Jinja and the source of the Nile

Fishermen

If you are just a few days in Kampala, Uganda you have to hurry a little bit to see something of the country. So, the day after the CMS Summit, Oduor Jagero asked me if I want to join the group for a trip to “the source of the Nile” in Jinja. I was a bit confused about the name of that place because as far I knew the source of the Nile is at a different place, but I was curious, so I joined them.

Kampala - Jinja
Kampala – Jinja

It’s difficult to write something substantial about the area due to a lack of information. I will show a few photos with some notes.

In Kampala the roads look typically like this
Street in Kampala

… and I saw first the first time in my life a bicycle powered knife sharpener …
Knife Sharpener

… scaffolding in construction are a bit different compared to Europe …
On the road from Kampala to Jinja - Constructions

… changing a tire is done without machinery …
Changing tires

Outside of Kampala is still a little bit of forest … On the road from Kampala to Jinja
On the road between Kampala and Jinja

Half way between Kampala and Jinja is a place where people are selling chicken. If you stop your car you are immediately surrounded by a lot of people selling food. The whole place seems to be very organized (like one big fast food restaurant) and the food was delicious.

Streetfood

Due to a sugar factory a lot of trees were cut and replaced with endless fields of sugarcane …
On the road from Kampala to Jinja

Jinja

Jinja itself was built by Indians and there are still plenty of old houses from that time.
House in Jinja

It is a very calm and charming place, this is the main street

Jinja, main street

Source of the Nile

Near Jinja is the source of the White Nile. The water drains from Lake Victoria.

Nile

The place “The source of the Nile” is a kind of national park with an entrance fee. The entrance fee is ten times higher for foreigners, even from Kenya. Because the group consists mostly of people from from Kenya and Uganda, we had a discussion about East African Community at the entrance and that the cashiers should show a bit of solidarity – which they finally did for the Africans 😉

The place itself is something like a typical tourist trap, but at the same time very beautiful.

The source of the Nile

In 1947 the Nalubaale Power Station was built and the Owen Falls disapperead. Before the construction of the dam, water levels on Lake Victoria were moderated by a natural rock dam.

We chartered a boat and took a tour around.

I saw fishermen
Fishermen

… and so many birds …

Birds

Birds

A very big Lizard

Lizard

… and a bird catching and eating a fish

Bird with Fish

I know the sad story of the Nile perch and the water hyacinths.  To my surprise, I rarely saw a place with so many fishes, birds and other animals. I think it is one of the biggest “problems” that nature is still so strong and beautiful thus locals and tourists don’t see the real damages that already happened (I noticed the same in many other nature rich countries like USA, Canada and France).

In Jinja, we ate in a restaurant. I noticed plenty of older white people, men and women, inside and outside of the restaurant with big SUV’s and big motorcycles. I asked around why they are here and what they are doing here.

In short, the costs of living in Uganda are very low compared to the US or Europe and Jinja in general is a wonderful place to live. Older white people are rich compared to locals and it’s a nice place to retire, some found a late “love” there. We had a longer discussion about values, behavior in general, different cultures, relationship between men and women, but I remember one sentence very well.

We’ll help them to die!

Update: Just had a chat on whatsapp about this topic and it was not my intention to say that every old white guy coming for ‘love’ is used. It’s more that they know, that they will die “soon” and they want to have the rest of their lives in a more comfortable way then it would be possible where they come from.

 

#cmssummit16 – Kampala – Uganda

CMS Summit 2016 - Kampala

The #cmssummit16 is the yearly event of the organization cmsafrica.org. It’s organized by Oduor Jagero and his team (Shedy Serem, Opati Aswani, David Kariuki,  [needallthenamesplzcomment]).
Oduor is from Kenya and he runs a company called koamedia. Additional he’s a writer and he is a good salesman too (of course he sold me his book :). Amazon link -> True Citizen).

