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

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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.

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

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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. 

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and this

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and this

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and this

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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.

Herbs and indiscreet (happy?) vibrations

I met Godiva yesterday and it was wonderful. She’s a fantastic womyn whose tweets I find infinitely retweetable.  Our plan was to buy some herbs, actually, a lot of herbs and I’m pleased to report that we were successful.

The stretch after Mukwano Industries is lined with an impressive collection of plants and that’s where we finally convinced our bodamen to drop us. Ko these guys. Ever to throw us the most dubious of looks. Their tiny eyes were just swimming with lechery. I understand that we looked good, but that was some other level, punch deserving behavior.

Aaanyway

I got sage, peppermint, thyme, three lemon balms (my favorite), parsley, some lavender and a plant that you can burn to get rid of mosquitoes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name. When you bruise its leaf, you release a smell similar to BOB insecticide, only less toxic.

Kaka a.k.a tata herbs (0752927404) was nice enough to give us enyongezas plus boxes in which to haul our loot. He even organized bodas for us.

When I got back to office, I first of all:

Rapped to my herbs

They appreciated it.

Uh, uh, yo, yo, herbs, herbs, uh, uh.

Then I used them as an epic modeling prop

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

And finally, I achieved the ultimate: looking exactly like my mother

Anyayo's very own

Anyayo’s very own

My aim is to have a large, thriving herb garden and to convert all my siblings into sage burning, aloe eating, ginger/honey bath loving, plant adoring people. I’m on the right track!

In other news, earth shakes! Quake quakes! Who is mother earth’s new boyfriend/girlfriend? And can’t she have quiet orgasms, considering how many creatures live on her? I’m happy that she’s getting laid, but she needs to be a bit discreet about the way she expresses her enjoyment.

For serious, I was terrified last night. The first tremor was not so bad. I didn’t panic. My dad though. He went all: EVACUATE THE PREMISES! WHERE IS THE BABY?! WHERE IS THE BABY?!

Now I’d left Daniella on my bed, happily tinkering with the contents of my handbag. One of our helpers must have  grabbed her because I found the bed empty when I went to fetch her. You guys my terror was for world! For I moment I even thought the rapture was upon us.

Meanwhile, the tremor had ended but had dad’s panic decreased? No. It had just spread to everybody else.  I found them all outside the house, recovering from their craziness.

The second tremor happened at around 1am and it was strong enough to wake and abandon me in the land of the sleepless.

It’s OK for earthquakes/shakes/tremors to happen during the day. In fact, it’s awesome (when they’re not destructive).

But during the night? Nothing is allowed to steal the calm predictability of the night. That’s a sin right there! I’m waiting for somebody from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to say something. Abaaye, tell us if we need to migrate to the moon.

In unhappy news, I have missed the Stiletto Point bus. My last two weeks have been full of existential crises and soulless essays, making it impossible for me to write good stories. Naye worry not. My time and enthusiasm are back! I’m going to be sending my editor a nice bunch of articles soon.

Meanwhile, check his website out. He’s a cool dude.