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)?