Women, please, get stronger. #Rippedgoddesses

Who wants to be a ripped goddess? I do, which is why for two weeks now, I have faithfully visited the gym, read articles about strength training, changed my diet and bought a bunch of workout clothes. I have even forced myself to become more sociable, so that my fellow gym goers can teach me proper weight lifting form.

I intend for fitness to be a habit, a lifestyle, as opposed to one-off activities that leave me cursing the day I was born. The goal is for my muscle to develop enough to make me double take every time I pass by a reflective surface + general body strength.

It has been interesting, peoples’ reactions to my ambitions.

My cousin gave me a look that was half pity, half snarl and said, “I hope this phase will pass.”

My friends cheered me on, obviously, because I don’t make friends with idiots.

The men in my life have nodded nervously before shifting the topic to a different subject, but the most interesting of reactions come from strangers, specifically, strange men.

I have been told how a woman with muscle is a man’s greatest fear, how they will run away from me, how women are meant to be soft and fat.

I have been questioned about who exactly I want to beat up, told how I am already hot and that my desire to pack some muscle is an indicator of my low self-esteem.

I have been told how I will look scary and always, always I think, how come these men, strangers at that, are viewing my fitness plan in the light of their desire, or more specifically, how they desire me to look so that “men”, aka they, will find me attractive?

It makes no sense, but that is how women have been looked at for a long time, as mannequins that exist solely for visual, and other kinds of enjoyment. We are to tailor the way we look to society’s expectations, whose plan is to send us into dull unions, from which we shall be expected to pop babies.

I would never consider marrying a man who is threatened by me taking my health and body image into my hands and regardless of how good looking the jama is (and I really like good looking jamas you guys), when he starts to spout nonsense about how I belong in the aerobics section thanks to my being female, I tell him to stop speaking to me because the conversation just ended.

Here are a few reasons why I think every woman should make it a point to get into fitness and become stronger:

Osteoporosis: Strength training reduces your risk of getting osteoporosis, a condition which causes your bones to become weak and leads to fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. If you don’t want to be as brittle as a pringle when you hit 50, start accumulating bone density now.  

Molestation and rape: One out of every four women around you has been a victim of rape or molestation. One reason that unsavory characters feel it is OK to harass you is because they know they are stronger than you. Men are also routinely encouraged to molest women, by our own leaders. Take for example youth minister Ronald Kibuule who has once again opened his rapey mouth to spew rapey sentiments, like,

“I have talked to the IGP and the police in Kampala to see that if a woman is raped they look at how she was dressed. Most women currently dress poorly especially the youth. If she is dressed poorly and is raped, no one should be arrested,”

Asked to define what amounted to indecent dressing, the minister, who is also Mukono North MP, listed mini-skirts, bikinis and tight jeans.” This is from the Daily Monitor website.

When you can fight back, you are that much safer.

Posture: I don’t know about you, but I want to be walking as straight as a jambula tree at the young age of 95.

Peace of mind: Depression cannot share space with sweat. The more active you are, the more likely you are to feel energetic, motivated, confident, sexy and in control of your life. Take it from a girl who has battled some mean demons. Working out will shoo the black birds away.

One thing women worry about a lot is that when they begin to lift, they will bulk up ala the hulk. Honey that isn’t going to happen. You don’t have the testosterone necessary for that. You’re just going to get super toned and you’re going to feel even more beautiful, stronger, more alive. For more information on that, holla at the Google. 

Check this page out for inspiration: Who wants to be a ripped goddess?

And please sign this petition that is demanding the resignation of Ronald Kibuule. We cannot have rapists in public office. This rape apologist is youth minister. I will not have him as my minister any longer. Sign here: Out with Kibuule

Advertisements

Don’t donate yourself, your nearest, your dearest to death

September is the month that my mother slipped through the doors at the other end of this waiting room that we so politely call life.

Her departure was aided by the staff of one of the popular private hospitals in Kampala (namely Kadic) who, using negligence, gave her an almighty shove into the arms of death. I suppose it all began when her doctor, a man who had performed multiple cesareans over a long career, somehow forgot that people who’d just undergone major operations were susceptible to blood clots.

