Uganda The Pearl – Why we Love it and Our Ordeal in Kigali
Ever heard of the saying “Uganda Zaabu?” We reckon is is part and parcel of Uganda the Pearl of Africa…or is it? If you hang out in the Ugandan social media circles; i.e. Facebook groups or WhatsApp chats you will have heard this saying. In some cases this is said with love, yet in others sarcastically or with irony…! What does it mean?
Literally its translated as:
“Uganda is Golden or Uganda is a Gem.”
When it’s said with sarcasm, its meant to mean the opposite, whatever the narrator may want it to mean.
Frankly speaking we more or less focus on the Gem/Golden side because we truly believe Uganda is a little gem in the East African Space and we are gonna tell you why!
Never mind that we were born and bred in Uganda…Biased? Maybe a little…Ohh well a heck of a lot. 😊
Uganda is beautiful and is full of the goodness of life…You just gotta be looking for it…So like any other destination right?
See, good ole Sir Winston Churchill named Uganda the Pearl in 1908 for a reason! Here are his reasons which are even more so today:
“For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”
But the thing is Churchill borrowed this term from Henry Morton who was actually referencing BUGANDA, a region in Uganda! Of course the Churchill Police could come out in arms. So, let’s just say we agree with both of these great men in History!
The Expats Insider also named Uganda a highly desirable Top expat destination.
Having grown up envying those expats in their 4-wheel drive cars, living it up in Kampala’s top hot spots, hanging out with the cool babes, we can’t agree more! But it’s not why we say Uganda is a pearl!
So why do we consider Uganda a gem? It can’t be because of the Rollex, Have you tasted this totally filling food: eggs, beans, salad in a chapatti? Yummm. CNN reported:
“You don’t know what you are missing if you haven’t tasted a rolex! It’s a Uganda special lol.
Is it for the crazy roads? Well you can have an amazing adventure Safari in Uganda too. (Happens to be simply unique to most of Africa.) So nope.
Maybe its the ambiance? We can confirm that we had an absolutely relaxing and chilled out great fun at the Soothing Spot Spa a Acacia mall, best spa ever….Yet still this doesn’t make Uganda special!
Mayhap it is because Uganda has a professor Stella Nyanzi incarcerated for using unsavoury vulgar language & undressing in public. Her way of getting her displeasure at the powers that be across? Well if you look at the sarcastic side of Uganda Zaabu, this could be it, yet it isn’t!
Could it be the funny WhatsApp videos…Only from Uganda. We are getting warmer, but no! So bring it on already why is Uganda a gem? The answer will surprise you…
Well drum roll please…
Why is Uganda the Pearl?
#1. All of the above, AND Because Ugandan’s are intrinsically kind, warm, fun loving people. Yes we are…! Plus, we saw and experienced the kindness of Ugandans when we faced the meanness of a Rwandese Brussels Airlines official! Details coming up!
The reasons we love Uganda are surprisingly simple.
#2. Uganda has the juiciest sweetest fruit we have ever tasted, and we have tasted quite a lot of fruit in different countries. From India to South Africa, Caribbean to Canada, Greece to Hungary…Uganda fruits taste simply divine. Mostly organic, they leave you wanting more. Usually fruits in season can be found in abundance on the local roadside markets…These are abundant everywhere you go; esp. dirt cheap in the evenings. You can literally fill your refrigerator with fresh fruit daily and have smoothies to your heart’s content. You can juice, never go hungry yet always be healthy!
Those water melons OMG, did we even mention the jackfruit…yumm!
You won’t even be competing with the multitudes of primates for fruit. There is such abundance.
#3. Yes, Uganda has the largest number of the rare primates. For that it receives a huge number of safari tourists and primate seekers. Top of the list being gorilla trackers, at 56% that’s a lot of trackers. And yet There is still so much fruit you never have to worry about the cheeky monkeys. 😊
In fact Our travel Club just had an amazing 10 days Dreamtrip to the Mgahinga Forrest so we can have some chimp watching!
