The Banyala

Kikomeko Kalafa David

The first time I heard of “The Banyala” was in 2009 when the “Buganda riots” took place. I wondered how a group would want to break away from Buganda. I did not know that after 108 years under Buganda, the Banyala had decided to reclaim the autonomy they once had.

I visited Kayunga recently to discovering more about “The Banyala”. My assignment this time was to cover kingdoms in Uganda. The “Banyala” was a good choice for this project since there is little written about them.

The taxi left the new taxi park for Mukono. I made sure the conductor knows that was going to Kayunga. It is a place I had not visited before. It took me two taxis to get there. I had to alight from the one I had boarded in the new taxi park, and board another that was heading to Kayunga. Most taxis that ply the route do not reach Kayunga.

I did not know what would find in Kayunga. There were a number of questions that had to be answered. Were there communities for Banyala? Would I be allowed in the office of the Ssabanyala, the cultural head of the Banyala? What language would the people be speaking? What colour would be their skins?

I discovered that it was harder to find a Munyala in Kayunga than I had thought. They are not all over the place as many of us have been made to think. I had to ask a number of people, especially the Boda boda riders. I thought the Ssabanyala’s office was in Kayunga and that someone would lead me there. But I was wrong. Most people did not know where it was.

I was able to trace a Munyala. He is the Minister of culture in the Ssabanyala’s office. His name is Kikomeko Kalafa David. We sat down and talked. He was a “library”.

He informed me that few Banyala can speak Lunyala. Intermarriages and the dominance of Luganda have contributed to this. It is at that point that I inquired about how Lunyala is spoken.

Most words in Lunyala begin with Letter “O”.  “Omwojjo” is one of these words. It means “Boy” and “Okwabayi” is another. It means “where are you going?” “Omwojjo okwabayi” means “Boy, where are you going?”

He further explained how Bugerere, the home of the Banyala, came to be under Buganda.

‘The Banyala as a people existed even before colonialism,’ he explained. ‘When Bunyoro took control of the place, the Banyala were already there. In the war against colonialism, Bunyoro was defeated. Bugerere was one of the counties that were given to Buganda for helping the British defeat Bunyoro.’

‘“The Banyala” were initially called “Bagere”,’ he told me. ‘They were potters and builders. One day one of them was roofing one of Kabalega’s houses. He wanted to check for leakages in the roof. He peed on the roof to see whether the urine would not go through. Little did he know that the king’s guards were watching him and had seen what had done. They arrested him, punished him and branded “the Bagere”, “The banyala”. It meant “Those who pee.”’

Banyala have a number of customs that make them different from Baganda. They name their children based on proverbs, seasons and the meanings of their clans. They have 129 clans. A child born in the rainy season could be named Kajura. Rain in Lunyala is “njura”.

Modernity and intermarriages have not spared the Banyala. It is hard to trace their cultures and their historical sites. The cultural sites of the Banyala are in “Bale”, thirty kilometres from Kayunga, but even these are scattered.

I returned to Kampala through the Kayunga Gayaza route, the second route to Kayunga. I returned with answers to the questions I had gone with.

It is important that we know about other ethnic groups in Uganda. But it is more important if the people in those groups document their history.

Kikomeko Kalafa David and I

Mulumba Ivan Matthias

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Meeting St. Nelly-Sade

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My journey to improve the presence of “Ugandan” content on Wikipedia continued through December 2014. I remembered a time when I got frustrated after trying to surf about a musician or writer on the web in vain. The truth is there were few with an online presence, at the time. But that is beginning to change thanks to the efforts of those that have seen this gap and have tried to fill it.

In December 2014, my focus was on making more pages for Ugandan writers and musicians, and improving some that were already there, but needed updating. It is important to get in touch with the persons who the articles are about. But I hadn’t seen such bad timing like the one in December 2014.

December is a month when people travel and when artists have a host of concerts. Getting hold of one was not easy. But I managed to get in touch with several. They offered insight in their work and guidance where I had misspelt their names of given outdated information.

