fredag 11. september 2009


Just behind our hotel there is a slum called Kivulu. It is actually so close that the hotel is built on grounds that used to be a part of this slum area. This is an informal settlement of a more urban kind than the one we saw yesterday in Acholi. Here, there were garbage everywhere and much more crowded and dense, but most of all; you could feel a sort of hopelessness over it all. The women and children were working, cooking, selling goods – the men drank or watched videos. And whether it is because of the unrest in the city or because of us being unwanted, we still felt a sort of aggression from some of the men. We didn’t feel safe.

(...this is why we don´t have images from this place. Hopefully we´ll come back to it...)

Kivulu lies in an area very close to Kampala center and the university campus. It could therefore be very attractive for investors. They would like to build either private apartment blocks or student housing. And this will probably happen within few years. The main problem of a large part of Kampala’s poor inhabitants is namely that they do not own the land they are living on. They are squatters. They are merely renting the land from the owner, and this land owner can at any time come and say they have to leave. Yes, they do get a small amount of money for lost investments – or get paid off, but they normally don’t have a choice whether or not they want to leave. So, in Kivulu there are now three plots that have been cleaned of shacks and are ready to be built on. These empty, unused spaces ruins the street structure, the public spaces and thereby probably also the street life. The area will soon find itself in the bizarre situation of having new, 3-floor apartment housing in the middle of a mess of shacks and garbage. Until then, the plots serve as garbage dumps, playgrounds and a place for keeping goats and chickens.

On our tour through the settlement you feel an unknown, quite strong smell, you carefully pass by narrow passages with 60 cm deep ditches, you go through someone’s kitchen, you try not to fall in the somewhere steep streets (this must be so must more difficult and muddy during the rainy seasons) while at the same time avoiding the look of drinking men sitting in groups anywhere there’s shadow. Still, in a situation that seemed so stuck in shit, there were glimpses of hope. Well, a kind of hope. They had quite many brand new toilets spread around the settlement, keeping excrements out of the streets. What they will do when these toilet’s shitholes get full, is a problem for later…

The most positive thing we saw in Kivulu, as we saw it, was the marked place. It was a square with shops and restaurants around it, and with a big roof in the middle under which they sold vegetables, doors and other stuff. This was a nice place to be and is probably the heart of the community. Though we must add: it is not a warm, beating heart. This was a messy collection of shacks and shelters – not homes. They are temporary places to stay while waiting for something better. There is no solid waste management. No sewage. No streets. But people don’t care. According to themselves, their main problem is that they don’t have jobs. If they just get a job, they also get out of there.

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