When that nurse with a thin, brown face and stunned expression held my shoulders and said, “You are going to have to grow up now” I was sure my mother’s conscious was still in the hospital, perhaps in its walls, trying to steady itself, to gather gravity so that it would become weighty enough to slip back into her body.

And I called for her to do so in the only ways I knew how: noise, violence, chaos.

The first thing I failed to accept was that we had lost her after doing everything right, at least by movie standards: rushing to the best hospital we knew, delivering her into a pristine waiting room, being  reassured by a young doctor whose accent made you think “clean, sure”.

How could such a logical system fail, I asked? How could they betray my trust in the competence of musawos? What kind of doctor only remembers to administer oxygen to a patient who has been failing to breathe for an hour, after they have taken their last struggling breath? I suppose I had expected things to play out like an episode of House.

The second thing I failed to accept was that we could have saved her life had we had basic knowledge of the plants, spices and herbs around us. They could at least have mitigated the irregularities her body was facing. A small clove of garlic ingested regularly, ginger, cayenne pepper, vanilla leaf, all which thin your blood and lessen the likelihood if you developing atherosclerosis, a condition that causes blood clots to form in our vessels.

Two years later and I still remember so clearly, the helplessness I felt that Wednesday night. It is a strong force behind my desire to become an herbalist, a true daughter, sister and wife to the soil and her extensions.   

On the night of 9th September, Chris Ocamringa was reporting about a mysterious disease that is making the throats of the afflicted in Ntungamo burn and then produce snail like creatures, mbu. I balked at his use of air quotes as he referred to the medicine men and women who were,  according to all accounts, treating this disease successfully. Shya.

We have been poisoned by the idea that medicine is only worth appreciating when approval flows down from overseas. We are both suspicious and dismissive of the wise men and women who have been healing our sick for centuries, who have retained their knowledge in the face of globalization, colonialism and self-racism that came as a direct result; who have protected their knowledge against the stealing and repackaging by foreign elements. As a reporter whose responsibility it is to bring us the news, it was silly of him to flaunt his bias towards the medicine men and women.

Unless we intend to continue to donate our nearest and dearest to death while paying for death spaces in the fancy little hospitals that keep mushrooming all over the hills of Kampala, we had better wake up to the healing elements around us. It doesn’t take much. At the very least, google. Pay attention to what you eat, hydrate and move.

 Ma, Mary Jessica Opwonya, you are loved and sorely missed by we, your seven.

<3

Caution: Touch the 2 year old at your own risk.

Every Wednesday evening for some time now, my father, siblings and I have opened our home to whoever will come. The line up is usually the same: tea, music and spiritual edification.

We have a resident 23-month-old who is as cute as she is dramatic. She loves attention and adults are all too willing to give it to her.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Kati the more attention she gets, the more dramatic she becomes, which makes adults pay her even more attention. It’s a cycle that when put in motion is almost impossible to break.  Sometimes I am tempted to sellotape a placard to her back reading: Pet this baby at your own risk. All tantrums that occur up to five minutes after your petting are to be quelled with with no expectation of help from the members of this family.

Our cousin Ashley lives right next door and so on one occasion, her mother thought it would be a great idea to bring her over for cell. Now these two girls have only one week’s age difference. They are like twins. They encourage the kawuka of madness in each other.

At first glance, they are the picture of perfection, sitting on a sofa gulping down milk, or lying on a mat, learning how to use crayons. And then you make the mistake of looking away. When you look back they are: Chewing crayons. Creeping to the bathroom. Pulling the cat’s tail. Trying to topple the sugar bowl. Tearing Books. Trying to fry themselves with electricity. Trying to jump off chairs. Licking the bottoms of shoes. Painting their bodies with lipstick. Laying waste to feminine hygiene products. You get the picture.

When Ashley arrived, that was the end of sanity. We weren’t able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time because to two year olds, everything is an emergency. They demand all of your attention and usually have nothing to fill it with. They just want you to witness their lives as they happen.

