an East African Experience

in 1992

Clement Jewitt


This is not a conventional travel book.  It is about my first experience of Africa, Kenya and mostly Uganda to be more precise, and I could hardly claim to know much after only a few weeks in an unfamiliar land.  I learnt later that an aquaintance was in Uganda unknown to me at roughly the same time, under differing circumstances, whose experience was in some respects almost opposite to mine.  She was the guest of a member of the British High Commission, and was toured around by an official chauffeur, who apparently refused to go into the town of Mbale out of fear!  The very town where my brother's wedding took place, to a local girl, nominally a princess. Thus I and another brother were there rather closer to the people of that land, and travelled around as they did, shoulder to shoulder, often literally in the crowded taxi-buses.

No, this is part of the story of my life, of the experiences which contributed to who I am now, of my inner growth. Hence the poem here below.

Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness; and around
Wall upon wall the gross flesh hems us in.  To know
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape.

                            Robert Browning




Subjective     Objective

Part I: getting to Uganda 

1. The flight from Europe     Feelings  -  Living and travelling  -  Aircraft safety  -  The sense of distance  -  First encounters 

2. Hotel and Guest House     Where are we, really?  -  Hotel  -  Uncertainties  -  PCK Guest House

3. Aspects of Nairobi city     The challenge of the unfamiliar  -  On not taking photographs  -  The necessity of letter writing

4. Night ride to Busia     Darkness, moonlight  -  Roadblocks and nightscape  -  Magical transformation

5. This side, that side     The darkness begins to lift  -  Dawn in Busia town  -  Taxi-bus


Part II: Wedding in Mbale  [note: this part is incomplete at present]

6. Bright morning   Mbale - Mount Elgon Hotel - David Okello, and Nick 

7. Hanging out   Mbale life observed - Respite needed - On being an object of curiosity - Where is Mt Elgon?

8. The wedding   The rehearsal - Wedding eve supper - The great day dawns - Reception at the Mt Elgon

9. Afterwards: holiday time   Kampala: Nick's Place - Kidepo - Kampala & homeward

10. Reflections from a later time