Reality check back in Jinja

Photo courtesy: John Hanson – Creative Commons

My last night in Uganda was back in Jinja. I was heading into Kenya again. I stayed with an African family that night who made me realise how friendly Uganda was. I had got to know more locals than any other country in spite of only spending a couple of weeks there.

Jinja street, Uganda. Photo courtesy: Erinamukuta –

I was introduced to Uganda’s speciality – matoki. This was a Ugandan staple made from boiled green banana that transpired into something like mashed potato but with less flavour. On top was smothered a peanut sauce. It was heavy and filling. I’d eaten puttoo in South India made from boiled green banana but it had been flavoursome. I couldn’t say the same for matoki.

Matoki (back left). Photo courtesy: Veborjl –

That night I was warned not to go out. The army shot and killed three men in the market and warned locals not to touch the bodies. The garbage truck would collect them in the morning, they said. This was a taste of Idi Amin’s Uganda and I didn’t like the flavour. I was glad to leave.

In Kenya, I caught a glimpse of the Equator sign before I crossed into Uganda. On the way back, I was determined to get my photo.

I heard more personal horror tales from people who’d been in Uganda while in Tanzania. In Canada I’ve come across Asians who were expelled. Their experiences have made me want to write a novel set in the country. For over a decade I milled over a plot. This summer I finally started working on a story seen through the eyes of an Asian girl.