A home-cell cannot withstand that kind of pressure and so it  turned into a five-person babysitathon and not even the tricks that I had learned during my weeks of leave helped.

Thanks to my broken leg, I spent almost three weeks at home and was able to really hang out with these girls. According to the internet, children’s minds are more permeable than sponges at this stage and so during the first week, I was all like, “I’m starting a nursery school!”

I tried to create a fun syllabus.The subjects were simple. Snacking, chasing chickens, counting, naming body parts and sleeping. They added secret-fighting, force-feeding one another and giggling to the list. Don’t get me wrong, It is magical when a two-year-old girl giggles but when she is out of sight, with another two year old, you’d better run to the crime scene.

AdorBable! Also, she'd just intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had painstakingly gathered.

AdorBable! Also, she’d intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had just painstakingly gathered.

At the end of the cell-turned-nursery school, mama Ashley and I had one main prayer request: For God to give us all patience and the grace to recognize that no matter what atrocities two year olds commit, they are not being malicious.

Actually, there are legitimate reasons why children around this age behave so erratically. Melinda Wenner on Slate writes that, “The frontal lobe, which is responsible for planning, logic, reasoning, working memory and self-control, is vastly underdeveloped at this age and because of this toddlers are really living in the moment, not thinking about consequences…a semi functional frontal lobe also means that toddlers have practically no sense of time and patience and therefore experience wanting as needing…” Look, just read the article HERE.

Her bigass Opwonya foot when she was a few days old.

Her foot when she was a few days old. Big is Big.

In two days, Daniella will turn two. My life, our lives,  would be dry and meaningless husks without her. Happy birthday, baby Danniebooboolocious. You’re proof that Opwonyas are born, not made.

My darling and I

My darling and I

Mwe tongue chewers and heavy breathers, first come here.

Let’s not encourage Miley Cyrus by acting shocked about her gross performance. Let’s just ignore her and her long tongue. She should be examined by professionals for repeatedly engaging in racist acts and grab grabbing from a culture, while giving it and its people zero respect.

But if you’re honest, at 20 most of you were performing (much) watered down versions of her madness. You felt like the discoverer of  sex, like the president of a republic called rebellion.  Unfortunately for her, she’s making her ugly mistakes with paparazzi, Hollywood and the world watching. I pity her 30-year-old self and the mudslide of shame she will have to wade through to find inner peace.

Actually, the only reason I’ve brought her up is her tongue. It can’t seem to go five minutes without nudging its way out of her lips and rolling down almost to her neck. That on its own doesn’t bother me, but it reminds me of other tongue-related deviances that do.

If there is one thing that drives me so far up the wall that I end up hanging from the ceiling, it is tongue chewing. When I notice that somebody near me is doing it, I become incredibly annoyed. Think a dozen bulls in a indoor stadium with walls painted red.

I have to fight the impulse to shake and roll and vomit and scream “Why? Why are you chewing your disgusting tongue? Do you hate peace of mind? Do you hate me?!”  and if the person’s chewing is accompanied by that sound like slugs mating in mud, I have to get out of earshot or risk exploding.

I was happy to discover that it is not lugezigezi at play here but a variation of Misophonia, a condition defined as the hatred of sounds. Of course this is all self diagnosis, but my symptoms are a direct match with those of selective sound sensitivity, a condition where soft sounds (typically eating and breathing sounds) make the sufferer react with great rage and disgust.

Sufferers have an abnormally strong reaction of the limbic (emotional system) and autonomic nervous system (body control system) which the auditory system is intimately connected to.  Basically, Misophonia happens when the parts that control your hearing get all muddled up with the ones that affect your emotions.

I once considered ending a promising friendship* because the jama couldn’t keep his tongue away from his teeth. Luckily for me, that situation resolved itself.

I know there are many people like me, so I’m going to be charitable and share the ways I deal with it:

Forcing the person to stop. If you are in a position of authority, you can easily threaten the person into quitting. This sounds like bullying, I know, but if you have experienced misophonia, you know that their sound is worse than bullying for you. It is the difference between productivity and breaking down.

