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.