As my second day in Kampala draws to a close, I find myself having difficulty processing everything that I have experienced in such a short period of time. I have driven from one end of town to the other and seen extreme wealth and destitute poverty a mere few kilometers apart from one another. I have seen a seemingly never ending stream of people out and about along the Ugandan capitol’s jam-packed roads traveling in a mismatched assortment of taxis, motorcycles, and by foot. I attended mass at the sight where Uganda’s famed martyrs were condemned to death. I even ate fish eyes along the banks of Africa’s largest lake. Yet, the thing that has stood out to me the most about Kampala is something so insignificantly small that many people might not pay it any mind at all.
Since arriving in Kampala, I couldn’t help but notice the wide assortment of signs and advertisements that cover almost every free inch of the capitol city’s buildings. As a person from the western world, these signs and painted advertisements are absolutely ridiculous. Daycare centers with pictures of Mickey Mouse and other recognizable characters seem to dot just about every street corner. The names of these daycares alone would ward off potential customers in the United States. Here in Uganda, however, people don’t seem to bat an eye. Bars and restaurants with signs featuring the logos of prominent beverage companies can be seen on just about every street corner not occupied by some sketchy looking early childhood education or daycare center. Each one seeming to rotate between having a sign featuring the logo of Pepsi, Coca-Cola, or Bell beer. These types of signs are just the strangest thing for me. There is no way that any restaurant in the United States would prominently display the logo of a beverage company on their storefront signage. Yet again, Ugandans don’t seem to bat an eye about something I find strange.
Perhaps the best sign that I have seen since coming to Kampala two short days ago can be found on a restaurant about a 3 minute drive from the hotel where we are staying. The sign reads, “I Feel Like Chicken Tonight.” When I first saw the sign, I busted out laughing. What kind of restaurant calls itself something as ridiculous sounding as this? After I had gotten over the initial laughing fit caused by the name of the restaurant, I realized that a restaurant name such as this is really fitting in a place like Uganda.
When organized chaos reigns supreme in a place like Kampala, ordinary citizens and businesses alike must do something to stand out or risk being swept away by the sea of never ending chaotic activity in Uganda’s capital city. In this sense, a restaurant with a name like, “I feel like Chicken Tonight” symbolizes the very spirit of a Ugandan’s daily struggle to stand out amongst the organized chaos that otherwise dominates society in the pearl of Africa.