Kisoro local pub, Uganda

On a sunny Friday I was strolling around the area of Kisoro under the watchful eye of the Mgahanga Volcanoes looking for a nearby lake. About an hour into my hike, perhaps around 11am, I was welcomed into a small wooden shack which served as the local pub. The day before, on the 22nd of August 2013, the Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance had just published new findings: in addition to having the highest alcohol consumption in Africa and residing in the top 10 alcohol consuming countries in the world (#8), Uganda has an enormous underage drinking problem. This doesn't only involve the teenage drinking problem, which is well-known in the West, but more worryingly babies and toddlers are being given alcohol. Apparently most parents are unfamiliar with alcohol's effect on brain development and many campaigns are trying to make it clear that in fact infants should not consume alcohol (same goes for alcohol consumption during pregnancy).

After hanging around in the pub for half an hour I asked whether I could take some pictures. The pub itself was nice and cozy.

After a while it turned out the only person who shared a language with me was an old man who must've been over 50, and who learned Swahili during his army days. Unfortunately, he seemed to be well on his way to being very drunk and I could hardly understand him (my Swahili isn't very good either...). Here's the friendly old man.

There were a few other people, such as these beautiful people. They are drinking muramba, home-made beer, from a big white mug. Every now and then a shot of Waragi makes the rounds, which is intensely strong moonshine, and a major contributor to alcohol-related illness.

Most of these people had brought their kids over as well. This first guy was enormously keen to get his photo taken but was ashamed of his mouth condition, which I didn't recognize.

It took me a while to notice that every now and then the kids would get a sip of muramba. The kids seemed to love it. My gut instinct was to start lecturing them about giving alcohol to babies, but I could never have made myself understood, nor did I want to insult my hosts. It's clearly part of their culture, and it would seem the Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance has a long way to go.

As I headed off, two kids offered to show me a shortcut to the lake. They knew the path well as it was their route to their football field. Sure enough, we found the lake in less than 20 minutes.