Training your mind to react differently: This is difficult but if you care for the maker of the disgusting sound, you can do it. I know I did. Nope, not going to share how. This is a blog not a diary.

Wearing headphones and listening to white noise, such as rain sounds or static is 100% effective. This is great for work places where you may be stuck for months or years around people for breathe so loudly, you’d think they had hot coals in their throats, that are being put out by a dripping tap.

Very much

As in you really need to stop

I dared Mt. Muhavura and she dared me right back.

When I was leaving for Mountain Muhavura last Friday, I wrote a braggy facebook update daring the mountain to become steeper because I felt I needed a proper challenge to help me forget the week I had had. I got a challenge alright. As I write this, I have one cracked fibula and a body that is still bruised from the various ways I had to contort it as I climbed.

Well I wasn't climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Well I wasn’t climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Have you ever exerted yourself so much that even your elbows sweat? Has your body ever given out so deeply that your mind stops recording your life? This is what happened. Halfway up the mountain, I stopped noticing things. I placed one foot after the other like every zombie in every zombie flick you have seen.

If the journey up takes away all of your energy, the journey down steals your patience. I began to fast-walk, and then slow-jog down the mountain. I had become bored with my pace and also competitive. It gets old, watching person after person overtake you. I also wanted to feel fit.

When my knee cracked back and I heard that pop, I fell down and wailed like a heartbroken actor in a Telenovella.

OK like this, only less dignified.

OK like this, only less dignified.

My poor limb. First, it had been ravaged by the spider mites on my herb patch, making it scar so much that I look like I’m wearing polka dotted stockings, and now I had broken it. Central to my weeping was that I would not be able to dance that night. A trip to a new place is not complete for me if I haven’t jiggled my limbs to its music! I was full of despair. Somehow, I got off the mountain. Somehow, I danced. Somehow, my moves did not make my leg break clean in half.

Yea

Yea

When I got to Kampala, my first stop was a hospital in Ntinda that I have been asked to please not name. The medical insurance I have is tied to that place. With the help of my nkoni, I hobbled up the stairs right into a nightmare. I have never encountered such confusion or rudeness. I should have run right out when I saw that the doctor was wearing a tiny pink dress top leggings and strappy sandals. You guys, I work in Advertising. That is my uniform. When clients see me, they go, Oh! This one must be full of crazy ideas. That is NOT what you want to be thinking about your doctor.

Me on a good day, You would not allow me to treat you.

Me on a good day. Don’t allow any doctor who looks like this to treat you.

Fortunately for me, she didn’t seem to have any ideas at all, good or bad and after 30 minutes of spastic, disinterested and distracted service, I was sent away with diclofenac and instructions to return for a session with the ‘sonographer’. The next day, the receptionist informed me that I would need authorization from my office to see this sonoperson. After two hours, she snappily informed me that my office hadn’t called back with the authorization. Now I know the fault wasn’t hers and reserve a big helping of side-eye for my office admin, but surely she could have let me know an hour earlier. I shook my crutch at them all and limped out of their establishment.

I eventually had my leg scanned at Span in Kisaasi, and although I am sure I left with some damaged cells thanks to being X-rayed on a naked table with no protective clothing over the rest of my body, I was happy with their service. The doctor made me feel like I was going to be OK. To distract me from the painful massage (there was a whole lot of swelling but I have been informed that it was very stupid of him to massage my fractured limb), he called me an athlete and told me stories of how basket ballers sometimes have to have their fibulas sawed entirely off.

I finally hauled my ass to a bone specialist and he’s put me in a leg brace and scared me into using my crutch more diligently, because nti I will never run again if I fool around with the healing of my limb.

I feel like an autobot.

I feel like an autobot.

One bright side is that thanks to the fracture, my body requires for me to take almost three times as many calories per day in order to heal properly. You guys August is going to be gorgeous. Fooooood!

Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.

I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.

My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.

This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.

I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.

whosaqueen?

This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him.  I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.

During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.

I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.

I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Plans are all over my life like back acne.

I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.

I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.

Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.

