Sunday, 8 November 2009

Namibia and the fall of the Berlin Wall - a German-African odyssey

The Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago, on November 9, 1989. Back then I was living in Los Angeles. I was only 15, but I could feel I was missing out on something really big. It was a historic moment in my country and I was at the other end of the world. My friends wrote to me about celebrating in the market place in Bonn. Within days, my high school history teacher in LA was proudly showing classes bits of concrete from the Berlin Wall that she received by express post. Funny to think that even in such a short space of time remnants of the Wall were being distributed around the world.

20 years later German media are in a frenzy about the day that changed European history. Strangely, I can't get excited about it. Of course I grasp the historic significance, but I never got excited about anniversaries, the much loved pegs for journalists to go overboard pondering history, to come up with endless specials or to seek bizarre angles and stories no one else has dreamt up.

So, you might say: what does that have to do with Namibia? Well not much, except that I too was asked earlier this year to research a strange African connection to the former East Germany.

Namibia was a former German colony and after WWI was occupied by South Africa for almost 70 years. For decades, the freedom fighters of the SWAPO – the South West Africa People’s Organization – fought for independence and lived with their families in refugee camps in neighbouring Zambia and Angola.

But in the 70s and 80s, the SWAPO sent several hundred children to East Germany (known as the GDR in English and DDR in German) for education and training. They hoped that after independence Namibia would need a new, educated elite. These kids became known as the "East German Kids". The Central Committee of the GDR supported the project - after all it was the height of the Cold War and freedom fighters across the African continent were encouraged to embrace communism and turn their back on capitalism.


The book pictured above is by one of these GDR-kids, Nambian author Lucia Engombe. At the age of seven she was catapulted from a refugee camp in Zambia to a secluded castle in East Germany. She then spent 11 years in this strange GDR microcosm thinking she would grow up to become one of the future elite of Namibia.

But then the Wall came down and her life suddenly changed once more. Along with hundreds of other Namibian teenagers, Lucia was packed onto a plane sent back home. A country that she no longer knew.

Lucia's account of her remarkable childhood and life in East Germany is entitled "Child Nr. 95“.

Back in May I met Lucia in Windhoek and spoke to her about her German-African odyssey. Below you'll find excerpts from her book and the interview - in German, sorry to all the English speakers!

Lucia Engombe: Child Nr 95 by Aventures

Friday, 16 October 2009

Traditional Friday

I knew about casual or mufti Fridays - dressing down at the end of the working week, leaving your suit, shirt and tie in the wardrobe and coming to work in jeans, T-Shirt and sneakers. But here in Ghana I came across another very interesting idea: Traditional Friday.


This morning about half of the participants from our current affairs reporting seminar showed up in beautiful traditional dresses and shirts, made of colourful local prints and fabrics.

About two years ago the last government came up with this novel idea. Diana, one of the participating journalists tells me it's a way of promoting traditional clothes and boosting the local garment industry - including everyone from producers of local fabrics, to retailers and seamstresses.

Thanks to the British colonialists suits and shirts have long time ago taken over dress codes at the office, but Traditional Friday is a great idea, says Georgina, who wears a beautiful bright green and yellow dress. "It identifies you with the institution you work for. Mine here says GBC and has our logo on the print. So everyone knows that I work for the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation."


Kwarteng, one of our male participants, is wearing a Fugu - that's a traditional hand made shirt from Tamale, a town in the north of Ghana. Every Friday he wears traditional clothes. "It's not a law, but a moral thing", he says and "it protects what we have as Ghaneans". He thinks that too many clothes are being imported from Europe, Asia and other parts of the world and not enough is produced locally, so it's tremendously important to support the local industries.

Apart from boosting the economy, keeping the traditions alive, there's still another benefit, adds Georgina: "For all those who get their days of the week mixed up, on Fridays you're sure to know which day of the week it is."


P.S. This is a shot we took on our second Friday when we handed over the certificates to our participating journalists. If you look closely you can see that Christine and I also wore Friday wear...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Bringing the firebird to the big screen



The Firebird performance in Bucharest last week was one of the most moving performances I've ever seen. The kids were simply amazing and astounded the audience. I've never seen so many people cry in a theatre.

We mustn't let the fire of the Firebird go out. As Monique Gruber wrote earlier in the project's blog 90 percent of the necessary funds to stage Firebird were raised with the generous support of sponsors and donors.

However, we still need help to complete an important part of the project - the documentary film that follows the journey of everyone involved in this magic experience.

Tedy and his film crew have worked tirelessly to capture every moment of this endeavour. We've all seen the high quality that they can produce - just look at the trailers!

Film making is an expensive process and every euro will help bring the Firebird film to the big screen and show people what these Romanian children accomplished.

Here are the details for donations by bank transfer:

Account name: "Jungen Rumänen eine Chance!"
Account Nr: 2381435
Badische Beamten Bank
(BLZ 66090800)
IBAN: DE6609 0800 0002 3814 35
BIC: GENODE61888

Thank you for your support!

Photos by Alisa Tarciniu & Daniel Angelescu.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.

This Saturday, September 5th, more than 100 young Romanians will perform Stravinsky's Firebird at the National Theatre in Bucharest as part of the George Enescu Festival.

This dance performance is an initiative of „Jungen Rumänen eine Chance!“, the charitable trust founded by my mom, Monique Gruber. Under the guidance of the renowned British choreographer Royston Maldoom and Joseph Eder of Germany, it will be the first community dance project to be staged in Romania. The Bucharest performance of Firebird follows in the successful footsteps of similar performances in Berlin, New York, London and Luxembourg.



The young artists are aged between 11 to 22. Many are underprivileged and have experienced the hardships of living on the streets. Others have special needs. Yet together they have joined the intensive month long preparation to stage Firebird with great enthusiasm.

It's inspiring to read the project blog Dance With Us as it chronicles the journey the kids are taking in the lead up to Saturday's performance, and to read of the massive logistical effort to keep over 100 teenagers and volunteers housed, fed and happy over the past month.



I know any donation will make a difference. Details for donations by bank transfer are below. Every euro counts for these children.