#4. Where in the world can you get over 4000/= shillings for a single coin aka pound. So your Pound sterling goes a long way in Uganda. You can have that millionaire swag with just £500 and it can go a long way. As long as you don’t go to the uptown hotels for your accommodation, or decide to live it large. 😊
#5. Now who knew we love Sub..aka sabulenya aka Nile Perch. This used to be prevalent in Uganda until the Lake weed took over Lake Nalubaale…Now you find this precious source of omega-3 at a premium. And I don’t know any people that make it as delicious as the Ugandan roadside chefs! 😊 Does this mean Uganda the pearl does exist? Heck yeah!
#6. And who would have thought that in Uganda for £25,000k you can build a mansion. Ohh well a good size detached 3 bedroom home in a nice neighbourhood. This amount equates to approx. UGX 100 million. So you would be a multi-millionaire…! Woot.
Of course this doesn’t include the land.
With that exact amount in UK you might put down a deposit on a small terraced property in a not so cool neighbourhood in London!
So if you are an investor, what are you waiting for?
Are you a Ugandan in the Diaspora…Why are you not joining hands? Create a Niigiina and go be the investor in Uganda. This is something the outgoing Ambassador to UK; Mrs Kikafunda said over the weekend in Manchester.
“Uganda is the Pearl, where You should be focusing your investments. What have you done for Uganda? Why not join hands together, collect your resources, come up with a plan and Invest?”
#7. And here is the clincher; in Uganda, you can still receive 12% interest on your bank savings! In UK you are lucky to get 0.01%. Infact most banks have taken to charging customers for the pleasure of banking! Yet most people are tied to banks as their wages are paid directly into a bank account after Joe Taxman has had his way!
In uganda, even your small wage will attract some interest. Uganda the pearl, Zaabu for sure!
And now to The Ordeal in Kigali
(This doesnt change our view on the many lovely Friends from Rwanda)
Before we went on our Dreamtrip to Uganda, we had heard all kind sof amazing stories about the change and developments in Rwanda. We had bought into the hype until our Ordeal in Kigali!
Below is what went down…
We had a great time on Brussels airlines on our outbound leg…We met some really big challenge on our return. What an ordeal we had in Kigali! Something that was totally uncalled for and should not be allowed to happen again.
A one Roger Bruno Mwumvaneza needs to be retrained or moved from the Brussels Airlines Check-in desk Kigali Airport. His lack of professionalism and simple human kindness was beyond comprehension. On 23rd April 2017, we flew from Entebbe to Kigali aboard RwandaAir Express. We were rightfully stamped out of Uganda, our documents were scanned and everything was okay, by the Entebbe immigration department and Check-in staff of DAS air! It has always been the case.
We were supposed to connect to a Brussels airlines flight from Kigali to Manchester via Brussels. We have been traveling as a family for years, with our Indefinite Leave to remain in UK Visas. These visas were placed in older passports that expired. We attached said passports to the new ones as the visa never expires even though the travel document did.
Well this Roger picked on our 14-year-old son and claimed his Visa was invalid. No clear explanation why. Despite numerous appeals that it was valid. He insisted it had been cancelled. Allegedly because when the old passport was cancelled it was punched and one of the pages that got punched was the visa holding page.
We explained that the UK Border Agency had never declared the visa invalid the various trips we have travelled and in fact they advise people to attach old passports with your visa to your new passport. Also, if a Visa is cancelled, the page is Stamped, signed and dated.
Roger wouldn’t hear of any explanations. He declared that the visa would have to be verified by a British Consulate the next morning, otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed on a Brussels flight as it would cost them $10,000! So we asked if he would arrange the visit to the consulate since he had denied a minor from boarding and thus was vicariously responsible for his well-being.
He callously replied; His mom is present so it is none of my business. The customer is responsible for their travel documentation.
By this point the our flight has long gone. And we assumed someone from immigration police would have been involved. So we were quite anxious. Our son was shaking like a leaf…It was distressing to watch! Thank God no police appeared or any law enforcement of any kind...(This seemed pretty woierd to us.) We were simply abandoned on a bench at 2 am.