See how I have cutiefied my crutch.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

Bathing plants and office DIY

When my dad discovered me singing to my plants a few days ago, he must have backed away very slowly because one minute I could hear him being generally alive in the space behind me and the next, he was gone. Not to another part of what is a large backyard, mind, but totally gone. Perhaps he was like it’s too early in the day to face the kind of offspring I have bred. 

In the absence of a watering can, and the presence of my two very capable hands, I give my plants a bath every morning. I am very proud of the small plot that I was allowed to de-grass for this project and I’m determined for everything to go amazingly well.  

The process:

Using my palms, I scoop water out of a bucket, quickly come up with a song for whichever plant I’m watering and then pour. For example:

Lemon balm, lemon balm, will you let me be your calm.

and

Sage plant, Sage plant, protect me from these ensanafu

and

Thyme, Thyme, will you love lime…

Look it doesn’t have to make sense. Singing charms plants and that’s what must have brought my strawberry baby back to life.

Have you read this article by Fungai Machirori, founder of herzimbabwe and all round fantastic woman? You should because it is about Anne Kansiime, arguably the funniest comedian in Uganda. I was lucky to meet, attend a comedy show, drink and do loud karaoke on Jinja Road with Fungai when she was in Uganda a few months ago. She’s a real gem and I hope I will one day do something extraordinary enough for her to feel like blessing me with an interview like this.

For now, I will enjoy the fact that she has called me an advertising executive and included a beautiful picture of Kansiime and I in her article.

In other news, I have decided to document my journey to fitness on tumblr. Check my tumblog out and send me all of your best energies, even after reading that  I yesterday jogged from office up to Alfredos and back. Control your feelings. Don’t let your jerasssey cloud the vibes, hehe.

In fun and final news, I stole an empty banana boat paper bag from the receptionist’s desk. I say stole because it’s really good paper and she may have wanted it for something.

2013-07-11 12.34.25

Anyway, I needed its sisal handles for an impromptu recycling and DIY session.

2013-07-11 12.25.40

Also read as, I felt like changing my hairstyle and didn’t have any rubber bands. I took the handles out and after a minute in the bathroom, looked like this. 

2013-07-11 12.33.49

and this

2013-07-11 12.33.05

and this

2013-07-11 12.33.37

and this

2013-07-11 12.33.02

It’s fun, free and takes my bob away from my neck, which is great for the hot hours. When it gets cold, I can just let it back down. This has got to be the most versatile hairstyle I’ve ever rocked.

I need to go and write a wildly overdue article about songs, sex and gender issues for Muwado.com, so see you on Monday.

Marketer’s Night: Don’t be a Mumu

I never miss Marketer’s night. Why?  Scrumptious food, good looking guys and seriously inspiring women. I also want to be able to rock a 10 inch heel and bombard keynote speakers with intelligent questions. As things are currently, I just tiptoe in, exchange a few cards, listen to the speakers as hard as my attention span will let me and wait for dessert.

Sometimes, I also dance.

Kona!

Kona!

The last topic was the role of the board in driving corporate excellence. There was some noise about what goes into the choosing of a board member, whether or not marketers need to be included on boards and other things. Maggie Kigozi disabused the audience of the fantasy that to be a board member is a lucrative thing. Apparently, they get zero pay for a truckload of work. Perhaps like writers, they get paid in ego and free meals? I don’t know.

The person I was eager to see and hear was Dr. Wale Akinyemi, a business strategist, consultant, author and inspirational speaker who had been flown in from Nigeria to deliver the keynote speech.

Now either Nigeria has some of the richest proverbs in the world or Nigerians have done a better job than the rest of us at preserving and incorporating their proverbs into day to day conversation and life in general. The multi-layered goodness of these phrases, the humor and power all packed into one short line.

Proverbs in a story are like spicy currants, treats that I look forward to encountering whenever I begin a story.

I have even been inspired to start collecting Acholi proverbs for use in my own writing.

Wale Akinyemi is loud, dramatic, eloquent and highly successful. He delivered so many wisdom bombs that night, some of which I will attempt to reproduce below:

You have the power of process. Of all animals on God’s green earth, humans have the most power of process. Don’t squander it. If you do, you are a mumu (fool).

