Kampala Women Getting By: Wellbeing in the Time of AIDS

By Sandra Wallman | Go to book overview

One
Introduction

This book is set in 1994. It is about 'getting by' in a small and densely populated area on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. In 1969, as old people remember it, Lower Kamwokya (pron. Kam-oh-tcha) was no more than a handful of houses below the Kamwokya Road. It began to burgeon with the disruptions of war, displacement and civil unrest which Uganda suffered over the twenty years leading to 1986, and continues to grow — now popular with people from many backgrounds for the range of options it offers whether for housing, getting by or for the treatment of illnesses.

Because the settlement is largely unplanned and thus without municipal benefits, wellbeing of every kind depends on the ingenuity of ordinary men and women who live in it. At the same time, the diversity and openness of the Kamwokya urban system ensure both that the informal economy flourishes and that people have relatively more scope for putting a livelihood together in this than in other parts of the city. However meagre their material and social resources, residents on the whole expect to get by here as well as, if not better than, in a home village or other Kampala suburb.

A positive atmosphere does not, of course, deny the fact that this is a community under stress. Given the constraints on resources and the compression of diversities in Kamwokya, getting by depends on existential as well as economic compromise. Each set of beliefs, boundaries and norms will inevitably have been challenged by encounter with many others, and everyone's traditions transformed by more or less painful bricolage.

Because the following chapters report the essentially creolized ways of life that result, some of them bear little resemblance to earlier accounts of culture and livelihood in Uganda. Furthermore, being multi-disciplinary, the book's narrative line is less consistent than that conventionally expected of a single subject monograph — whether ethnographic, economic or medical in intent.

The first objective here has been to freeze-frame a still changing community to see how it deals with epidemic and other crises now, so that well-intentioned intervention may be designed to enhance local capacity rather than ignoring or suppressing it. The second has been to grasp as a single system, in the way real people must, the many

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Kampala Women Getting By: Wellbeing in the Time of AIDS
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Photographs, Sketches, Maps & Figures viii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Notes on Contributors x
  • One - Introduction 1
  • Two - Kamwokya 17
  • Three - People in Place 47
  • Four - Community Life 73
  • Five - Household Wellbeing 90
  • Six - Treatment Options 111
  • Seven - Home Treatment 142
  • Eight - Children's Illnesses 152
  • Nine - Private Disease 166
  • Ten - Six Women 189
  • Eleven - Community Life II 206
  • Twelve - Summary & Conclusions 226
  • References 236
  • Index 241
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