The Official Top Ten List of Why it is Cool to Live in Africa.

Perhaps I have been a little harsh on Kampala, always dwelling on the bizarre, the strange, the smelly or the inconvenient. Maybe I have written too much about what I miss or lack or crave, So I have decided to write aTop 10 list of the Best Things About Living in Africa. It is time to readdress the balance. So here, dear readers is the official positive spin. (Trooper, Princess and Handsome Husband were all consulted in the making of this list.)

10. Excellent fruit and vegetables. They grow everything here and the pineapples are particularly exceptional, and fresh all year round.

9.We are always surprised. Going for a simple drive to the supermarket can turn into quite the adventure. You have no idea what will appear around the next corner, but I assure you, it will be surprising.

8. Full time inexpensive help, We have a fine woman who comes to our home each day to hand wash our clothes. iron our sheets and mop our floors. This is a cheap but lovely luxury. For a bit more money we could also have another fine lady come over and cook our meals. This might happen in the near future, if I have my way.

7. There is no need to ever do any sort of manual labour. Ever. Need a shelf drilled to the wall? No problem. Need a pair of bedside tables to be custom built? No problem. Need your house painted? No problem. Need a tailor? Done. Anything can be done and the price is always low.

6. Excellent free education for both Princess and Trooper. Courtesy of yours truly who walks into that fine institution and teaches every single day. Perks of the job baby!

5. Wonderful weather. It is really the best climate a person could wish for . It is never too hot, never too cold, yet cool in the evenings and warm enough to lie by the pool on a Sunday afternoon.

4. The proximity of extraordinary places to visit whether for a long weekend or an extended trip. There is the best wildlife in the world virtually on our doorstep.

3. Decent restaurants, a movie cinema and high speed internet . Inexpensive fresh roses sit on my dining room table every day, my furniture is handmade and there is a decent bookshop. The supermarkets are full of wine and nutella, what more do we really need?

2. A good social life and plenty to do. If we wanted to we could be out all the time. There is a robust group of expats from all over the world ready at a drop of a hat to drink Beaujolais Nouveau, toast Haggis, dance at a ball, raise money for a worthwhile cause or simply meet for a good Thai meal. There are always people to meet and they are people that you would never, in the course of a regular life back home, run into contact with. Often when I watch my girls around the pool I think to myself that with their friends they resemble a mini United Nations.

1. And the number one reason why it is cool to live in Africa? Everyday we are forced to question the way we see the world. Our preconceived notions are constantly thrown into the air and we never stop learning.


Filed under observations, Uganda

5 responses to “The Official Top Ten List of Why it is Cool to Live in Africa.

  1. eddmah

    I think WordPress should give us a “like button”

  2. vrroni

    best posting yet! bravo!

    no matter how much we feel we are “making a difference/helping/contributing, etc.” with people apparently less fortunate than us, we still end up receiving/learning more than we can ever possibly give.

    be well and safe and happy.

  3. Just wanted to flag an article published today about the World Vegetable Center in Arusha, Tanzania written for the Worldwatch Institute’s blog called Nourishing the Planet [].

    Breeding Vegetables With Farmers in Mind

    As hunger and drought spread across Africa , there’s a huge focus on increasing yields of staple crops, such as maize, wheat, cassava, and rice. And while these crops are important for food security, providing much needed calories, they don’t provide much protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, other important vitamins and micronutrients—or much taste. “None of the staple crops,” says Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, the World Vegetable Center’s Regional Director for Africa, “would be palatable without vegetables.” And vegetables, he says, “are less risk prone” than staple crops that stay in the field for longer periods of time. Because vegetables typically have a shorter growing time, they can maximize often scarce water supplies and soil nutrients better than crops such as maize which need a lot of water and fertilizer.

    Unfortunately no country in Africa, according to Dr. Tenkouano, has a big focus on vegetable production. But that’s where the Center steps in. Since the 1990s, the Center (which is a part of the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center based in Taiwan) has been working in Africa to breed cultivars that best suit farmers’ needs.

    Despite the focus on staple crops, vegetable production generates more income on and off the farm than most other agricultural enterprises, according to the Center’s website. And unlike staple crops, vegetable production is something that benefits urban and rural farmers alike (See our posts on urban farmers in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya).

    In addition, vegetable production is the most sustainable and affordable way of alleviating micronutrient deficiencies among the poor. Often referred to as “hidden hunger,” micronutrient deficiencies—including lack of Vitamin A, iron, and iodine—affect some 1 billion people worldwide. They lead to poor mental and physical development, especially among children, and cause poor performance in work and in school, further crippling communities already facing poverty and other health problems.

    But by listening to farmers and including them in breeding research, the Center is helping to alleviate these problems. Watch for more blogs about our visit to the World Vegetable Center and their efforts to raise nutrition and income in Africa.

    — You can also follow Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack’s travels on our personal blog Border Jumpers []

  4. 2nd in our series of articles published today about the World Vegetable Center in Arusha, Tanzania written for the Worldwatch Institute’s blog called Nourishing the Planet [].

    Listening to Farmers
    The World Vegetable Center is focusing on “building a sustainable seed system in sub-Saharan Africa.” What does that mean? According to Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Director of the Regional Center for Africa, it requires “bringing farmers voices into the choices of materials they are using.”
    The Center does this not only by breeding a variety of vegetables with different traits—including resistance to disease and longer shelf life—but also by bringing farmers from all over eastern, western, and southern Africa to the Regional Center in Arusha, Tanzania, to find out what exactly those farmers need in the field and at market. Mr. Babel Isack, a tomato farmer from Tanzania, was at the Center when I visited, advising staff about which tomato varieties would be best suited for his particular needs—including varieties that depend on fewer chemical sprays and have a longer shelf life.
    The Center works with farmers not only to grow vegetables, but also to process and cook them. Often, vegetables are cooked for so long that they lose most of their nutrients. To solve that problem, Dr. Mel Oluoch, a Liason Officer with the Center’s Vegetable Breeding and Seed System Program (VBSS), works with women to improve the nutritional value of cooked foods by helping them develop shorter cooking times. “Eating is believing,” says Dr. Oluoch, who adds that when people find out how much better the food tastes—and how much less fuel and time it takes to cook—they don’t need much convincing about the alternative methods.
    Dr. Oluoch also trains both urban and rural farmers on seed production. In fact, one of the women farmers we met in Kibera slum in Nairobi had been trained at the Center and is selling seeds to rural farmers, increasing her income. “The sustainability of seed,” says Dr. Oluoch, “is not yet there in Africa.” In other words, farmers don’t have access to a reliable source of seed for indigenous vegetables, such as amaranth, spider plant, cowpea, okra, moringa, and other crops. As a result, the Center is working—partly with CNFA, an Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) grantee—to link farmers to input or “agro-” dealers who can help ensure a steady supply of seed.
    In addition, the Center is providing how-to brochures to farmers in Swahili and other languages to help them better understand how to grow vegetables in different regions.
    Stay tuned for more about our visit to the World Vegetable Center later this week.
    — You can also follow Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack’s travels on our personal blog Border Jumpers []

  5. A subset of number four on your list must be seeing those extraordinary lions in the tree on your safari! wow. what a great shot. I love how these fierce and powerful animals are just lounging in the tree, reminding us they are just big cats afterall!

    I am intrigued by the expat life in Uganda – keep it coming!

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