singing

Welcome!

continued from “born again

singing

Kireka, a part of town off any map of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

“Kampala is like Rome. Built on seven hills”, said Rose, the director of the local meeting point, during a conference call meeting. “Only here the wealthy live on the top, the poor in the lower grounds, close to the malaria plagued papyrus swamps. Kireka is in one of these valleys. The necklaces are made there. Just come, most important of all is friendship” she had concluded.

Necklaces. They had built a school with them.

beads

Mothers rolling paper into beads and selling them in Italy. They had been driven away from Acholi-land, their homeland in the north, by an absurd crowd of fighters who called themselves ‘The lord’s revolutionary Army”(LRA). An army fighting against no one in particular, in the name of some Lord and a revolution.

Rebels, as some have called them, mercenaries in fact, driven by lust for violence and money, enrolling children to help them enact the rule of pure irrational terror.

The mothers made beads, Rose took them to Milan and the Italians sold them, till they financed a building and a school from their children saved by the mercenaries.

Nothing but strong mothers.

The day hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans the women realised something should be done.

During the meeting under the roof covering the clean assembly point in Kireka they rolled out the plan to Rose, the head of the local organisation dealing with health issues:“Auntie, let us go to the quarry and break the stones into sand for money, and that money we shall send to the brothers and sisters in pain today”

The mothers of Kireka, helping the rising superpower far away across the ocean.

(more about this here)

“Of course you must understand, there is no real production facility, but just go and see what can be done” said a coordinator from Milan.”I’ll come and show you around”

“Yeah! lets go!” says the man from Texas

“All right, I suppose we can go and take a look”

postcardK

Photos courtesy of Mark Eden Schooley

U-mutubaouganda

Born Again

U-mutubaouganda

“Dude, you speak in your sleep”

“Do I? Should have slept instead of watching that film; what did I say?”

“I don’t know, funny language, sounded like you were on a highway with some crazy driver in a sports car”

“Oh yes, I remember, that was Albania”

 

The large car pulled out of the car park under heavy rain on a warm spring morning.

The two men sat silently contemplating the sound of the large drops of rain hammering the roof of the vehicle, a thousand drums giving it all they had.

While his companion tried to talk to the patient driver, who was finding the conversation hopelessly limited by the noise, the Englishman slipped again in his dreams of travels and winding mountain roads. A sound of Balkan rhythms, mixed with visions of flat screens on walls and, faces, smiles.

The sudden ending of the drums concert tore him away from his restless sleep, waking up in a large empty car parked in some busy market place or a petrol station. He opened the door and stretched his legs.

“How old are you sir?” said a man with a uniform way too large for his thin build.

“I am…I beg your pardon?” he answered taken by surprise by this moment of sudden sociability.

“Let me tell you about myself, Sir. I am two years old”

“Well, well, you certainly don’t look them…are you sure?”

“Sir,” he said, bearing a splendid smile, “I can tell. You are not born again. Not yet, Sir”

“Well I didn’t mean to…”

“Let’s go dude!” says the American, jumping back in the car followed by the driver who started the car leaving the genial two year old man behind.

“a funny little chap there” said the Englishman to his companion

“yeah?”

“didn’t quite get that, said he was reborn”

“yeah?”

“didn’t seem dangerous, had a nice smile”

“Dude, where do come from? Born Again! a Baptist dude! found light, revelation, a believer! There’s plenty around in Texas. You should get out more!”

The European was finding it difficult to adjust to the surroundings. The warmth and humidity were unusual for April. The traffic was dense, the crowd busy. The sounds of music coming from the open windows were mixed with the smoke of roasted chicken. The earth and mud were red, rising from the ground climbing on the wooden walls of an infinite number of tiny shops the size of a shed resting on the ground amongst healthy green plants, as if abandoned after drifting in a biblical flood.

White and blue taxis of some Japanese car maker, hand painted, as everything else, with sentences often mentioning supernatural powers and citing passages of the old and new testament.

This was not Albania.

He remembered.

It was after a phone call from Milan, Italy. The head of a large international organisation.

“Go and take a look and tell me what you think. A group of women, they have done wonders with necklaces in paper beads. Just go and see what you can do. Expenses are on me” He said, simply, and efficiently.

“Let’s go dude!” said the American when his doubtful friend brought up the idea mentioning business plans and spreadsheets,“yeah! Love it! We’ll find something! Gonna be great!”

Africa. Eastern Africa, Uganda. Where the Nile starts its long journey.

Very, very far Away.

(more soon here: welcome

Po! paris

U-2barkall pictures courtesy of Mark Eden Schooley