Account name: "Jungen Rumänen eine Chance!"
Account Nr: 2381435
Badische Beamten Bank
(BLZ 66090800)
IBAN: DE6609 0800 0002 3814 35
BIC: GENODE61888

The association is recognized by the Finanzamt Überlingen as a charitable corporation. Accordingly, your contribution can be deducted from your taxable income. For a donation receipt send a mail to: wm.gruber@gmail.com. If you do not object, your name will appear on the list of friends and supporters of the association.




"They simply do not have any idea how talented they are. With their past life, how could they? This project holds up a mirror and challenges them to be the best they can possibly be" Viv Trinder


Update 3.9.2009:

It was meet the press time for the Firebird Team yesterday.

Royston talked about the difference a dance project such as Firebird can make in the lives of youny people.



We're all very excited. Today is the first rehearsal in the theatre and everyone is curious to see how their costumes fit.

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

Only the bloody head remained on the stripped carcass of "Max". He was the dog belonging to the farming family who hosted us on our first night trekking in the Western Carpathian Mountains in Romania. Max was cleverly lured away from the farm late at night by a pack of wolves.


"He was a young dog, not used to wolves. Our other dog was much more careful," said Dorica, the matriarch of the family.

Life in the Apuseni National Parc is a step back in time. The mountainous region is inhabited by the "Moti" people who live in small isolated villages and remote farmhouses, some even without running water or electricity. It's hard to imagine that we're actually in the European Union. Horse lanes are the only connection to the outside world. It's a very traditional life people lead, following the chores of the day: milking cows, tending to their pigs and chooks, cutting hay with a scythe and working in the traditional saw mills. I can't tell you the pride I felt milking a cow for the first time in my life... I've lived in the city for too long.


Trekking an average of six hours a day, sleeping at farmers, feasting on local cuisine and sampling home made spirits - it's a very unique experience. Probably one of the last truly authentic rural societies in Europe. I particularly liked the landscape with the many hay cocks spread out on the rolling hills, the warm welcome of the local farmers and last but certainly not least our great guide Mirca, who knew everything about the region and its people.

Every time friends asked me where I was going on holidays, they were surprised if not baffled about Romania as a tourist destination. I must say it's a very beautiful and truly authentic part of Europe, and I hope to come back for more hiking soon.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

In depth reading


I was hot, but I had no idea how seriously I was taking my reading.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's autobiography "This Child Will Be Great" is a very interesting book. After having absorbed many studies and country reports about Liberia, it was a welcome change to read a personal account of the country's past 30 years. I wonder what's next for Africa's first female president... even though she left it open in her book, it very much felt Johnson Sirleaf was laying the grounds for a second presidency in 2011.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Coming home after years of conflict


Uganda was ravaged by a brutal conflict led by the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for two decades. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and more than 1.8 Million Ugandans were forced to leave their homes. As internally displaced people, many lived in refugee camps, in some cases up to twenty years.

Since a ceasefire in 2006, the security situation in northern Uganda has significantly improved, but the return of the internally displaced people or so-called IDPs is still underway.

The German NGO Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund, also known as ASB, is helping people to return to their homes in the northern districts of Lira and Pader. Faridah Bongoley, my coproducer and I traveled all the way up north to meet with humanitarian aid workers, IDPs and recent returnees. Listen to our feature story broadcast on Deutsche Welle.

Uganda refugee return by barb

At the height of the conflict 22,000 people used to live in the Acholibur Refugee Camp. Today there are 6,000 people left - but it’s still bustling with activity. During the day the sun is hot and scorching.


Agnes Aloyo is
a 28-year old camp worker and shows us around the camp. We’re followed by a hoard of curious but emaciated kids. The poverty here is striking. The camp is crammed with tiny mud huts each no bigger than 5 square meters and housing 6 to 10 people. Agnes says it’s difficult to imagine that the camp used to be even more crowded.

Everyone in the camp obviously wants to go home, but there is one group of people who can not afford to leave the camp. They're called the EVIs - which in humanitarian aid jargon stands for extremely vulnerable individuals. Most of them are old people - mostly women who have lost all their children and relatives during the war. Now they can’t return to their villages because they don’t have the funds to rebuild their homes.


Pirina Akwoch is one of these EVIs and has been living in the Acholibur IDP camp for seven years. The 65-year old says she had five kids - four died during the war, the fifth one was abducted by the rebels and never came back.


Her relatives recently returned to their home village, but they don’t have enough money to support her. The only person who does help is her 12-year old grandson Isaac, an orphan himself. Pirina can’t walk anymore and spends the whole day on a thin mat in her empty hut. She barely manages to sit up for the interview; her eyes are very sad. The heat under the thatched roof and the stench in her hut is unbearable. She says, she doesn't know how she would survive without the food provided by the World Food Programme.

"I would like to go back home, if someone could build me a home. Honestly, I’m frustrated, disappointed and disgusted. I know I’m going to die in this hut."

The displaced people here have suffered tremendously, says Lucy Andrews, the protection coordinator at the ASB’s Pader office. Spending so many years in the camps makes it very difficult for them to return to their villages. They have become used to international aid and the more urban life of the camps.


Yet, people are now returning home and it’s important to demolish the empty huts people leave behind. What became a really huge problem, explains Lucy Andrews, was how abandoned huts were used by thieves to hide whatever they had stolen, and even worse by men to rape and sexually abuse women and young girls.



In the district of Pader there are still 31 official IDP camps hosting a total population of 42,000 people. That's still a lot, says Lucy Andrews, but one should also keep in mind that over 80 % of the population has already gone home.

In order to support the return of the farmers and their families, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is funding so-called farmer field schools. Basically it's a school of around 30 farmers studying in the field or under a tree.


Emmanuel Otim is the programme coordinator for the German NGO ASB. He’s in charge of more than 100 farmer field schools in northern Uganda.

Over a year local farmers gather every morning for a few hours to learn new skills and improve their farming methods. Their training is based on a crop cycle, which means when its time to dig, they learn about land preparation. When it’s time to plant, they learn about crop planting. All the training is hands on, so each farmer can learn at his own pace.

