Read, Dance and find a Jason.

I spent a lamentable amount of time cramming facts about the French Revolution, facts that I’ve allowed to evaporate because they are useless to my life. One of its forerunners was a man named Voltaire and the relationship between him and my senior 4 self wasn’t great. First of all, I disliked his name. It was too close to the word volatile and it starts with the later v (which is sour). At the time, my sympathies must have lay with Marie Antoinette and her shoes.

I recently found a quote by him that would have delighted me no end if I had read it all those years ago. It goes “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”  All of the best people I knew then and all of the best people I know now do both of these things with a great passion. Had my teacher revealed to me that Voltaire was a supporter of dances and words, I might have been more serious about taking notes.

If she met me now, my sixteen year old self would be appalled by how little of my freedom and resources I commit to dancing.  I used to be that girl who’d enter the dining hall (transformed into a dancehall for the kadanke), take position and booty pop, arm-fling and back-slide until the supervising teacher herded me, sometimes forcibly out of the room.

The clothes to be worn on that day would be purchased after long hours spent staring at whatever the girls in EATV’s videos were wearing. Because the videos were also a good place to learn new strokes, I’d wait for when both my parents were out of the house and dedicatedly imitate whatever was being done on the TV.

Nowadays, aside from chair dancing at work and maybe Zumba, I rarely boogie. I rarely boogie unless I am out with my friend Jason. Jason is a sweet, if sometimes melancholic sort of guy. He’s a poet, so that comes with the territory, I suppose. He knows how to spot a good party which I think is because he knows everybody in Kampala.

I have always preferred to dance alone or with similarly energetic girlfriends because when a guy suspects that you’re out-dancing him, he either becomes depressingly clumsy or tries to match you and ends up punching your eye out. It’s different with Jason. Our dancing chemistry is superb. When we get onto a dance floor, it trembles with expectation. Even before the dancing begins, people know to clear the area. A force is coming.

Things start relatively simply with a coordinated shuffle here, a rub-a-dub there and escalates into this drama laden affair where we switch our minds off and let our bodies decide what direction they want to move in. Legs turn to jelly, backs glide on floors, and Olympic-level gymnastic feats are performed. Usually, our moves are making their debut into the world when we perform them and it is with great joy that we unleash them. Dancing with this dude makes me feel like death is a myth. It is a high that stores itself in my cheeks and causes me to grin randomly for many weeks to come.

For true happiness in life, one needs good literature and a Jason to dance with.   

What are you waiting for?

 

Find yours.

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These ntumbwes were made for walking.

I’ve had a dead couple of weeks. My mojo has been sporadic at best, nonexistent at worst. I’ve barely been able to make any writing deadlines. So. Thank goodness for my rainy day stash without which I’d be poor and sad.

Yesterday’s Stiletto Point article was about my dad and his crazy ways.  It was one of my pre-birthday posts, so I’m sure you’ve read it.  If you missed it, here you go: All in the genes.

And now for a video that will make your heart pregnant. My Daniella finally found her balance!

Miss Connie, what was the point?

When I was in Makerere College School, girls in O’level were required to wear outrageously yellow, almost dangerously large school uniforms. We looked like unfashionable child brides with the yellow cotton ballooning around our barely-there hips and dangling onwards to our skinny calves. Because, like all girls in high school, we were fizzing with hormones and rebellion, we’d waste no time in altering them to show off the great work that puberty was doing.

The boys were luckier. They got to wear large shorts which were very much at par with the fashions of the time. All they needed to do was pull their shorts down over their bottoms and boom! 50 cent. That practice that was (and still is) called balancing. Balancing what though? Morals? Like look at me straddling the moral line! You can see my bum but not my acorn!

There used to be raids during assembly where dresses that didn’t fit the requirements were cut up with scissors. Many years later, I still don’t understand what motivated the teachers to be so rabid about our uniforms. Surely as inhabitants of the adult world, they knew that force and humiliation only makes teenagers more rebellious. The aim was also obscure. Were we being taught modesty? Obedience? Whatever it was, it evaporated the moment age liberated us from the tyranny of the stick.

