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Is it better to live in Nairobi or Kampala? Be the Judge

Last weekend found me in Uganda with a group of journalists from East Africa.

It was both social and formal trip so I got both experiences which left me wondering: is better to live in Kenya or Uganda? Read on.

1. The customer is not always right.

One night we had a made dinner reservations at a restaurant. The food was delicious, the drinks were smooth and the music from a local group of energetic men and women was awesome.

But after ordering for drinks, people became engaged and chatty. So when the waitress returned with the drinks, she shouted “excuse me”. Nobody paid attention. She shouted again and went on to dump the drinks on one corner of the table and left.

Oh, and if the waitress does not understand what “double Jack Daniels” mean she will simply tell you it’s out of stock never mind you can see it on the shelf.

2. Reservations means nothing.

After a three-hour drive, we came to the outskirts of Kampala. Everybody was relieved to see the driver take a right turn into a guesthouse. Everybody was hungry.

After freshening up, we lined up for food. Ours host had reserved lunch at the guesthouse, or so he thought. Only the first four people got enough food. The rest had to withstand hunger pangs until dinner in Kampala.

“You did not confirm. After reserving, you need to confirm,” was the response we got from the supervisor after enquiring on why we did not get enough food despite having reserved.

3. Long queues at the Entebbe International Airport.

At the immigration, there are just four desks and it’s not uncommon to find just two officers manning the entire desk. You therefore need to arrive at the airport well in advance.

In addition, the airport has two gates so more queues at the final security check point before boarding.

From the lounge you can see all the doors so you never worry about missing your flight. The electronic screens that show flight time are missing so you have to have really sharp ears.

4. Taxi means something else.

After the official dinner, we decided to extend our party as the rest of the people retired.

“We’ll take a taxi,” my Kenyan friend and I told them.

When we finally had our ‘fix’, we decided to take the “taxi”.

“You can’t get a taxi now; they have closed for the day,” a security guard informed us.

We nearly broke a sweat when it hit us that taxis in Uganda actually mean 14-seater public service vehicles. We got to our hotel safely though.

5. ‘Kuona sio bure’

After arriving in Kampala, two Kenyan friends decided to go shopping while most of us had a siesta.

They got a rude shock in one of the stalls when an attendant viciously scolded them for wasting her time checking out her hand bags, enquiring the price and then failing to buy.

That particular attendant can make do with lessons from Kenyan merchants whose mantra is ‘kuona ni bure.’

On a more positive note

6. Free Wi-Fi at the airport.

At the Entebbe airport, you are spoilt for choice with a number of telcos offering free unlimited Wi-Fi.

At the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, unless you’re in the government, VIP or first class lounges, you are entitled to 15 minutes of free internet after which you’re supposed to pay.

Yet we have free Wi-Fi on the streets -and a slum- in Nakuru town. Talk of priorities.

7. They know how to party.

In Kampala, the party begins at 11 p.m. when most clubs in Nairobi are packed with drunken revellers.

While most Nairobians will dress for the night out before leaving their houses in the morning, most Uganda’s will leave work, rush home, freshen up and hit the clubs.

This also gives them time to eat hence managing the alcohol better.

However, unlike the enterprising attitude of Kenyan club owners where a waiter will come to take order before you even take a seat, in Kampala, it is possible to see a group of young men enter a club a start dancing without buying anything.

One of my friends even suggested that the establishments are ran like charities.

8. They take their security seriously.

When we landed, the British government had issued a similar advisory for Uganda. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government took it seriously and graciously and deployed security personnel to patrol the streets including at night.

When a similar advisory was issued against Kenya two days later, the usual victim mentality kicked in. Government operatives were angered by the advisory, dismissing it as sabotage.

On Wednesday, President Kenyatta haughtily dismissed British tourists as “taxi drivers”.

About 12 hours later, masked men raided Garissa University and killed at least 147 people. Meanwhile, Uganda has not had a terrorist attack since mid-2010, although like Kenya they have deployed their army in Somalia.