The farmers learn by doing and they gain their knowledge through experiments. The farmer field school just explains the science behind the practices and closes the knowledge gaps. The theory is: if you train the farmers everyday on what they know, they will loose interest and won’t come anymore. "We're here only to find the gaps that are missing. And that's facilitation not teaching", stresses Emmanuel Otim. "It’s important that the farmers decide for themselves what they want to learn." But the farmer field schools are not all about farming - a lot of other life skills are taught as well:

"For instance you might find that in a certain community there is a problem of Malaria, the farmers are not coming for training, and when you ask very many people are sick. So then you know you need to train the farmers on Malaria control. If it's HIV/AIDS, than someone has to come and train them on positive living etc, so that the farmers are no only learning about agriculture, but also issues that affect their daily lives."
At the Awatngwenino farmer field school in the Oyam district around a hundred villagers are impatiently waiting for us. The farmers can’t wait to show us what they’ve learned since they’ve left the camp two years ago. Their welcome is simply overwhelming:

Welcome by barb

Francis Ojok is the chairman of the local farmer field school. In his welcome address he outlines the traumas his community endured over the past decade.
"During the war insurgents took all our animals, raped our wives and daughters. Healthy young men and boys were taken captive to become soldiers. Women abducted to become the wives of the rebel leaders, even older people were abducted to carry their luggage. And so many people were killed brutally, leaving a lot of orphans behind. HIV/AIDS is also a big problem here, because so many women were raped."
In June 2008 the ASB launched the farmer field school here in Awatngwenino. Francis recalls that the farmers had lost most of their skills, but they all worked together and have learned a lot within a year. On a study plot they grew tomatoes together and studied pest control. The study plot was divided into three sub-plots: the first one was the control plot where they planted tomatoes and let them grow. On the second plot they used chemical pesticides and on the third they used home made pesticides. The conclusion was: the best way to grow healthy tomatoes is to use home-made pesticides, because it not only treats pests effectively, it’s also the easiest and cheapest option.

In addition to the field studies, the farmers also started a successful little savings group. In one year they’ve managed to save roughly 900,000 Ugandan shillings or almost 500 US-Dollars.

They also set up a small piggery and learned how to build energy saving stoves.


Florence Omara is one of the farmers and a proud member of the local farmer field school. The young woman says she's benefited a lot from the energy saving stoves, as it saves her time, firewood and even improved her health. In northern Uganda there used to be a lot of firewood, but nowadays, there’s no firewood at all. It's a constant struggle to get firewood and with the traditional way of cooking women need seven or eight large pieces of wood. Today, with energy saving stoves they only need one or two.

Two years ago Florence and her family of five left the camp. The return was difficult, their village was destroyed. But no doubt the hardest thing was overcoming the trauma of the past and the abuses by the rebels and the army.
"There was constant fear... we were so afraid of going to the nearest village to look for firewood... and small small food to bring back for our children. The rebels would capture you, drag you into the bush, rape you and leave you there until the morning. That is what they were doing to we women."
Today Florence says she's free - and she can sleep again.

Her face lights up when she talks about the benefits of the farmer field school. Now instead of growing 10 different crops, she knows how to select the profitable crops and how to fight pests and diseases and achieve high yields.

But the farmer field school is more than simply improving farming skills. Florence tells us about her young daughter who fell sick earlier this year.


"She was in a critical condition, so I took her to the health center, but there was no good medicine. Then I took her to the hospital in Lira, the capital of our province. But they were demanding a lot of money, and I was having very little."
Florence sent her husband back to see if the savings group in the village could help.
"I said, go to my chairperson and ask him to give you at least 100,000 Ugandan shillings (35 €) so we can save our child. You know, nowadays if you don’t have money, you can easily die."
Thanks to the savings of the farmer field, school Florence was able to get the money she needed to pay the bills for the medicine, the hospital and also the costs of staying in town with her daughter.

Now, 5 months later she's already managed to repay her debt, including a small interest rate.
"I really benefited from it, because if I had not been in this group, no one would have given me the money I needed. Nobody in our village was having that amount. You can find someone with 500, 5,000, maybe even 10,000, but that's not enough, and you can’t go begging from door to door. So being in a group - that's the best thing I got from the farmer field school."

In the past Florence says the farmers used to only fend for themselves, now they’re working together. Francis, the president of the association, agrees.
"The farmer field school has changed the way we think. Before we only thought about ourselves and our families, people used to stay in isolation, but the farmer field school has brought us together and now we are a real community."
And as we're sitting under a tree listening to the songs of the farmers and eating the little feast they have prepared for us you can really feel the group spirit, it feels like a community is rebuilding. The farmers have used some of their savings to buy T-shirts and caps where they’ve printed the name of their farmer field school:
Nam Note Dagnyeko which means a farmer who’s empowered fights poverty.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Saving your harvest with a mobile phone

Here's the final version of the radio feature I produced in Uganda on mobile phones and rural development. It follows this blog post.

Saving Your Harvest With A Mobile Phone  by  Aventures

Monday, 29 June 2009

Sending out a SMS

Mukaga - zero - zero - emu means 6-0-0-1 in the Luganda language.

In Uganda, using 4 digits and a mobile phone may become one of the most important gateways to accessing information and services and serve as a model for the rest of the continent.

Any guesses which search engine conglomerate is behind this?

That's right. Google together with the Grameen Foundation and local mobile phone provider MTN Uganda launched a new service today called Google SMS.

The idea is straightforward. If you need information on say health or agriculture, send your query by text message to Google SMS and you should get a reply text message with an answer.

I've been using the weather forecast service since my arrival here in Uganda which was one of the pilot applications. But the services are much broader:

- Farmer’s Friend is an application that provides tips on agriculture, especially when it comes to dealing with pests and diseases, and of course the weather, both daily and seasonal.

- Health Tips and the Clinic Finder offers the names and numbers of the closest healths clinics.

- Google Trader is a SMS-based "marketplace" application that connects buyers and sellers. One of the biggest problems of small subsistence farmers is accessing markets to sell the small surpluses they might have. With this new service, Google and its many partners hope to help farmers in poor and remote rural areas, as writes

Up until today, the new service has been kept under wraps.


The launch was a festive event and it was interesting to meet the so-called Village Phone Operators and Community Knowledge Workers who had travelled from all corners of Uganda to be in Mukono for the launch. These people are the frontline of the service.


It was a big PR event. All the partners involved were wearing custom tailored shirts bearing the Google colours and the mood was festive after many months they say of hard work pilot-testing the applications. There were colourful local dances, songs and sketches explaining the various services in Luganda. Of course, the Jingle "MTN - everywhere you go" was played at regular intervals reminding the audience which mobile network to use.

