A Travellerspoint blog

Light in the Darkness

Community Development Training

overcast 28 °C

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Last week, I was part of a 3-day training in community development provided by Baptist missionaries from the US. I have always liked the concept of ‘community development’ and especially the idea of transformational development where wholistic positive change takes place in peoples’ lives. I figured the training could help give me more ideas for the work I am trying to do in Arua.

I found the course very helpful in providing some practical skills in how to understand and ask questions about a community and how it is doing. As well as other tools, the trainers described the Problem Tree, Vision mapping and Resource analysis.

To look at these tools, we often split into groups to think about them practically over the few days we had together. I was in a group of mainly Ugandans which helped me really understand the issues on the ground.

The Problem Tree helps a community look at one problem and consider the causes and effects - or the roots and the fruits of the problem. As a group, we looked at the problem of drugs and alcohol, a big issue for the community. Here is a look at our problem tree.

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As we discussed the issue of drug and alcohol use, I felt a greater and greater sense of heaviness and sadness. There are so many problems in the communities we live amongst. Material poverty, family instability, lack of jobs, mental health problems, trauma and other causes increase the risk of drug and alcohol abuse. The effects are sicknesses, early death, child neglect, increased hopelessness, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy amongst others.

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As we discussed these problems and went into the field to speak to groups of people, it is hard not to be overwhelmed.

One of the participants in the training talked of a ‘depressed society’ where so many people are struggling with many burdens. There is a hopelessness and heaviness that hangs over many people.

Working in the society where there are so many problems, we also start to take on a sense of hopelessness and burden. It is known that there is a risk for workers in difficult situations to get burn-out and to take on the similar poverty mindset that keeps people trapped in their own mindsets.

As ‘change agents’ in this society, we need to keep ourselves healthy to bring the vision of hope and inspiration for a people in great need.

Ironically, one way we are reminded of Christmas in Arua is because of the increase in insecurity as people feel the pressure to buy meat or chicken and new clothes for their families. This week this has brought us an armed robbery, a revenge killing and a police crackdown with gun battles in the forest. However, we believe that Jesus came to bring light to darkest places. As Isaiah says,

'The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.’

Community Development is about change for the better, something we all long for! I hope that we all get encouraged by the Christmas story of hope despite all the darkness and discouragement around!

Posted by africraigs 11:28 Archived in Uganda Comments (2)

Tiny Beginnings

overcast 25 °C

The Anglican Church of Uganda recently celebrated a big milestone of 100 year anniversary in the West Nile region. 100 years ago, the West Nile region just been returned to British rule after been part of the notorious Belgian Congo with the regime’s brutal treatment of people for ivory and rubber. In this area, elephants had been hunted for ivory and slaves were captured by Arabs coming down from the north. The mighty Nile river runs alongside the Eastern borders while the land rises towards the west along the hilly Congo border.Man Wearing his Special Centenary Shirt

Man Wearing his Special Centenary Shirt

The Lugbara Bible

The Lugbara Bible


Jacob at the Centenary Celebrations

Jacob at the Centenary Celebrations


With my friend Stephen. I wanted to celebrate the Scottish influence in West Nile too...! And got interviewed on radio because of it!

With my friend Stephen. I wanted to celebrate the Scottish influence in West Nile too...! And got interviewed on radio because of it!

In that year, 1918, a missionary couple called Frank and Edith Gardner arrived in West Nile, entering from Congo through an area called Vurra. Frank’s brother Alfred accompanied them.
The Gardner Family in Later Years

The Gardner Family in Later Years

Frank Gardner Looking Like a Typical Missionary...

Frank Gardner Looking Like a Typical Missionary...


The Gardners were ordinary people. Frank was a railway engineer and son of a postman from Chipping Norton. Edith was a butcher’s daughter and shop assistant. They had a new baby, although they had also left a toddler aged 3 in England. Edith Jr was 11 when they next saw her! This seems like a cruel thing in our eyes these days, but during the precarious time during World War 1, they were concerned for the toddler’s safety traveling by ship.

Initially, they came as a couple to Africa to work with a mission agency started by the renown CT Studd in Belgian Congo, but after 2 years there were disagreements with him and they transferred to Africa Inland Mission (AIM).

