A Travellerspoint blog

When Misery came to the house...

What's in a name?...

sunny 27 °C

I can’t exactly say my heart leapt when I saw her… six foot tall and thin, deep voice, big hands, and either the worst luck I’ve known, or a wild imagination for spinning stories- it was Candiru, a lady who had visited us several times before asking for money for various dire scenarios. Candiru literally means ‘misery’ in the local language and unfortunately she lives up to it, with her terrible tales of bus accidents, her children starving, her clothes being stolen and so on.

The Lugbara naming culture is similar to the names in the Bible in that names have power and can describe the situation of the child’s birth. It’s not just in peoples’ names, but also generally in the words spoken (which is why David’s sarcasm often goes down like a lead balloon…)

We also met ‘Breath of death’ (Draza) last week- a teenage boy lying unconscious outside out house, unfortunately also living up to his name-skinny as a skeleton, neglected at home, malnourished.
These confusing situations are so hard to get to the bottom of, or fully understand, or even know the ‘right’ way to respond.

Our Landlord, an older man, was explaining that it is only in recent years that names have become more positive and hopeful, names such as ‘Asianzu’ (peace/ grace) ‘Ayikoru’- (joy) and ‘fetaa’ – (gift) are more common, alongside the 'miserables' and ‘breath of death’s’ around us.

One of the big responsibilities of expecting a baby is choosing their name/s. After causing confusion and amusement with Emma and Craig being boys names here, and people thinking Amelie is Emily, we had been hoping to find a Lugbara name we could use as a middle name, but haven’t had much success- either the names are so depressing, (Feku: ‘give not’- the mother never gave the father enough food, Drajoa- ‘in the death hut’- meaning many children died in the house or 'Inia'- meaning the father only visited the mother at night…) and the more positive ones don’t exactly roll off the tongue. Our language teacher, another Candiru, who thankfully doesn’t live up to her name, has been very patient with me asking for the Lugbara words for ‘hope’ ‘blessing’ ‘wanted’ etc… with disappointingly clunky sounding results.

We realised one of our shortlisted fave girl’s names means ‘food’ tomato’ and ‘millet’ in the local language so we’re back to the drawing board. And then I throw my patriotic husband’s desire for Scottish name into the mix too, and we’re really stuck…

I am writing this in the limbo land of Entebbe, (where Uganda's international airport is situated, waiting for our BA flight on Monday), in between the world of Candiru’s begging at the gate and millet flour and charcoal stoves, and an island of paved roads and snazzy buggies and punctual time keeping…

saying goodbye to all the animals

saying goodbye to all the animals

Our life often feels a bit like that ‘in-between’ place culturally, with our lives in two completely different countries and continents. It is strange enough for David and I as adults, but we worry about how confusing it is for Amelie with her white-blond hair but her love of riding boda-bodas and her Ugandan accent.
Amelie and her beloved dolly

Amelie and her beloved dolly

Posted by africraigs 12:23 Archived in Uganda Comments (3)

Taking the fun out of 'fundraising'

storm 23 °C

The dread had set in weeks before when we received a very formal invitation from one of our favourite Lugbara friends and boda-boda (motorbike taxi) man, Peter. Being hand-delivered to our house at 7am on a Saturday morning, it had already produced less than welcoming feelings from me. However, as in all good African relations, the one-to-one, face-to-face nature of the interaction meant it was very hard to say ‘No’ or decline. Instead, we acted very enthusiastically about it.

In Africa, the very personal nature of interactions produces awkward situations almost daily when people ask directly for money or help in various ways. It means that there is a new dilemma to face and another question to ask yourself about the person’s truthfulness, character and actual needs. These are hard to answer in a brief encounter with someone you don’t know well…

Anyway, this invitation was from someone we know and like a lot and was for a fundraising event for Peter’s church St Michael (or St Micheal?, the flyer spelt it both ways…) of Pokea (wherever that is). Peter told us that they were fundraising to buy a piece of land at 20million shillings (£5000).

