Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Update - Cultural Expression

Been awake for about an hour now, at least I slept for a good while (we, as in Mike and the two Ugandan university students, Joseph and John, fell asleep watching Bayern Munich lose to AC Milan). Soccer is god here, by the way.

So quick update:
- learning Lugandan greetings, which are extended exchanges with varying levels of formality, each specific to the morning, afternoon, and evening. Most importantly, I've learned to say "I'm sorry" and "I don't understand," Simanyi and Nsonyiwa respectively. We went shopping today, and then for a 'cultural dance event,' which I explain at the end of this post. Aside from the lack of sleep I feel great - despite a huge lunch of Indian food and fresh pizza for dinner. I think I will simplify my diet today, just to be safe. I am enjoying the city ammenities, level of development, and sights, but I am definitely eager to get to Masaka - a smaller, simpler, cleaner, cooler, and safer town. We also had safety orientation yesterday, and that was, well, obvious. What was nice, though, was talking at length with Jordan, our FSD site coordinator, about his experience living and working here. I am also beginning to see the personal difficulties that ex-pats have in living and working here, especially in the NGO world (not many friends back home, iffy relations with families, lonely lifestyle, etc.). As much language, culture, attire, and behavior I may be able to adopt while I am here, I will never be Ugandan; yet, there is certainly a purpose to the presence of anyone is anywhere doing anything - it's just a matter of finding that purpose and owning its focus and meaning. We shall see what focus and meaning begin to emerge over the next week.

Will update you when we arrive in Masaka.

Tulabagané, or see you later!

A Performance to Remember:

We enter a 'cultural center' of sorts, with those big straw huts, art on the walls, these guitar-like instruments that look like miniature boats.

Walking into what appeared to be an open stadium, with terraced levels for tables, I see an open performance space with drums and instruments lined up.

What followed was a performance never to forget, simply Chirunji (Beautiful), as each ethnic tradition of Uganda was performed and explained with such passion of expression.

The dancers and singers, with their vigor and spirit, were all young. These youth, close to my age, were living their tradition, retaining in the face of such adversity. I have never before seen such cultural authenticity, such important expression, such incredible joy. We laughed, cried, and danced our way through the night, ending up on stage at the end of the performance.

What a night!

Will post once I am in Masaka, wrapping up orientation and preparing to move in with my host family on May 27th.

Sula bulunji! Good night!


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