Levison Wood is a British explorer and travel writer who set out to become the first person to walk the length of the Nile River. His book is engaging and informative. The narrative combines personal emotion, natural description, historical overview and cultural observations. I enjoyed learning about the history and culture of Uganda:
On the forty-seventh day of our journey [Wood travels the first leg of with a gregarious Congolese man named Boston], Kampala came in sight. We were up before dawn, walking through the pitch black, past lay-bys where lorries were emblazoned with banners declaring 'God is Great, God is Good, God is Everywhere!' and along a road where the traffic police kept demanding to know what were were doing ... Kampala is a teenager of a city - boisterous and messy, contradictory but naive and growing fast ... in this city of a more than a million people there are a great number of different cultures existing side by side.
Although the Buganda, the local ethnic group, make up more than half the population, the city's ethnic mix is truly diverse. As in most modern countries, the growth of the urban economy has seen people flock to the capital - but Kampala's expansion has been driven by political factors too. During the rule of Idi Amin, and Milton Obote - who was overthrown by Amin and then restored to power following Amin's deposition - many Ugandans from the native northern tribes were brought into the city, to serve in the police and army and to shore up the government's other, more shadowy security forces.
I've heard of Idi Amin. He resides in my consciousness as an intimidating, scary dictator of my youth (alongside Pol Pot and several others), but I think I placed him in southern Africa instead of properly in the north. I wonder whether he was supported by American and/or European governments, as a misguided attempt at maintaining "security" in a post-colonial world.