Sending a text message to MTN's current SMS services costs 220 Ugandan shillings - that's about US 10 cents. MTN is the largest mobile phone operator in Uganda so GoogleSMS is likely to be a good revenue raiser.


Hopping into a cab on my way back to town, I thought I'd put the GoogleSMS "Information in the palm of your hand" to the test.

I sent an SMS to 6001 asking: What do I do when I have the flu? I got the answer: Human swine flu is caused by the Influenza virus A (H1N1) and spreads from one person to another. It is so called because the signs are similar to swine flu in pigs. A person can have and spread the virus without being sick. Signs include chills, sore throat, muscle pains, coughing, weakness. You cannot get swine flu from eating well-cooked pork or pork products. To protect yourself, as with any other flu, wash your hands regularly especially before eating or touching your nose or mouth. Go to the nearest health centre if you suspect you have the flu.

Well, no solution really on how to treat normal flu, but I had the option to hit reply with "Clinic and parish" which I did and got the name and number for the nearest clinic in Kampala. Now, that's a really useful service.

I also asked: How do I treat Banana Bacterial Wilt? Here I got a very exhaustive answer. But I won't bore you with this, because I've already told you everything about banana diseases in my last blog post.

Using Google Trader (6007) was less successful. I typed in Buy Bananas Mbale, but the service couldn't find any matches to this query. So I tried Buy Bananas Kampala, thinking this must be pretty straight forward.

I got one number to call for bananas in Kampala, the number was not available and two other numbers for Matooke. One line was busy, the other one was not selling Matooke.

The SMS said that there were 965 items matching my query, but I was not so keen on buying bananas anymore... That said, GoogleSMS Search (6006) on general queries is also up and running and I managed to get all the latest updates on Michael Jackson.




Over the past two weeks I've been travelling in remote areas of Uganda where internet access has been scarce. But I've almost always had a mobile phone signal. Remote communities particularly in the north are struggling with very high rates of HIV/AIDS because so many women have been raped by rebels during the civil war. Going to the closest health clinic often means selling valuable assets or taking out a loan.

Mountain View might be a long way from Pader in Northern Uganda, but this new Google SMS might start to bridge the digital divide in countries like Uganda and help people in a very practical way.

Update: I've had a lot of feedback via Twitter on this post. Thanks to everyone who has retweeted!

And here's the interview I did on Google's SMS service for Uganda in German for Deutsche Welle's Fokus Afrika.

Monday, 22 June 2009

From SMS weather forcast to geo-mapping banana diseases

I know that mobile phones are rapidly expanding across the globe and reaching even the poorest and most remote people in Africa. But I wouldn't have thought that this trip to Uganda would give me a whole new perspective on these handy little devices. I also realized how little I actually know about my mobile phone.


In Uganda 7 million people, that is roughly 20% of the population, has access to a mobile phone. And experts expect the local market to grow to 14 Millionen in the next three years.

If you drive around Uganda, most of the outdoor advertising or sponsorships are for mobile phone companies. Namely, MTN, ZAIN and Orange. The mobile telco industry is growing faster than any other business and it's the best way to reach people.

Eric Cantor is working on developing mobile phone applications to boost development. He and his colleagues from the Grameen Foundation and MTN, Uganda's leading mobile phone network, have been doing a lot of experimenting in the field in the past few months. Importantly, they've been talking to farmers with small plots of land and asking them what sort of information they would need to improve their lives.

The Grameen Foundation together with MTN have already successfully introduced the Village Phone Initiative back in 2004.

But now they were wondering: how can mobile phones improve people's lives? Apart from helping people to make calls, is there a way to improve health, agriculture and education for example? How do you use this medium of the mobile phone to create a two-way connection; to give people the information they want and need and at the same time collect information that the government, the donors and companies require to be more efficient?

The Grameen Foundation has built a network of so-called Community Knowledge Workers or CKWs. A number of local Ugandan organizations are also involved and the Gates Foundation is helping to fund the project.

These CKWs are already leaders in their communities. Now they've been trained to become “information hubs” for smallholder farmers in Uganda. Using smart mobile phones such as the Nokia N95 and Nokia 1680, the CKWs act as intermediaries by giving out and collecting information from their communities.



The are plenty of practical mobile phone applications the farmers can use. For example, they can receive an SMS weather forecast for specific districts or search for seed providers and fertilizers.

One of the really interesting applications is being able to contact a call-center to ask questions on behalf of local farmers in their district. Not only is it a source of information it's a way of giving them access to the internet.

If the operators, who're searching the internet on approved sites don't have the answer, the question is passed on to an expert. So far the questions have been very diverse and include everything from history, politics, health and of course agriculture. Football questions are very popular, and they've had some odd questions too, like "do the pyramids move?" or " was Idi Amin a good president?"

The pilot project has currently 40 CKWs, 20 in the eastern Mbale district and 20 in the western Busheni district. Enough though, to keep the four ladies at the call-center busy all day. When I visited them last Wednesday, the phone rang fairly regularly and most questions related to agriculture and disease prevention.


What impressed me most though, was our visit to Mbale. It's a big banana producing area, though really I should say so is the whole country. Uganda is the biggest producer and consumer of bananas in all of Africa. Nearly every Ugandan depends on the banana in some way or another, so it's not only crucial for food security, but also income generation. The problem is in the past 15 years banana production has been down 50% due to various diseases. Banana plantations are losing billions of dollars every year.

Now, AppLab, the technology development unit and joint venture of MTN Uganda and the Grameen Foundation, has come up with an application that tracks banana diseases.

It's basically a survey of 50 questions, including name, gender of the farmer, contact information, how big their farm is, what they grow, what type of banana diseases they have on their farm and if they know how to treat them. The information is collected on the mobile phone - including GPS positioning and pictures of the sick banana trees - and then sent by mobile internet to a team of scientists in Kampala. Based on that data, digital maps will be established and the scientists will go back to the field on a weekly basis to follow up some of the findings.