(Someone was telling us that the cost of having these fundraisers is such that it is hardly worth the money that is raised…, but I was obviously hoping that this wouldn’t be the case for Peter’s fundraiser).
The invitation included the details of the time for starting (12pm) and was stamped with the official St Michael of Pokea rubber stamp. The invitation included 3 signatories and was therefore very official-looking. To be honest, it wasn’t a very ‘inviting’ invitation at all… It definitely looked like an event to be avoided if possible, especially since all it promised was to extract as much cash out of you as it could. We wouldn’t want to miss the fundraiser, though, because of our close friendship with Peter and his brother Charles who was also involved.

Our concerns over an event like this arose from various factors. One big concern is the one of ‘African time’. Events in Africa can go on and on for hours. This can be especially taxing when you are sitting in the heat with little comfort and are pregnant (not me, but Emma) and have to look after an active little girl. We had considered some of these issues and packed some snacks and drinks and toys in our backpack. We also had decided Amelie and Emma would leave after showing face and I would ‘take the hit’ for the family by persevering (I knew that my reward would be increasing in heaven all the while I was sitting there…).

Another fear was the awkwardness of being white and the expectation of having a lot of cash. This might mean we were expected to give more than the common punter and could cause some embarrassment if we had turned up without ‘enough’ money…

On the day, we turned up an hour after the time the invitation indicated, thinking smugly to ourselves that we were keeping good African time. On arrival, we were met by people wearing badges ‘Security’, ‘Welcome’, ‘Protocol’ and others I forget. Someone wearing a ‘Protocol’ badge led us to the registry office. Initially, I had assumed the man’s name was ‘Protocol’, but then realized a number of people were wearing the same badge.
Officious-looking office people registering us

Officious-looking office people registering us

Amelie happily getting registered for fundraising

Amelie happily getting registered for fundraising

In the office, the 2 people behind the desk were shuffling papers and looking quite officious. We were asked how much we wanted to contribute. I was confused, was this already part of the fundraising?

Not knowing how much to give, my mind worked furiously to work out what seemed like an appropriate amount. I offered 5000 shillings for each of us (£1.25). From the man’s reaction, this obviously wasn’t good enough, he had expected a white person to contribute more than that, but he still didn’t give me any clue as to how much… On glancing at the floor, however, I noticed a piece of paper which must have fallen (or been hidden) showing prices for different seats. The seats were graded according to how much was paid on entry. 1000 shillings (25p) for the cheap-o seats, 2000 shillings, 5000 shillings or 10,000 shillings. I then realized we were expected to give at least 10,000 shillings to sit in the privileged section as it wouldn’t be right for a white person to be seen sitting in the cheaper seats…

The plastic chairs of the ‘privileged’ are quite comfortable as they fit your bottom contours quite nicely, especially compared to the wooden benches provided for the riff-raff. We were a row behind the sofas provided for a couple of dog-collared priests and the guest of honour.

Charles met us and chatted for a while, but he had to head off eventually, as he was involved in the organizing of the fundraiser. Peter was also there wearing a ‘Security’ badge.
Charles and Amelie at the Fundraiser

Charles and Amelie at the Fundraiser

We quickly realized that we were going to be sitting around for quite a while before things got moving. There were only a few others around and those who were had wisely brought newspapers and had their heads buried in them (only those in the privileged seating as newspapers are a luxury for most) . It wasn’t all dull, though, sitting there under the UNHCR refugee tent canvass of the specially-built enclosure. A DJ was playing music from a couple of large speakers and one particularly energetic guy was enthusiastically busting some moves in the central section in the blazing hot sun. It was obvious the drinks he had been taking since the morning had dulled his senses to the heat. He was dancing with a huge smile on his sweaty face and was very entertaining. (After a couple of hours, he was carted off by security).

