Things are starting to feel more normal, more routine-like. I have a new boda-boda, Charles. He’s on time and has awesome sunglasses.
New Luganda words: “webale nnyabo” or “webale sebo” to say “thank you very much.” ‘nnyabo’ is kind of like, “ma’am” and ‘sebo’ like, “sir.”
I propose a new rule: that if media outlet is going to report on the introduction of a Bill into a legislative body, they need to report on WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT BILL AFTER. I don’t care about what the ministers of Kenya predicted in 2009, I’m just trying to figure out whether the Anti-Corruption Act was actually repealed or not. That being said, thank you Kenya for having the most awesome law-reporting database in Africa. Or maybe just East Africa.
As with most summers, I spend a good amount of my free time here reading. This weekend, while trying to find the entrance to the Uganda museum, I stumbled upon the Uganda Society’s library. It’s a one-room joint, small and dusty, and everything seems at least 10 years old. But it was full of books! Old, dusty, fabric-and-leather-bound volumes of books, about various regions of Africa, mostly. But also maps, very old maps just LAYING around for anyone to pore over! I think the state of disrepair was due to renovation in, but they mind me popping in and making myself at home there. I’m much, much happier, knowing that there is a library within walking distance of ‘home.’
Books I’ve completed (on this trip) thus far: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Swamplandia! By Karen Russell. In Progress: Vanity Fair – William Thackeray, Beyond Kony2012 – ed. by Amanda Taub.
There should be plenty of time for reading: all this week, there has been a lack of water in the neighborhood so little bathing can happen. Yesterday, electricity surges meant we had limited power. Our television short-circuited, the neighbor-landlord’s water heater blew up. And at my internship, we tend to have power surges at least 3 times a day (the power goes out, the generator makes a terrible screeching noise, and then all the systems start back up again. It’s a good time).
Finally, this weekend I consolidated my list of places I’d like to go/do in Uganda: (1) Whitewater rafting in Jinja (2) Banda Island in Lake Victoria (3) Muchison Falls (4) Sipi Falls (5) Kidepo Valley (6) Fort Portal, Rwenzori Mountains, (7) Stand on the Equator. Whether that means a trip to Masaka & Lake Mbara or just… whatever. I WILL stand on two hemispheres at once. I promise.
If each is a weekend trip, I’ve got to get moving soon!
Finally… it occurred to me, this weekend, how abjectly little we know or understand about this region back home. Even as I studied International Relations, History, and Anthropology in college, I didn’t really understand that Ugandan culture is Ugandan, which is not Kenyan, or Tanzanian. And East African is entirely unique from West African, or South African. Uganda means pineapples and matoke & g-nut sauce, boda-bodas & matatus. In this region, it means Luganda but NOT Swahili. It means the sharp, “ah eh!” of surprise punctuating sentences, and greeting with “howareyou” not “hello,” saying “You are welcome” not as an automatic response to “thank you” but meaning, that I am actually, actually welcome in this place.