We arrived in Entebbe on Wednesday at 12:30AM. Robert Sembuya, head of Ankole Living Uganda (ALU) and Godfrey, drove us into Kampala on the new fancy traffic-free highway. After a good rest, we woke up to tropical birds singing, breakfast fruit and African Tea on the veranda with Cathy Cliff, a dear friend and lovely Irish lady who’s lived her whole life in Uganda. We took a tour of the new ALU office & workshop - there is a business office and break room, 2 storage areas, an outdoor working area, a living area, and a partially enclosed shop where all the equipment is kept and the products are cut and polished. Ellen and Anna Louise tasted their first “Rolex” (Chapati and egg roll) on the street while I met with Carol, the ALU office manager. Then our gorgeous friend, Vivian Awill joined us for an afternoon shopping adventure, downtown finding fabric for our new Ankole clothing line. The massive amount of people going here and there is always an experience - it’s very congested. We stumbled upon a good supplier of a linen/cotton mix with Ankole colors in stock. Snatched up the material and after a few stops, we made it across town to Vivian’s sewing studio where we met her master seamstress and colleagues near Prayer Mountain.
The next day, we ventured out of town toward Queen Elizabeth National Park, but just before Lake Mburu we drove into the luscious Bush, past pigs and a farmer, and saw monkeys in the trees! Marcia’s leather workshop is open air and very “Out of Africa” looking. She buys her leather from Kenya then stains it herself. Marcia is Dutch but she trains and employs Ugandans in the area. She is meticulous. She and her crew make our safari trunks and all our leather products. We sat around a large table, ate pasta with cabbage, and talked about life in the Bush. Another thing, we thought we would have WiFi and my Africa phone to communicate with, but neither worked anywhere all week.
As always there is one day when things just don’t go right, and that was day 3 for us. While we were photographing the process of making our horn products at ALU, Anna Louise almost fainted and Ellen’s eye became so irritated, the two had to go back to the house. Robert and I continued with our schedule, and met with a government official about other natural materials and exporting products. That night I gave a staff appreciation dinner - everyone dressed smart and had great input to the success and growth of Ankole Living in the US and Uganda. The weather was amazing while we were there. From there, every meeting was a blessing. All our friends and co workers were healthy and doing well, and that has not always been the case in the past. What confirmation, we must be ready to grow as a business.
Bobby and I connected on WhatsApp before I went to Sunday worship at Jordan House, Operation Uganda’s place. 3 hours of prayer and praise - never gets old! We ran from there to Khana Kazana on the Hill for a lavish Indian food spread that was divine. Robert and the guys were feverishly working at the workshop/office to finish our Malia bowls for the Neimans order. We spent that evening with Vivian, Julius (her husband) and shared the “All for Love” vision with their team. All for Love is a new business ministry offering wedding products and services to Ugandans plus marriage ministry. There’s never a dull moment. But probably the most exciting news, other than we will be making new products from other natural materials in Africa this year, is that we will be offering you the opportunity to travel with us to Uganda to experience the country for yourself. Ankole Living will be offering you a way to more deeply connect with East Africa - it’s people, wildlife, the terrain.
Be on the lookout for more information on our website in the Spring!