Don’t confuse activity with productivity: Wale gave a wonderful analogy to describe this, but I can’t remember his exact words, only the sentiment behind them. I will make one of my own. Say you are tilling the land. If you are a mumu, you dig in one spot with all your might and sweat very much, but what you’re really doing is creating a pit that eventually you won’t be able to climb out of.

On the same theme, he said, “You think you are thinking. You are not thinking. You are a mumu, rotating blocks of ignorance around your mind.”

In response to those in the audience who had been demanding explanations about why young people are never put on corporate boards. His advice was: develop yourself. Study everything that you can in the field where your biggest dream lies and then you can truly use your intellectual power to progress. He summed this up perfectly with, “If your knowledge doesn’t produce tangible results, you are useless.”

Akinyemi is writing a book about the advice his mother gave him that didn’t work, for example: slow and steady wins the game. He told of how for the longest time he was going real slow, and real steady, frustratingly so, but nothing was happening. He was still losing. He abandoned that mantra and now goes with “Fast, focused and consistent wins the game”.

Clearly, that has worked for him. That’s right people. Cliches actually work.

I will end with the words of Sanaa Gateja, one of Africa’s greatest artists. He says, “The wonderful (and terrible) thing about dreams is that they all come true.”

Grow yourself to meet the capacity of your dream.

Because We got High II

If there’s one thing that has a bad reputation for no clear reason, one substance that is illegal because some people in the world dislike happiness, it is cannabis.  I’m not advocating that people be high all of the time, but surely  some jobs (like  copy writing or  being a member of parliament) require the mind expansion that occurs when you bake your brain in THC flavored smoke. I claim the right to be high! 

It's your right.

All the time!

Every Wednesday, I contribute an article to Muwado.com. I have many reasons, many of them terribly shady but the most important  is that it is a promising space that gives me the freedom to write about whatever I want.

At the beginning of this week,  I thought up the (brilliant) idea of collecting weed tales, anecdotes from people who have smoked the holy vegetable. We tried to source them from Ugandans in Uganda but were open to all.  Click to read part one.

The stories have kept on coming and so I’m publishing more here. Get a drink (and maybe a spliff?), sit back and enjoy.

The Young and Curious:

Smoking weed is only half of the stoner experience, the other half, which can sometimes be the most momentous, is the process and manner in which you find/buy the weed!

My brother and I were seated on a secluded beach, south coast Mombasa, when we heard a whistled tune in the distance. When the whistling had stopped, without quite thinking about it, I whistled back the same tune, and to my surprise we heard yet another whistled tune in response. This back and forth continued until we made out a figure at the end of the beach. As he approached us he started speaking to us in Swahili, and we just let him talk on until he realized that we didn’t understand what he was saying. He smiled and asked us in English after a while if we wanted to smoke some weed. I told him we didn’t have any money, and he said he asked if we wanted to smoke weed, not buy it.

Now I had not woken up that day with the intention to get high, but when the chance came up in the magically random way it had, how could I say no? It was like a scene from the intro of an indie movie, a sign that the height was bound to be all sorts of epic!

We agreed and followed him into a small cave on the beach, under a huge coral rock. There was hardly enough space to sit up straight and we had to crawl on all fours under the rock. He then took out a little parcel from his bag and unwrapped a heap of fried leaves. This was my first time to ever see a real marijuana leaf, and the beginning of my obsession with the ritual like cleaning, preparation and rolling of my very first handmade joint. The weed was unlike anything I had ever smoked before, as light as the ocean breeze and as potent as the sting of salt water.

The memory of sitting there in a low lying sandy cave, smoking weed with a dreadlocked beach boy who called himself Bob Marley, with sand crabs dashing about us sideways and the glimmer of the ocean a few meters away, is so surreal if I was alone I would have thought it to be a dream, but my brother is my witness, and confirms that really did happen.

