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Uganda – Uganda’s official languages are English and Swahili, though Luganda (and a variety of other native languages) are spoken in the capital city of Kampala and surrounding areas. Uganda’s population is very young, and it has the second-highest fertility rate in the world. About 84% of Ugandans are Christian, with most belonging to the Roman Catholic church and the Anglican Church of Uganda. Another 12% of the population is Muslim. The Baganda ethnic group has dominated much of Uganda’s culture, but the mix of other tribes brings in other influences. Popular music styles such as Kidandali, Dance Hall, and Hip Hop are sung in a variety of languages. Soccer is the most popular sport, though cricket, rugby, and motor rallies are also popular. Many Ugandan meals feature a sauce or stew made of peanuts or meat, served with ugali (a dough made from corn meal). A wide variety of meats are eaten, less frequently in poor rural areas. Cassava, yam, soybeans, and sweet potato are also commonly served. Certain dishes are influenced by Indian, English, and Arab cooking.Snapshot of Ethiopia (part of the Uganda Mission)
The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, though several other languages are dominant in different regions of the country, including Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya. English is often used in secondary schools. Over 60% of Ethiopia’s population is Christian, with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church being the largest denomination. Another 33% of Ethiopians are Muslim. Christianity is more dominant in northern areas, while Islam is dominant in the eastern areas of the country. Ethiopia is a very poor country, with over half of the population of the capital city, Addis Ababa, living in slum areas. Ethiopia has many different types of folk music associated with different ethnic groups within the country. Examples include polyphonic singing, washint bamboo flutes, and kebero hand drums that are used by different groups in different regions. Many traditional music styles are still quite popular today, though more modern styles such as bolel and electronic music are also popular. Radio and TV are significantly more popular than print media in part because of low literacy rates in the country. Soccer and distance-running are popular sports in Ethiopia. Wat is a typical Ethiopian dish – it is a thick stew/paste made with vegetables and spicy meat, and is served on a type of flatbread called injera. Ethiopians generally eat with their hands instead of using utensils. Pasta is also regularly eaten. Tibs – sautéed meat and vegetables – are eaten at special occasions. Fasting is common in Ethiopian culture, as the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has several fasting periods.
Snapshot of Rwanda (part of the Uganda Mission)
Kirywanda, English, and French are the official languages of Rwanda, although Swahili is also spoken in more rural areas. Though the Roman Catholic church is the largest religion in Rwanda, membership in Protestant churches and Islam have been increasing in the years following the 1994 genocide. Ceremonies, storytelling, and other social gatherings are all important in Rwandan culture, and traditional music and dance are integral parts of these events. Modern music styles, such as hip hop, ragga, and dance-hall are also popular. Traditional woven baskets are made throughout the country. Basketball is a popular sport in Rwanda. Rwandan meals center around the food staples cassava, plantains, potatoes, nuts, and beans. Ugali (a paste made from corn flour) is regularly served in meals. A typical Rwandan diet doesn’t have much meat, though fish is popular in areas closer to water sources. The capital city Kigali also has several international restaurants, providing more variety in food choices.
*Sudan, Djibouti, and South Sudan are also part of the Uganda Mission but there is no missionary presence in these countries at this time.*
Latter-day Saints started living in Uganda and holding church meetings since as early as the 1960s. The first Ugandan to get baptized was Charles Osinde, who was baptized in Scotland and then returned to Uganda. In March 1990, an LDS couple moved to the country as part of a USAID program and church meetings were held in their come.
The first branch was created in Kampala, and in December 1990, the first missionary couple arrived in the country. By March 1991 about 30 to 35 people attended meetings at the branch.
The Church has played a role in humanitarian efforts in Northern Uganda by delivering clothing to victims of fighting between political factions.
Currently there are more than 10,000 members of the Church living in Uganda. The members are organized into two districts, Jinja and Kampala, and eight branches. The first chapel was dedicated in 1997 for the Kololo Branch. The second was built in Jinja and was dedicated in 1998.
There are currently 11,442 Latter-day Saints in the country, with one mission and 25 congregations.
Uganda cuisine has a lot of English, Arab, Asian and Indian influences. The food in the country varies by tribe, as each tribe has its own specialty. Many dishes include various vegetables, potatoes, yams, bananas and other tropical fruits. Ugandans often eat chicken, fish, beef, goat and mutton, but in poorer areas, meats are not eaten as frequently.
Main dishes usually consist of a sauce or stew of groundnuts, beans or meat. The starch usually comes from corn mean and mashed, green bananas. This starch is called ugali, and is often eaten for breakfast in a thick porridge.
There are a variety of leafy green vegetables readily available in Uganda, so you will often see them in stews, or served as side dishes in fancier homes. Bananas and pineapples are common and consumed regularly.
Peanuts are common in making a groundnut sauce. Sesame, bread and eggs are also staples in the diet.
Uganda’s transportation includes four railway lines and four airports. This mission is a walking mission and most of your time will be spent traveling on foot. Buses are available for transportation between cities and taxis are available if you have large luggage.
Ugandans tend to communicate more indirectly than directly. They like to tell stories and proverbs to express a point. They always greet each other and create small conversation before talking about business. Humor plays a large role in communicating and most Ugandans enjoy a good joke. It is best to avoid sarcasm though, because it does not always translate well.
Ugandans do not need much personal space. They often talk closely with one another, even less than an arm’s length away in most occasions. On public transportation, there is limited personal space, if it exists at all. Crowded busses and taxis are not unusual, but this is mostly the case in rural areas.
Generally, Ugandans prefer indirect eye contact. Although you can look at someone directly, continuous eye contact during a conversation is not necessary. Some people will consider too much eye contact to be aggressive. Women and children often look down or away when speaking with men or elders.
Uganda is a transitioning country when it comes to gender roles. The country is still a male dominant society, and in most rural areas women will most likely be housewives. Marriage can be very young (early teens), but seems most common in the late teens. When a man and woman get married, the man usually transfers “bride wealth” to the woman’s family. Polygamy is generally acceptable in this culture.
Pointing at people is considered rude, so generally people will gesture with their hand or arm. When gesturing for a taxi, people point straight upwards to mean they are going far, point downwards to mean they are not going far and keeping a flat hand, open toward the ground at waist-height to mean they are going a medium distance.
Spending time in silence rather than in conversation is often interpreted as being rude. Walking over a pot or bowl (especially those containing food), rather than around the pot, is considered rude.
Uganda’s official languages are English and Swahili. There are also a variety of other native languages in the country. Below are some common Swahili phrases:
Jina lako ni nani? What’s your name?
Unatoka wapi? Where are you from?
Nafurahi kukuona Pleased to meet you
Habari ya asubuhi Good morning
Sielewi I don’t understand
The climate in Uganda is tropical. The country is rainy during fall and spring seasons, and dry during summer and winter seasons. Pack many light layers that will dry quickly and are easily mix and matched to create many outfits. Men should bring lightweight suits, but they will mostly wear short-sleeved t-shirts.
Be sure to bring reliable and comfortable walking shoes. Your mission will include a lot of walking, so you need to make sure you have shoes for the journey. It is a good idea to bring rainboots to protect your feet from the rain. Moleskin is also a good idea to protect your feet against blisters.
A light raincoat and a thicker jacket are both important to bring so you can be ready for any weather.
Plot 7 Port Bell Road
P.O. Box 40041