Letters from Sonja: Will it Float?
The front of Gerd's boat when it was leaving our private harbour through the papyrus.

Letters from Sonja: Will it Float?


Gerd, Sonja's brother, has finished his work on the boat and decides to test on Lake Victoria... will it float?

By Sonja Winklmaier
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First published: June 9, 2006


Click Here: Previously on "Letters from Sonja: The Unlikely UPC - Kabaka Yekka Union"


June 5 th , l962 -

In the meantime I have seen an eye specialist. According to him both Barbaras eyes have to be operated upon. This should be done between the ages of 2 and 6 years. The eye clinic in Tübingen was recommended to us. We plan on having the operation done in about 3 years.

Hubert has agreed to postpone his home-leave until April/May of 1963, as Cooper Motors would otherwise run into personnel problems.

I just heard the news that were everyones been waiting for. The first African finance minister of Uganda, Mr. Amos Sempa, gave his budget speech today. As expected, the prices, of course, are climbing higher and higher. In the new budget an additional 2.4 million pounds are needed. In the first instance alcoholic drinks and tobacco goods will become more expensive. [Until this day I always think it a good idea to put up the taxes on these two items first] To my biggest surprise their will be taxes on medicine. The petrol price will go up by 75 cents per gallon, which I consider quite a lot. The price so far has been UGS 4.75 a gallon. More or less everything is getting more expensive. It is very broad-minded that the income tax for Europeans will not be increased. I have to point out, that so far Africans had to pay no income tax at all and the highest amount an African will have to pay now, will be 600 UGS per year. We had to pay 3,200 UGS income tax last year. Many Africans, however, have a very much higher income than us. If the development goes on like that, one day we will be forced to leave Uganda because we just cannot afford the luxury of living here any longer.


Mr. Sempa (Uganda Argus)
Mr. Sempa (Uganda Argus).

Gerd moved last Saturday. This evening he collected his boat. The boat is now almost ready. Only the paintwork on the inside still has to be done. It looks really very, very nice in red and white. I am just wondering whether the boat will float.

The people working for me have already asked when the memsaab is coming. Gerd does not find a wife here. Women are scarce here.

Barbara turned 2 years old yesterday. Time passes so fast. She is now starting to talk. She can make herself understood quite nicely already. Because of Michy and his girlfriends she, at the same time, is picking up English. Her first English word was exactly the same one as in German, apart from Papa and Mama of course, NO. This is very characteristic for Barbara. She also knows very clearly who speaks German and who English.

This month we were already invited to a party, which the German Consul General from Nairobi gave in Kampala. The Governor and the Prime Minister, Mr. Milton Obote, were also invited and also all the Consuls representing the various countries in Uganda. Of all the Germans apart from us only Mr. And Mrs. Vagdt and Mr. Schulze were invited. What an honour! Some people were really upset because they did not get an invitation. The Consul General from Nairobi, Herr von Stackelberg, has approached Hubert and asked him to assist the new Consul and make his experience available to him.

Gerd and Mr. Tessin in the back of Gerd's boat
Gerd and Mr. Tessin in the back of Gerd's boat.

July 2 nd , 1962 -

We had a wonderful Sunday yesterday. Gerds boat was put on the water for the first time. It is really super and I already imagined, how nice it would be when you come to visit.

We planned to bring my parents to Uganda for a vacation that year. They told us however that they could not come. Only later I learned the real reason: My stepmother was totally frightened of flying. I was very disappointed. I so much would have liked to share the beauty of Uganda with my parents.

The theft of Gerds wheels has cost him 500 UGS. His finances are rather low therefore. He paid the last installment on his car on July 1st and as of next month he should be OK again. He is taking in Mr. Tessin as a lodger. He is as old as Gerd. He was born in Dar-es-Salaam and has been in an internment camp in Rhodesia.

Miss Weigt is the Secretary of the German Consulate, which was opened to-day.

Yesterday morning Hubert, Gerd, Michy, Mr. Tessin and Miss Weigt were on the lake in the boat. I cooked lunch and besides, I followed the boat with the binoculars. I could not take part in the maiden voyage. They all came to have lunch here. I had prepared Einlaufsuppe (a good beef broth with flakes of egg and flour) Rindsrouladen (Thin slizes of beef stuffed with onions, parsley, bacon and a pickled cucumber and then rolled up and stewed), Potato-/Cucumber-Salad and Spätzle (a kind of noodles made of egg and flour and scraped or pressed into boiling water). To round it off we had some fruit salad with passion fruit, bananas, pineapple and pawpaw, everything from our own garden. Everybody enjoyed the meal. Later Barbara and myself also came for a boat ride on the lake until the evening. We for instance went to the island that lies exactly in front of our sitting room - only about 300m lower - and hiked through the island. Gerd went ahead of us with a panga and the rest of us followed him on a very narrow trail. Hubert stayed on the boat with the children. It was beautiful.

The boat is really super. Gerd does not own an engine and he will not be able to afford one for quite some time. He can, however, always bring one from work, as CMC also has the agency for outboard engines and every now and then they need a test run. I am already looking forward to the next boat trip.

Gerd at the back of his boat
Gerd at the back of his boat.

Click here to continue to "Something is Happening in Kampala!"

By Sonja Winklmaier
more from author >>
First published: June 9, 2006
Sonja Winklmaier moved to Uganda in the 1950s to follow her husband, Hubert Winklmaier, as the German Volkswagen Factory sent him to work with their agent, Cooper Motor Corporation.

Go to: Letters from Sonja