Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jinja: The Nile Special

WRITTEN BY ERIN EMERY
While spending two wonderfully lazy nights at the King Fisher Resort in Jinja, our group was able to visit the source of the mighty Nile River, walk through an open-air market, and tour the famous Nile Brewing Company. Jinja was initially established as a manufacturing and industrial hub due to the proximity to Lake Victoria and the Nile, although over time many of the industries slowed down which left scattered facilities throughout the city. The stark differences between Jinja and Kampala were the amount of open space, the lower population, and the amount of greenery.

We passed through neighborhoods with grassy lawns and sidewalks lined with shady trees until we reached a curious golf course at the top of a hill. The Nile sat at the bottom of a riskily steep flight of stairs bordered by small wooden shacks full of the recognizable arts and crafts we have encountered in touristy areas. Once reaching the shore of the river we observed a large monument to Gandhi, remembering when his ashes were spread down the Nile River. Through a rusty yellow gate we were able to reach the edge of the river and look upwards to the source. We were able to take some pictures and enjoy the scenic view before heading back up the winding staircase and heading off to the open-air market. This market was strikingly different than the ones we have seen in Kampala, considering we were able to walk through without struggling too terribly or getting lost among the vendors. Produce was sold in the first part of the market, followed by tables full of butchered fish, sheep, pigs, and innards of all shapes and smells. Stands overflowing with fabrics and clothing were at the end of the market and just outside of the main cluster of carts was the large taxi yard where boda bodas and taxi buses quickly pulled in and out. Experiencing the atmosphere of an open-air market was definitely exciting and surprising, although we could not have made it very far without the aid of our wonderful MUBS tour guides.

The following afternoon was designated to touring the Nile Brewing Company. This is the manufacturer of nine different beverages, but most notably the Nile Special. One unique trademark of the company is the use of (purified) water from the Nile River to create drinks with a special touch. Before entering the manufacturing plant we were briefed on safety and visitor regulations and given lovely hairnets and protective glasses to wear. We first passed a loading platform covered with sacks full of malt barley, which had been harvested and dried before entering the plant. This barley is emptied by hand, transported inside the facility, and mixed with water to create a substance called wort. Yeast is then added to the wort, aged at a controlled temperature, and then separated from the liquid. The excess yeast is then killed and made into a meal-like substance or cakes that are sold to local farmers as cattle feed. The soon-to-be beer continues its way through the facility into the boiler chambers, then slightly cooled, combined with a preservative substance for a longer shelf life, and then poured into the bottles. The process was very mechanized and fairly similar to industries in the US. Of course the trip could not be complete without enjoying complementary samples of Nile Company beverages at the on-site pub. The visit to Jinja was very relaxing compared to the hustle and bustle of Kampala and far bus rides through heavy city traffic.


Questions for thought: What did you find to be the most striking difference between Jinja and Kampala? What components of sustainability do you see being most prominent in Jinja (economic, social, environmental)?

9 comments:

  1. Great post Erin! The most striking difference between Jinja and Kampala was the traffic difference. I found Jinja very peaceful and serene with the Nile and Victoria. Jinja was very lush and green. There were benefits of a larger town wither restaurants and hotels and shopping, yet it was not as crowded. I have to agree with Dr. McKnight's comment that if I could live anywhere in Uganda (that I have experienced), I would choose Jinja. I think that the most sustainable attributes of Jinja are its access to water sources for transportation and shipping and also scenery to draw tourism. Obviously, sustainability is a very delicate balance to take care of the environment but still show off and use natural resources to encourage economic growth and still be socially responsible.

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  2. I think the biggest differences were the amount of people, and the quality of roads. I Jinja, their were far fewer people in the city. This isn't surprising due to the much smaller population. Also, the roads were nicer and their were paved sidewalks. In Kampala, the roads are full of potholes, and the sidewalks are dirt paths. Also, based on the open market I saw while driving through Kampala, the open market in Jinja was much smaller and their were fewer customers walking around.
    When it comes to sustainability, I believe Jinja does a great job of combining economic and environmental aspects of sustainability. They do this by attracting tourists with sites like Lake Victoria, The Nile River, and through many action sports like zip lining, white water rafting, and sky diving.

