I love visiting markets when I travel to new places. It’s a multi-sensory experience stimulated by new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Generally, markets are busy places where the atmosphere is bustling and this adds an interesting edge to the soundscapes one can encounter. So I was very happy to discover that Kitoro Market in Entebbe was only a 15 minute walk from where I was staying.
It was only my second day in Entebbe, the first having been spent relaxing and getting over the tiring 18 hour journey from Paris. So my trip down to Kitoro Market was actually my first real experience with the locals in Uganda. The atmosphere was electrifying, with literally thousands of people walking from one seller to the next. The market is a kind of bazaar with the vendors mainly selling fruit and vegetables, clothing and second-hand electrical goods.
The mix of local dialects, with sellers calling to potential customers, as well as the occasional loudspeaker repeating a sales pitch on loop made for an amazing soundscape. I had my small portable recorder with me so decided to try and record a stealth sound walk. I hit record and positioned my recorder just in front of me, trying to keep it out of sight. I really love the recording I captured, but unfortunately I had to stop recording as after a few minutes as it started to draw attention from a few locals. They were nice enough, asking me what I was doing, but after a short chat with them, I thought it best to move on without recording any more.
As we came towards the end of the market we found a large playing field where a group of locals, a mix of young and old, were playing football. Myself and a colleague asked if we could join them for a kick about. They happily accepted our request and we spent an amazing 30 minutes or so playing with them. This was one of the first real exchanges I’d had with some locals in Uganda and it was a really nice moment to have shared with them. Language was a barrier, but we all had a lot of fun.
With the game finished, and both myself and my colleague out of breath, we decided to head back towards our hotel via the nearest bar! We stopped in to a tiny pub that was located in the middle of the market. I doubt many tourists come here – in fact we didn’t see any other tourists at all walking around the market. But the guys in the bar were really nice and friendly, and very happy that we’d stopped by. There were only about six seats inside the bar, and four small tables outside that looked out onto the market. We sat at one of the tables on the terrace outside, sipped on a cold Nile beer and enjoyed once again the hustle and bustle of the market, this time from a seated perspective.
This first experience in Uganda would set a precedent for what was to come over the following two weeks. Amazing people, some heart-warming exchanges, incredibly rich soundscapes that were new to my ears and plenty of bottles of Nile beer!