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Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Fish Farm and a VIctory for the Cranes

As I walked away from Mandela National Stadium today after a Ugandan football (soccer) victory against Liberia, I saw an image that warmed my heart and seemed to symbolize the general Ugandan spirit I’ve grown to know.  A small, perhaps three year old, child walked holding the hand of his father, fully decked in Ugandan gear.  This kid had the yellow Adidas jersey, matching shorts, and his face was painted yellow, black, and red.  A riot control policeman walked by, holding an assault rifle, and he reached down to rub the boy’s head; the boy smiled and let out a big giggle. For some reason, this image stuck with me and made an impact.  However, I witnessed this towards the end of the day; the day started off completely different.
            We began our day leaving for MUBS to eat breakfast, as usual, at the delightfully early time of 7:30.  The Drake students seemed to be especially sluggish this morning, probably because of the dinner party at Dean Arthur’s lovely home the night before.  We ate and left with our MUBS friends to embark on an hour journey to a local farm.  And while this farm did have cows, chickens, and crops, it also had something special: fish. 
The group entered a small building with 6-8 tanks full of fish.  Helen, a worker at the farm, explained how the Catfish were grown and put in tanks with other fish their size.  However, at the moment, these fish were absolutely tiny.  As they grew, the farm would move them to new tanks and even small ponds; eventually they would be sold.  In another building, they had small goldfish being bred for “small commercial fish tanks”.  
The farm also has rows of squash/pumpkin, cabbage, and grew different types of peppers in a greenhouse.  We also saw the dairy cow fields.  I saw a baby calf, and it was very cute. It was interesting as we went around to the different parts of the farm to see how many people were involved in this very large undertaking. Fun fact about one of our friends I learned at the farm: Austin Arnold currently holds the Iowa state record for cow pie throwing distance (150 feet); he achieved this award at the impressive age of 13.
After a quick lunch, we all suited up in our new Ugandan football jerseys and began the trek to Mandela Stadium.  Kick-Off for the game was at four pm.  Within a few kilometers of the stadium, the vuvuzelas began.  The people on the side of the road began selling noise makers, caps, shirts, and even face paint in addition to freshly cooked meat and corn.   The crowds were crazy. We finally made it through traffic to the stadium.  My friend Ratiib warned me, “Watch your bag, Charlie.  These kids around you are expert pick-pockets”.  Many of us turned our bags around to our fronts, so we could keep our eyes on them.   After a slight confusion at the gate, we made it through the VIP entrance and into the stadium.
The game was great! Uganda scored early on and kept their score up until the end.  I was amazed to see that in the entire stadium, there were only three sponsors: MTN, Nile Special, and NIC.  We got to sing, chant, and dance as Uganda played a great game.  It was awesome to see the looks on the MUBS students’ faces, as the Cranes are their national team.  I also enjoyed seeing an elderly Ugandan woman dance with McKenzie, Erin, and Lisa.  We left very satisfied, which brings us back to the image I began with.  I loved seeing all the happy people as I was leaving; it made this experience that much better that Uganda won.  Now I just can’t wait to see them win the FIFA World Cup! 

Students: How did the security at the game make you feel? How was the farm similar or different to farms from back in the US? Compare and Contrast the Uganda/Liberia game and another sports game you have attended in the past.  


  1. Great post Charlie!

    The security honestly did not surprise me. It simply seemed more like a scene out a movie than I was actually living the experience. It was a bit more intense than other security I have faced. It was an odd experience holding my purse so tightly and others wearing their backpacks on their front like they were preggo :). I had never specifically been to a fish hatchery, so I have nothing specifically to to compare it to. I have only been to crop farms and farms with cows and chickens. However, I found it extremely interesting. It boggles my mind to see the entire process of growing and selling fish. I have been to pro games before, but I was incredibly impressed with people's focus and engagement throughout the entire game. I love the pride and excitement Ugandans have and it really shows. I like that this Uganda game was all about the futball. Often, I think that American pro sports get too flashy.