When someone talks of “The mith”, the Ugandan rapper who is a member of Klear kut, it is very easy to misspell his name as “The myth”. That is how confused I was. But thanks to collaborations with artists this problem was solved. You should imagine one’s shock when their name is spelt wrongly. The content is about them yet the article isn’t. This encourages communities to collaborate with editors, and those out there to provide the correct information on Wikipedia so that it is reliable and up-to-date.

I visited Ugandan rapper St. Nelly-Sade at his home in Ntinda, the place that had inspired his song “Nva Ntinda”. Nelly-Sade is one of the successful Luga-flow rappers thanks to his poetic prowess.

When I asked him why he chose the stage name “St. Nelly-Sade”, he told me it was a long story but managed to break it down for me. His friends nicknamed him, Saint, because he does not drink or smoke. Nelly comes from “Nelson” which is his real name. His birth name is Nsubuga Nelson.  Sade was a name of someone who was so dear to him but past away. To remember her and honour her memory, he decided to use the name.

Often we get the impression that successful writers, musicians, businessmen, and many others, started just yesterday to do what they do. But this is never the case. There is always a journey that led to where they are.

Nelly Sade started rapping when he was in early secondary school. Senior two, to be exact. Now I know your mind is going back to the days when everyone mimicked the American hip hop titans. Well, that was a phase in life. Some left the mimicking and veered off to other careers. Others, like Nelly Sade, stopped mimicking and crafted their own style.

Nelly Sade raps in Luganda. He is one of the rappers that have promoted rap in indigenous languages thanks to his rap group, Luga flow army. He informed me that the members who formed Luga-flow army were part of Bavubuka all-stars which was pioneered by Babaluku. When they left Bavubuka all-stars, they formed the group. This shows you how one project by an artist and bless the world with so many talents.

Nelly Sade used to rap in English before switching to Luganda. I confessed that I hadn’t heard any song where he rapped in English. He reminded me of the mimicking phase. But thanks to switching, his rap style is unique and has got a following since his first collaboration in 2006 with AB Kale from Tanzania, and his first solo effort in 2006. He hasn’t looked back since. He has released track after track from Tubale”, “Nzijukira”, “Kakuubidde wa” and “Nva Ntinda” “Neighbour (kankuwaneko), and many more. His first album, The translation (Okutaputa) sold out weeks after its release. If you went to look for a copy now, you would not find it. He assured me that more copies will come someday. But at the moment he is putting final touches on his new album, Omulondo ne ngero (Stories of elevation).

Nelly Sade runs “End of the weak Uganda”. “End of the weak” is a global platform for MCs. It is in more than 141 countries. Last year, the global event was hosted in Uganda and Nelly Sade coordinated it.

I visited “Urban aksent” music studio where Nelly Sade records his music. This was the location for the photo-shoot.

It is important that an encyclopaedia includes artists like Nelly Sade on top of the legends like Moses Matovu, Joanita Kawalya, Frank Mbalire, Elly Wamala, and many more. It helps us to know the journey of music in Uganda and to have the world know that the flame of talent is bright in our country.

Nelly sade and I


Mulumba Ivan Matthias

Growing Coffee in Mbale

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From my experience with the farmers in Mbale.  I have summed up growing coffee in Mbale into the following steps. Take in consideration this is just my view or understanding from what i saw. Actual coffee growing may need more information than this.

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1. The first requirement would be a piece of land . Preferably around or on the mount Elgon, where Arabica coffee thrives in Uganda. It can be several pieces of land since the possibility of getting on big piece is minimal.

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2.Planting coffee or maintaining existing trees(pruning, weeding,). Coffee is a perennial crop and So it would take you about four years before you can get a good harvest from the trees. On the other hand if you inherited tress on your piece of land, you could be able to get a good harvest during the harvesting period.

In preparation of planting coffee one would need to dig holes for the seedlings. In these holes, layers of soil and manure should be placed before putting the seedlings. Manure is usually got by digging compost pits where the farmers place organic waste from the homestead. Some farmer  have cows and mix the dung with the compost manure.

Maintaining old trees will require weeding around the plants, pruning, and maintaining the shade trees that help the coffee thrive . Some trees were planted in the  1950’s , 1960’s and 1970’s and are still producing berries.

