So I promised Daniella some stories on my birthday

The Girl Who Wanted to be Good.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there lived a beautiful baby called Kuch.

Kuch was good, great, grand! But also rather naughty.

She could sing Twinkle Twinkle Little star, which is good, so good in fact that,

Twinkle Twinkle little star,

how I wonder what you are.

Up above the sky so high,

like a diamond in the sky,

Twinkle Twinkle little Star,

How I wonder what you are!

At bathing time, she would go to the garden and pick red roses for her water, but then refuse to enter the basin.

2013-08-07 18.18.50

Once in the basin, Kuch would name all the parts of her body, like ear, nose, eye, mouth, hair, chin, teeth, hand, leg, bum-bum but then refuse to wash her hair.

At lunch time, she would eat all her food and say nyummy nyummy nyummy! But then refuse to remove her dirty clothes afterwards

2013-08-06 14.09.30

Kuch could even count up to ten in Acholi, which is good, so good in fact that

Achel, aryo, adek, angwen, abic, abicel abiru, aboro, abungwen, Apaaaaaaaaaa!

But immediately after, she would pull Salvie’s tail.

At night, she would drink all her chac, which is good, but then refuse to enter bed.

She was good good good and bad bad bad but that wasn’t too sad because everybody, even me, is good good good and bad bad bad sometimes.

Beautiful baby Kuch didn’t like being called bad, and would cry for hours if anybody called her that, so she decided to learn how to become good.

So she asked her sister, “Sister, how do I become good?” and her sister sang for her:

Tetete tetete, tetete, tetete x2

Kuch, kot u binu, ting com pa meru i teri ot yo.

Gidigidigidigidi! (while tickling her)

Kuch laughed so much that she forgot about her question. By the time she had remembered, her sister had gone to work.

And then she asked her bother, “Brother, brother, how do I become good?” and her brother began to sing for her

Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep little Kuchie,

Go to sleep…

But before he could finish, she yelled “Oh nooo” and ran off.

Mornings are not for sleeping!

Kuch then went and climbed her daddy’s big bed and asked him “Daddy, do you know how I can become good?” and he sang for her:

TIILE:                      Nyok Dyel miya wii

 NYOKDYEL:          Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 TIILE:                   Nyok Dyel miya wii

 NYOKDYEL:          Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 Hm Hm Hm! Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 Hm Hm Hm Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

Kuch danced so much that she forgot about her question. By the time she remembered it, her daddy had gone to work.

And then finally she asked herself, “Kuch, how do I become good?”, and she thought and thought and thought and thought until the answer came to her.

Do you want to know what it was?

Really really?

It turns out that Kuch could rub away the badness by saying: I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart!

By saying what?

I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart!

And the badness would fall away like chillu and drop to the floor and she would run away from it saying eeew, dirty. Dirty!

2013-08-19 11.39.33

End

 

Hello. Happy birthday to me! In last Sunday’s Stiletto Point, I promised that I would write Daniella a short story. Oh heavens. This has not been easy, and it is still a work in progress. All too often when people try to write for children, they write like they are talking to idiotic adults. I’m not sure if I have survived that bar.

I just put in all the things she knows and the songs I want her to know and then edited like mad.

Anybody who can help me edit the Alur in the Gidi Gidi song, and the Acoli anywhere else, please help. All other suggestions are welcome.

Otherwise be well and enjoy this special day!

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

Feel your feelings, read and travel.

First of all you guys, Chuma Nwokolo Jr. just followed me on twitter.  I don’t know. The world is so strange. My great grandmother, Apenyo the 1st would not be able to wrap her head around why a thing such as a ‘follow’, a little bit of finger pressure on the right space of computer screen would make a person so hysterical with joy. I barely understand it myself.

Chuma is the author responsible for Diaries of a Dead African, one of my favorite books this year.

Read this book

Read this book

It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me eat a lot. Give my mind a moment to explode with bright yellow joy.

Yes, it disturbed me that the few female characters in the book were two dimensional, but  Meme Jumai will always live in my head. I’ve made for him a special space where things like desperation and hunger and indignity don’t exist. His section was my favorite.

*

I’m still obsessing over what my Thursday posts should be about. Should they chronicle the little dramas in my life? Should they be about herbs? Sigh.

