Laura Gordon

Laura Gordon (Survivor Corps in Burundi): Laura worked as an English teacher in Côte d’Ivoire in 2002 and Thailand in 2003. In 2006 she graduated from the University of Oxford with a 1st Class degree in Modern History. After graduating, Laura worked in Uganda as a research intern for the Uganda Human Rights Commission. At the time of her fellowship she was pursuing her master’s degree in International Affairs at The Graduate Institute, Geneva. After her fellowship, Laura wrote: “I'm more comfortable in my skin now, and after a couple of years of wondering where I belong, I'm now sure that it's overseas in the development world. I love Burundi and I'm desperate to go back.”

Return to Uganda

11 Aug

I arrived back in Uganda late Sunday, and have spent the last couple of days wandering around the town, revisiting my old haunts (except the legendary Bubbles, which will come later in the week). I’m also catching up on sleep – as you might have gathered from my last post on all the parties in my last few days in Burundi, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, and the bus ride was pretty tiring. It’s great to be back – I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I got into Aristoc (bookstore for those of you that don’t know Kampala) and had the usual supermarket-culture-shock. It’s annoying that I can’t drink the tap water any more though (not sure if I’ve posted on this before, but in Bujumbura you can drink the tap water!).

It’s also disconcerting that in the 18 months I’ve been away, things have changed. Shoprite, Game and Uchumi have been supplemented by Nakumatt, the Kenyan supermarket chain, which have opened a branch in a brand spanking new mall and restaurant complex. Garden City is bigger, or at least the attached hotel is bigger. Kyoto has closed down and/or moved (nooooooooo!). And there’s a new brand of beer – Nile Gold, produced by the same people who make Nile Special. Haven’t tried it yet, but will report back when I have the chance.

These fast changes are disconcerting, but I suppose they are an inevitable feature of quickly-developing countries. When I go back to London or Oxford after long periods nothing much changes, because those cities have pretty much reached where they’re going to go, so change is slower and less dramatic (except for East London, with the Olympics). But Kampala is growing quickly, so changes are inevitable – people say the same things about Kigali, and I expect that if I go back to Burundi a couple of years after the election (if it goes well) then it will be very different, with either a Nakumatt or a Shoprite, taller buildings, hopefully a bookshop, and more hotels. The traffic will also be a lot worse; Claver claims that the traffic in Bujumbura is bad, something that I find hilarious – he really needs to go to Kampala! In some way’s I regret it – Bujumbura’s size and relaxed feel are part of its charm – but it’s inevitable, and I welcome it because it’s part and parcel of development. And a bookshop would be great.

UPDATE: thanks for all the great comments on this post – glad to see that it’s touched a cord. Of course feel free to quote/link it, as long as it’s properly linked, etc.

Posted By Laura Gordon

Posted Aug 11th, 2009


  • Dad

    August 12, 2009



    Your blog from Burundi has been great, informative and moving. I’ve learned a lot, and care a lot more about Burundi than I did before. Glad you are now chilling out in Uganda, and looking forward to seeing you soon.


  • Betoul

    November 29, 2009


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    December 20, 2009


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    January 24, 2010


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    February 12, 2010


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    March 16, 2010


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    March 17, 2010


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    March 17, 2010


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    March 18, 2010


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    March 18, 2010


    die ich in meinem ganzen Leben gelesen habe! mach weiter so! mfg John

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    March 19, 2010


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    March 20, 2010


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    March 26, 2010


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    March 26, 2010


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    April 1, 2010


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    June 2, 2010


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    June 4, 2010


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    June 5, 2010


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    June 8, 2010


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    June 10, 2010


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  • Boris Baggins

    June 17, 2010


    Laura, I understand how you feel when you see capitalist ventures moving into an area that you have witnessed as a very raw and underdeveloped place. When I first went to Thailand some 20 years ago I remember it being ever so idlyic and if I were to return to some of the places now I’ve been informed its like a concrete jungle with Burger Kings on every corner. While this would be viewed as a terrible development in my eyes, from speaking to a Thai person whom I have kept in touch with he know’s that while some places have list there beauty, as a result of the increase in commerce the standard of living has risen dramatically. For humanity this is a good thing, there is a balance to be struck however and the Thai government is selling off more and more of its national parks everyday sadly.. But thats the way the world works.

  • Marty Morten

    June 20, 2010


    Intriguing Article…I had to take a look at it a couple of times,as i had many different views on the issue,and it would be useful to observe what others thing on the subject

  • Plombier Toulouse

    October 26, 2010


    An interesting perspective. You have a vision of the subject very interesting. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

  • James

    October 30, 2010


    Danke für den tollen Beitrag. Hat mir viel Spaße gebracht, das zu lesen…

  • Lukas

    September 23, 2014


    Very interesting article. My class and me financally sopported two people of the Rainbow House of Hope in the past :=)

  • Lukas

    November 8, 2014


    Auch in Deutschland sehr interessant!

  • Lukas

    December 19, 2014


    Zum Glück kann ich englisch 🙂

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