3.All the above is done in preparation for the wet season. During the wet season  the farmer would mainly maintain the garden and other crops that he would have planted for home consumption like beans, vegetables, peanuts etc.

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4. When the harvesting period approaches, the farmer will gradually harvest depending on when the berries ripen.  For over a month , the farmer will keep taking off the red ripe berries .

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5. During the harvesting period several activities take place. After taking the red berries, the farmer will pulp them using a pulping machine which will give one berries and coffee husks .The berries are dried to a certain level of moisture. Most farmers use the sun to dry the coffee berries but some farmers with large harvest will take their produce to the Bugisu cooperative factory . Where it will be put in a machine to carry out the process from the pulping to the drying of the coffee.

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6. Coffee is then put in sacks which are weighed and transported to the bugisu cooperative union. Where the farmers sell their coffee to the cooperative. The coffee is tested for moisture and quality before being bought by the cooperative.

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7. Farmer is then paid for his coffee and will be eligible  to get a bonus if the coffee is sold abroad at a good profit.

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What i loved about this whole coffee growing process. Is the ability of farmers coming together to sell their coffee in bulk  through cooperatives . Which eliminates the middle man and makes the farmer able to sell their coffee at the price on the world market.

 

Off to Kalangala

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I arrived at Nakiwogo in Entebbe, at around midday. The journey from the old taxi park to Entebbe had been long. It is only 36 Km. But since I did not know the time when the ferry was to depart, the journey seemed to have taken longer. There were conflicting times of departure: 11:00 am, midday, 1:00 pm, 2:00pm … I did not want to take chances since the ferry made just one trip a day.

I got off the taxi at the park in Entebbe Kitoro, and got onto a boda boda. This took me to Nakiwogo, where the ferry docks.

There were two ferries docked at Nakiwogo, and a boat. My mind was on the ferries. But I later learnt that the ferry which pried that route had broken down, and we were to use the boat.

Was the boat safe? I wondered, but with no other means of travel, I had no choice but to use it.

The boat, a water taxi with seats and a roof, departed a few minutes after two, in the afternoon. The trip lasted three and a half hours. It was long. One of the engines got a problem along the way. We had to cover several miles with one. We also battled waves that made the boat rock. The faint hearted started thinking of death. It seemed as if we would not reach our destination. But we eventually reached Lutoboka landing site on Bugala Island, Kalangala district. Bugala Island is one of the Ssese Islands.

Okello and Lwanga mending a net     The boat we used

I saw fishermen repairing fish nets and boat, as soon as I got off the boat. Instinct dictated that I approach them. And I did. One of them was Okumu Donato, the secretary for the beach management unit (BMU), at the landing site. This unit is tasked with fighting illegal fishing, empowering the welfare of farmers, promoting hygiene on the Island, improve tax collection and promote sustainable fishing.

Okumu gave me a tour of the landing site, especially the fishing activities. The nets I had seen after stepping foot on the Island, were nets for fishing silver fish. Since the moon was out, the fishermen were repairing them to put them in storage for one week until the moon was gone. Silver fish is fished using nets and steamer lamps, when there is no moon light.

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There were drying units for silver fish at the shore. These are managed by Basookakwavula women’s group, which is funded by the Rotary club of Kampala. This is one of the ways to boost the women’s incomes since women do not fish.

I saw fish storage boxes. These are steel cases where fish is preserved before transportation. They are filled with ice. Fish can be kept there from two to three days, up to a week.

Donato informed me that the storage boxes are used because of the need to supply fish for export and to other markets. This was not necessary long time ago, where fishing was done to provide fish for a household. Fishermen would eat most of the fish. What they were not able to consume, they would salt it or smoke it, to preserve it. They was no need for the storage boxes.

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He took me to his home where he was smoking fish. The system is of a firewood stove with a brick-walled platform, with wire mesh on top. The fish are put on the mesh and covered with iron sheets to retain the heat. The heat below is powered by firewood. After the fish have been smoked, firewood is roomed and they are left to cool, before they are stored.

