I like Kampala at night best of all. Thanks to the fact that we are sitting smack on the equator, the sun sets really quickly. One moment it is light and the next dark. It is sudden but dramatic and the skies turn a rusty gold. Within minutes the candles are out and the streets come alive with running children, laughing boda men and people lined up waiting to purchase food. Most people don’t cook at home. The expense of heating food and refrigeration just isn’t worth it when the street cooks are barbecuing that chicken that was looking alarmed merely an hour ago. Sacks of charcoal line the road alongside simple bbqs and shelves heated with lamps hosting buns and stew. Music plays and the bars are filled with after work beer drinkers.
Uganda has among the highest electricity tariffs in the world. Only Sweden’s are higher. The majority of homes operate by candle light. So it makes sense that I saw a road side furniture shop turned into an ad-hoc tv centre. All the armchairs were turned around to face a line of TVs, perhaps as many as 12. and all tuned to different stations. That is Kampala at night.
Kampala at night is the sound of crickets and pitch black streets devoid of any street lamps. It is people sitting in a circle around a tiny charcoal burner waiting for corn to cook . It is the hum of Boda’s ringing out in an otherwise quiet night.
The sounds of Africa become more apparent as the city reduces to a constant hum.