Thursday, 23 August 2007

Rio Ferdinand - ready for CHOGM!

We met with an NGO over lunch today at a place in northern Kampala called the Pavement Tandoori. The menu included "Chicken vindaloo - Goan speciality: chicken in a tangy tomato, onion and vinegar gravy. An inspiration for the British football team!"

Football is huge here, and the English premier league in particular. Fights have been known to break out on match days in the town centre between rival Arsenal and Manchester United fans. A few years ago a satellite TV company got the rights to show some premiership games, and loads of football fans signed up for dishes in preparation for the start of the new season. When it came, they realised that the company had only got the rights to some games - and Arsenal and Manchester United weren't included. The fans stormed the company's headquarters and an emergency press conference had to be called. Now another company has got the rights to show some of the bigger games, so fans have had to buy two satellite dishes to make sure they get to see their team play.

All around Kampala there are giant posters proclaiming that various politicians and national celebrities are "Ready for CHOGM". CHOGM is the bi-annual Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which is being held in Uganda later this year. One of them even features Rio Ferdinand, who visited a while ago, declaring "I'm Ready for CHOGM!" There's a huge amount of hotel building and tidying-up going on in Kampala in preparation. NGOs are asking whether this will be all that the Commonwealth heads see of Uganda, or whether it will be an opportunity to highlight the continuing plight of the 1.8 million internally displaced people in the north too.

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