He had chicken, ducks and pigs at home. This, like with other fishermen, is to supplement income from fish. Some farmers do gardening, but in small gardens. When they is little fish or the seasons do not allow them to fish, farming enables the fishermen to survive.

I was quick to notice that most houses were timber walled and temporary. Donato informed me that it’s because the landing site is in a forest reserve and the fishermen had not got permission to set up permanent houses. Also, fishermen are on the move most of the time, so there is no need of building permanent houses. He helped me to find a place where I would sleep before we parted ways, agreeing to resume the next morning.

Fishermen wake early. By 7:00 O’clock, they are awake. I met two fishermen, Okello James and Lwanga Kabogoza. They fish together and have been fishing for over twenty years. They specialise in silverfish (Mukene). Okello is 33 years and has been fishing since he was 7 years. Lwanga is 30 years old. He has been fishing since he was 10 years.

They did not go to school. Fishing is all they know. They informed me that they fish when it is dark. When there is moonlight, there is too much light in the water which scares off fish. You cannot attract then to the net, to trap them. That is why they do not fish. The moon spends a week when it is out (full moon). During that week, they do not fish. They repair their nets and collect firewood which they sell to people especially those involved in fish smoking. They also do gardening, and rest. This period is called “Njako”.

If they are to fish, they leave the Island at around 5:00pm in the evening and return at 6:00am or 7:00am.  They dry the fish immediately. Silver fish for human consumption is dried on the drying units to avoid contamination with sand. The one to be used for chicken feeds is dried on the sand to get the additional nutrients from the insects and sea shells in the sand, that chicken need.

The net they use for fishing has between nine to fourteen sections called “golofa”, bound together with strings. They use six steamer lamps to trap the fish. Long ago only one steamer lamp and a smaller fish net, were used. This kind of fishing is called “Hurry up” and it is done in the middle of the lake. They usually fish from ten or twenty basins of silver fish on a good day. On a bad day, they fish 6 basins.

They told me that on Buvuma Island, silverfish is fished near the shore, mostly by women. The fish net has six sections.  The type of silverfish trapped this way is “silver fish of the shore”, locally named “Mukene owokutaka.”

When I inquired about the fish volumes at the Landing site, I was informed that there is less fish because of the wind. If the lake is calm, there is more fish. If the lake is unstable, it drags dirt from the shore into the lake, which chases the fish away.

Donato tool me to a fish cage in a few meters into the lake. It was during his trip in the afternoon to feed the fish. Fish are fed three times a day, at 7:00 am, 1:00pm and 5:00pm. The cage project was pioneered by the deputy RDC of Kalangala, and it is managed by Lutoboka Cage Farmers Association. It is a pilot project, meant to test the sustainability of cage fish farming.

There are 20 cages, made out of mesh, wood and empty metallic drums. It is kept in place with anchors. Only one of these cages has fish. There are 1200 fish in it much as a cage is supposed to have a minimum of 3500 fish. I was informed when the project is tested, more fish will be introduced.

There are other types of fish caught at the island. Tilapia, sprat and Nile perch are among them.

Sprat (Nkejje) is fished near the shore and the beaches, in the evening and during morning hours. It is trapped with a net. This net is thicker than that used to fish Mukene. Tilapia is mostly fished with nets. Nile perch is fished using hooks. Nets are discouraged to support sustainable fishing and to discourage the fishing of immature fish.

I paid a visit to a fisherman’s home. He had a chest with 1000 hooks. These were of size 12. The small the hook size, the bigger the hook. U was struck by the small size of the hook. When I inquired why the hook used to fish such a small fish is small, I was told that once a hook gets into the gums of the Nile perch, it can’t break free. A sprat is usually put on one end of the fish. The hooks are put in water five meters apart. Not all of them get fish, though. Sometimes, the fishermen get between 10 to 20 fish of different sizes.

I took time to tour the Island. I visited the Kalangala District headquarters, the radio station and the several beaches. Not only is the Island a centre of fishing but also of tourism and political activity. The beauty there cannot be described. It can only be witnessed.

