Spending 2 weeks in Africa sounded like a fantasy and abit of a scary experience, but i was determined to quench my fears of the motherland by just going and seeing what came of it.
I’ve been connected to Uganda because of an NGO, for which I wrote a double page feature on as Beauty & Lifestyle Editor at The Promota Magazine, in which I interviewed UK Cheif Officer.
I was then all set to do a limited edition bathing range for the charity and donate a percentage to support the charities deaf and dumb beneficiaries.
At the time, RSF was a very young business, so I felt a little unprepared for the task and went back to the drawing board.
RSF died prematurely this summer, which we don’t need to waste anymore time discussing. As soon as that door closed, new doors opened instantly!
The idea of Uganda came up again, as the charity got intouch and a unnamed person (i’ll call him Mr. O) inspired me to go and check out the possiblities.
I desperately needed a serious holiday, but as always needed to involve business. It was sealed – visit the co-operatives in Uganda, set up a spa and link up with as much press and influential people as possible.
Got my yellow fever jabs, booked my flight and boarded the cold plane at Heathrow.
It was the 1st of many things:
– The first time i’d been to East Africa
– The first time i’d travelled on a plane by myself
– The first flight that took longer than 7hrs (NYC) 13hr journey (stopped of at Brussels + Rwanda)
– First time i’d had a Hollywood Wax (LOL, well, it’s supposed to be really hot out there!)
I arrived, stinking and tired at 11pm, Kampala, Entebbe Airport. Mr.O was there with a huge hug. I’M IN AFRICAAAAA!!! Real Africa!
Jumped in a cab, and dropped off my bags and his apartment in Syambia. We went through the town, late night sightseeing, as he explained that during the day, the traffic was killer.
Sunday 28th – On sunday, went sightseeing through Kampala, Garden City. In the evening, we went to meet a friend at her apartment in Bugalobi. We headed to meditteraneo for a wonderful dinner.
Monday 29th – Had a good meeting at KTU, Finalised the needs of the charity and my role as business teacher and production/ manufacturing mentor for the beneficiaries with a launch of the handmade soaps in November 2011. Headed to Enjoy Store in Forest Mall, a new complex which is currently unfinished. Discussed the potential to stock new brand. Had dinner at Mama Ashanti. Finally stayed at Emin Pasha – room 27. Absolutely loved my room, was like an English Studio flat.
Tuesday 30th – Mummy’s bday, called home, spoke to my bro and mommy. Went to KTU to work from the office, spoke to Keturah, Editor of Flair Magazine to meet for interview. Had dinner with J&J at Mama Ashanti. becoming a regular spot. Slow service but good Nigerian/Ghanian food!
Wednesday 31st / Thurs 1st – Spent time at Enjoy with J & J. Feeling abit isolated and alone. Everything out here is so slow. People, time and work ethic.
Visited co-operatives in Fort Portal. Cocoa Butter + Avocado Providers.
Friday 2nd – Friday craft market, Jojo txed – Tiggs died. Devastation! Complete shut down. Mike took me a Ba’hai Temple. I spoke to Tiggs in my spirit. Jazz night at EP. Went to Cayenne, had a great evening with Mr.O’s family. Dance-hall queens wearing barely any clothes. The women here are very desperate. There are only a few decent guys out here and everyone is money orientated, so the club is like a meat rack.
Sat 3rd – sat by the pool, knackered, tired. went to fast food in Garden City with F & S. Went to F’s in Buziga. Then off to the goat race near Victoria Lake. Was great fun, watching the traditional dancing. Back to EP. Slept, got dressed. Went the sleeziest rave in the world “Club Rouge’ – girls dancing on the bar for 1,000 UGX (0.45p) bills. Had a near death experience, but i wont go into that here – look out for my memoir book ” A Life Less Irritating”. Let’s just say, when in doubt, jump out of car! The worst that can happen is a broken nail and a spranned wrist.
Sunday 4th – Spent the day in bed, recovering, rethinking my life flashing before my eyes just a few hours ago. Realising that the only person you can trust in this world is your mother and GOD. Both of whom I thought of as I was in my darkest moments. Had a late night hand massage and manicure to fix my now-bodged nail job. Watched the Olympics – USAIN BOLT – ON FIREEEEE!
Monday 5th – Back on my A Game, thinking about planning a trip to China to grab packaging, contact Jem Yeung for advice.
Tues 6th – Had breakfast. Finalised paperwork for Enjoy concession store. Waiting for Mr.O. Get in touch with the editor of African Woman, we arrange a meet for Wed.
Wed/Thurs 7th/8th- More meetings, more brainstorming, more realisation of how lucrative Africa is for potential. Basically, the beauty industry is 20yrs behind UK. Mr.O’s 2 newphews + niece came to EP. Took them for a little paddle in the pool. Adorable kids, feeling a tad broody. Chilled all night, listening to Jayz…
Friday 9th – breakfast in bed. Chilled for half the day, got ready. Feeling abit sickly, but cant quite place my finger on it. Met with Annete of African Woman, lovely girl, really understood my brand vision and celebrated my huge achievements. Also, very happy for me to become a features writer for AW. YEAH! Back to EP. Got ready, had desert for dinner, met Mike. Went to support Mr.O’s in Nasurah’s fashion show at Golf Club Hotel. Running 3hrs late! All the socialites came out. Found it very amusing, was like being at an under 18’s rave in tottenham. Got a cab with some girls (Yasmine + Hanna) bck 2 EP.
Saturday 10th – Final day. Feeling quite ill, noticed 4 huge bite marks on my right arm. Mike reccomends I go to the local doctor. He takes a look at me, confirms it aint Malaria, but its food poisoning and they require a STOOL! Ermmmm…under pressure, I just couldn’t do a doo! lol! Embarrassment.
decided to go bk to EP and continue packing. Mr O couldn’t drop me to the airport, a driver took me. Had a beer to make sure I could sleep through the whole flight.
What have I learnt:
– East Africa is beautiful. There is extreme poverty and extreme wealth – nothing inbetween.
– Doing business can be a slow process. What takes Londoners a day, takes them 3 months.
– Trust NO-ONE. Have your own back.
– Take all promises with a pinch of salt, even a gentlemens agreement can be unconfirmed or forgotten.
– As a woman, you will become an object of sexual desire. Dress like a man, or have a man close the deals for you.
– It is vitually impossible to be a VEGAN in AFRICA. They look at you like u’ve lost ur mind!