#TWEDDEKO

If you have access to a TV, you have seen at least one clip of the #Tweddeko campaign by Vivo Energy and NTV Uganda. If you are among the redeemed who don’t watch TV at least you are here so you are about to find out.

I will not bore you with the details but if time and data allows, you can check out everything about the campaign here. What you need to know right now is that Tweddeko is Luganda for “let’s reconsider or change our ways”. Which ways you ask? The bad ones all of us road users are guilty of. #Tweddeko suggests that you know what you should be doing but you are not doing it.

I have been traveling to Kampala from Fort Portal for more than 10 years for school. Every bus ride to the city, preceded a prayer by mother dearest for safety. The prayers worked because I still have all my limbs intact and except a mechanical break down here and there, I have not had any major incidents happen to me on the road, but I can’t say the same for a lot of people.

It’s sad, that every day on most of our roads, someone dies, or loses a limb or two because we have bad road manners. In October of 2014 on a hot afternoon, I was sitting in an excruciatingly boring lecture, praying for it to end, when I received a phone call from one of my friends. I was grateful for the distraction and walked out of the lecture room hoping she had enough air time, so I didn’t have to go back to class so soon. The conversation was short, sad and shocking. She had heartbreaking news. A friend of ours had died from an accident. She was on a ‘boda boda’ when she was hit by a trailer. I remember my first instinct being dialing my dead friend’s number, so she can tell me herself why she thought, the prank was funny. The rest is history like they say, she remained dead despite all my hysterical denials of the fact.

The stories of lives lost due to accidents, keep growing, faster than the price of sugar in this country and they are all just stories until we are directly affected. #Tweddeko should be our way of stopping the number of stories from growing. And I am going to tell you how.

If you drive, behave like you would want all the ‘lumpens’ on the road to. Just assume you are the only, qualified, sane and sober driver on the road and the existence of the entire human race on the road depends on you. That should be great motivation. There is such a thing as waiting your turn and staying in your lane, and it hasn’t killed as many people as skipping lanes has.

If your plan is to go out and drink not tea, then leave your car at home instead of dodging the traffic officers conducting, ‘kawunyemu’. I am sure there are enough apps or people who love you to make sure you get home without getting behind the wheel. Finally, if you want to be on your phone while driving, first exercise your right to park. It also helps to know that the seat belts in your car are not for tourist attraction. 

Tell your ‘boda guy’ to slow down when he is moving too fast. Tell him to stop and you get off if he insists. I find that getting to know the guy on whose ‘boda’ you are riding helps. If you talk to them humanely, chances are that when you ask him nicely not to overtake a trailer he will listen. We would all rather be late than in a hospital or dead. If you doubt go do some research at all the causality wards at a hospital near you.

Get yourself a helmet. This is a bit of a double standard, considering I don’t have one myself, but I am working on it. If your problem is that they are ugly, I promise there are some really cute and colorful ones too. If you are worried that, it will mess up your hair, get yourself a comb and a mirror. (I know a nice place down town where they sell a set cheaply, I can show you).

Until then safe boda is your best friend if you are in Kampala since they have a helmet for you or a nice walk if you are out of the city. I used to think I would die from using a shared helmet until I visited Rwanda, used the helmet and didn’t die.

Remaining safe on the road is obviously bigger than one individual, it’s a combination of luck, prayers, good manners, law, law enforcement, policy e.t.c. The target of #Tweddeko is primarily road users who are, all of us and if each person pledged to be intentional about playing their very simple part we can reduce the number of accidents in the Police Report of 2017 immensely, and get to stay alive while at it.

So while we wait for the bigger players to expand our roads, make sure there are no DMC vehicles  or drunk drivers on the roads and work on safer road use policies, #Tweddeko, because every life matters.

The Journey of Hope

What do you know about hope?

I trust my knowledge of the plight of street children in Kampala as far as I can throw it.

When I see these children depending on the kind of day I am having, I am either compassionate, angry or down right indifferent.

If you are in a taxi or in a car with someone it’s not uncommon to hear callous comments about how these kids are just on the street to make money. No judgment I have thrown a few around too.