Fen Beed, a leading Plant Pathologist from the IITA in East Africa, says they're looking at 3 diseases:

1. Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW) which hit Uganda about five years ago and decimated production all over the country

2. Panama disease or Fusarium, the symptoms can be confused with BBW, so it's impossible to target BBW without also having a programme for Fusarium, because the two need to be disassociated

3. Banana Bunchy Top Disease, which currently exists in other African countries, notably Rwanda and DRC, and it's most likely to enter Uganda via those borders, either through biological transfer and insects that transmit the disease, but there is also a risk that people could move planting material from one area to another.


"So what we're trying to do", says Fen, "is sensitise people to be aware what the disease looks like if it does come in. What we want to achieve, is to have preemptive control of this disease and not a big epidemic and ask for donor funds to try help solve an already damaging situation, we want to stop the situation from developping where this disease is introduced and not noticed".

It was great to see scientists, IT development specialists, agriculture extension workers, Grameen Foundation project managers and of course the Community Knowledge Workers representing their farming communities working in the field together.

The CKW farmers I spoke to all seemed enthusiastic about the technology.


Mary, an older lady in her 60ies who's been discriminated all her life for not having children, said, it has already had a tremendous impact. "I'm now connected to so many people and different sources, and we're sharpening our brains," she told me with a huge smile.

"Now the farmers are taking me as their gold, because I have brought good technology."

George is equally enthusiastic: "The phone is helping us."

He adds that he had no idea Banana Bacterial Wilt was such a dangerous disease.

"We want to isolate BBW as it affects our income, so we want everybody to know that it's a big problem to us, and we'll fight it together," he said.



Of course it's still early days for the project. The CKWs have just finished their training and their real work is now starting. Will the farmers be receptive to the banana disease surveys? Will the information transmitted to the scientists be reliable and relevant? How can you expand such a project when hardly anyone in the countryside can afford a smart phone?

I really should come back for a follow up. But I must say, I was very impressed and after all a pilot phase is not only about identifying what works, but also what doesn't and why, so it can be taken to the next level.

Morning: Sunny. Afternoon: Sunny intervals. 30 C high, 20 low. Next three days: sunny. I'm now receiving regular SMS weather updates, though I doubt I'll experiment with banana trees anytime soon.

P.S. Here's a German version of my story: "Per SMS zum Erntehelfer"

Sunday, 21 June 2009

I promised to introduce my coproducer...


Name: Faridah Bongoley

Age: 28

Religion: Muslim

Why did she become a journalist? Because her sister inspired her.

Hobbies: reading novels, swimming and going to the gym

Favourite place in Kampala: Central Broadcasting Corporation

Most exciting journalism assignment: Visit of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Kampala to hand over mosque to Uganda's Muslim community

Dreams for the future? Being independent

What's odd? Doesn't like to go out.

Any heroes? Her mom!

Uganda's Barack Obama is no longer single

I know. I've been in Uganda for almost a week now and still no blog post - a part from a few twitter updates.

It's been a really hectic week. On Wednesday I finally met my co-producer Faridah from CBS, Uganda's Central Broadcasting Service. We're going to be working together on rural development issues for the next three weeks. I'll introduce her to you very soon.

So far we've been out to Mbale in eastern Uganda to examine bananas and a new ICT for development project harnessing mobile phones.

Bananas are prone to disease and local farmers are being trained to collect data literally in the field and send it experts for analysis.

It was fascinating to see farmers, leading plant pathology scientists, computer wizzes and agriculture experts interact and conduct a training in the middle of a banana plantation.

Who thought you could be geeky over bananas? It's incredible how much you can do with a mobile phone. I'm still logging tape, but I'll tell you more about it shortly.



Last night I attended my first Ugandan wedding. I really had no idea about the dress code and hadn't planned to attend a wedding, so I opted for my nicest skirt. Black and white always works, doesn't it? I was told it starts between 4 and 4.30pm. I went at 5pm but was still way too early.

The MC kept on saying "it starts in three minutes"... three minutes, enough time to meet new people, because apart from the groom Morrisson - whom I had interviewed three days earlier - I didn't know anyone. Arthur and Bob were very sweet and briefed me about the Dos and Don'ts of a Ugandan wedding. For example, there's no seating protocol, but you have to make sure to sit on the right side. Morrison's guests had to sit on the left, while friends and family of the bride to be Rita all had to sit on the right. Apparently you're not supposed to shake hands with the members of the other family - I'm not sure if I got that one right though.



The Nile Room of the Hotel Africana was lavishly decorated for around 400 guests. The MC, a close friend of Morrison, had everything under control, and was even showing off some great singing talents. He introduced the chairman and the entire wedding organizing committee. Gee, I wish we had had that at our wedding.

The heads of the families spoke, siblings and friends - alternatively praising the hard working, warm hearted bride and Morrison the honest and good looking "Barack Obama of Uganda". It was a hodge podge of languages: English, Runyankore, Swahili, I think also Luganda, but don't quote me on that. A guest at my table lent over to say that you could even detect some cheeky little rivalries between family clans of the East and West of Uganda.

Despite missing some of the subtle jibes, I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, the great food and thought the bride and groom looked a picture.

Among other wedding gifts, Morrison and Rita were offered several cows, a fridge and a plot of land in Kampala. What more do you wish to start married life?!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Tribute to Lindy Hop legend Frankie Manning

Frankie was a legend among Swing dancers. I first heard about him in Seattle in 1997 where a bunch of students at the University of Washington introduced me to Swing and Lindy Hop.

For those of you not up to scratch on the dance floor, Lindy Hop is an African American dance that evolved in New York during the late 1920s, 30s and 40s. It's a sort of fusion of jazz, tap and the Charleston - and is danced with a partner.



Frankie Manning started dancing back in 1927 and had a huge influence on Lindy Hop. I distinctly remember watching excerpts from the Hollywood musical “Hellzapoppin’"(1941), thinking: WOW, this is mad...

Frankie was nicknamed “Musclehead” for his powerful and quick acrobatic style, hurling his swing partners through the air.



I was hooked, Swing and Lindy Hop quickly became a passion and when I lived in New York 1998-2000 I danced as often as I could to live bands playing at Swing 46, the Cotton Club, Irving Plazza, the Supper Club, Windows of the World on top of the World Trade Center and during summer weekends in Central Park... I loved this dance which is all about big band and swing music, improvisation and of course the style of the 30s and 40s. Plus it's a dance which bridges generations and it's great to see people of all ages dancing together.

“A-one, a-two, you know what to do...”

