National Geographic : 1971 Nov
quandary. They hold British passports, but Britain restricts their entry with a quota sys tem. So most live bitterly and uncertainly, from day to day. "Can you imagine what it's like to be one of us?" an Asian friend asked me. "To be sub jected to this contempt? We trudge from em bassy to embassy, hat in hand, begging for refuge. But everywhere we're unwelcome." And so they wait through the blooming of the hibiscus and jacaranda; they watch the shrikes and cuckoos knife through the frangi pani-scented air, and all the land is an ache of loveliness. I remember dusk in a garden, with chicken sizzling over charcoal and, in a sudden stillness, the piping voice of an Indian child. "But Mommy, isn't there some medicine that will turn our skins black? Then we could stay." So the Africans and Asians contend with each other and with the future. When I visited Jinja, Uganda's second city, shuttered and forsaken shops of Asian traders dotted the streets like stigmata of the struggle. Explorers Sought Elusive Fount At Jinja, the slate waters of Lake Victoria surge through a narrow rock gap and flow northward as the Victoria Nile. For 75 years, until 1937, when an obscure German explorer, Dr. Burkhart Waldecker, traced the great river's southernmost beginning to a tiny spring in Burundi, this had been considered the source of the Nile. To the ancient world, the grain-rich Delta of Egypt spelled life-the Old Testament re counts how the children of Israel fled there in time of famine-and the Nile spelled Egypt. Whence flowed this vital river? Herodotus, in the fifth century B.C., followed it as far as Aswan-600 miles from the delta-and abandoned the quest. The 19th century saw the search for the "fountains of the Nile" swell to a crescendo. The list of explorers involved-Samuel Baker, Dr. David Livingstone, Henry Stanley, Richard Burton, John Hanning Speke-reads like a pantheon of African discovery. But only Speke, the least flamboyant of all those swashbucklers, succeeded in establishing the great river's connection with Lake Victoria. In 1860 Speke began an expedition across East Africa which, after a year and a half, led him to the realm of Mutesa I, the kabaka, or king, of Buganda. Ganda civilization at that time was among the most advanced in Black Africa. Magnificently wrought conical cane-and-reed houses soared to 50 feet; canoes able to carry 150 men plowed Lake Victoria on missions of war and commerce. A dazzling variety of instruments-xylophones, flutes, Home fires warm the morning in the cool uplands of Kigezi; sweet po tatoes, peas, beans, and maize flourish on terraces of rich volcanic soil. Many Ugandans live on such family farms, where cooperation is a quality more admired than individual initiative. The people of Uganda have always owned their land; British administra tors discouraged the white settlement that disrupted African life in the neighboring Kenya highlands. KODACHROME © N.G .S.