Posts Tagged ‘kampala’


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kampala, Uganda

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus.  I’m in Uganda for work. Pushing my way through the narrow aisles of Owino market in Kampala the other day, I turned a corner ot face this: a plastic bag bearing President Obama’s face with “Best of Luck” written accross the top.  Profoundly depressing on a number of levels.

More images of Ugandan trash on Facebook.

Upcycle my ride

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Check it: a group of students from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda designed this “poor man’s car” from upcycled farm equipment and other salvaged materials, including an engine ripped from an old maize grinding mill.

Photo by  Dr. Yasin Naku Ziraba via

Photo by Dr. Yasin Naku Ziraba via

Supercool. To all who say Makerere has slipped in quality and no longer deserves the “Harvard of Africa” rep, I have two words for you: pooh and pooh.

Note: I found the post about this project via Nubian Cheetah, a blog suggested to me by Google Reader, presumably because of my ever-growing folder of African blogs. Yay technology.

Flipping the flop

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

While in Kampala a few weeks ago, I stopped in at one of my favorite stores in the world, Banana Boat, and went on a semi-conflicted shopping spree among their fine upcycled crafts made by women’s collectives from all over Africa. I bought up a dozen strands of Ugandan paper beads for my girlfriends, homemade soap wrapped in homemade paper for my colleagues and a collection of small creatures fashioned out of bottle caps including this three piece band, now residing at my friend’s music studio in Brooklyn.

Bottlcap boogie

Bottlecap boogie

Ok, full disclosure. I went more than once and to more than one Banana Boat location during my week in Uganda. I couldn’t help it. While normally I try to buck the inner American, my desire to consume flares at the sight of trash. The the irony of upcylcing is that it makes me want to buy MORE.

The first wave of  my Banana Boat binge was stopped short by the pricetag on a string of plastic foam beads. The moment I saw them, I knew they were made of old flip flops—likely washed up on the shores of Kenya—and, because of this, I grabbed them up. But then I saw they cost roughly $30 U.S. and I looked again and decided, actually, big foam beads on a short choker strand might be a little too UN chic for my blood. So I set down the hideous necklace and made my way deliberately to the woven basket and cardboard diorama section of the store.

It was hard to walk away. Physically hard, because my urge to buy something was so strong it nearly made me twitchy. The little voices in my head debated the novelty of flip flop jewelry versus the reality of its ugliness, the feel good return of purchasing upcyled crafts from women’s collectives versus my uneasiness with the price, the uniqueness of the product versus the fancy UniquEco logo. One of the necklaces had a tag declaring “flipflop (i was)”. I took note of the confirmation that these were indeed flipped flops upcycled by Kenyan fishing communities. And I took note of the all lowercase tagline and pretentious use of parentheses. Ugh, I thought, branding.

I left the store feeling very proud of my resolve.

The next day I dropped $50 on a hot pink rhino doll/statuette from the same company. It’s adorable with a sleek and marbled hide created by a fused pile of flip flops of similar but not identical colors. This, I thought, will liven up my bookshelf. Or hip up my office. It carries a message that is both political and fun. It will make for a cool blog post and spread envy among my friends. I NEED this.

More tales to come of Kenya and consumption.

Postcard from Kampala

Monday, April 27, 2009
Marabou storks trash digging through trash in Kampala

Marabou storks digging through trash in Kampala

Posting may be light or Victor-centric this week as I (Leila) am in Uganda for the day job. While waiting for my ride outside of the Statistics House in Kampala today, I noticed some Marabou storks lunching in a parkinglot accross the street and promptly dashed over, in heels and through a lot of mud, to take some photos. Let me tell you, I’ve always found the Marabou storks nesting in treetops around the city a bit creepy when overhead. They are even more so up close and on the ground. And so BIG. Imagine if pidgeons were larger than our children!

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