Long before meeting Frankie, I'd heard many people referring to him as the Nelson Mandela of Lindy Hop. He's traveled the world even til very recently in his early 90s teaching Swing. Every year he would spend several weeks at the Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden dancing and teaching this dance he loved so much.

Today, I just read an article of the New York Times and sadly learned that Frankie died a little over a month ago in New York at the age of 94.

A great man, whom I had the chance to meet and interview at the Herräng Dance Camp two years ago.

Here's the Lonely Planet Travelcast I've produced. It's a small tribute to a great Swing legend and his legacy.




Every summer, thousands of dancers from over 40 different countries converge on a small Swedish village for round-the-clock swing dancing. The Herräng Dance Camp started in 1982 and has become the largest of its kind.

The village shop is stocked up with mineral water, peanut butter and bananas, ready for the influx of hungry visitors. In the local school, bunk beds have been put up in the classrooms to serve as accommodation for tired dancers. The sports ground has become a campsite and four marquees have been set up, ready for dance classes.

The Herräng Dance Camp is about to get into swing.

The village of Herräng has just 600 inhabitants and lies some 100 kilometers north of Stockholm. 25 years ago, its isolated position attracted a group of Swedish swing dancers, who invited an American instructor from New York to teach them some new moves.

Since then, the event has grown into the leading and most comprehensive dance camp in the world focusing on the African-American swing dance tradition.

The living icon of Lindy Hop

The Herräng Dance Camp wouldn't be complete without instructor Frankie Manning. The 93-year-old is a legend at the camp and an inspiration for his many fans.

Manning teaches Lindy Hop, an African-American dance that evolved in New York in the late 1920s, 30s and 40s. It is a fusion of jazz, tap and the Charleston. Danced with a partner, the original Lindy Hop was a parody of stiff white couples at society tea dances.

However, by the 1950s, the Lindy Hop was superseded by the jitterbug and rock 'n' roll. It has seen a revival in the last couple of decades, though, partly thanks to the Swedish dance camp.

Lennart Westerlund is one of the camp's founders and still in charge today -- even if he no longer has much time for dancing. He says Manning's presence is very important for the entire camp.

"He is like an unbeatable ambassador for the dance," Westerlund says. "He's a living icon because he has done so much for the dance and inspired so many people."

"I just love dancing."


Of course, the Lindy Hop scene would exist without Manning, Westerlund says.

"But I don't think it would have the size, enthusiasm and energy that it has," he says.

Manning is the last link to a time, which all the dancers at Herräng view with hazy-eyed awe. In the 1930s and 40s, he appeared with Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald: names, which conjure up an image of a lost era.

Manning himself does not have a secret formula for the reason he is still dancing at his age.

"I just love dancing and I love watching people dance," Manning says.

It was a film choreographed by Manning, which inspired Westerlund to found the Herräng Dance Camp back in 1982. The two-minute film "Hellzapoppin" from the year 1941 showed eight African-Americans dancing in pairs in a wild frenzy of moves.

A truly international camp

Today, the love of dance attracts people to Sweden from around the world. Many come from the United States and Europe, but in the last couple of years, there have also been dancers at Herräng from as far afield as China, South Korea and Brazil.

Russia has the second highest number of participants at the camp after Sweden. Even though the dancers might not speak the same language, they can all communicate through their passion for swing.

And you have to be passionate about dancing to take part in the camp, which has a hectic schedule. Dance classes start every day at 10 in the morning. Each class lasts for an hour and twenty minutes.

After supper in the evening, there is a meeting, where the community comes together to hear about the day. Then they watch film clips from jazz history, to get everyone in the mood for the dance parties -- which often go on till 6 the next morning. After that, the dancers grab a few hours of sleep before slipping on their swing shoes for class the next morning.

As Faye, a dancer from Malaysia says: "You don't come to Herräng to sleep; you come to Herräng to dance."

The camp brings unavoidable noise, parking problems and traffic jams to the village. But the locals put up with the downsides in the knowledge that the money it generates is a lifeline for the former mining area. The rest of the year is so quiet that the local shop would not survive without the annual summer dance camp.


According to Herräng local Birgitta, the dancers are welcome.

"They like to learn and they like to practice, so they are tired," she says. "So they eat, sleep and dance, so no problem!"

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Cycling for Development

While researching topics for my trip in Namibia I came across a very interesting project: the Bicycling Empowerment Network or BEN Namibia. The aim of this small NGO is simple and compelling: give disadvantaged Namibians a means of transport and a way of generating an income.

A bicycle's benefits

The benefits of a bicycle in a developing country are numerous. Compared to a person walking, a bicycle carries up to four times the weight, goes twice as fast and actually much further. With bicycles, health workers and home-based carers can see more clients and deliver more supplies. It's also by far the cheapest mode of transport apart from walking of course.


Affordable and reliable transport can significantly improve livelihoods and contribute to sustainable development. When the rural poor - and particularly women - gain access to health, education and information, they can access markets and improve their income, thus reducing their vulnerability.

Since 2005 BEN Namibia has already distributed more than 7,000 second hand bikes in Namibia. Most of the bikes come from Europe and North America. In 2009 BEN is looking forward to hand out its 10,000th bike.

New skills & tools for new lives

The Bicycle Empowerment Centre in Katutura, Windhoek's largest township, opened in March 2009. King’s Daughters, a local church project assisting former prostitutes, and BEN Namibia decided to team up for a joint venture. The bikes were donated by the Canadian NGO Bicycles for Humanity in Ottawa.

Six former prostitutes learned how to repair bikes and now run their own business.



Across most of Namibia there is no public emergency ambulance system, and people often die because they can not afford to pay for private transport.

BEN Namibia's bicycle ambulance project began when the NGO realized that health care workers and volunteers who had received bicycles were using the luggage racks to transport clients to hospitals and clinics.



Work on the first prototype, a basic stretcher towed behind a bicycle, began soon thereafter. For the past three years now bicycle ambulances have been used to transport people for conditions ranging from scorpion or snake bites to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses. There's no doubt that bicycle ambulances save lives in remote communities.

Who would have thought that so much could be done with two wheels.

