Our first stop after arriving was Entebbe, Uganda, on shore of picturesque Lake Victoria. We then traveled through a commercial corridor filled with small retail shops, roadside vendors, and heavy traffic into the capital city of Kampala. The small businesses observed included skilled artisans working on metal or woodworking, women’s shops displaying clothes, bags, and jewelry. Competition among the vendors was high since many sell the same products. The ability to attract and keep buyers depends on the superior customer service skills. Moreover, some of these businesses rely largely on extending credit, which requires a lot of trust between buyers and sellers. We were impressed with the size of this business sector, which was a mix of formal and informal enterprises.
When we finally reached Kampala through streets congested with automobiles, commuter minibuses, and “boda boda” scooters, our host Prof. Jimrex Byamugisha brought us to Makerere University. We had a lecture and discussion on the human geography of Uganda by Dr. Mukwaya, followed by a tour of the campus and the surroundings. We learned that Kampala is comprised of twenty-one hills, with the wealthy residents generally residing at higher elevations and the poorer residents in the valleys below. The value of real estate increased with elevation and the socioeconomic stratification was evident.
Our last main event for the day was dinner at our host’s home, where we enjoyed lavishly prepared and displayed Ugandan food prepared by his family. Many extended family members where present and the bond between them was undeniably strong. They welcomed us warmly and we ended the evening with goodbyes and participating in a traditional dance.