AIM had been asked by the British District Commissioner to help to distribute food to deal with a severe famine in West Nile and this is what initially led the new AIM recruits to the region.
Arua in 1918

Arua in 1918


The Gardners had a difficult time in their fledgling work. Edith struggled being constantly watched and peered at by the local people. Neighbours would also fill in the wells they dug for getting clean water. Since there had been a famine, there was little food to eat.
The Gardner's Home, Arua, Painted in Watercolour

The Gardner's Home, Arua, Painted in Watercolour


During that first year, the Gardners succumbed to Spanish Flu, a pandemic of sickness killing people around the world. Edith nearly died. Frank had already been ill with malaria and black-water fever several times but fell sick again. He too nearly died. The family were advised to move to an area with a healthier climate and so went to work at Kijabe, at the AIM station in the mountains of Kenya.

The Gardners had only been in West Nile from June 1918 till February 1919, eight short and difficult months.

However, as the book written to commemorate the church’s history, ‘Celebrating Our Centenary’ mentions, ‘Christianity has made a greater impact [in the West Nile] than in other parts of Northern Uganda’.

Despite the inconspicuous and frustrating start which must have seemed like failure to the Gardners, the church grew. Today, 90% of the Lugbara people the Gardners settled amongst are Christian according to The Joshua Project ( https://joshuaproject.net/) and the church has hundreds of thousands of adherents.

As one of the descendants of Frank and Edith says:

“I hope this encourages us never to think fruitfulness and faithfulness are judged by size. That even in pain and seeming failure, God is still at work. No matter how small the seeds we think we are sowing today, God is the Lord of the harvest and can bring forth fruit a hundredfold. So, don’t despise the day of small beginnings and keep sowing!

Rev Adrian Beavis, St Luke’s Church, Earl’s Court, great grandson of Frank and Edith.

When I heard the Gardner’s story, it touched and encouraged me.

Emma and I are ordinary people that left ‘normal’ jobs in the UK but we can often struggle with living and working cross- culturally. We can feel irritated when a simple jog can turn into being a comical spectacle, or different cultural differences in parenting or education can gain unwanted comments… We can relate to health and sickness scares: insect bites, malaria, high fevers, a broken bone, and how the physical can quickly affect our emotional and spiritual outlook. We’ve sometimes looked at our work, our projects, our failings, and wondered whether we’re making any difference and whether we should pack up and go home, especially since what we are doing is such a backwards move in a career sense. When we hear stories of missionary heroes, they seem so incredible that we can’t relate to them, yet the Gardners seem so normal, so human, so ordinary, and their trials so real and understandable.

And yet, like the story of the Gardners, there is change because of the small seeds they sowed.

We, too, are hoping and praying for God to work through us in our vision to see transformation in peoples’ lives through God’s love and hope.

  • That through the income generating card project, people will see that God can use someone’s hard work, skills and creativity to help them support their families.
  • That through the Hibiscus tea project, people can see that Africa and their people are rich and the poverty mentality people often hide behind can be challenged.
  • That through the Lifeskills teaching, people can see that God can provide us with wisdom to live effectively in all areas of life to God’s glory.
  • That through the sponsorship project, Cheka Child, vulnerable children who would not have otherwise had much hope and even less opportunities, can be given a hope and a future.

The story of the church’s beginnings in West Nile are an encouragement to any ‘small’ people out there like Gideon in the Bible, wee Zacchaeus, or us…

If anyone is interested, here is a link to a video of the Frank and Edith Gardner story done recently:

Posted by africraigs 04:51 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

South Africa

semi-overcast 28 °C

We have recently come back from an incredible 2 week holiday to Cape Town. The long- awaited holiday is an attempt to keep ourselves ‘sustainable’ by taking time to rest and take a break from life in Uganda.

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen with panoramic views of spectacular mountains, shimmering turquoise-coloured sea and expanses of white beaches. There is so much to see and do and the 2 weeks weren’t enough, although we managed to hike up Table Mountain, horse-ride, see the Boulder Beach penguins, visit the Aquarium, visit a Winery have a surfing lesson and so many more things. The kids loved it and so did we...
Surfing Lesson on Muizenburg Beach

Surfing Lesson on Muizenburg Beach

Muizenburg Beach Huts

Muizenburg Beach Huts

Signal Hill with Table Mountain in the Background

Signal Hill with Table Mountain in the Background

The Boomslang, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

The Boomslang, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Aquarium

Aquarium

Bird's Nests, Company Gardens

Bird's Nests, Company Gardens

African Penguins

African Penguins

Spier Winery

Spier Winery

Big Swing at Spier

Big Swing at Spier

Aerial Rope Course

Aerial Rope Course

Asher Loved the Aerial Ropes Course

Asher Loved the Aerial Ropes Course


Having grown up in DR Congo and living in East Africa, I have always said that South Africa is not the real Africa. Mostly, I mean that it is so much more ‘developed’ than many other parts of Africa that I visited. It’s GDP has been the highest in Africa, it has beautifully smooth roads, a well-developed railway network, industries and seems well organised. It’s nice to be able to drink from the taps too!

