Sunday, 12 December 2010

Uganda Wishes – Bwera Wrapping Up

A view to the Congo.
To think yesterday the whole village ate the cow. (Post originally written Dec. 6).
The clean-up is underway after yesterday’s African wedding celebration for Peter and Natalie. I sit amongst some locals posing for their cameras. Joy is in the air.
I speak to some of the young men. Two want to become doctors, one a lawyer. I listen with hope. They also claim they want access to music. The young villagers are using sticks to play the cultural dancers rhythm box. Slabs of wood. Numbered for tonal definition.
The music box!
It’s time to sit down with Nelson. I watch as men untie the wood framing of the pavilion. We plant ourselves amongst the tear down. Where everything took place yesterday.
He shares with me his wish for Uganda today.
“My wish is improving the livelihood of the people, so the people get land and can match their environment,” he explains.
“For the whole world, I wish for stability. Peace and joy. Where there is peace, there is development. Where there is joy, the development comes in.”
My mind circles around the word infrastructure. Needed first. Accessible water, sanitation (at the camp we have a cement hole the size of matoki in our outhouse). Roads without potholes. A power supply.
Later Nelson takes me for a walk. To the river bordering the Congo and past where some collect water. Also a watering hole for the local waragi – distilled banana hooch.
Coffee trees.
Along the way we pass crops of g-nuts, coffee, vanilla beans, rice, maize, beans, banana trees, palm oil trees, yams, tea, a plant which Nelson claims only two leaves boiled to a bitter two cups of tea cures malaria. Also a tobacco plant. I’m delighted to witness the lush and richness of the land. Scattered mud huts abound. Intertwined soil paths lead the way. We follow a guide.
Vanilla beans.
Women carry water up a steep hill.
Another view to the Congo.
Children entertain themselves in the river floating downstream with Jerry cans. Some splash in from up high.
The river running through the Congo border.
Upon our return trip I discuss with Nelson the fear of disclosure and HIV/AIDS. He explains AIDS is like any other disease. Cancer is in some cases a curable disease. We mope on the stigma around it. He tells me there are songs and drama made for awareness. To shed the right light.
In camp again I sit around idly chatting to more locals. I hear how the cash crops in the area include both coffee and cotton. Cotton sold to the textile industry in nearby Jinja.
The tents frolic about in the wind. I start to think about going back home to Canada. What I will do and how things will be different. Have I changed?
Africa has lots of work to do. To become a country for competition. For advancement. To fill the people’s lives with hope. I imagine positive results for Uganda with the election. An end to corruption. That peace and joy prevail and the hope for the nation will be one filled with freedom. Freedom from HIV. Freedom from corruption. Freedom from the sorrow and poverty.
But if the riches come, will the corruption increase?
The generator blares and the winds continue to stir up dust. I wonder what those back home really know about Africa.
Eventually you find your comfort level in Africa. Then it’s time to leave. You get used to young men walking down the street holding hands. Even younger women wearing children close to their backs. Goats tethered on the sides of the road. Women carrying the weight of water or wood on their heads. Bicycles with barefoot pedalers. Pineapples hanging from rat traps. Men with guns.
What does Africa mean to me? It will take time once I arrive home to answer that. Tomorrow concludes my time in Bwera.
Soon also, my time in Africa


Shel Will said...

Love your writing too Jane! Oh that camera! The photos are awesome. I love all the perspectives. As for your hopes for the elections .. crossing fingers but keeping my passport at the ready. xo Shel.

A Fresh Thinker said...

Thank you missy. You stay safe OK. We need to connect when you're back :)