So what was going on here?
I am glad that I was there and chose to stay with my son. He was distraught and confused as to why his visa was being called invalid. No mother in their right mind would board a flight and leave their child.
Roger had walked away after justifying his actions to anyone who would listen, convincing them that as per his training our son’s visa was invalid. Nobody else could say it was or wasn’t. They all believed his word. He left a 14-year-old in a foreign airport…(never mind that as his mom I chose not to board the flight.) Neither did they offload our luggage…Another red flag. (I started to smell a rat, but I had nothing to go on)
If it wasn’t for the kindness of the Rwandair staff who informed us that we couldn’t stay in Kigali because we had allegedly been “DENIED ENTRY.” No one had told us that. We had been told we would be taken to the British consulate to verify the allegedly invalid Visa, that was all. So, this was like a kick in the teeth!
The RwandaAir Staff offered to return us, 2 pax to Entebbe. They stated that if we stayed in Kigali, we would be on our own as we were not welcome in Rwanda! Neither would we be allowed to visit the UK Rwanda consulate to verify our son’s Visa.
We headed back to Entebbe aboard the last RwandaAir express, landing at 3am. It was a cold flight back. In Entebbe my son was handed over to the immigration officer on duty. A woman. She checked his passport and immediately said:
“There is nothing wrong with his visa, why have they returned this young man? Why did Brussels deny him on board? Is there anything else that happened?”
We had no clue since we hadn’t been given any official document as to the whole ordeal. She said she couldnt do anything for us.
She advised us that the best way forward was to contact Brussels Airlines in working hours and ask for a direct flight from EBB to Brussels. Otherwise there was nothing else she could do for us.
Well, RwandaAir was threatening to bill the cost of the return flight to the Officer who checked us in initially, if it was proved that the visa was invalid. …Fortunately it wasnt necessary.
The twist in the story (details we learnt the next day) :
Paul & our daughter, the other two passengers were alrrady on board the flight. And they found a passenger already sitting in our Son’s seat. Keeping in mind that we had booked and confirmed 4 seats in the middle row. He informed them that he had purchased his flight and that specific seat given him earlier in the day…Our son and I went through an ordeal, due to the greed of airline officers who overbooked a flight. For a bit of money!
Pkjulesworld Vote of Thanks
In Uganda, we were able to very quickly and without pain resolve the matter.
Uganda the pearl, Indeed our Zaabu.
The immigration officer at Entebbe confirmed hat we already knew, that the visa is Valid. In addition, the Sales Manager Brussells Airlines sent a request to Brussels/UK, who confirmed that the Visa is perfectly valid. We were given clearance to travel and two tickets re-issued. So, 18 hrs from when the nightmare was unleasehd on us, we were on a Direct flight to Manchester via Brussels.
Thanks to the Sales Manager Brussels Airlines, Kampala Ms Hope Kahwa. Your help and professional handling of the debacle is highly appreciated. We cant not thank Ms Sarah Lubanga Kaggwa of the Canadian Consulate in Kampala for your invaluable advise on how to go about sorting the mess. Your connection made it possible for us be on that flight back home. Of course not forgeting our beloved Mrs Pauline Wantate of Stanbic Bank , Kampala for your love and connections.
Our family Mrs Nsubuga and Mr Kasule for coming out in the wee hours of the morning to collect 2 shaken passengers from the airport. Our family for the prayers and encouragement that All is well. Mrs Kaliika for staying with us giving us moral support all day as we sorted our flights. Ms Loy Awat Obote for literally putting the steel in my backbone to do whatever it takes for our son and Ms Harriet Musoke for checkingon us all day. So many people to thank, all we can say is God richly bless you.
We cannot emphasize enough to you our reader, to expand your network of freinds. Who you know matters, anywhere in the world. Withought the right contacts in Uganda, we probably would be stuck and wondering what the heck happened. Make new friends and maintain your old ones. You never know who will come up trumps for you, in your hour of need.
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See, Do, and Be more!
Dr. Paul Kalungi