenyi photo by Ssozi Javie

Andy and Ed Echwalu were ready with cameras. You can’t shoot without getting the toughest kids on the block to guard you here. Before the shoot, a crowd of kids gathered, it was quite touching to see a child beg you to buy them sugarcane for 100 shillings for lunch. We were there around 1pm, most of these kids don’t easily find a meal.  There are all sorts of businesses going on but survival business like selling empty water bottles. More than three quarters of the kids and youth here were intoxicated with all sorts of substances. There were a few women who came to the shooting site. There were lots of young girls too.

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“Is it outrageous to want to live in peace?”

On Sunday 22nd, Uganda watched in horror as a city enforcement officer , who later turned out to be a police officer,  brandished his AK47 shooting indiscriminately at a group of unarmed civilians who had gathered at a demolition site carried out by  Kampala city authorities. NTV Uganda brought the news in and people I was with said you could have mistken the scene to be Mogadishu. In this video, at 5:30 you see the animal that Uganda’s security forces have become. A man using a stick, a gun and a pistol to violate citizens.

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Two historic stories of Africa in 2011

As the year 2011 closed, December 7 marked a historic day in international justice. The first former head of state Luarent Gbagbo appeared before the International Criminal Criminal for crimes allegedly committed during the Dec 2010-April 2011 post election violence in his country Cote d’ivoire. Gbagbo had take over and retain power by force and trickery. Over 3000 people died in Cote d’Iviore.

He faces four charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape. Throughout the conflict I had kept in close touch with friends in the country and their distress was beyond what I could imagine. Everyday Africa was treated to the drama of two people claiming to have won an election. Many thought Ivory Coast could head in the direction of Kenya and Zimbabwe, where compromise had to be reached because Africa’s old men didn’t wish to leave.

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Why Occupy Nigeria?

2011 was quite a year.  It saw the fall of 4 dictators, three of them on the African continent. Many waited to see if the Arab spring that North Africa enjoyed would cross the Sahara and come down. There were a few protests in Uganda, Swaziland, Gabon, Cameroon and Senegal which didn’t yield a lot. Nonetheless, many African citizens had learnt a great lesson from the Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. They learnt that they could stand up to their leaders. Now that Nigeria, the largest (population) country on the continent has kicked off 2012 with #OccupyNigeria we wait to see how the government handles the situation after today’s strike and what lessons we can draw.

Photo by Esther Eshiet

The protest against President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to remove fuel subsidies has united many who say this will suddenly more than double the cost of living for most Nigerians. This year the Ugandan government has promised to start work on an oil refinery and the sector is already hit with corruption and bribery allegations. At the heart of the subsidies debate in Nigeria is why hasn’t government invested in refineries instead of selling crude oil and import fuel at a much higher price. I asked two Nigerian friends, both are taking part in today’s protests, about the issue because Uganda government has to learn from African countries like Nigeria that have been producing oil for five decades. Here is the two responses.
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