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

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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

Either teach well or go home (and kill yourself).

Church was once a staple in my life and slowly, I am starting to find true enjoyment in the word of God again. This article isn’t about my spiritual awakening (which I hope will last this time). It’s about the way people in positions of influence deliver their teachings.

One Sunday last November, one of the pastors at Watoto Church was talking about his wonderful wife and the lovely things that she’d done for him on his anniversary. It was very sweet. He even insisted she come up and sing the song she’d sung on the day to much cooing and clapter*  from the congregation. He remarked on how beautiful she is and how more women need to obey their husbands, especially when it comes to how they look.

He then said, “But some women just cut off all their hair” while making a comical sweeping motion over his head.

I bristled with indignation, and not only because I have chosen to rock a nearly bald head.

Like this

I miss the days it was like this

The pastor’s joke made the entire congregation look around and eyes lingered on those like me with little or no hair. In that moment, I wondered what it would be like to be married to somebody like him and let me tell you, what I envisioned wasn’t a fun experience. I saw a guy who would whine endlessly and be very aggressive about letting you know how he wanted you to look. Just imagine if a Christian couple in attendance was fighting about style choices. On hearing Pastor’s words, whatever headway they’d made would be lost.

A lot goes into a way a person looks. Mood, emotional well being,  fashions, personality, etc. Style is an intensely personal thing. Even in a long term relationship where you’re committed to loving the same person forever, both individuals retain the right of choice.

If you want to change your partner’s style to suit your tastes, don’t do it by shaming them or comparing them to others. Spitting Bible verses won’t work. Belittling them won’t work. Writing blogposts about them won’t work either . Give them a reason to want to acquiesce to your whims. Make them feel comfortable enough to adjust their style in a way that will make you happy. The way a person looks should be their decision, an act of service (to you, their partner) and not one that leads them to doubt themselves.

People in the Education sector are another group that need to be careful about the way they deliver their wisdom. Their job is to instill confidence, manners and a sense of decency in the children that pass through their system year in year out. Instead of doing that, our teachers and school administrations are filling young people up with their own warped sexual politics.
How can a school profess to be against trousers on girls or tight uniforms and then turn around and allow their girls to wear barely-there dresses during prom? If they really thought that trousers caused uncontrollable lust to surge in the hearts and minds of the males in the system, they wouldn’t allow girls to wear them during dances.

A school like Seeta High bars female visitors from entering school grounds if they are wearing trousers, causing much embarrassment and irritation, but allow their students to swim semi-naked in a pool which is not far from the staff room. Where is the logic? Selective morality is dumb and needs to end.

Our young need to be equipped with feelings of equality, self esteem and affirmations, not insecurities and hypocrisy.

James 3: 1 says Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

If you can’t teach well, go home.

*clapping and laughter

So, I’m getting inked.

Oba?

Tattoos were cool when they were frowned upon. One as harmless as a butterfly would make self declared ‘right thinking’ members of society judge you. They’d form dark opinions about your upbringing and refuse their children to date you.But now, tattoos are as normal as dreadlocks (and dreadlocks are as normal as permed hair). The shock value is all gone. If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo to express how edgy you are, you’re too late, sorry. You may as well use that money to pad the foundation of a land-buying/ car-buying fund.

However, if your itch to get inked comes from a deep, dark, genuine place, get one and let me know how you zeroed down on your message or drawing.

A whole new kind of pressure has infiltrated the process of getting a tattoo. Since coolness and peer pressure have been taken out of the equation, tattoos now have to mean something:  a memory that you hold dear, a date that changed the course of your life, a phrase that reaffirms your beliefs, etc.  I’m judgmental of anybody who just goes into a tattoo shop, opens a book and picks a design and I’ll totally judge myself if my own doesn’t seem well thought-out to the world.

I’ve been hunting for the right message for over two years because my expectations of the phrase that will occupy rent-free space on my skin are unrealistic. I want it to be funny, deep, a bit shocking and full of feeling. I want every human that glances at it to be thrown into a frenzy of self-reflection.

My first idea was ‘writer’s block is for amateurs’. It was stupid. Every artist goes through periods of hyper creativity, followed by periods where their brains refuse to start, like the engine of a third hand car. I thank my lucky stars that I chickened out because I’d have this nasty, mocking message running from my chest to my belly button, paralyzing my creative process and driving me over the cliff of sanity.

Ever since I discovered a website called Zen pencils, however, I feel I’m as close to making a decision as I‘ll ever be. What this guy does is take inspirational words and turn them into comics. I don’t know how wonderful the lines will remain when they do not have his pictures below them, but I’m slowly moving past the point where I mind so much about what people will think. It’s not like I’m going to stand at city square showing passersby my body ink.

The best ones I’ve found are: Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of distance run. Rudyard Kipling wrote that. It’s beautiful because life is full of unforgiving minutes. Boredom, depression and ennui can combine to make you useless and this message will spur me to action every time my cubicle feels oppressive.

Make good art. This one’s by superstar of the pen Neil gaiman. He says to make art out of every situation, especially the ugly ones.
Baby, air and light and time and space have nothing to do with it! This is by Bukowski, that coarse and brilliant man. It bashes the notion that one needs a certain combination of factors to be perfectly aligned for them to be creative.

My favorite idea is to have the word LAUGH! printed on my belly with a naked fat lady laughing uproariously below. That’s the second one I’ll get.

Now to find the first.

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.