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The two faces of Naguru
Publish Date: Aug 10, 2007
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By Titus Kakembo

KAMPALA’S residential areas like Wandegeya, Old Kampala and Nakasero are being swallowed by the spreading wings of the city. This has made places like Naguru Hill the option for the poor and the rich who wish to live near the city.

George Kibugujo, a commission agent, says getting a plot in Upper Naguru is as hard as the Biblical camel going through the eye of a needle. Prices range between sh20m to sh50m for a 50ft by 100ft plot, that is if you happen to get one.

“The advantage here is that the electricity poles are already in place, water is running, there is a low crime rate and the roads are good compared to Kololo,” explains Kibugujo.

“The existence of Quality Supermarket in Ntinda, Ndere Troupe Centre in Kisaasi, Kadic health clinic and several schools give the place additional value.”

However, unlike Kololo and Nakasero hills, which are strictly up market – Naguru has two faces. There is the striking Upper Naguru where having a tiled-roof on your house is a must. Homesteads have high wall fences to block the view of the shabby side of the suburb.

A walk in the neatly-tarmacked inter-connecting roads is a revelation of a serene atmosphere. The roads are littered with children learning how to ride bicycles and playing hide-and-seek behind ‘whispering’ palm trees. The children go to nearby plush schools like Kabira International and Kampala Parents schools. The little ones have a daycare centre in the neighbourhood. Here, trucks pick garbage daily. Water gushing out of huge pipes refilling swimming pools is audible to a pedestrian.

Most of the residents here drive four-wheel-drive vehicles. If you look carefully, it is not only their vehicles that are big, but their bodies too. The majority are trying to cut weight and this is where Kabira and BMK gyms in the neighbourhood come in handy.

Notices on gates scream: “This property is protected by Saracen Guards” making potential burglars flee like dogs with tails between their legs. Peeping into the compounds, is evidence that the shamba boys are doing their work. They are neatly trimmed like the beards of their bosses.

As you descend down the hill, you enter another world – that is Naguru Go-down and Naguru-Katale Zone. Here, children in tattered clothes compete for space with sheep, goats and rodents in the shanty homes.

Other than rent being affordable (between sh60,000 and sh100,000) for a bed-sitter, the value of property here is not any cheaper inspite of the area’s ghastly appearance. The area is a small, closely-packed, dirty slum on either side of the road. There are small shops, butcheries, snack parlours, cassava roasters – all banded together. Cleanliness is unknown here. The area is carpeted with rubbish and broken glass. Semi-permanent houses are all over and face wherever the developers feel like.

Privacy is a word that does not exist here. A path may pass by one’s door way.

Time check is 1:00pm and John Kachiga comes to the shop to buy two packets of Tyson (pineapple-flavoured) waragi (spirit), most probably for lunch.

What used to be posh Kampala City Council flats in the 1970s have become modern slums with algae matting the walls. They badly need of a coat of paint. The windows are gaping open with broken glass. The balconies are filled with broken chairs and rotten mattresses.

The tiled roofs of the houses facing Nakawa are in advanced stages of decay; timber doors and windows are falling apart and what used to be compounds are banana gardens.

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