 After the smoke, we said our goodbyes and he told us if we wanted anymore we should just ask around for Bob Marley, but we never saw him again on the rest of our holiday, and he became a bit of a legend between my brother, the likes of the tooth fairy or sandman. We spent the day floating on a cloud, swimming in the ocean and rolling about in the sand, needless to say it was the best weed I have ever smoked and the most spiritual high I have ever experienced. Moral of the story, if you hear a whistled tune on a secluded beach, whistle back!

Damn. I wonder if it looked anything like this.

Damn. I wonder if that cave looked anything like this.

George:

I had to promise George beers before he spilled, but his stories were worth it. 

There is this story, legend really, about guys drinking and smoking weed at dreamworld hostel in Kikoni. It was deep in the night and stuff. Somebody happened to ask what the time was and according to legend, one of the guys who was hell bent on knowing the time hatched a smart idea.

They all walked up to Wandegeya and stared at the street clock there. It was 3:15 am.

***

You really get Paranoid after taking weed. Once, I actually washed my face and hands with fruit juice because I had done some weed in a nearby bush and I had to go back to school (I was in S5). My face became sticky and then bees (they may have been mere flies) started hovering around me. At one point, I thought it was a whole swarm of bees coming for me…I actually thought I felt the buzz in the air, and heard it too. We were like four guys seated under a small guava tree. I suddenly shot up and started running while wailing. My friends who were suffering their own paranoia also woke up and raced in different directions. They had no idea why they were running.

Stahp!

Stahp!

The High Priestess:

Weed is a beautiful drug, it makes food taste better, colours brighter, feelings more intense and that ant crawling across your floor is now the funniest thing you have ever had the pleasure of seeing with your own eyes. Despite what the police would have you believe, weed alone never caused anyone to jump off a roof, or rape someone, or jump off a roof while raping someone. Hell, if you managed to leave the couch to go and scour your fridge for moldy leftovers to satiate your munchies you are among the top percentile of high functioning stoners.

That being said, it is possible to do much and find yourself in the worst THC-induced torpor; wondering if you are alive or comatose, or even worse, your mind trapped in a permanently paralyzed body, the only part of which you have control over being your eyelids like that guy in The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.

I enjoy making baked goods, and my friends enjoy the fruits of my labour. Consuming marijuana via your digestive tract is a little different, and this is what I tried to impress upon my American visitor. “It takes about an hour to kick in, and what everyone does the first time is eat the first brownie, then 30 minutes later decide nothing is happening and eat a second one. Then 2 hours later you’re higher than Felix Baumgartner without a parachute. DO NOT DO THIS” I told him, handing him his brownies and leaving him in my flat for the night as I went off to enjoy Kampala’s nightlife.

Hahaha one slice. Yea.

Hahaha one slice. Yea.

 Fast forward to 1 am. My phone rings. It is my American friend, let’s call him Lance: “High Priestess…. Something is wrong…. I think something is wrong with me” Lance is speaking very laboriously, every other word punctuated by long silences like he is drowning. “What’s wrong Lance? … You ate both brownies didn’t you?” I ask.

“Yes, well I didn’t feel anything after the first one…” He trails off again. I sigh. “OK, so are you sure something is wrong or are you just too fucking high for life right now?”

“Something is wrong…. I don’t know [unintelligible mumbles] maybe malaria… Can’t just be the weed”

“Lance you’re just high, i’ll be home in a few hours and you’ll have come down by then and will be feeling very foolish…”

“I think I need to go to the hospital or something. I think I’m going to wake up your dad—“

“WAIT LANCE, DO NOT DO THAT. Stay where you are, I will be home in 10 minutes. I’m jumping on a boda now”

 I got home and found Lance lying in his bed, rocking back and forth like a patient in a sanatorium. “Lance.” He moans in response, continuing his rocking. “Lance. Stop moving.” He stops, and seems surprised to find that he was able to do so.

“Lance you’re not dying. You just ate too many brownies and are now too high for your own good. You’ll be fine in the morning. I’m going to bed”.

 Lance wasn’t even embarrassed by his behavior the next day.