A couple of older men were posted at one of the entrances to control people coming in and out. They had made an effort to look the part and had suitable uniforms and long sticks, although their uniforms made me think of the Brownies… After taking their photograph, one of the guards asked me for money. Again, I was confused, wondering if this was all part of the fundraising too or if it was someone taking the event too personally…Oversized Brownie Guards

Oversized Brownie Guards

Things started getting going around 3:30, a little later than the programme stated. The crowd started to thicken and the MC had started to prattle on in Lugbara. There had also already been a couple of rounds of an offering basket, one of the times brought round by the friendly drunk guy himself. I realized that at a fundraiser, there are many opportunities to give in the offering basket. An unwritten rule is that you need a lot of small change, handfuls of 100 and 200 shilling coins (2.5p and 5p). I also realized quickly that I definitely didn’t have enough.
The dreaded offering basket coming round again...

The dreaded offering basket coming round again...

The MC’s role is to imaginatively keep the energy of giving going… He has various games or stories he plays. For example, the MC tells us we need to give to apologise to the priest for starting late. (not our fault, I was thinking…) The basket comes round, the music plays and everyone gives…Next time, we have give to greet the guest of honour, so the basket goes around again.One of my favourite ‘games’ was offering money to rescue children from ‘prison’ being held there by the MC.
A lady watches helplessly as the children are imprisoned by the MC

A lady watches helplessly as the children are imprisoned by the MC

A horrible looking backpack was auctioned off. Money was also raised for a shirt and a pair of trousers which were then given to the priest.

I was excited to see people carrying local harps and drums and learn that we would be asked to vote on the different choirs represented. My natural guess was that the choirs would sing and play their local instruments and we would have the chance to give money to the choir we liked the best. Sadly, I was disappointed. Although the choirs had all their instruments with them, no one made any music, instead people gave money to vote on the best choir without even having heard them.

One aspect of the fundraising that I couldn’t related to was that of boasting how much you are giving or pledge to give (easy to forget how much you pledged, once the event is over, though, isn’t it?). Over the course of the afternoon, people would get up, go over to the mic and tell everyone how much he/she was giving. For that, they received a rapturous applause. It seemed to me that people were trying to out-give and out-boast each other. This system wouldn’t go down at all well in the UK, I was thinking…

I liked the little old lady’s announcement, though. In the midst of all the big money, she stepped up to the mic to let everyone know she was giving 1000 shillings (25p).

Nearing the end of the day, I was starting to get into the swing of things. I would shake my booty and dance up to put my money in the basket like the rest of the pulsating crowd, though I was still very aware of being the only white face around.
The crowd dancing and giving

The crowd dancing and giving

Thankfully, all the effort of feeling awkward at different stages of the afternoon was not without it’s reward as food was brought out for everyone to enjoy whatever their seating class… The traditional Lugbara food called ‘enyasa’ (translated ‘mush’ in our Lugbara dictionary) took 4 men to carry in the huge pot.

I lined up to be served and felt I deserved a bit of nourishment following a long and tiring afternoon. I had survived a new cultural experience and managed to leave with a few shillings in my pocket to help me get home.

Posted by africraigs 05:56 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

Magic, Malaria and Death

Common themes...

sunny 30 °C

We have been very grateful to God that Amelie is better after 2 bouts of malaria in the last couple of months. One of my biggest fears of being out in the middle of Africa are the very real dangers of life. I was reading a statistic the other day which showed that death from traffic accidents are almost 10x more prevelant in Uganda than the UK. We heard that 2 American Peace Corps volunteers were killed when a truck ploughed into them in the high street recently! Malaria is another huge danger. Mosquitoes are so tiny but frighten me a lot. Their whiny noise is extremely annoying and despite all we do to keep the house free of them, they seem to find their way in. Amelie often has small red marks on her skin which she scratches avidly. Last week, one of our night guards – Rashid, was not around because he had to travel to the other side of the country because of the news his older brother (I think his name is Rabid...) was deathly ill. When he arrived, his brother was so ill with malaria, his eyes were vacant and he wasn’t moving. Doctors had run out of medicine for him and there was no money for medicine. Rashid organized selling of the family cow to pay for medicines and started him on the road to recovery. Rashid yesterday told us his brother is improving, thank God.
Amelie lion-hair teases the kitten. She has thankfully bounced back from malaria