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  3. Loved your post, Erin! I think the biggest difference between Jinja and Kampala is simply the feel of the cities. Although both are large in size and population, both cities have very different feels. In my opinion, Kampala is much more busy and stressed in comparison to Jinja. In Jinja, rather, life seems less hectic . This idea might stem from the fact that while in Jinja, we had relaxed days compared to our jam packed schedule in Kampala but I believe that Jinja in nature is much more calm than Kampala.

    In regards to sustainability, I believe Jinja is a great example of the environmental aspects. Jinja is a developing city in a developing country and it continues to maintain its environment. From my experiences at the Source of the Nile, the Open Air market, and driving through the city, I saw many examples of nature. I believe Jinja is maintaining as an increasingly modern city while still paying tribute to and supporting its natural environmental features.

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  4. Many students mentioned that they liked the feel of Jinja more than Kampala. I think that this was because it had a similar feel to a city you would find in the United States. Unlike Kampala, most streets were paved and had sidewalks. The amount of garbage and debris at the side of the road was minimal. All of the store fronts were aligned in a single building to give a 'cleaner' look. In general there seemed to be less people walking around and no traffic.

    One of the professors had mentioned that Jinja used to be a manufacturing hub in Uganda but over time the amount of manufacturers has decreased. I found this interesting because manufacturing can provide great economic gains but can also harm an area social and environmentally. I don't think that whether or not Jinja has a lot of manufacturers effects their ability to be sustainable. They are currently able to benefit economically while preserving the culture of Jinja and the unique environmental aspects of the area.

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  5. Great Post Erin! I definitely heard quite a few students say that they liked Jinja more than Kampala, and I can see why. They two cities were very different, so it is hard for me to compare the two because of this. Jinja had a much more laid back feel, while Kampala was always loud and always bustling. The storefronts in Jinja were clean looking and had a laid out order, while Kampala streets were winding, chaotic, and often very dirty. Kampala also seemed to have a more cultural aspect that Jinja was lacking a bit.

    In terms of sustainability, I think both cities are doing well economically, but in different ways. Jinja obviously had more manufacturing plants, as well as easier transportation with the river, while Kampala has more shops, markets, and bigger business ventures as well. They are both thriving economically, but have differences in how they are sustainably developing.

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  6. I agree with everyone thus far and would like to add my two cents. I think many of us enjoyed Jinja because it was a bit of a break but what I really loved was the presence of water! Being right on the Nile and Lake Victoria made for some beautiful scenery.
    In addition to Sam's comparison of Jinja to a city in the U.S., I have to agree. The city itself was built for manufacturing so they allowed for space and included things like paved sidewalks and such. For me, what made me have more of the U.S. vibe was the amount of Mzungus we saw there. Yes, we were staying at a resort that is probably aimed toward travelers and tourists, but even just riding Big Blue through town the day we visited the Source, I definitely spotted quite a few white people that appeared to be backpackers and tourists. I also got to teach and play at a place called Amani Baby Cottage for my project one morning instead of participating in the class discussion and there were many volunteers visiting as mission trips and extended stay visitors who were Mzungus as well. I think this enhanced my view of Jinja being more comparable to the U.S. than Kampala.
    I also agree with Chase in that population was definitely way different from Kampala to Jinja. Kampala feels like an over populated and polluted city with so many automobiles and huge buildings. Jinja feels cleaner and more spread out.

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  7. I hate to sound like a broken record but I definitely agree with everyone-- Jinja had a much more laid back feel than Kampala. I felt more at ease during our stay in Jinja; sometimes the hustle and bustle of Kampala was overwhelming. One main reason for this was the presence of traffic. In Kampala, I constantly felt like I was about to be run over by a speeding boda boda, while in Jinja there seemed to be more order and regulation.
    Many of our visits and activities we participated in pertained to the economic tier of sustainable development. Although Jinja definitely fits into this category as well, it was also nice to see how it contributed to the environmental tier in so many ways. To me, Jinja is an example of why Uganda is called "the Pearl of Africa." It is lush, green, beautiful, and sitting on the source of the powerful Nile River. The abundance of resources provided by the land is one way Jinja (and Uganda as a whole) can use its environment to stimulate the economy. For example, water from the Nile is used by the Nile Brewery to make beer. Waste from the factory is transported to nearby farms and used as fertilizer. These local farms use the fertilizer to harvest their crops, such as barley, which are then sold and used for economic activities. This viable cycle is something that needs to be utilized to drive Uganda towards its goal of sustainability.

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