However sometimes when my headsets which I use to block everything in my surroundings have been forgotten, the traffic jam on Jinja road is of epic proportions, my humanity is not clogged by whatever issues I have going on and the person next to me is not trying to make to small talk, I am forced to be aware, and my mind takes a trip to  wonderland; 

“How is it that they are always asking for ‘ekikumi’, – (100 Uganda Shillings)?

“Who are their parents? Do they even care?”

“How did they end up here?”

“How come they mostly have the same accent?”

There were never answers.

Just the gods of traffic jam shinning on me and sending me on my merry way to life as I know, until recently.

A friend of mine I met on my first koikoiug trip in May 2016, called me out of the blue, asking if I knew someone who would be interested in writing for an event the organization she works with is doing. I was slightly thrown that she didn’t ask me to write, but rather a reference, but she explained that she was being considerate of my academic obligations.(I think she forgot that for me law school is a part time hobby)

Anyway after a few suggestions, I asked if I could do it, and if this was a love story we would stay that the rest is history, however this is a story about hope. So read, on the future is bright.

What do you know about hope?

For Dwelling Places, (read about the work they do to rehabilitate street children here) hope is in a 462km journey to Karamoja Region.

Why Karamoja, you ask?

Remember those answers, I told you about?

Well 90% of these children on Kampala streets, relentlessly asking of your 100 shillings, come from Karamoja.

No they didn’t get on a bus to migrate to the city and make money but rather they have been trafficked, and sold into child labor and everything we should all pray for our kids to be shielded from.

Through an event dubbed journey of hope, dwelling places and its partners will be walking to Karamoja.

I know what you are thinking.

“That is too far? Is it that even possible? Why? 462km really?”

But calm down, this has been done before. In 2015 to be precise and there is proof here that it is possible.

The message is to reverse the story of these street children.

Walk to them instead of them to us and keep them in school not on the streets.

I have never been more honored to write about anything than I am to do this.

Blogging to raise awareness is my minute contribution to this campaign.

And yours is to read, partner with these people in whatever capacity, dare yourself to a journey of not 1000 miles but of hope, make wise suggestions in the comment section, sponsor a walker or just share about this on Facebook or twitter.

All the information you need about the organization and the event is available on their website here.

I want to end with an inspiring quote, but can’t quite figure out which one, so just tap into that humanity of yours and let’s give those kids some hope, shall we?

 

 

 

 

Birthday, Lessons & Everything In Between 

My friends Mercy and Sammy forced me into a photo shoot and this is my favorite shot.#ThePowerOfFilters

I was in Virginia in Obama’s America as it was then for my birthday last year. 

This year I spent most of the day in my room at campus juggling between trying to reduce all the International Human Rights law I have studied for 3 months into memorable bullets points for 9am Tuesday morning when  my lecturer puts that exam in my face and tells me to start, responding to almost every single birthday message I received and trying to shut out all the voices in my head telling I am allowed to take a day off on my birth day. It’s almost 10pm and the voices have won.    

It’s easier to reduce my last one year into tears than it is to reduce it into words, but we can’t read tears. So let’s find the words, shall we.

There is a picture with my friends I posted and when my weird-will-never-allow-he-has- a soul- ninja friend Franklin, saw the really long caption he asked, “Why do you have to be a writer all the damn time?” His argument was, that a picture is worth a thousand words so, I should stop adding an extra a thousand words. 

We argued, I think I won, but he refused to concede so we just ate our lunch and moved on. His weird question however was a compliment for me, because more than anything especially this year all I wanted was  to identify as a writer, and in some way he was telling me I was doing something right.

I have learned so much in regard to writing and by so much I mean, I punctuate better. 

I have told my story and  people’s stories who are kind enough to let me.  

 I have travelled this pearl of Africa and shared my experiences. Travelling, I learned gives writing so much insight. There is no need to solicit for depth when you have lived what you are writing about. Beyond writing the academy of life, did not disappoint as well and it taught me valuable lessons and since birthdays are about sharing, allow me tell you some of them.