Amelie lion-hair teases the kitten. She has thankfully bounced back from malaria


Because of the huge problem of malaria and its threat, I am very keen on promoting the use of the natural medicine Artemesia. It is a plant which is very powerful against malaria and is used for those with HIV/AIDS as well due to its immune boosting capabilities. Currently, I have 5 fragile plants growing in the coolest areas of my garden as they are very sensitive to dry spells and heat. It is one of the ideas that I have of combating some of the incredible problems of poverty we run into on regularly here.
Photo of Rosalia with bunches of Artemesia in Kenya with REAP 2010

Photo of Rosalia with bunches of Artemesia in Kenya with REAP 2010


The reality of death is an accepted and celebrated part of life here. A Peace Corps volunteer nurse working in the referral hospital in Arua says that in the West, we live with the expectation of life, whereas people in Africa live with the expectation of death. These two completely different perspectives explains a lot about the way that life is approached.

Eunice, our Lugbara language tells us that people don’t care so much for a person when they are very sick, but when someone dies, everyone gives a lot of money and makes a big song and dance. She gives us a vivid picture of funeral culture. It would be a fascinating cultural experience to see, but I think it may be overwhelming. On Wednesday, she had been to the funeral of a prominent lady in the community. She stayed with the body overnight as is the custom and was exhausted at school the next day. Eunice tells us that someone who dies needs to be smeared by volunteers, covering the body in shea butter and closing the eyes and mouth. Anyone attending the home of the dead person is expected to mourn very loudly. If they are too quiet, people may become suspicious and think that they are a wizard and killed the person. In fact, she tells us that people approaching the house where the body is laid may be beaten soundly over the head with a stick to induce loud cries and to share in the pain. Some people are seen to run backwards and forwards across the compound crying out how much they miss seeing the person walking from that direction or the other. It really sounds very different to a sedate Edinburgh funeral where very little noise is heard…

Another recent occurrence took place a few kilometers down a dirt track through a eucalyptus plantation (a place where you will be mugged at night) in a teacher training college. The road is one of my favourite running routes as it is quieter and so there are less people staring or shouting remarks, though still enough to make me upset. There are also one or two Ugandan runners using the track (seeing a runner is rare but encouraging). It is slightly unnerving, then, when we hear the news last week of 2 deaths and 2 serious injuries after an attempted robbery at the school. According to the reports, a group of men attempted to break into the school dormitory to steal a bike padlocked to the bed rail. The theft was bungled and the robber stabbed the bike’s owner (a math student). In the ensuing brawl, students performed mob justice on the thief, stamping on him, beating him using rocks and chairs. He was crushed to bits. It is always a wonder to me why anyone attempts to steal anything in Uganda when this is the common result of someone who is caught in the act…

Eunice, as a good teacher and even better story-teller, was telling us that she caught 3 boys doing magic at school. What? Maybe David Blaine had been on a school visit recently. It seems an unbelievable story, and something she has never come across before with kids. She tells us that a boy was causing a stir because by taking some of the children’s pocket money in his fist and flexing it, spitting on it and whirling his arm round several times, he was able to conjure up more money…! By doing so, the back of his hand would bleed, but quickly the bleeding would stop. He supposedly had learnt this trick from his father who sent them out to buy from the shops without money. He had taught more children to do the trick and they were also showing off their magic powers causing a real stir in the classroom. The boys were brought before Eunice who told them in her very African way that they were possessed by demons and she was going to take them to the church for praying and casting out of the demons. She was going to pray that fire would be sent from heaven on them if they didn’t stop their weird behaviour. The next day, Friday, the boys surprisingly didn’t turn up at school…
Advert for Traditional Healer... some magic potions brewed here

