Sunday, 20 April 2014

Kampala, Kigali: The contrasting capital cities

                                                                         Heavy traffic at the Jinja Road roundabout in Kampala

Motos (Boda-bodas) respect traffic rules. No carrying two passengers or overloading. They stop at traffic lights till given green light; whether there is a traffic officer there or not. There is also no unnecessary hooting.
No helmet, no riding a motorcycle, or on one. However, riders in the rural areas break the law. In Rusizi District, I saw three people on a motorcycle and only the rider and last passenger had helmets. I also saw a similar case around Karumuna hill in Bugesera District.
Office life
Office workers rarely go for meals at eating places adjacent to the offices. Many go home for lunch, while some pack. There is no sending for food or tea as you continue working from your desk. The reason was for safety and also culture, I was told by many. Nevertheless, cafeteria is most preferred.
Fast-Foods (Take-away)
In Kigali, there is no kind of life you see at Wandegeya, Kabalagala, Kansanga and Ntinda where during weekends, or while driving home, people stop for a quick-meal or take-away. Dine out is not a Rwandan culture, I was told.
Forex bureaus
Forex bureaux open 24 hours. There are almost everywhere, including Kigali suburbs equivalent to Kawempe, Najjera, Bweyogerere, Nateete and others in Kampala.
Radio stations in Kigali keep a shape eye on the press in Uganda daily. For instance, K-FM and Magic FM do much of press review from Ugandan newspapers. I heard two presenters during a long press review talking about Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura’s insistence of militarising the Force. There is also self-censorship in the Rwanda media, especially on leaders.
Ugandan music competes favourably and sometimes dominates airwaves on some stations in Kigali, depending on the show and the time. On Women’s Day, Jamal’s music dominated airwaves in Kigali. He also performed at Serena Kigali.
I heard a presenter interviewing him live before he left Entebbe airport for Kigali. I also observed that Chameleon, Weasel and Radio and Juliana Kanyomozi’s music were most played. On Sunday, Judith Babirye and Pastor Wilson Bugembe’s music competed favourably against the local gospel music.
While I was at the Kisementi/Remera road-junction with a Rwandan friend, we joked about there being a pharmacy at every a hundred meters in and around Kigali, just as there is a take-away at every corner and junction in and around Kampala. The pharmacies in Kigali look like what a pharmacy should be – very neat.
Mobile money kiosks
In Kigali, mobile money and air time kiosks are impermissible on the streets. They are also very few and scattered. They operate in shops inside buildings. In other words, there are no street kiosks whatsoever, other than billboards and signposts attached to the buildings.
While discussing a small Fido dido or Nandos kind of business establishment in Kigali, a Rwandan woman, who recently relocated from Bukoto in Kampala to Kigali, disagreed with me when I said Kampala is now clean.
She said: “No. But I like the lifestyle of Ugandans. They know how to enjoy life.”

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