Nswaswa:

My girlfriend and I once wandered around Amsterdam for what felt like, and might have been, many hours- looking for any falafel stand. We had the munchies and were convinced falafel was the only cure. We wandered past the same street corners over and over, maybe we expected one to suddenly appear. (happy ending- we eventually took a wrong turn and found one.)

***

My roommates and I once made plans to go out. I said “cool, give me 10 minutes to shower and then we go.” I came out of the shower to find the room thick with bong smoke, and my friends were all quietly crashed on the sofas watching the ceiling fan go around. I thought, “Damn, now I have to go out alone.”

***

Brad Nowell (RIP) from Sublime sang it best…”I’m too drunk to light the bong…I’m too stoned to write this song.” Thousands of times we were so baked, just laughing our asses off, but now…damn what was the question?

*

And this is where I’ll end for now. If the stories keep on coming in, expect some very fun Thursdays on this blog.

To the holy herb! If you have any tales of your own, don’t hesitate to put them in the comments. You can also send them to mildredwriterchick@gmail.com, if you want them to appear in the next compilation.

I feel I should say Jah Bless. 

Dare to Smell: Aloe Vera gel Saves the Day

Aloe Vera is incredible. It is self healing, can survive with little or no attention, is anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, great for skin, hair, genitals, you name it. For a while, I have been writing about the weeks during which I abandoned mainstream deodorant and went on a quest to find a natural substance that would do away with body odor.

 Find Part one here and Part two here.

When I first decided to put freshly harvest aloe gel under my armpits, I was just playing around. I didn’t expect it to work, but it did. It eliminated the stench-causing bacteria in my armpits for three days. But on the fourth day it failed.

My theory is this: Aloe vera stopped working because I had become distressed. I know this sounds a bit of, but I am just recounting what happened to me (with zero embellishments). A person to whom I’d been quite attached passed out of my life quite abruptly and immediately, I began to smell appalling. Stress makes you sweat more so that must have been a factor, but this wasn’t regular stress. I took to applying fresh aloe vera gel thrice a day but still, I smelt like a dead snake.  The smell of distress is like a moan from the very soul of your armpits.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I didn’t care. I mean, who worries about vubs when their hearts is bleeding?  After all, God didn’t create the nose with special instructions to smell only perfume.

I only snapped out of my funk after what I call the Kisaasi bus incident.  It was the end of a long day and as I walked to the place at Kamwokya stage where Kisaasi taxis congregate,  I made a short prayer that I would find a window seat. It had been a rough day, worse than usual and I smelt both sweaty and distressed.

Alas, there weren’t any empty window seats and so I had to settle for a middle one in the back row. To my right was a lovely looking girl and to my left was a nice enough guy. He made space for me, even smiled. Nobody smiles at a stinky person right? Wrong.

My neighbor on the right was having a fit. She began by pushing the window as wide open as it could go. She then held her tiny nose between her delicate fingers and winced. I looked at the guy on the left and he was having no reaction! I almost asked her if I smelt weird, but I knew the answer to that, so I kept mum.

Eventually, I became irritated with what I saw as a gross overreaction on her part. She was practically holding her breath. Do you know how long it takes to get to Kisaasi from Kamwokya? To have somebody risk death, just so that they don’t have to breath your stink in, that hurts. I felt she was being overtly mean.

Eventually, she moved out of the bus. There’s nothing like a beautiful girl reacting with horror to your presence to help you pick yourself up.

I didn’t start using anything different. Rather, I began to apply aloe vera even in the night before sleeping. Since the smell had been brought on my my distress, I decided to proactively deal with my feelings of loss, denial, anger and fear that all break ups come with. Sadness is no excuse to smell like a he-goat.

My armpits have healed over completely. They no longer look fried by chemicals and are absolutely flawless. An added bonus is that even when I forget to apply aloe, I smell like nothing. 

Recently, I went to Forever living and bought an aloe deodorant. I am OK with most of its ingredients although tricoslan has many weird reviews on the internet. Many days, I’m happy to go without. Occasionally, I go back to applying fresh gel, but  I’d really rather eat the aloe that surrender it to my pits.

So what do you think of my journey? Would you abandon mainstream deos for more natural alternatives?