Advert for Traditional Healer... some magic potions brewed here


Yesterday, her story was about how people bring bodies out from the grave supernaturally, then walk them along the road to be eaten at home. She acted it out to dramatise the story, arms swinging listlessly, eyes vacant, head bobbing. Again, it’s a crazy story, but one we have heard of before. We were even told that dead people can be brought from the grave to work in the field at night. When the day breaks, the field has been ploughed and ready for planting! In the West, we think of zombies only in movies, here, they are not considered ficticious. It makes me wonder how people here view zombie films especially horror films about supernatural things.

These stories illustrate how much more the supernatural is so close to the surface and part of everyday life in the culture. It also reminds me that in Africa, there is never a day passes without at least learning something new and outrageous!

Here are some normal-life photos around and about our area with no death or magic in sight (well, that's from my naive western perspective...):
DSC_0163.jpgDSC_0157.jpgWomen are often the packhorses

Women are often the packhorses

Girl grumpily sells vegetables at roadside

Girl grumpily sells vegetables at roadside

Posted by africraigs 09:47 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

Happy Mother's Day!

28 °C

This weekend marked the celebrations of International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day and it made me want to dedicate this wee post to all of the hard working, inspiring, exhausted, self- sacrificing, beautiful mamas out there…

In the local language here, the name for woman and wife are the same; ‘oku’, whereas there is a clear difference between the words for ‘husband’ and ‘man’. Our language teacher tells us that traditionally the woman is considered the family’s/ village’s property and the important part is whether the woman is able to conceive.

More and more, we notice what a lifelong slog it is for women in this culture, particularly more rurally. When Bighair runs early in the morning, he passes many women lugging great bundles of firewood or charcoal on their head. (They might wonder what he is carrying on his head- a haystack?...) Firewood is increasingly scarce, which means the early bird catches the worm when it comes to gathering sticks.
No sticks means no fire, no fire mean no chai, no chai means a hungry household, so this first task at 5.30 am is a vital start to the day.

daily chores

daily chores

A friend was telling me yesterday that if the husband/ man does help with some of the many manual tasks in the home, not only is he is laughed at by the community, but the woman is labeled as ‘lazy’ and incapable.

Coming from a culture that has gone to extremes with equal rights and opportunities, it is striking to us how differently men and women are treated.

As in almost every bleak situation, there are glimmers of hope – and here, it is when men decide to choose a different way for their family, when their own faith and convictions challenge their culture and give them a desire to be involved in childcare, financially empowering their wives and taking on some of the tasks.

Being a mum is of course, wonderful, but I can’t help wondering if some of the joy would be sucked out if I had to wake at 5.30am, had long, physically demanding days, 7 or 8 children under 10 years and not much support from my husband.

These women really are amazing and have a strength that I can’t even comprehend- happy mother’s day to you. xxx

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Posted by africraigs 11:24 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

Precious jewels, the highest peaks, and some humbling stats

sunny 34 °C

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, at 5896m, the highest peak on the continent of Africa is one of my ambitions before I kick the bucket one fateful day (and to many, I’m certain, a very sad day). Though a distant second, it was still an incredible sight when I saw the snowy peak for the first time on a visit to Arusha, Tanzania at the beginning of February for a Christian agriculture and appropriate technology conference.

Mt Kilimanjaro attracts lots of tourists to climb the highest free-standing mountain in the world and it is easy to see why. This area of Tanzania is ‘real Africa’. The fabled Serengeti plains are close by with all the big animals. You pass Maasai hanging around everywhere in their long red checked robes and colourful beads.

One of my friends called Hillary (despite the name, he’s a guy) lives in Arusha, so I was looking forward to catching up with him since his time working with Bethany Christian Trust as a volunteer. He has since gotten married and has a 2-month old baby, Michelle. His wife has a great name, she’s called ‘Happy’!, though I suppose it is a name which could be a lot to live up to all the time…
Hillary's fam and me

Hillary's fam and me

Baby Michelle and her Auntie

Baby Michelle and her Auntie

Profile of a Modern African Dad...