For this post, the first idea that came to me was: What to do when you’re contacted by an ex who you have very deliberately cut out of your life? This is probably the most used and abused subject in the history of the internet, but I wanted to add my angst filled voice to the choir, but then I actually met with him and my anger went away. How disappointing.

But maybe I’ll write about it when I feel less lazy.

I then considered writing about the process of finding your correctness and how you can get thrown off your path by hypocritical and condescending people who are convinced that they know you and the workings of your mind better than you do. But then I realized it would get too personal then I’d begin to over edit, then I’d just choke on angst and die.

Sometimes, an asshole is somebody you appreciate on other levels and it is better to shift your focus on to things that matter.  Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu and all that.

But maybe I’ll write about it when I feel less lazy.

*

You all know how much I love traveling. Travel writing is something I’d like to dedicate a large part of my life to.  Sabili Tours contacted me at the beginning of the year and together, we came up with a campaign called Around Uganda in 7 trips. These guys are passionate about getting young Ugandans to travel around their country.

This talk nti being a tourist is for bazungu is just lazy. People are coming from other continents to look at your baboons and to hike up your mountains and to rent rooms around your tea plantations and you’re here in Kampala choking on matatu fumes. People, tutravelinge!

Come and we model next to falls and such

Come and we model next to falls and such

Season 3 of Around Uganda in 7 trips is taking us to Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is going to be brilliant on so many levels (foh exampo):

1. Road trip!

2. Spending the night close to animals that you have probably only ever seen on TV.

3. Actually meeting these animals (from a safe distance).

4. Hanging out with some of the coolest people I know.

Click this link to see evi-da of how epic these trips get and then book your place.

In final news, Sunday is going to be a very special day in my life because Writivism is taking me to Hilton High School to read and discuss True to Nothing with the literature club there. Bless them.   

To find out more about my involvement with the Writivism competition, watch this video. 

Kawa Apenyo out!

See you on Monday 

x

A good Ugandan is a dead one, apparently/ We goooo!

In this society, we openly discuss other people in two instances; when we’re gossiping about them and when they’re dead. It is as rare as chicken teeth that you’ll find two or three gathered, extolling the virtues or achievements of somebody else when they have nothing to gain from doing so. It is only when our propensity to envy is numbed by their deaths that we start to sing about other peoples’ good deeds. Phrases like ‘true Ugandan’ and ‘builder of the nation’ float from mouth to mouth like dust bunnies.

I know some great people doing phenomenal things, people who I’d like to be when I finally grow up and I’m going to start writing about them here. One of them is a fellow called Ganzi. He’s not dead and is doing something that I very much admire.

When was it that we were taught about the ‘tourist sites’ of Uganda? Primary three, right? And how long did you retain that information? I’m willing to bet that you forgot all of it as soon as you’d finished writing that SST paper. Ganzi is a dreamer, pushing paper in a corporate office to make ends meet, like so many other young people. Unlike the rest of us, he’s a doer as well.

A product of middle class upbringing, he’d been conditioned to believe that tourists were the white ladies and dudes in the short shorts and sapatus, traversing the streets of Kampala with large cameras dangling from their necks. He didn’t know many Ugandans who traveled around the country for anything other than work and when he looked into what exactly was drawing people into Uganda,it didn’t take him long to assemble a list of places he’d visit if he could afford to do so.

He conceived of a dream to start and run the biggest travel agency in Kampala, one whose emphasis would be on getting as many young Ugandans to explore Uganda as he could. But he had (and still has) a problem.
When Ugandans talk about going on holiday or honeymoon, they speak dreamily of Mombasa( the poor ones) or places like The Maldives (the rich ones). There is little or no talk of Jinja or Moyo or Mbale or Mpigi. And this is not because these places are boring or ugly. Laziness and bias has closed our eyes to the loveliness around us.

I’m here pointing fingers at you, but I too am one of the people who only pose on social media when I’m travelling out of the country. I even write long, glowing articles about the trips and badger editors into printing them. Terrible.
Can we please take a moment to appreciate just how insanely rich and beautiful this country is? And can we, together, make the decision to pull some of our monies out of bars and boutiques and inject them into our tourism industry?