For the conference I lived in a guest house with some other speakers and team members and the daily transport to the venue took time due to traffic jams and bumpy roads. And if there is rain … see yourself 🙂

CMS Summit 2016 - Kampala

The first day we just prepared stuff for the event and visited the office of webstar.ug. A beautiful place to code btw 🙂

CMS Summit 2016 - Kampala

The company is run by Fred Abunyanga, he organized everything in Uganda with his team (Osbert Mwijukye, Kangye David Benon,[needallthenamesplzcomment]) .

Automattic sent a lot of stuff for the attendees to Uganda but the team problems to get the packets out of customs, so he had to pay a lot.

CMS Summit 2016 - Kampala

CMSSUMMIT 2016

The event took place in a private school (GEMS Cambridge International School).

CMS Summit 2016 - Kampala

A lot of sessions were the like “What is [insertCMSname]”, “How to [insertverb] with your [insertCMSname]” combined with sponsor sessions from Airtel, dignited, Hostalite, Webstar and Automattic.

Automattic is in a very good position here. With the WordPress CMS, they have the perfect product that embraces everything. There are business opportunities for web designers on wordpress.org and of course for Automattic too on wordpress.com. The WordPress swag was simply perfect 🙂 (including sun glasses & tattos 🙂 ).

WordPress Tattoos

There was a session to introduce Drupal by Benjamin Kiyita (kytalabs.com) and I was surprised that Drupal is still relatively “new” here. He offers Drupal services and training in Kampala since a few years and he highlighted the friendly community of Drupal as a reason to use the software. He runs a Drupal User Group in Kampala and manages the Twitter user @drupaluganda. Next free training in Kampale ist Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 9:00 AM Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 1:00 PM.

A very big topic seems to be hosting. As far as I understood there are no data centers in Uganda, so all websites of Uganda >100k  (does anyone knows how much websites exists in Uganda? – please comment) are hosted somewhere abroad (mostly USA).

Session idea for next summit:
How to host a website off the grid?

A very good presentation was held by Adedayo Adeniyi about the “Digital Workforce”.  For her, the old way of hiring and the whole procedure of applying is by far too complicate. People have to move with their jobs and because of a lack of infrastructure commuting is complicate or impossible (I can proof that point after being a few days here in Kampala). Closed by coworking spaces help and make things easier. People are discovering tools like Trello, Slack and other cloud based services and use them to get things done. She would love to host the next CMS Summit in Nigeria!

Session idea for next summit:
What is the open source alternative to these type of services?

Matty Cohen showed how to build an online store based on WordPress by using the WooCommerce Plugin – no further comment – the product is great.

What annoyed me a little bit is the perfect adoption of buzz words in some company presentations. Everything is progressive, disruptive, cloud based, [insertfavouritebuzzword]. I noticed that “Internet of things” still seems relatively new in Uganda.

Session idea for next summit:
The world of Arduino, Raspberry Pi and how to connect it with CMS like WordPress, Drupal & Joomla

What I like is the creativity and curiosity of people here. Because infrastructure in Uganda generally sucks, they have to develop a sense of pragmatic problem solving to manage their daily life. I guess that this talent is often what’s missing in bigger corporations like Google and IBM so they fit perfectly together.

Apart from the sessions the venue was  equipped with free WiFi bei a company called Airtel. Free WiFi (Airtime) is not usual in Uganda. Internet traffic is mostly expensive and slow, so a few people did updates on their mobiles and PCs while attending the summit.

There was a 48h hackathon but unfortunately I heard not a lot about it. Would be nice to have more information what it was about.

CMS Summit 2016 - Kampala

The last session was held by Onyait Odeke – How blogging can help tackle information poverty in Africa. He is doing projects like Storipot, a kind of “Planet Uganda”. It’s a collection of posts of hundreds of bloggers writing about Uganda topics. So if you really like to understand the people in Uganda, start to read … now!

And for me?

It was simple amazing.
Hope to be able to attend the next CMS Summit too, I already collected a few session ideas.