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A sleepy town no more

The last time I travelled the road to Kampala, I was 10 months old. I was born in the Ugandan capital in 1969, and left with my parents the following year. Four months after our departure Idi Amin, with a little help from the British, seized power in a coup. After that, massacres, civil wars and life kept me away. “Kampala, Uganda” became just a curiosity on every form I filled in.

But in January my sister and I finally persuaded my father to return to Kampala with us. From Entebbe airport we drove down a perfect road to the capital. Every kilometre there was a signpost: “Kampala 37km, Kampala 36km, 35km,” et cetera. Uganda had just hosted the Commonwealth summit, known locally simply as “CHOGM” and, with even the Queen flying in for t

he event, things had been made spick and span. Kampala may never have been so glittering.

My Dad doesn’t do nostalgia, he says, “especially not about the past”, and as a result I grew up knowing almost nothing

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