Ugandans usually avoid discussing death, let alone planning for it. So when insurance companies started offering insurance to help people pay for funeral and burial expenses, some Ugandans were forced to overcome cultural taboos. The insurance is gaining in popularity, but many Ugandans still say that planning for death is akin to asking for it.
For generations, Ugandan custom dictated that a woman’s family must refund her dowry if her marriage ended. Women’s rights activists say this custom forced women to stay in abusive relationships when their families could not afford to pay the refund. A recent court decision banning dowry refunds has some Ugandans celebrating, but others mourning the end of what they say is a cultural practice.
A remote, dry area of Uganda is so riven with poverty that parents are duped by human-traffickers into handing over their children in the hope that they will travel to cities and find jobs and education. The reality is that these traffickers force the children to beg for money on city streets or to become sex workers. Some organizations in Uganda have made progress in fighting such trafficking, but coordination among agencies is often lacking.
Aisha Nabukeera was badly burned when she was 12 in an incident involving her stepmother. This past July, after winning a title in a beauty pageant, she decided to use her higher profile to advocate for Uganda’s victims of child abuse. A report this year said about 75 percent of children in some areas fall victim to such abuse.
As other African nations enacted bans on small plastic bags, Uganda initially took a different approach to the environmental hazard. It delayed implementation of its ban and instead, told manufacturers of the bags to become involved in recycling them. As a result, many of them built recycling facilities. But the government was not happy with the results and outlawed possession, sale and manufacture of the bags, leaving bag makers feeling betrayed.
After being nearly raped, Ugandan teen Hellen Baleke decided to take up boxing for self-defense. More than a decade later, she has brought her sister and other women into the sport. Baleke and her sister, Diana Turyanabo, now represent Uganda in international boxing competitions.
In Uganda, where about three quarters of the population is under 30, even well-educated young people often search in vain for jobs. To fix the problem, the Ugandan government is providing loans to young people who want to start their own businesses. Over the past three years, more than 50,000 young loan recipients – including some who have received special training in business management – have started and grown a range of small businesses.
Each year thousands of devout Christians walk many miles to worship at the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine outside Kampala. Catholic pilgrimage sites worldwide attract millions of visitors, who pump tourism money into local economies. For developing and post-conflict countries in particular, that money brings jobs and infrastructure improvements.
In rural Uganda, girls preparing for marriage traditionally relied on paternal aunts – called ssengas – for intimate instruction in sex and domestic life, including lessons in the controversial regional practice of labia stretching. As the familial ssenga tradition waned, professional ssengas began fulfilling a role that many Ugandans still consider vital. But a year after Parliament and the president enacted a law banning the production and dissemination of sexual imagery, two professional ssengas are fighting porn charges that could land them in prison.