  2. The security wasn’t all the surprising to me either because many games in the US have some of the same security measures. One thing that did surprise me was the reception we received from the people around the stadium. It made me feel on-edge and very nervous as we walked towards the stadium. I can compare it somewhat to being an away fan at a college or professional game in the US, however it was different because we were trying to support the same team. The atmosphere of the game made me feel like I was at a college football game. I think that nothing can compare to the fans and feel of a stadium on a Saturday in late fall. As for the fish hatchery, I think it is very comparable to a chicken hatchery in the US. Each hatchery raises mass quantities of animals for future sale. However, I think that the process in the US is most likely more up-to-date and has more advanced technology. This would allow for a larger quantity of produce to be raised over the same period of time.

  3. I would have to agree with the previous two posts on the account that the security measures in place at the game did not surprise me. In actuality, the measures are essential the same at major sporting events in the US. The only differences are that the lines and security itself in the US would be much better organized and orderly, but also in the US there is no way we would have been able to carry in our backpacks and some of the other items we had. To skip the second question and talk about the third, I believe this event surpasses many of the sporting events in the US as far as excitement and pre-game festivities. I have been to many sporting events back home including NFL, NBA, NCAA and MLB and none of them have had the anticipation the Ugandan soccer match had. Yeah people get amped up for these games back home, but overall the anticipation sometimes lacks at individual games because we have many more opportunities to see professional sports. I’d like to in some aspects compare these world cup qualifier games to playoff games in the US where each game is of a higher magnitude than other games during the season. As for the fishery, I was very impressed with the sophistication of the fishery as well as the staff that was employed to make everything run smoothly.

  4. Since soccer has always been my favorite sport, attending the futbol game was one of the events I was most looking forward to on the trip. The process of getting into the stadium was not quite what I was used to from attending professional sporting events in America. The presence of police and other authority figures wasn’t surprising to me; however I was a little taken aback by their aggressiveness. I saw several police physically shove/throw people out of line, all the while yelling and screaming. Although this sort of behavior could have easily happened at a game in the US, it was a little intimidating being so up close and personal with it all. Also, I felt so ridiculous wearing my backpack on my stomach…I just wish we would’ve gotten a picture.
    After talking with the MUBS students I realized that they have limited opportunities to attend sporting events of such magnitude. Organized sports are not as prevalent in their culture as they are in ours. This explains why all the Ugandan fans were so hyped up and crazy. Their energy and excitement made the game all the more fun—big shout out to Sam Ibanda for leading all the “We go, we go” cheers, along with his awesome vuvuzela.

  5. As everyone else has already said, the security at the game didn't necessarily surprise me, but I don't know if I will ever be used to the high security measures in Uganda of policemen with huge guns strapped across their bodies. Large weapons make me nervous, despite them being there to ensure our safety. I understand that there are often times riots before/during/after the games (our friends who went on the trip last year could not go to their scheduled game because of this) so ultimately I am glad they were there, especially because there was a scuffle on the field at the end of the match.
    Like Brooke, soccer is my favorite sport! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to watch Uganda beat Liberia, although as discussed, Caroline, Charlie and I would have liked a little more scoring action to keep us on our toes. One thing I really enjoyed doing while at the game was people watching. I have really good zoom on my camera and so I could scope people from across the field and see their crazily dressed appearance. I think this told me a lot about the pride and nationalism that is so prevalent in Uganda. I was so impressed with the pride I saw in everyone's faces as their team won. I have been to sporting events in the US and I'm sure if you attend a USA game there would be evidence of peoples' pride, but I feel like it is different for us than for them. I have more pride in the state that I come from than America. Many times I do not feel like we are a unified body. The cool thing about Uganda is that the have that and boast it, despite corruption in their government, and still being in development. I found this so impressive and cool.