Spend some of your annual leave jumping off a ledge

uganda-bungee

or watching gorillas mate

Or just hugging

Or…hug?

or staring slack jawed at the view from one of the mountains around lake Bunyonyi.

bunyonyi beauty

Go boil your breakfast in a hot spring

boil eggs

and spend the night under Gulu’s night sky.

Way better than this

Way better than this

Do something constructive with your life and money. Find people like Ganzi and pay them to organize trips for you.

Ganzi is a good Ugandan and a builder of the nation. What are you?

P.s: He’s the man behind this TRIP. Come and we go.

Cultural Identity: Who are you?

Recently, I saw a drawing that had the word birth on one side, death on the other and a puzzled looking man in between. Its message was we’re born, suffer confusion/anxiety, and then we die, which is a pretty accurate description of life if you’re a pessimist.

The issue of identity is not the most pressing in the world. You cannot die from an identity crisis, unless it makes you so miserable that you kill yourself. It’s not as critical as hunger or thirst and yet it’s just as inescapable, and can make you blind to all the blessings in your life. Even if we were still in the Garden of Eden, I’m sure self-definition would still be a thing to grapple with. In fact, let’s for a moment consider how things would be if Adam and Eve hadn’t gone munching on forbidden things.

Death wouldn’t exist which I assume means we wouldn’t age. Adam would be the oldest and probably most attractive man because of all the wisdom that comes with time. But we’d be sinless, right? So we young women wouldn’t covet him. We’d have our own young mates. What would the age of consent be, though? 1 million years?

We’d be asking questions like, ‘How do I, a woman in my twenties contribute to a society that is run by people who are several million years older than I am?’ But wait, we’d be unable to think, right? Meaning we’d be floating about in bubbles of euphoria? Oh boy. Let’s rein this in and go back to discussing identity as it exists in the real world.

During a recent Blogger’s Happy Hour at Mateos, there was an argument about whether or not Africans should recognize tribes and the territorial boundaries that the colonialists imposed on us. As the argument grew, English, the speaking and owning of it, came up.

Africa and its people have been through a lot of ugliness. The continent is still being plundered and exploited both openly and in secret. I’m sometimes jealous about how successful Kenya and Tanzania have been at integrating Kiswahili into their schools and everyday life (even though that language also has foreign influences) because Uganda just seems complacent in comparison with the way it’s taken English up and made it into a standard that people have to rise to or else get belittled.

Our children get beaten and shamed at school for speaking local languages, which have all been grouped under one word, “vernacular”. If you have a British or American accent, the people around you will be simultaneously envious and impressed and many Ugandans have a complex where they’re suspicious of anybody who speaks ‘like a white’ but will return twisting their tongues even after 5 minutes of being on foreign soil.

All this said; how do we make this less than desirable system work for us on a day to day basis? Most opportunities come riding on the back of an education given to us in English. It is not reasonable or beneficial to carry around bitterness against the colonialists and it would be suicidal to cast English aside and refuse to trade, communicate and make a living from and in it.

Chimamanda Ngozi once said that, “English is mine. It has become mine.” For peace of mind and prosperity, that’s the best attitude to take. When Life hands you a foreign language (and culture), turn it into money, books and a testament to how interesting living as part of a dual-culture can be.

Tribal biases. Who’re you marrying? #5days

To celebrate my birth week, I’m wearing only clothes that my mother would approve of. Skirts in paisley print, midi skirts with whimsical hems and actual blouses. I have a surprising number of these in my closet.

I’m also telling a little story (everyday, hopefully).

When she was young, my mother was very biased against Acholi people. She often told my Aunt sherry that she would never ever marry one, not even if all the men from all of Uganda’s other tribes disappeared off the face of the earth.

I’ve never been told why she felt this way. Maybe she had terrible Acholi neighbors, or maybe she had heard lots of bad stories.

She ended up marrying one- an Acholi. A tall, dark, handsome and smart one, but an Acholi just the same. I used to laugh at her a lot.

Where I grew up, there was this deep bias against Baganda men. Even my girlfriends from Buganda had no kind words for their brothers. These men are cheaters, apparently, and very passive aggressive.

Every female relative of mine has at some point warned me not to get involved with one, and forgetting my mother’s story, I vowed never to look at them with even the slightest hint of interest.

I am currently quite attached to a Muganda boy and often dream of having his 1.5 babies. Life is interesting. Things change. Tribal biases are stupid.

😀