Being on holiday, I still couldn’t help myself trying to get under the skin of what is going on in South Africa and understand the culture better (although Em told me not to think too much…!)

As everyone is so aware, South Africa has had a turbulent history and it strange to think that it was so recent. It was strange to visit Robben Island with Amelie and have one of the ex-political prisoners called ‘Vusumzi Mcongo’ talk to us about his experiences. He encouraged the roomful of tourists to also visit a township to understand that not a lot has changed since the apartheid era and share this with the outside world.
Sign at District 6 Museum

Sign at District 6 Museum


Nelson Mandela's Prison Cell

Nelson Mandela's Prison Cell


Vusumzi Mcongo

Vusumzi Mcongo

Robben Island

Robben Island


Since Apartheid, South Africa is now known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ where people of all colours and races are supposedly equal and welcome, but being in Cape Town, it felt to me that a lot still had to change.
South African Multicoloured Flag

South African Multicoloured Flag


Driving from our lovely Airbnb family home by a lake to Cape Town central, we pass the security guys protecting the neighbourhood. We pass black guys waiting at the roadside looking for work and money. We pass through a township with signs saying ‘smash and grab hotspot’. Big electric fences with the ‘tic-tic’ noise are common sights. Locals tell you to be very careful with your bags at beaches, in town or on tourist areas like Table Mountain. Beaches like stunning Noordhoek beach that we visited were targets where people had recently been killed and the same fate had befallen walkers in the hills around Muizenburg where we were staying. In the early morning, our taxi wouldn’t stop at red lights for fear of smash and grab thieving.
Signs Warning about Crime

Signs Warning about Crime

Noordhoek Beach

Noordhoek Beach

Iconic and Beautiful Table Mountain

Iconic and Beautiful Table Mountain


It was strange taking the train into town to pick up our hired car. On the whole 45 minutes, I was the only white person. I had been advised by friends that public transport is generally not safe, but being from the UK where everyone takes the train, it was weird how segregated parts of life in Cape Town are. As I was sitting on the train, I was reading about a young guy that had been killed riding the same route I was in January after fleeing from attempted thieves. I also witnessed a thief pelting out the station at great speed and another suspect being apprehended by station guards. An exciting way to travel, anyway!

To me, a passer-by in Cape Town, it feels like there are still 2 South Africas, with the divide still being a colour one, but more so an economic one. I am sure that those who lived through the apartheid era will tell me that the changes to South Africa up till now have been momentous, but to many blacks living in South Africa, I wonder what that change has been.

One of the most memorable occasions for our family was seeing a concert of the Origin choir organised by Colin Peckham whom I knew from our previous life in Edinburgh. Incredibly, since many of the band and choir had come from Edinburgh, some of our friends were there too! It was very strange seeing old friends in a completely different context.

The concert was in Mitchell’s Plain, an area featured on CNN for being one of the most dangerous places in the world. During the evening, the pastor explained how he had to live with being held at gun-point on several occasions and how he would often be burying gang members. However, he said that things were changing because people were starting to get serious about church. Social changes were happening and transformation was taking place. After the concert, it was humbling to see about 15 people give their lives to Jesus (no guys, only women!).
Origin Choir

Origin Choir

Great Mates from Edinburgh in Origin Choir

Great Mates from Edinburgh in Origin Choir


What I witnessed in South Africa made me consider again what true development is like. Emma and I talked about whether we would want to ever live in South Africa with its incredible beauty and natural resources and both of us were not sure. Although on one hand, there is so much material richness as seen in the beautiful yachts at the V and A waterfront, expensive cars (there were so many shiny cars on the road) and expansive malls and stunning wine estates, there is a terrible feeling of social poverty. Although South Africa is one of the most developed African nations, it wouldn’t be an easy place to live because of the social poverty and brokenness obvious almost everywhere we looked.
V and A Waterfront

V and A Waterfront


Uganda would like to become ‘developed’ and reach higher standards. This current administration, ‘aims at transforming Uganda from a predominantly peasant and low income country to a competitive upper middle income country’ by 2040 in a project called Vision 2040 with a per capita income at $9500 from the current $615. There are plans to develop industries, the railway, modernise agriculture and increase energy production amongst others. I believe a nation needs a vision for material development, but seeing a country like South Africa also reminds me of the greater need for wholistic development.
Uganda Vision 2040

