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

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.

Boda men have the best stories

 I’ve had many experiences with boda boda men, the good far surpassing the bad in number. There’s the psychopath who tries to impress himself by flying over humps and the one who seems almost embarrassed to take money. There’s the big, dark one whom I used to be afraid of, who’s now my favorite because his fee is a constant 1500 from the stage to my house.

and den dis and den dat

 And then there’s Davis of Ntinda. I met Davis at 10pm just as I was about to board a Kyanja taxi. In the usual boda man fashion, he rode menacingly in my direction, swerved away at the last minute and then patted the seat behind him. “Silinji bitaano ku kisaasi” he said.

 Now if you live in Kyanja, you know that entering one of those taxis after 9 means sitting for at least an hour until it fills. I whipped out my negotiation skills and we agreed he’d drop me off near my home.

 When we started moving, he turned and said, “You mean you’re not a Muganda?”

Oh boy. I was not in the mood for this kind of talk. I knew what was coming, but because it was late and he didn’t seem threatening, I didn’t make him stop.

“No.” I said

 “Mbadde manyi when I saw you that you were a Muganda kubanga you are very beautiful.

The rolling of my eyes was audible.

“What are you? A mucholi?”

“Yes. I’m an Acholi.”

After a short pause, he said, “Sorry”.

Sorry? Did this man just sympathize with my not being a Muganda? Just as I was about to cuff the back of his head, he continued. “You know, Acholis are very tough. Me I fear those people.”

“You do? Well, I’m an Acholi from Kitgum. Kitgum Matidi. So ride faster.”

 And then he launched into one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard. It wasn’t so much the content as the delivery that had me falling off the boda with mirth. Davis is a very funny man. He said,

“One time, I was driving to Dubai, you know, the Sudanese-Ugandan border. And when I reached Gulu, it was very late. 3 am in the night. I went to a restaurant and asked a woman for food. Haa. You Acholis you’re very tough.

When I asked what food she had, she said fish. But when she was serving, I saw also beans. When I asked her why she hadn’t told me about the beans, she shouted: YOU ASKED FISH. I BROUGHT FISH! The woman even wanted to fight me!”

 Here the motorcycle wobbled a bit, so I told him to either ride well or shut up. He continued

 “I just ate, but I was annoyed. How can a woman want to fight with you? I decided to go to a bar. When I reached there, I saw four women dancing very much. I didn’t know if they were drunkards or what. After some time, they came near me so also me I danced ka little little. When things became hot, I decided to go away. Naye when I reached the car, they all ran out and started abusing me. Awuruwuruwuru! Then they entered my car by force. Hmm. People of that place are tough.”

By this time, I was in stitches and we were at my stop. I paid him, asked his name and said goodbye. Boda men have the best stories.

Let’s dissect Easter.

What?

Easter is a time of joy, a time to press palm to chest and massage the slight ache that’s been caused by sudden explosions of good cheer. It is a time to celebrate life by eating and laughing as much as possible over the four day weekend.

Easter is the way some people misspell the name Esther. I have been informed by the internet that the intelligence of a person cannot be gauged by their ability or lack thereof to spell. But I really hate misspellings.

Easter is also a time to openly obsess over animals like rabbits and animal products like eggs. From when I started watching TV i.e. from when I was 32months old, Easter bunnies and Easter eggs have filled the screen at this time of the year. I don’t get it. Do the rabbits get eaten? Are the eggs raw but coated with chocolate? Or just egg shaped chocolate? And what the dickens is nutmeg? sharrap. I am aware of the existence of Google.

Most importantly, Easter celebrates the beating, killing, entombing and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. If you have no idea who he is, beera mu class.

We Christians believe that while everybody is entitled to eternal life, you only get to enjoy yours if you believe in Jesus. To avoid being Zanzi roast pork after you die, you’d berra look your life over head to your nearest Christian worship center.

When?

Easter happens every April. Or every beginning of spring. Or two weeks after the last time you visited your kids in boarding school (first term). Or every time Bwaise’s residents have to buy floaters for their children and rafts to be able to leave the house.

Where?

All over the world. Even before Christianity, people were celebrating harvest festivals and cavorting with rabbits and chicken fetuses. Right? Tom Robbins, that heretic has upset all my good beliefs.

Why?

Why has Tom Robbins, that heretic, upset all my good Christian beliefs? Because he’s convincing and funny and attractive and his writing rocks. He’s a feminist and a lover of religion. Or is he? He seems to harbor all these Christianity busting notions. But this has nothing to do with Easter. This is me shamelessly rambling so that I can beat my word count.

Who?

N/A. Unless there are people actually called Easter. It’s a holiday. In plan B we are not desperate enough to start anthropomorphizing holidays.

How?

The way you celebrate Easter depends on what you think it is. If you’re a Christian, the right thing to do is go to church, be filled with happiness that your savior king died and rose again, then go home and eat a lot.

If you’re a bunny-egg person, go on doing whatever it is you do. Do trees get decorated? Man, I don’t know. Ask an American near you.

If you’re atheist, start the marination early. Tenderize your flesh with intoxicants so that when roasting time comes, you’ll be all soft and delicious.