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Life in Uganda


  • The population is 41.49 million (2016). With 77% of its population under 30 years old, & only 2.5% 65 years or older, Uganda likely has the youngest population in the world!

  • The education system provides 7 years of primary education, followed by 6 years of secondary and, for some fortunate students 3 to 5 years of post-secondary education. In 1996 the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, announced that four school-age children per family could benefit from free primary education, in a programme known as Universal Primary Education (UPE). Literacy in Uganda approached 75% in 2015.

  • Some children attend boarding school and some go to day classes. The children at boarding school get up around 5:00 for morning preps and cleaning of their dormitories followed by their classes. Day school classes begin at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning and may continue until 5:00 in the late afternoon with only snack and lunch breaks. The students play many of the same games and sports we play here in Canada – football, soccer, netball and in some well-established schools volleyball, rugby, basketball and baseball. Of course, the accompanying rules and chatter is all in the local language.

  • There are many tribes and therefore many different cultural traditions throughout Uganda. In the Baganda culture, for example, as a sign of respect, women and girls would kneel down in front of their elders. This tradition is now mainly reserved for traditional ceremonies.

  • Many Ugandans live in thatched huts with mud and wattle walls, but styles of building vary. Corrugated iron is used extensively as a roofing material. Although a recently released housing survey by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics suggests an improvement in housing opportunity, there is still a huge problem with a housing deficit of 550,000 units.

  • In Uganda, men wear the kanzu (photo at right).

  • Women from central and eastern Uganda wear a dress with a sash tied around the waist and large exaggerated shoulders called a gomesi. (photo at right). Women from the west and north-west drape a long cloth around their waists and shoulders called suuka and women from the south-west prefer a long baggy skirt and tie a short matching cloth across their shoulders. Women also wear a floor-length dress called a busuti, introduced to them by 19th century missionaries.

Photo by Alexis MacDonald

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