I left the Island the next day at 7:40 am. The boat usually leaves at 8:00 am. But it was full by 7:30am.. That’s why we left early. Once the boat departs before you board, you have to wait for it the next day or travel to another landing site and use the ferry to Bukakata. From there, you board a taxi from Masaka, to Kampala.

On my way back, I eavesdropped in a conversation of what fishing was like long ago. No one caught silverfish those days. It was left in the lake for the birds. The lake used to glitter because of them. It birthed a saying that “you glitter like silver fish.” Those days, the fish volumes in the water were high, unlike now.

I was left to imagine what that felt like, seeing fish floating on water. But I guess we will witness it one day.

 

Mulumba Ivan Matthias

A visit to the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre, Kajjansi

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For years, I’ve passed through Kajjansi but had not noticed the signpost of the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre, Kajjansi. The things our eyes miss! This facility was my next stop in the coverage of fishing in Uganda. It is a government facility, a branch of the Fisheries resource research Institute, in Jinja. But unlike the facility in Jinja, this one focusses only on aquaculture.

My journey to the facility started from Usafi Taxi Park, which is a stone’s throw from the clock tower. I must confess that the realisation that I would board from Usafi and not the old Taxi Park almost dampened my spirits. But thankfully, the inconvenience did not make me change my plans to go to the facility. I was the last passenger to board the taxi. Within a couple of minutes after my arrival at the park, we were out of the taxi park and onto the road.

If you do not want to get lost, tell the conductor you are going to “fisheries institute”, near Uganda clays. Uganda clays is the famous neighbour. Its fame has dwarfed that of the aquaculture centre. But why wouldn’t it? People buy clay products every day and pay attention to the source of these products. How many people think about the source of fish on their plates?

I alighted from the taxi a few meters from the entrance of Uganda clays and crossed the road. I took the murrum path next to a blue sign post of the facility. But I still asked the people who were washing cars whether I was headed in the right direction. They pointed at a storied building and told me that it was the facility I was going to. I got onto a boda-boda to cover the next one kilometre or so, to the facility.

At the facility, I met Dr. Owori Wadunde, who is the senior research officer at the facility. He is a library of information concerning fish farming. He took me through the types of fish that are mostly reared and the trials of fish farming.

‘Fish farming is similar to farming of any crop,’ he said. ‘You just have to know the right fish and how to farm it.’ He told me that the facility’s research is demand based. If people request for a particular type of fish, the facility will research about it. Why? I asked. At which he responded that the efforts of the facility are to encourage fish farming since it was not traditionally done in Uganda, unlike in Asian countries. So they have to encourage people to do it, by providing the types of fish that people want to farm. Once people try farming fish and the project is unsuccessful, they tend to abandon it.

These efforts are geared to curbing the dwindling amounts of fish in natural water bodies. Dr. Owori informed me that not every fish type is successfully farmed. They are fish that if taken out of the natural water sources, they stop reproducing. It is not until they are injected with hormones that are harvested from their brains that they start reproducing. The African catfish is one such fish.

Tilapia is the most widely farmed type of fish since it reproduces in shallow waters. But farmers out there are asking for other types of fish like the Nile perch, catfish, Ningu Labeo, Kisinja, name it. The Nile perch, for example, is bigger and fetches more money when mature.

The facility also has a department for Information Technology. It is in this department that I found Martin Turyashemerra, with whom I created a Wikipedia page for the facility. Given his placement and close proximity to resourceful people like Dr. Owori, the future coverage of aquaculture in Uganda and fishing, is in safe hands.

Martin and I   ponds at the site

It is Martin who gave me a tour of the facility, the fish ponds and the breeding grounds. There is also a hatchery for fish eggs at the facility. This has made it possible for farmers to access fish eggs that can populate their ponds.

If you are out there and thought that all fish in Uganda comes from lakes and rivers, the next time you order for fillet, consider this possibility. May be that fish was hatched from this facility. So it is not a wastage of money and resources. It is an avenue of restocking natural water sources with fish types that were close to extinction like the Ningu Labeo and Kisinja.