Uganda Vision 2040


Our dream for Uganda and what we work for here is summed up in Bryant L Myers’ book ‘Walking with the Poor’ in describing transformational development:

“The kingdom vision for the better human future is summarised by the idea of shalom: just, peaceful, harmonious and enjoyable relationships with each other, ourselves, our environment and God.”
Bryant L Myers Model of Transformational Development Illustrating Wholesome Relationships

Bryant L Myers Model of Transformational Development Illustrating Wholesome Relationships


Although a higher GDP per capita is important for a materially poor nation, the example of South Africa shows that for good, true and transformational development, it needs to be about much more.

Transformational Development Brings Change to the Whole of Society as God's Values Transforms People's Lives

Transformational Development Brings Change to the Whole of Society as God's Values Transforms People's Lives

Posted by africraigs 02:55 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Driving Home for Christmas

sunny 30 °C

Christmas is often a busy and hectic time.

Despite being known as laid-back this can also be true of Africa. The over-used phrase ‘No hurry in Africa’ is definitely not true on the roads in general as people that have experienced the traffic in Nairobi or ‘Jam-pala’ know from frustrating experience. At Christmas, many people are traveling back to the villages to visit family. So much so, that Kampala, Uganda’s capital, is known to be a lot quieter with fewer traffic jams due to this migration outwards. Due to the increased demand, bus fares increase in price and it is hard to get a seat.

Unfortunately, it is also well-known that traveling around Christmas is more dangerous too. There are increased incidences of vehicle crashes and people intensify their prayers for road safety, praying against the ‘spirit of accidents’, whatever that means!

In general, our area of Africa is known to have poor roads and high road fatalities. Uganda, for instance, has 27.4 traffic deaths per 100,000 people compared to 2.9 in the UK (WHO, 2015). Road surfaces are often dangerous being pot-holed and narrow and many road users are untrained. Cattle, goats, chickens, bicycles and children are wandering near the main roads and straying onto them. Police can be more interested in getting their ‘Christmas money’ rather than maintaining safety standards such as overloaded vehicles. It is an unfortunate fact that 90% of the world’s road fatalities occur in low to middle-income countries, despite these countries having half of the world’s vehicles (WHO, 2015).

I am therefore always more nervous and prayerful when making long journeys in the car and especially by bus or boda boda (a motorbike taxi).

With these thoughts at the forefront of my mind, I nervously and prayerfully begin my long journey to Kisumu, Kenya where I was hoping to organise a new birth certificate for Amelie, our first-born who was born there in 2010. At that time, we worked with REAP for a year, a Christian agriculture and development organisation. For some reason, Amelie’s original birth certificate was missing at the Government Registry so they wanted me there in person with evidence to get a new one processed.

I took an over- night bus out of Arua to Kampala with KK Traveller, paying the extra money for a ‘Comfort’ bus. My thinking was that by paying a few pounds more, I would be traveling with the more affluent customer and be less likely to get robbed. Being near the back of the bus, I kept feeling the awful ribbed humps that regularly came up on the highways. They really jolted me and kept me from falling into a good sleep. Although I don't like night-buses, they are very popular since people feel they don't lose a day by traveling, but because of the lack of rest, my body grumbles against it and I feel groggy.

We reach Kampala at 6 in the morning. I have lots of jobs to do in Kampala and so use my trusted boda-boda driver around town. In my experience, this is really the only way to get around Kampala to schedule if you have limited time, as you don't know when the jams in town will keep you from moving. Jams seem to happen anytime, and have known to last 4 hours, crawling through just a few kilometres.
On my boda in Kampala

On my boda in Kampala


Riding a boda-boda in Kampala feels like an intense adrenaline rush, similar in feeling to an extreme sport, I expect, probably because you are taking your life in your hands. (Living in Africa itself often feels like living in a perpetual extreme sport, hence there being no need for paying for these experiences). As you dodge around cars, trucks and matatus, there is only marginal time and space for any mistake. I always marvel at the skill at the way the boda driver manoeuvres, his eye-hand co-ordination seems incredible. Despite the fear and worry I feel inside, I keep as still and relaxed as possible so as to not put my driver off and so make a mistake.

