Thursday, 19 April 2012

Uganda Diary Day 6: Showtime

April 9th – Monday

No school today so it's off to the orphanage for decorating.  Two rooms are done now so we were sanding and plastering and putting the base coat on the new room.  We'll add the colour on the lower half tomorrow.

From start... finish

As usual there were kids milling around, most of them with good English despite being only 7 years old.  I find I enunciate more here, avoiding slang and borrowing some of their sounds to emphasise things (“Ehhhh!?”).  Sue and I were chatting and I got to try out some of the words I'd learned from Ruth's kids.

Do-keh  - Banana tree
Nyoomba – House
Gaar – Bicycle
Coco – Chicken

My teachers. From left to right: Nurugambe, Grace, Chiaga, Sandra and Christine

Fve of the younger kids taught me to count.  They are Sandra (7), Christine (6) and Chiaga (4) who are brothers and sisters, and Nurugambe (10) and Grace (8) who are also sisters.  They used to have a brother but he died.  All are orphans.  Here's what they taught me:

1 – Em
2 – Biri
3 – Sato
4 – Nya
5 – Tano
6- Mukaaga
7 – Musanvu
8 – Munaana
9 – Mwenda
10 - Koomi

11 – Koomi-ri-em
12 – Koomi-ri-biri  (etc.)

20 – Abiri
21 – Abiri-mu-em
22 – Abiri-mu-biri (etc.)

So now I can count to 29!  I practised while walking back into the resort.  The kids we passed, and Elijah who was sitting with Dad in the restaurant, were very amused.  They all cheered when we got to 10!
An escort back to the resort
After lunch we sat down with some of the village women to learn how to weave baskets. They started them off for us, winding strips of hand-dyed raffia round banana fibres.  Our fingers were a purple from the dye, and sore from jabbing the needles through the straw that formed the structure of the basket.  Besides that, and the alarming number of bare razor blades casually thrown around on the blankets we were sat on, it was quite therapeutic and satisfying to see the levels slowly build up.  I was given one of the first ones to work on, which was useful as I got called away to the medical centre at 3pm by Dad.  He had mentioned to Susan (the Head of Health) that I drew and she had asked if I could make her 2 posters.  I agreed and went to discuss it with her, but by the time the talk was over the number had somehow become 5 posters in both Ugandan and English, so 10 in total!  How did this happen?!  We leave in three days, and paper is huge and all I have to work with is a pack of Sharpies!!!  Still, I shall do my best and get the Ugandan ones done first.  I can't really complain – I did want to be seen as an individual on this trip.  I didn't see what drawing could do to help, but in a village where half the adult population is illiterate the girl who can make pictures is suddenly very useful
The posters will mostly by about the current pregnancy campaign, trying to decrease the mortality rate of mothers and babies.  Issues like HIV, superstitious practises that aren't in the baby's best interests, and the fear and stigma of visiting the doctors are still big issues here.  I have to do my best for Susan – strange to think that something I draw might contribute to saving someone's life.  Lord help me do work worthy of this, and to find the right way to communicate visually to these people so that they best understand what we need to tell them. 

Our very patient teachers

So it's happened.  I fought with one of my parents [for reasons it would not be right to expand on in a blog], or as close to fighting as we ever really get in our house which is some brief snapping and a determined silence afterwards while we hold our tongues and cool down...
So when is the right time to talk to someone about their behaviour ?  As kids we got quoted the old Bambi adage “If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all” (double negative there) but that isn't right.  Aren't we told to speak the truth in love, even when it's a painful truth? 
I get the feeling we'll just move on from this, forgiving as we go, and forgetting we were ever cross, but the issue won't really have been fixed and so it will probably happen again.  But at least I didn't do what I habitually used to and feel I had to lose the argument because of my place in the family hierarchy.  I've been chipping in with [this activity] because I know it’s important to them, but at times like that they doesn't make it easy to be helpful.  I respect my parents hugely but I'm an adult now too so I'm pleased I spoke up and tried to explain, even if it wasn't received well.

After dinner we trouped up to Trust High School for William Parker to perform for the students in a kind of inter-school talent show.  On the way in we stopped up short at some flashing in the sky.  It was a massive storm miles and miles away, too far even to hear the thunder, but the lightning cracked every few seconds, illuminating the horizon with the backlit shapes of strange clouds.  It was surreal, but incredibly beautiful.
Despite having only a keyboard and a few iPods between them William Parker did an absolutely genius performance, including such classics as “She'll be coming to Kabubbu when she comes!”, the Song of the Hippopotamus (Mud, glorious mud!), Shakira's world cup song about Africa (sort of an international relations number) a barbershop quartet that was really quite good, and an audience – inclusive rendition of the Macarena!  I think a little of it bemused the Kabubbu students but on the whole they seemed both amused and very pleased.  I was certainly entertained!

Er... tribal dancing?
Now for that great British institution... Karaoke!
The Kabubbu students (under the guidance of a music teacher who stalked about the stage adjusting performers mid-song) did an amazing show including all the traditional instruments we'd seen, which probably made it the equivalent of a school orchestra.  There was also singing, dancing and drama incorporated into their four songs.  Highlights were a courtship dance complete with flirting and some rather violent rejection, and one of the women balancing six pots on top of her head – eat that Cirque de Soleil!  They included lots of the traditional booty-shaking we'd seen at the African evening a few nights before.  It was mesmerising.  The speed along was incredible and they threw themselves into it.  I have to show my belly-dancing friends when I get home.

We'd assumed that the locals went to bed at sundown (around 7pm) but some kids stayed up to scare us on the way home, hissing like snakes from the undergrowth.  It was an excellent trick and we all applauded them heartily once we'd stopped screaming in terror.  Just enough time back at the resort to finish my basket!  Up at 6:30am tomorrow for an early start.  The William Parker lot leave tomorrow afternoon.  They're a rowdy bunch, especially around bedtime, but they're also really energising and it'll be strange without them.

No comments:

Post a Comment