1.Respecting my process. This is gold because I suffered, whined, cried, prayed, lost sleep, took long walks, lost appetite, read books, listened to sermons, asked God to send a mighty thunder or raging wind and take the cup of suffering from me just so I can find a way to cope with being an adult until I acknowledged, that I need to put some respect on my process. I learned that:

 Some things just come sooner for some people and later for others and playing catch up is a dangerous game.  

Some days just aren’t the days of my dreams.

Some things take time. 

Some people have it easier than others.

Compare and contrast only makes logical sense in an exam, beyond that it’s a recipe for misery.

 Loving people is not as easy as double tapping and one size fits all is as big a lie as Instagram filters.  So  today while I started to slip into that place of feeling bad for missing #KoiKoiSW and turning down birthday plot for a date with my books, I was reminded that, this is my process, and I ought to treat it with respect.

2.Unlearning. This year was the first time I actually encountered this word from my Writer Chic. It’s as empowering and liberating to unlearn certain things as it is to learn from ideologies, to beliefs, to speech,  to dance moves, name it and its “unlearnable”, if you make an effort to.

3.There is nothing wrong with choosing yourself. Self-love is very key, it should become a subject taught in our schools.

4.You can completely and absolutely love someone but you can’t save them.

5.Lion king music is very empowering

6. Graduation is more scary than exciting.

7. Nothing beats celebrating people when they are still alive to experience and hear or read it about it, which explains my extremely long captions on people’s pictures. 

8.Whenever in doubt about the things we don’t have it helps to be grateful.

9. I can’t exhaust all the lessons.

10. In all things God is still the very best.

    Happy Easter. 

    Ps: I love you for reading. 

    Exactly One Year Ago (Part 4 and hopefully the end)

    Kodak moment with Mr Vice President Makhtar Diop.*The tallest guy*

    *Originally posted on facebook * Read part 3 here 
     talked to my family for what felt like eternity, I still had stories but they had to sleep at some point. 

    It was Sunday night. 

    Dominique Nicky from Rwanda joined us and we were officially East African Community. 

    I remember taking a lot of time deciding what I was going to wear to my meeting with the Vice President Africa Region for the World Bank the next day. 

    I had a lot of dresses, my sister Akiiki D Kasande had taken me on a shopping spree. 

    Ultimately I settled on my lucky dress,  the one I wore to do my interview before I won the contest. 

    I tried it on for confirmation that I still got it, and the mirror didn’t disappoint. 

    I checked the schedule they had given us to confirm the time of the meeting. 

    Mercy called my room in the morning to make sure I was awake. 

    The five of us met in the lobby and decided to first find breakfast. 

    Dominique bullied us into going to Bourbon Coffee because they have one in Kigali. 

    We obliged. 

    When we got there they assumed we were all Kenyans because those Kenyatta children were wearing their pins with “Make it Kenya”.

    Another reason for me to carry something Ugandan, next time I go outside countries. 

    We did the “Amelikan ” thing and got our coffees to go. 

    I was now officially the Google Maps of the team. 

    The hotel was a bit near  the World Bank offices so I led the way on foot. 

    It was very surprising to see how many people actually walk to work. 

    We got to the J Building a.k.a the Africa Building before the time of our meeting. 

    We had to get temporary passes into the building because we weren’t going to have our IDs until later in the day. 

    Did I  mention, at this point I felt like I have not eaten anything like food? 

    Anyway we finally made our way to our meeting. 

    First we had a briefing. 

    We met, all kinds of Africans working at the Bank. 

    Ugandans, Kenyans, Rwandans, people from Madagascar, Senegal e.t.c.

    They were all really hospitable and proud of us, “ambitious young Africans,  who are going to change the world “..

    We went to our meeting,  with the vice president as well as our country managers and Director East Africa Region. 

    Wow it was intimidating!

    I felt like I had to give the introduction of my life.

    My country manager was there and so I kept looking at her for assurance that I wasn’t messing it up. 
    I don’t remember what I said about myself or what I had written, all I know is I was the first to speak of the five of us. 

    I just wanted to get it over with.

    However when I was done, Mr Vice President, turned to our country manager and requested her to give me a job or an internship. 

    I must have said something right and true to their promise, I got the job when I  came back. 