However, it is also a well-known fact that the highest causes of accidents and injuries is through riding a boda-boda, especially since most riders and passengers don't wear helmets. Peace Corps, an American volunteer agency working in Uganda, for instance, does not allow its workers to ride boda-bodas at all. In 2010, a study on the “Impact of Bodaboda Motor Crashes on the Budget for Clinical Services at Mulago Hospital, Kampala” found that 75% of all road traffic accidents involved boda bodas. (Mulago government hospital is the largest hospital in Uganda.)

Thankfully, I am able to get my work done safely. In the meantime, Emma has sent round a message to friends on WhatsApp asking for prayer for my travels as the morning brought news of 2 buses colliding on the Arua-Kampala route.

The bus to Kisumu, Kenya on Modern Coast is early the next morning and my boda-boda driver weaves expertly through congested roads to get me there on time. Carrying my small suitcase and backpack on the back as I ride makes it an even less comfortable and potentially risky ride.

The Modern Coast coach really surprised me with its comfortable large reclining seats like armchairs that you sank right into and small TV monitors. Unfortunately, the TVs didn't work, but the overall look of the bus was very impressive.
The interior of the Modern Coast coach

The interior of the Modern Coast coach

People trafficking warning at the Kenya/Uganda border

People trafficking warning at the Kenya/Uganda border


Kisumu is like a walk down memory lane for me as Emma and I lived there 7 years ago while working for REAP. It is also where I was hoping to get Amelie’s new birth certificate organised within the few days I had there, the main reason for traveling 780 kilometres across East Africa.

It was also really good to connect with old friends and colleagues. The founder and director of REAP is the impressively bearded Dr Roger and we had co-ordinated so we could catch up there. As he drives by, local youths call out ‘Jesus!’ or ‘Saddam!’, 2 very different people! REAP’s work serves to support the materially poor with relevant teaching on managing land and homestead. It is very interesting.Unflattering selfie at REAP demonstration farm

Unflattering selfie at REAP demonstration farm


Dr Roger

Dr Roger

Kisumu centre

Kisumu centre


One of my old REAP colleagues, Sam, lives about 70km out along Lake Victoria near a fishing village called Asembo. Sam was once a fisherman himself before fish stocks grew too scarce. (Environmental problems like low fish stocks are growing issue on Lake Victoria). I had stayed out at his village home a couple of times before, and he invited me there for another overnight to meet his 2nd wife, a Ugandan lady he affectionally calls ‘Matooke’ after the famous Ugandan food, and eat tilapia fish, the food the Luo people, like him, love.

So it was that I ended up traveling on a ‘Matatu’, the ubiquitous white van that serves as an affordable transport for local people over longer distances in towns or between towns. These white vans are notoriously bad road users that don't follow any traffic rules, stopping when and where they want without using any signals. In Kisumu, they are often pimped up with bright paint-jobs and stickers emblazoned over them and music pumping. On our matatu, the music was mixed by dj big, vig or fig, I couldn't quite get his name whenever his tagline was mentioned in the music: ‘dj big, the mixmaster’.
Matatu

Matatu

The ubiquitous matatu...

The ubiquitous matatu...


The matatu waits until it is full of passengers before leaving. There is a bit of haggling needed before accepting to enter as the ‘conductor’ has quoted a high price, likely because of my being a ‘Mzungu’. As we sit waiting, the matatu passengers are bombarded by sales people (walking shops) selling a whole range of items despite the ‘No Hawking’ sign behind them: sunglasses, watches, drinks, vests, mirrors, padlocks, necklaces, bracelets, torches, reading glasses, belts… The sales person uses various tactics to sell their product including dropping the item on your lap or hanging around and explaining just how much you need to buy it or looking at you longingly. I end up getting a newspaper and a lollipop.
Selling watches to matatu passengers

Selling watches to matatu passengers

Selling juice to matatu passengers

Selling juice to matatu passengers


The matatu leaves when all available space is taken up. This means that there are 4 people per row instead of the intended 3 maximum with the conductor himself hanging outside of the open door or standing up and leaning over the passengers. On many levels, the matatu is a typical African experience. There is no personal space so is great If you like things cosy. It’s definitely not a British way to travel… Bodies are pressed together and where they meet, it gets sweaty within the hot metal van. Without seat belts, the pressing together makes me feel a bit safer somehow. However, manoeuvring in and out of your seats takes some contortions, especially if you are of a wider and ‘traditional’ build.
Tightly packed in

Tightly packed in


We pass police at the roadside and the conductor has his 50 shillings rolled up in his palm. The exchange is subtle and unnoticeable.
There are signs stuck within the matatu to remind us that we are traveling in another dangerous African machine. They tell passengers that they need to speak up to tell the driver to slow down if they are driving too fast. Road accidents are a nasty problem in Kenya as well. Since being in Kenya for the last few days, I had already heard about 2 nasty crashes on a notorious stretch of road leaving many dead including some up-and-coming musicians. Pictures of crushed vehicles and road carnage was being played over the Kenyan TV news. Very comforting.
Avoid accidents, tell the driver to slow down.