When you enter a boutique in the city, its owner immediately asks you to describe what kind of dress you’re looking to buy. If it’s a well stocked boutique, your options are casual, sundress, dinner, club and corporate. The corporate styles make my jaw slacken every time.

They’re usually tight, hugging every part of your body that our high school uniforms tried to hide. Your bottom, belly and bust are all on full show. These clothes are very sexy, no sexual. They make you look like Aphrodite, even when you’re carrying a stack of dirty newspapers. Without exception, they are uncomfortable, sticking to your skin as if they’re lonely and making lunch times very emotional for the people who decide to wear them. I mean you really want to dig into your meal with passion but also, don’t want to find yourself unable to breathe after indulging.

With the exception of crane bank, I can’t think of a corporate institution that requires people to wear uniform. This is maybe one of the reason certain girls wear stripper heels to office. What I want to one day know is how they’re able to endure the elevation and pain of those shoes and the squeezing of the dresses. Perhaps these things we have to wear to fit the bill of sexy are all part of a conspiracy to slow women down.

I’m writing this on Tuesday, the 6th of November. Later on today, I am going to sit on a panel with Mr. Bazanye and talk about how the internet has changed writing in Uganda. The audience is going to be full of people that are involved in the production of all the kinds of art that Uganda has to offer.  I’m picking at my document like a dissatisfied hen because it has to be perfect. I’m going to go away now and concentrate.

____

That presentation went well. I’m going to compress it and send it to my editor, so expect it in Stiletto Point one of these Sundays.

Lost in Mabira forest/ Yoga rocks.

The further you move from Kampala, the less you should believe it when people tell you that your destination is “just a short walk away”. I found this out the hard way on a hot Saturday afternoon, wearing sandals that were too small for my size 10 feet and walking along a road in the middle of Mabira forest.

Across the road was a bus that had been knocked off the road the day before. It was belly up and had slid partway down the slope, so from where we were standing, my friend and I could only see a small part of it.  When she suggested that we cross to the other side to take a look, it was all I could do not to scream in frustration. Already we lost in Mabira forest. What did we want to disturb ghosts for? And what if we found entrails and blood all over the place? Then we’d have trauma added to the frustration we were already feeling.

Our destination was Rainforest eco-lodge in Jinja to attend an Afrikan yoga retreat that we had been allowed to attend for free in our capacity as writers. That were lost wasn’t our fault really. We had followed our Yoga instructor’s instructions to the best of our ability and would have arrived on time if we hadn’t taken the advice of a malicious conductor who told us that the lodge was still a long way off when in fact we were leaving its signpost behind at Namawojolo.

Unlike in Kampala where we would have been swarmed by curious bodamen, there were no motorcycles for hire that far into Mabira. Most of the taxis that zoomed past were full to capacity and the people that we could ask for assistance were few and far between. Besides, they kept giving us conflicting advice as to which direction we should take, telling us that the place we wanted to find was just a short distance up ahead only for us to walk for 10 minutes, ask another person and be sent walking back in the direction from whence we came.

We gave up and flagged down a taxi heading to Kampala and it was after a 15 minute drive that we reached the signpost of our destination.  In what sick world is a distance that takes a taxi 15 minutes to cover “a short walk”?

Once there, the experience was great. The lodge is really beautiful, especially the large open room made of wood and stone that had been chosen for the yoga marathon. On one side, we could see deep into the forest and on the other, down into a well-stocked bar. By mid afternoon, my muscles were sore from all the shoulder stands and body twists, from bending so low and rolling my spine so much that I was sure that the next person I danced with would propose marriage on the spot.

One beautiful thing about yoga is that it strips away all your anxieties and bad energies, making you feel you truly own the space that you inhabit on the earth.  Also, it’s the ripest space for giggling. The names of the positions, the farting anxiety you suffer because of all the exercise your usually docile innards are being exposed to and the breathing sequences that usually would normally leave you blushing. I miss Afrikan yoga. If I hadn’t gotten so used to getting my exercise for free, I’d totally start attending those classes again.

I want to feel like this everyday.