Yesterday there were primary elections in Uganda, ahead of the national poll taking place next February; candidates have apparently been ‘campaigning’ by handing out shoes, soap and other gifts. We were advised to stay at home after 4pm; there’d been some messing around in a nearby town and rumours of teargas.
It was less dramatic here, thankfully. After the polling stations closed, a gang of young lads sped recklessly up and down the highway in a truck, cheering loudly, a dozen of them crammed in or leaning out the window, plus a few lying back across the bonnet. After dark, a small crowd gathered noisily at the town council office across the road, but the sound was of celebration, not protest.
This morning as we were about to get started with class, a bunch of young teenagers in school uniform appeared. Girls here can be really shy; they avoid eye contact, speak quietly, only smile back when you make the first gesture. We found out they couldn’t go to school because they hadn’t paid the fees. (Education is in principle free here, even at secondary level, but pupils still have to pay for schoolbooks, lunch, and so on.) So we did some games outside with the camera and tripod – until suddenly they all leapt to the ground and crawled into the hotel – they’d just seen a teacher drive past on the back of a motorcycle taxi.
Later, some progress with the volunteer group. Suzan showed us her photo diary, and Sarah, who understands the least English, got it spot on in an exercise in taking pictures from different angles. Vincent started his interviews. Breakfast was served late though, and Zai – who’s not from the village – wasn’t afraid to let the hotel staff know.
“We are not Yes Men!”, she insisted, while the others tried to convince her to be patient. And Baby Elijah slept through it all.
Some pictures by Suzan, below: