Skampala Scamera

So in Kampala a few days ago a group of 4 of us got into a half full matatu (taxi van), and it promptly left for our destination (normally they leave when over full). Upon getting in we did not sit together as we sort of sat where we were told. The other people in the van then proceeded to pull a number of tricks on us to steal our stuff. From my seat in the front of the van I was asked to adjust the wing mirror. The guy beside Ruth “dropped some change” and she stopped him getting into her bag by letting him know (with a little bit of elbow) he didn’t need to lean right over her to pick up what he had dropped.  The taxi then stopped and we were informed they weren’t going to our destination after all, and we should get out. we obliged. On getting out I realised my bag was light, then on further investigation realised that my phone and camera were missing. It is/was a nikon d90 with a 18-105mm lens. not a small thing to lift from a bag. It took about 24 hours of being completely gutted to get over it.  We’ve all learnt multiple lessons. Initially I wished I had had the presence of mind to chase the taxi or do something, but on reflection, these guys were professionals seemingly targeting Muzungus (white people) or maybe just tired looking travellers.  The camera was worth about the purchasing power of the average Ugandan annual income. I doubt they would have given it up with a bit of a fight. I have insurance and we bought out the excess so no worries.

What does this have to do with the Plant Stories Project. The project started as a photography project and I thought that camera was kind of key to that process. I am reluctant to replace the camera with another SLR. It is a brilliant camera, but for travelling it is large, heavy, and to some people it looks like a big pile of money around my neck and that makes me slightly nervous.

For about 8 years I have taken photos on point and shoot cameras  so after a brief foray into the world of the SLR I am back to point and shoot world. We are making connections with people and I was about to record some stories in the next few days. I might wait now until my camera arrives. Or might record the audio, and do the photos later. who knows. It’s all a bit up in the air.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Skampala Scamera

  1. Dorothy

    Dear Malcolm and Amanda
    So very sorry about your horrible experience. Very nasty. Especially so shortly into your travels and work. Do hope the new camera comes without too much delay and bother. So glad you have insurance.
    Thank you very much for keeping us informed.
    Thinking of you both very especially.
    Lots of love from us all.
    Auntie Dorothy.

  2. Alison Foster

    Hi Malcolm,

    Really sorry to hear about the nasty taxi scam and the loss of your camera. I can only try to imagine how you all felt. We’re missing you here but I am battling on with the technology. Server meetings, website proposals etc. GOt a whole series of lectures planned around the plant stories exhibition – so hope you get a new camera soon.

    Best wishes to you and Amanda,

    Alison.

  3. Darren

    bro, thats tough, I know how much that means to you. Hope you have some peace of mind over it now,

    We are thinking of you guys!

    Darren and Lizzi

  4. Brenda Armstrong

    Hope the new camera is suitable for your travels and to record what you wish to include in your project. Have you heard of the project Life Counts? It is about counting the different species of plants, animals, birds etc on our amazing Earth. I believe that there are about ten trillion ants, which weigh about the same as the 7 billion people and only 500 professional ant researchers. Traces of ants go back to the cretaceous and there are currently about 9,500 species. I am glad to hear that you are enjoying some of Africa’s ants! Amanda and Mark counted about 21 species on a trip to Queensland and I probably carry the scars of green ant scars on my bottom from when I sat on an ant nest. We had a cat who was fascinated by ants and he spent the day doing ant research by following their trails.

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