Profile of a Modern African Dad...


It was fascinating spending some time as part of Hillary’s family. For me (and most white people I know living and working in Africa who aren’t racist…), one of the ultimate goals is to be accepted as an equal by the local people and I really felt this by Hillary and his family. On most evenings, I spent time round at Hillary’s home eating cooked banana, (matoke) and, if I was lucky, watching a dubbed Philipino soap called Mara Clara afterwards…

Hillary’s mum, visiting from Dar es Salaam to see her granddaughter was keen to visit her family in the village outside of Mosi. Every African has a ‘village home’ which is always out in the sticks over bumpy dirt roads where the pace of life has slowed to a crawl. This is a place where you get a warm welcome but where a modern way of life seems totally out of place.
Hillary photographing his grandparents

Hillary photographing his grandparents


One of the best things about the drive to Mosi from Arusha is the fantastic views of Mt Kilimanjaro from the roadside, something I was very excited about. Sadly, though, the whole peak was shrouded in a big, grey cloud. It was tempting to believe Africa’s highest peak and one of its iconic symbols was not standing over us like a sentinel nearby.

Hillary’s granddad was an especially affable character and full of life. His snow-white hair matched the colour of the mountain peak he lived under and his bright-white teeth would go nicely in a Colgate ad. He showed his teeth often while laughing and sharing stories in Kiswahili. His land is full of volcanic rock spewed up in the distant past by Mt Kili and he had to do a lot of lifting and moving of boulders to make the land farmable.
Hillary and his grandpa

Hillary and his grandpa


On the return journey, the sky around the mountain peaks started to clear, thankfully, and it was incredible to clearly view the pointed peak of Mawenzi Summit, one of the peaks of Mt Kilimanjaro. A little later, alongside the road, and what I had been wishing for, emerged at last! It is beautiful and impressive!
Mawenzi Summit as the clouds clear

Mawenzi Summit as the clouds clear


Mt Kilimanjaro seen from a sunflower field

Mt Kilimanjaro seen from a sunflower field

Mt Kili poses behind me posing

Mt Kili poses behind me posing


The silhouette of an acacia beneath Mt Kilimanjaro

The silhouette of an acacia beneath Mt Kilimanjaro


In the car, Hillary’s mum explained that Kilimanjaro means ‘impossible journey’ or something similar in Kichagga, the language of the Chagga who live around the mountain. They believed it was inaccessible and so stayed away from it.

On the Arusha-Mosi route, another road leads off to the airport and to a special mine. Tanzanite (as the name alludes) is a precious stone only found in Tanzania. It is more rare than diamonds. Some of Hillary’s family in Arusha (and Hillary’s family seemed to pop up everywhere in Arusha) are involved in buying and selling of tanzanite and seem to be very well off in the process! The hotel I stayed in, for instance, Charity hotel (why so-named, I had no idea and forgot to ask) is owned by Hillary’s great uncle who is also building another hotel (there seem to be plenty of people passing through Arusha,). Hillary himself gave this new hotel its name, but I completely forget what it is – it is a combination of children’s names in the family, but the name didn’t particularly roll off the tongue… Charity hotel is plusher than the hotel I had originally booked into at $25 a night, but Hillary insisted I stayed in his great-uncle’s hotel at the same cost. I felt a bit embarrassed to do that, but I appreciated Hillary’s kindness. This same great-uncle met me in the hotel lobby convinced I had contacts to help him buy a second-hand helicopter from the UK. Thanks to friends on facebook who discovered you could pick one out of ebay for £75,000.
Quality controlling the tanzanite

