The Kampalan: Overhaul

In light of a recent spate of posts and comments asking what its purpose is — one-stop entertainment hub? blogren free-for-all? — The Kampalan is running a poll. What do you think should happen to the site?

If you think The Kampalan should stick around and you want to become a contributor, e-mail me at

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GVO Uganda: Is Uganda mentally, intellectually and creatively broke?

My next piece is up at Global Voices Online:
An interview with a Kampala City Council official has blogger Tumwijuke wondering if Uganda is “mentally, intellectually and creatively broke”:
What else would explain the near absence of public art in the city? Rich men and women in Kampala are opening new hotels, shopping centers, office blocks and apartments every month. These are well traveled and widely read (I hope) people who are exposed to things like good architecture, art and culture. So why is the city so bland?

Read more »

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Bhutto, in a nutshell

From Ahmed Rashid's column in today's Washington Post:
In recent weeks, she had publicly taken on the Taliban extremists — something Musharraf has not dared to do, despite all his bluster and bonhomie with President Bush since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. With Bhutto gone, there is no one who can play such a role.

Plain and simple, folks.

Update: But which book?
Coming Anarchy found an article from Hindustan Times that claims, "In 2002, [Bhutto] sent a book by Robert D Kaplan [to Indian Opposition Leader LK Advani] as a gift, writing a note saying she thought of him when she saw the book."

I must know.

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a study in comparisons

I've been trying for weeks to come up with something snarky to say about this, but I think the following speaks for itself.

Exhibit A, Kampala, Uganda:

Exhibit B, London, England:

Virgin Atlantic Limobikes
What is Virgin Limobike?
It’s a passenger motorbike. Based in London, it provides the quickest and one of the most glamorous ways to get from A to B. Celebrities use it, business people use it, in fact people from all walks of life use it, whether it be to get to the airport quickly regardless of how bad the traffic is or to glide from one end of London to the other.

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MS Uganda final report, a la Pernille

Pernille, formerly of I Have Left Copenhagen but now writing at Louder than Swahili, has published her final report on the two years she spent in West Nile as an information advisor with Sudanese refugees for MS Uganda. The report, in addition to being a fascinating, intensely honest look at development work, is beautifully laid out with photos and clips from Pernille's blog. You can download it here.

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Ugandan breakdancer featured in Oxfam video

You may remember Abramz. He's the rapping, breakdancing activist I've written about here and here. Also here. And this time. Here too. And that one. And here. Clearly, I think he's terrific.

Apparently, so does Oxfam.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently taking place in Indonesia, Oxfam released a video of testimonies from around the developing world. The people featured are primarily subsistence farmers. Climate change, in the form of floods, droughts, heat and pollution, has devastated their livelihoods. Driving their message home at the end of the film is Abramz:

If you want to help, check out Oxfam's pledge to fight climate poverty.

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como se dice 'grandma's chicken salad'?

Because I come from a classic American family, I spent many Thursday nights of my childhood watching Friends, the only sitcom of which I have ever owned a DVD (Season Four Highlights, not that I know it by heart or anything).

Perhaps that is why my image of sexy was, from the time I stopped loving Full House's Jonathan Taylor Thomas until Edward Norton stole my heart in Fight Club, constructed largely around Joey Tribbiani.

Joey could make anything naughty. Seriously, anything, as evidenced in my beloved Season Four, when he talks about Midwestern cooking. It's about 2:30 into this clip:

Grandma's chicken salad. Told you. As my celebrity crushes have shifted from movie stars to hip-hop moguls to scruffy travel writers, that phrase has stuck in my head as the epitome of sex.

Until now.

The Lawrence-based website is marketed to boomer-aged women, currently in their mid-40s to early 60s. It won an EPpy award this year for Best Newspaper-Affiliated Web Site with fewer than 1 million unique monthly visitors. BoomerGirl's popularity rests in its cheeky advice about love, looks and "living out loud," but all these things pale when compared to Español con Ramon:

Meet Ramon. Ramon is BG's "exclusive and oh-so-sexy Spanish teacher," who is dedicated to teaching you, the middle-aged woman, one useful phrase each day. These phrases, posted with accompanying audio clips, include gems like "Este paquete es muy grande" (this package is very large) and "Dónde está la fotocopiadora?" (where is the photocopier?).

My favorite, though, comes from May 29, 2007: Un costal de papas.

I'm far from middle-aged, but Ramon's sultry voice speaks to me. I've been playing it over and over this morning, the words evoking some deeper longing for sun-soaked beaches and illicit getaways with my garden boy.

"A sack of potatoes."

Mmmm. Say it again, Ramon.

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