Update: Here are the links to the German online article Fahrradverleih statt Prostitution and my feature which was broadcast on Deutsche Welle's Fokus Afrika.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

I've learned a new word today

Working in the media I was already familiar with the awful concept of 'infotainment', but reading Namibia's weekly Southern Times newspaper I stumbled over another creation of our spoilt and easily distracted societies: 'polytainment'. That's the answer of the SWAPO Party Secretary General, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, to political youth apathy. She says, "these born-frees do not have much interest to listen for hours on end to political speeches, that's why you have to combine it with entertainment."

I'd be curious to see how 'polytainment' actually shapes up. Unfortunately we're still a bit too early. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for November and campaigning hasn't really started yet.


The SWAPO party has swept all past elections since Namibia's independence in the early 1990s - always with a comfortable two thirds majority. But in 2007, Hidipo Hamutenya and Jesaya Nyamu, two former leading SWAPO members and cabinet ministers, broke ranks and founded the new opposition party Rally for Democracy and Progress. It's in some ways comparable to COPE breaking away from the ANC in South Africa. Now, it's too early to tell how things will turn out, but maybe they should also look into to 'polytainment'.

And there's another interesting opposition party: the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance. Now, Turnhalle means Gym in German, but I wonder if this has another meaning here... I'll have to find out.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Wedged between the sand dunes of the Namib desert and the Atlantic is the strange little town of Swakopmund. The architecture is an eclectic mix of early 20th century buildings as well as funky 60ies and 70ies beach town. Swakopmund is stuck in time. But that's not the most surprising... With its sea side promenades, half-timbered homes, colonial era buildings, it seems that only the wind blown sand, the palm trees and cactuses distinguish Swakopmund from holiday towns along Germany's Baltic coast.

Swakopmund has a long German history and many German-Namibians still live here. The list of sponsors for the kitchen extension of the local Youth centre for example, reads like a who is who of small town Germany:



Many street names are German: Bahnhof, Schlachter or Mittel Strasse. There are heaps of Bäckereien and Konditoreien where you can eat Apfelstrudel, Kugelhopf, Mohnkuchen or Linzertorte. Then there's the Hansa brewery, the Bismarck pharmacy and Café Anton with the low hanging curtains Germans love so much. In many ways it feels more German than Germany.

I was giggling last night when I had dinner at a great no frills sea food restaurant overhearing an elderly German tourist complaining about the lack of curtains in the restaurant "it's too loud here, curtains would make a big difference absorbing the noise".


It's a really strange, but quaint little town. And frankly a great treat after a few days roughing it out in the desert. Plus, nothing beats a Savannah Cider sitting on the beach watching the sun set over the Atlantic.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Breathless and blown away

Hiking through the dunes of Sossusvlei is a massive workout, but one that you will never forget. The world's highest dunes (up to 325 meters) are a miracle of shapes and shades. Truly one of the most impressive sights I've seen in my life.

Rediscovering primary colours

I'm sitting on Elim dune, a few hundred meters high overlooking the valley, my heart is still pumping from racing up the sand dune, my shoes are so full of sand it feels I bought them two sizes too small.

It's a real firework of colours: the deep dark red of the sand dune, the pale yellow of the dry grass of the steppe, the mountains shining golden brown, the bright blue sky. It's like I'm rediscovering colours as they shift with the changing light of the setting sun.


A quiet moment all by myself. It's difficult to describe how I feel: the serenity, the vastness, the world seems to be smiling. I know I'll be back, hopefully with friends and family to share this amazing scenery, but definitely with another guide.

Friday, 1 May 2009

My unplanned ordeal in the Namib Desert

Wednesday 1pm. I wasn't planning to go on a camping safari, but here we are about an hour and a half south of Windhoek in the sleepy town of Rehoboth - just at the rim on the Namib desert stashing up on food, water and gas.

I'm still a bit tired from a bad flight from Frankfurt down to Windhoek. A stupid French woman was kicking my seat all night long. But so far things are turning out rather well. I stepped off the plane, hitched a ride into town and walked straight into a travel agency. I was afraid I might have been whinging it a little too much, but despite its strange name the Cardboard Box Travel Agency was highly praised in the Lonely Planet Namibia guide. An hour later with a little tour planned to see the famous Sossusvlei dunes, my guide Floris picked me up - white shorts, stocky legs, short white hair and a toothless smile.

Off we set in Floris' 4WD. I had noticed the "4 sale" signs stuck to both passenger windows, but didn't think much of it at the time...

Hours later. I was just enjoying the golden afternoon desert light when Floris suddenly pulled over and I heard the flop flop flop flop of a flat tyre. Shit. We're in the middle of the Namib desert.



Floris is nice, but he's not the king of changing tyres - and I'm not either. Every time we jack the car up it comes down again. At least 6 times. 30 minutes go by. One car passes and asks if everything's ok. Yes, yes - no worries. Finally we change the tyre and set off again. 10 minutes later another flat tyre. Shit. This time it's serious because we have no more tyres.



It's getting dark very quickly and cold. Floris says we're staying here for the night, and starts pitching the tent by the dirt road. Well, great. This is not how I wanted to spend my first night in Namibia. I flash back a few hours earlier. I had hesitated and thought why don't I treat myself to a nice lodge. Sure a little expensive but comfortable, hot showers, yummy food... Ah well, I chose the camping option. Big mistake! Instant noodles and tuna are not changing my mood. At 6.50pm I'm not so talkative and hit the hay, well, hard desert.

Thursday 6am. Rise and shine. We've been stuck in the middle of the Namib desert for the past 13 hours. I'm convincing myself that it's not that bad - the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the dry yellow grass of the plain is dancing in the wind... but it's still cold and there's no soul in sight. "Let's hope help comes quickly," says Floris. More talking to himself, "but people in the desert are very slow."



Oh well, we'll have to be very patient then. But patience is not exactly my strength.

The sun is rising quickly, I wonder how long I'm going to sit on this stone by the road waiting. How terrible must it be when you're stuck in a really remote place. But do I even know if we're not in a really remote place?

After more than two hours Floris decides to take a chance and walk to the next farm. I see him walk off on the desert road first carrying the dodgy wheel, then rolling it in the dust. This is going to take ages. I take my old Economist to read: 'Africa's Next Big Man: Trusting Jacob Zuma'. I'm sitting by the embers of a dying fire and reading. Very surreal.