Quality controlling the tanzanite

Tanzanite jewels

Tanzanite jewels

There were tortoises roaming on the hotel ground

There were tortoises roaming on the hotel ground


Though seeing Hillary and his family was a great side-dish, the main purpose for visiting Arusha was to attend an agriculture and appropriate technology ‘symposium’ (whatever that means) run by ECHO (Educational Concern for Hunger Organisation). Emma and I had been to ECHO’s base in Florida at the end of 2009 before heading to Kenya and had some of the best experiences of our married life there. There are many interesting and lovely people associated with ECHO and the conference was a good time to re-connect with old friends and make some new ones. Our old REAP boss was in attendance and was even sharing at one of the main morning sessions on how to use the Bible to motivate people to be good stewards of their God-given resources.
Dr Roger of REAP speaking

Dr Roger of REAP speaking


The conference was a great place to be with among the energy of like-minded agriculture and development people and to be re-motivated about why I want to do what I want to do…

One of the most inspirational sessions was a session led by Stan Doerr, the head of ECHO. He provided statistics and a somber picture for the need for an organisation like ECHO to exist and for the need of agricultural development work amongst the least-advantaged peoples. Here are a few ‘facts’.
- The American State of Iowa produces more maize than the whole continent of Africa!
- There is a good chance that we are going into another Global Food Crisis which greatly affects the poor. In a Global Food Crisis, prices of foods spike and a high percentage of income is spent on food. For example, in 2012, the price of sorghum in South Sudan increased by 220%!
- In 2006, before the Food Crisis, an average person in the USA spent 9.8% of income on food, while in Tanzania, the figure was 71%.
- Worldwide, there are 2 billion people suffering from nutrient deficiencies
- 177 million children are affected by chronic malnutrition.
- 3.5-5 million children are dying each year from causes related to malnutrition.
- Malnutrition is expected to significantly increase in sub-Saharan Africa in the next 30 years.
- One episode of severe malnutrition in an under 5 child’s life can impact their cognitive ability for life!
- “Agriculture development is the most effective way to combat poverty and to pull (developing populations) up into a higher level of food security” Warren Buffet
- 7/10 people around the world depend on agriculture for food and income.

Another highlight for me was hearing from Roland Bunch, author of the classic development book “Two Ears of Corn”. I had first read an article taken from this book while I was at uni and it was the first time I had ever considered appropriate responses to peoples’ needs in the developing nations. It was a completely new way of thinking for me.
Me and Roland Bunch

Me and Roland Bunch


At the ECHO conference, I felt I was part of a big family and quickly made friends. It was disappointing we were all travelling to distant destinations scattered all over East Africa including South Sudan, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
ECHO conference certificates

ECHO conference certificates


Tanzanians speak excellent Kiswahili so I used this to my advantage by asking Hillary how to say certain phrases. It helped that most of his family didn’t know English, so I used my poor Kiswahili and found it improving quickly. I always enjoy talking in Kiswahili having spoken it as a child in Congo and so it is one of my favourite languages (despite my struggles to speak it…).

However, there was a big downside in jogging my small brain to recall and learn new Kiswahili words. On returning to Arua and my Lugbara lessons with our excellent teacher Eunice, I could hardly speak a word, and any understanding of the language had vanished…

A few weeks back and Lugbara is starting to stick a little bit. Some words are playing round my mind as I go about the day which is a good sign. Our afternoons sessions with Eunice are a real killer, though, as, being the dry season, the temperature can top 35 degrees. All the animals are lying stretched out on the cooler cement floor and I feel like doing the same. As Eunice tells her cultural stories or asks us how to say something in Lugbara, I can find myself going cross-eyed and feeling my eyelids drop. I have to fight the impulse to nod my head and fall asleep. It’s very obvious and I am keen to learn, so I have tried chewing coffee beans to stimulate my brain and keep me awake. Power horse, an energy drink, seems to be doing the trick and is now my new tipple of choice during Lugbara lessons.
Power horse to get me through the day

Power horse to get me through the day

Trying not to fall asleep in the heat

Trying not to fall asleep in the heat

Posted by africraigs 01:06 Archived in Tanzania Comments (2)

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