By Ivan Mulumba

Visit this place one day. Apart from the beautiful view, you will leave with a wealth of knowledge that can transform you and the lives of peo

Fishing in Uganda

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My assignment to cover fishing in Uganda started with a visit to Gaba landing site. I made several trips to the site, meeting with the officials managing the place. Each time, it was not possible to interview them given the tight schedules for both the fishermen and the officials. I was advised to go back on a Sunday when there was less activity at the sight.

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On the Sunday we had planned to meet, the heavy down pour forced us to cancel the plans. I went back the following Sunday. The site was not as busy as it was on week days. Upon arrival, I went to the KCCA offices at the landing site and talked to Isabirye Juma, the officer fisheries KCCA. It is him that I had met with on a number of occasions when I went to the site.

He introduced me to two gentlemen who handle transportation of fish. We talked briefly. They informed me that it was not a good time because there were issues they were dealing with. They advised me to walk around the site and meet real fishermen upon hearing what I was researching about. A number of fishermen were not cooperative since talking to me meant temporarily disrupting their work. They were able to identify types of fish for me and how they were caught. But they were quick to tell me that it was not a good time.

I was about to give up when I found Musisi John, a fisherman who was readying a fishing net for fishing. He told me that he had been fishing since the late eighties. He told me that contrary to what people thought, the population of fish had not gone down. It had actually gone up. It is just that the number of fishermen had gone up and the fishing gear had also improved. So there were more people fishing for the resources than say on the early nineties. He said at the time he joined fishing there was only Gomba fishing company and Nafero, but now there were many.

Musisi John

He took me through the types of nets used for different types of fish, the types of fish caught at Gaba landing site, the sizes of hooks and the general state of fishing. He told me that Nile perch and tilapia are the types of fish mostly caught at the site. He added that islands have changed because this is a job. Fishing techniques have improved even transportation. He gave me a history of fish and promised to be of help when I needed him.

Mulumba Ivan Matthias.

Wikimedia User name: Faintsmoke

Road trip Mbale

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One thing i have learnt about having kids is one has to plan, plan and plan some more. Getting out of the house takes twice or thrice the time you would ordinarily take. So you can understand why i started my trip to Mbale two days earlier. I love road trips even if i sleep most of the time. I cant help it, its like the car is rocking me like a baby while singing me a lullaby.  To my surprise , i dint have even one wink of sleep during my four hour trip to Mbale.  It helps that i slept over in jinja, halfway my journey.

Fast forward, to the last two hours of travel Mbale . I have seen many beautiful places in this world but Mbale is most definitely among my top ten. The city has some sort home coming feeling. Like your glad you came . As we travelled 100km per hr, i kept trying to take photos of the towns we were going through. That didnt go so well, and i promised my self to keep stopping at the towns on my way back.

We got into town just in time to book a hotel and head off for our first meeting with Mr. Patrick Nabutala, who was able to  show us the societies we were going to work with. This meeting was a warm welcome to Mbale.

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The next day we set off early to our first society Bukhaweka GCS . We didn’t know our destination so our journey involved lots of stop overs to ask for directions and reverse gears to undo our getting lost. But we finally made it and we were received by the chairman and treasurer of the society. We headed out to a coffee garden  and were introduced to a beautiful lady who was the owner.  We held a series of interviews about the planting of coffee, cultivation, maintenance and harvesting coffee. We arrived when she had already harvested and was in the drying process. We then headed to the society office, were they gave us a run through about how things operate when coffee gets to the society. Finally we met an enthusiastic farmer who had an even bigger plantation. Most of his trees were quite old ,planted in the 1950s to the 1970s. His explanation were more detailed and you could tell he was quit passionate about the coffee but also being able to share his knowledge

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After the society hosted us for a drink or two, we rushed off to the Bugisu Cooperative Union where some one was waiting to take us around the factory. I must say the coffee process leaves no room for mistakes. The gentleman took us through the process from when the societies brings their produce(dried coffee) to when it is exported.I loved the smell of coffee, the numbers of people weighing coffee, sorting and pricing. It gives one a boost of adrenaline (that exciting feeling of being part of a big activity) .In my next article i will describe the whole process of coffee growing . So stay tuned for these messages.

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