I've almost read the Economist cover to cover and Floris is still not back. My mind is wandering. Next week I'm planning to do a story on bicycle ambulances and Namibia's bicycle empowerment network. I think this episode is teaching me a very big lesson about how it feels to be so remote, powerless and dependent. It feels terrible - and it's not even an emergency.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

What is this tree called?


It's a very common tree here in Namibia and it has some rather interesting seeds. So, for my Namibia PGA-Food-Quiz Question: what is the name of this tree? Here are two clues: it's a thorny tree & humans don't eat these seeds, but wild animals do.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Can you save your harvest with a mobile phone?

Think back to your first mobile phone and how you used it. Now take a look at the handset you might have today and think about if you're using it to its full potential. I've only just scratched the surface of using my iPhone and am discovering new ways of using it in my work every day.

Listen!

We've come a long way and mobile phones are today even in developing countries within reach of many people. It's one of the most popular technologies ever invented. Today there are more than 4 billion subscriptions in the world.

The speed with which mobile phones have reached the poorest and even most remote parts of the world took many by surprise. In 1990, there were just over 14,000 mobile phone subscriptions in Africa. By 2000, there were 16 million, and today there are more than 280 million.

One of the topics we're working on for an international coproduction documentary in Uganda is ICT and rural development.

In 2003, the Grameen Foundation and the mobile network MTN Uganda established a joint venture company, to make mobile phones available to develop small businesses in rural Uganda.

The concept is simple. In remote rural villages where there is no means of communication, a village mobile phone can become a basic pay phone and small business opportunity that can benefit the whole community.

And it's not just about making telephone calls. The villagers can also receive information about education, health, agricultural development, market prices for their goods, micro credit loans - in fact anything that can be transmitted by SMS.



The initial goal to offer 5,000 village phones over five years was met within three years. It goes to show how popular mobile phones are and how quickly they can become an important part of our lives. Today the Village Phone initiative is growing at a rate of more than 150 businesses per month.

With financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the organization now wants to strengthen the village phone operators and build a network of Community Knowledge Workers as “information hubs” for smallholder farmers in Uganda.

The Grameen Foundation is planning to recruit and train Village Phone Operators, agricultural extension agents, and other individuals living and working in rural communities to build the network. The Community Knowledge Workers will use mobile phones to disseminate critical agricultural information to farmers, link them to markets and other key resources and collect information about their community's needs.

Deutsche Welle is planning to send a correspondent to work with colleagues from the Ugandan broadcaster CBS to examine these ICT projects.

Just as an aside: as a radio journalist I'm curious to know if these mobile phones can in fact make a network of communities. I'd love to try to call some of these remote rural communities and hear what they have to say first hand. It is after all an interactive world.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Kampala's Khana Khazana

Uganda's population is - like many other African countries - a kaleidoscope of tribes and nationalities. The Buganda make up about 20% of Ugandans, but there are also the Lango, Acholi, Teso and the Karamojong, who are cattle herders living in the dry and very poor North-East.

There's also a big community of Indians in Uganda who first settled here during the British Empire. Expelled by Idi Amin in the early 1970s, they were invited back by President Museveni more than a decade later to return, reclaim their property and drive the Ugandan economy forward.

Although only 2,000 of the estimated 55,000 forced to quit have chosen to return, the Indian population is estimated at around 20,000 today.


Tonight I felt like Indian food. Bruno, the French architect, entrepreneur and owner of the beautiful Hotel Bougainviller where I'm staying, recommended Khana Khazana. It might not be the best Indian food in town, he says, but the best option for good Indian food in a nice setting.

Khana means cuisine and Khazana treasure - and that's not a euphemism. The dimly lit open air restaurant overlooks a tranquil garden and has a really good feel.

And you can't help but smile at the Ugandan hostess welcoming you in a beautiful bright red sari.

I ordered a cheese naan and n°56 Malai Mushrooms - medium spiced.

My waiter grinned and asked "are you sure you want medium?" I said "Yes", but he convinced me to go for mild medium instead. I'm glad I followed his advice. The creamy mushrooms were delicious - the Mango lassi and the Tusker too.

India meets Africa. Aventures's happy!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Boona Bagagawale - Prosperity For All

I'm in Uganda for a week to prepare a radio co-production on the topic of rural development. Over the next two years Deutsche Welle, Germany's International Broadcaster, is planning a new series of 12 radio co-productions in Africa examining various rural development projects with a focus on both success stories and challenges.

One of the radio co-productions will be produced here in Uganda by a Ugandan and a German journalist and broadcast locally by our Ugandan broadcasting partner CBS FM and world wide via Deutsche Welle.

My task this week is to organize this radio venture and identify interesting projects with our partners. This morning I had my first meeting at the German embassy as they coordinate German development efforts. But even though "rural development" is a desired outcome, the main areas of German development aid are finance, energy and water - not specifically rural development .

So I didn't come out of the meeting with concrete story ideas, but loads of contacts.

And something else caught my interest: the Prosperity-for-all programme launched by Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni in the fall of 2007.

Poverty Eradication through Prosperity for All

"The aim of Prosperity for All (PFA) is to transform all rural homestead landholdings into commercial, money making units in addition to being centres of residence and food security" (sic).

In a country where the very large majority are smallholder farmers harvesting minimal land, this is a huge challenge. Only sugar cane, tea and coffee are produced in larger quantities, I was told, but are predominantly foreign owned.

So, prosperity-for-all? How does it work? I haven't found much enlightenment online, but it looks like the government identifies 6 families in each parish who will benefit from this scheme, show the lead and transform agriculture from subsistence to commercial.

But how can you become such a successful business family and what are the criteria to be selected? Is it based on how much taxes you pay? How large your family is? Or if you're supporting the ruling NRM Party - morally, politically and financially?

Can you actually improve the farming methods of a few families and farms without improving the overall production, transport and marketing infrastructure in rural areas?

I'm curious.

Maybe one of our stories should be putting Boona Bagagawale to the test.

The Grain of Sand in your Shoe


And there was something else that caught my eye today, an opinion piece by Nabusayi Wamboka on Empowering the youth through Prosperity-For-All. He starts off with the saying: "it is not the mountains ahead that wear you out, it is the grain of sand in your shoe."

I'm hoping to identify the grain of sand in Uganda's shoes this week.

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