Avoid accidents, tell the driver to slow down.


Thankfully, I do not become a grim statistic and my time with Sam is a good memory with very tasty fried fish and a visit Sam’s local fishing community. I return safely in another matatu to Kisumu.
Sam at his fishing village, Lake Victoria

Sam at his fishing village, Lake Victoria


Another overnight bus to Kampala and then onwards to Arua on KK Traveller again, I am relieved and happy to be home to see the family to celebrate Christmas.
Christmas with family

Christmas with family


Driving home for Christmas in Africa is not something any of us here takes lightly.
Christmas with friends

Christmas with friends

Posted by africraigs 05:53 Archived in Kenya Comments (2)

Names will never hurt me

semi-overcast 27 °C

‘Meet my best friend’ called our friendly night watchman, as another jovial guy walked past the house… After the usual greetings, I asked the watchman what his friend’s name was, ‘Oh,’ he replied, ‘I don’t know.’

It made us laugh that he didn’t know his best friend’s name, but we’ve seen this happen a few times here in Arua.

For instance, other local friends live together in a shared homestead: three brothers, their wives, children, extra orphans and various animals, all doing life together. So it surprised us when he didn’t know the name of the sister-in- law who they share a home with. He said he just calls her ‘Mama Lilian’ after the firstborn child.

We have had the privilege of naming a few of our friends’ children recently. Two of the new babies in Arua are called ‘Zoë’ meaning ‘Life’ after Emma’s youngest sister. Another friend took Emma’s suggestion of ‘Aaron’ for his son. He likely isn’t aware of the Scottish island that our Arran is named after.
Big Zoe celebrating her 1st birthday!

Big Zoe celebrating her 1st birthday!

Baby Zoe with Mum and big sister

Baby Zoe with Mum and big sister


In our culture, there is much thought, discussion and even prayer when choosing a name for the unborn child. Names are chosen because of its meaning, or because of a significant person or sometimes because of the attractive way it sounds. Most of the time, the baby name is chosen beforehand. Amongst many African households, a baby is traditionally not named until a baby shows he/she is surviving. The infant mortality, although falling, is still high and so it is not practical or emotionally convenient to name a baby from the outset.

Lugbara names have traditionally been negative. Children will be named according to the circumstances they were born into or how the mother is feeling. During wartime, children may be named ‘Adiga’ meaning ‘war’. If a mother has been having struggles, a child can be named Driciru, a girl’s name meaning ‘suffering’. A lady I worked with had a mother who had many babies that didn’t survive infancy. For this reason, she was called ‘Drajoru’, meaning ‘Death in the place’. Drateru and Dravoru (‘Dra’ meaning ‘death’) are other names related to death. Another lady is called ‘Lekuru’ which means ‘dislike’ because her dad didn’t want to have another girl and actually wanted her thrown away. She was one of 9 girls in the family (out of 12). Another lady is called ‘Useless’ in Lugbara because her dad didn’t want another girl.

The sad name list goes on…

The name ‘Candia’ is translated ‘Misery’, and is a surprisingly common name for girls and boys. A woman whose husband ran away after giving birth called her son ‘Foolish’. A colleague I work with at Lifeskills told me her story of being abandoned by her father when she was a baby. Just before giving birth, her mother was homeless. Her mother ended up giving birth amongst the cassava plants in a field. Her mother called her ‘wanderer’.

Although there are still plenty of unfortunately- named people running about, thankfully, there has been some change in the way children are named as the hopeful message of the Bible takes root and Biblical names like Love (Leta) or Joy (Ayiko) are being given. The hope of the Bible message is the reason I appreciate it so much. It is the reason we work here in West Nile. Whether it is in the family, in farming or in doing commerce, the Biblical message is in the business of changing lives and making a difference for people, including how someone is named. To me, Christianity is not a religion to help people pretend to be pious and act holy, it is something which can really make positive change. That should be good news for new babies being born in West Nile…

Posted by africraigs 00:59 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

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