    I listened keenly as others shared their stories, eeeissh these guys had dreams, all of a sudden, I was hanging out with brilliance. 

    The meeting took about 20 minutes in total. 

    The rest of the day was spent walking around DC. 

    We bought a communal SIM card to help us stay in touch.

    We got our IDs from the IMF building, What a Wow!

    I struck up a conversation with the lady giving them out and she told me she comes from Ntinda in Kampala. 

    We spoke Luganda with pleasure.

    That Monday was the last day we had that much free time.

    The rest of the week we hopped from meeting to meeting.

    I have never felt so important or so busy in my life. 

    We did a tour bus ride around Washington sometime during the week. 

    I saw museums.

    The images from the Holocaust museum have stayed with me since. 

    We visited the capital building, saw the Lincoln memorial and whole bunch of historical sites. 

    I visited George Town and George Washington Universities. 

    I escorted Dominique to the Rwandan embassy and we got so lost that we finally decided to take a cab. 

    Everyone at the Rwandan embassy could speak my mother tongue. 

    One of the most amazing experiences was attending the “Let Girls Learn”, event that then First Lady Michelle Obama was addressing.

    Girl child education has never sounded so deep, or convincing.

    The Secret Service agents were truly good looking. 

    The atrium where the address was,  was exceptionally grand, but I was too drawn in to even take a picture. 

    My sister from outside countries Doreen Kagaju Feroze kept checking on me almost every day to make sure I was coping well both in cash and in kind. 

    She sent me a list of all the stores I could do shopping. 

    I celebrated my birthday at one of the World Bank staffer’s house. 

    It was so refreshing to eat a home cooked meal. 

    I got to keep almost all the cake because the Amelikan people don’t do calories.

    I got overwhelmed sometime during the week and so one morning I left the hotel earlier and just went and sat in the bank’s  book shop. 

    I was being very dramatic but it was very therapeutic.

    We did our last interview with one of  the Bank’s media guys about our experience   and  I cried my eyes out.

    I had to actually go to the bathroom, look myself in the mirror and tell myself to keep it together. 

    It was just one of those things where emotions go rogue.

    Shopping later in the day helped. 

    I had a list and a budget. 

    I tried to stick to it but yamawe, 

    A combination of my villagism and Forever 21 didn’t exactly help my cause. 

    I shopped until I literally dropped.

    That was Saturday night. 

    I had so much trouble packing. 

    I called the boys to sit on my small suitcase so we could close the zip. 

    I don’t remember sleeping that night.

    I had a friend of a friend visit me

    We talked and even walked in the streets in the middle of the night  and before I knew it , it was 4am. 

    Our flight back except for Dominique was on Sunday morning at 10am to be exact. 

    I had a friend’s sister picking me up so I went ahead of everyone else. 

    It was so comforting, it felt like family.

    I got to the airport with too much time on my hands. 

    I moved everywhere and I bumped into  Pastor Gary Skinner.

    I was so amused, I had to approach him, introduce myself and even ask for a selfie. 

    The moment was too important. 

    Also I almost missed my flight,  the good looking Emirates guy giving out boarding passes insisted he had given me my passes yet he hadn’t. 

    It became a whole thing,  which ended with me being the last person to get on the plane. 

    This time the 13 hour flight to Dubai felt  longer. 

    I stayed away from all their food. 

    I was clearing the way for all the nice home cooked food I was going to have 25 hours later. 

    I wrote a blog, then 

    I slept ,woke up, watched TV, slept, woke up until we reached the UAE. 

    I had just one hour before getting on the flight home .

    I fell in the chocolate shop because I had so many of those chocolate promises to keep. 

    I found my way to the aeroplane only to be told that we are going to be delayed for a few minutes because something was mechanically wrong with the plane. 

    The few minutes turned into 3 hours. 

    I couldn’t complain. 

    It was 3 more hours in the magnificent Dubai airport.

    I found food and went on my second tour of that obscenely huge place. 

    This time I even saw cars. 

    I called home to let them know I would be 3 hours later than planned. 

    Finally I boarded.

    As I was beginning to enjoy my view (Another Amen for the window seat)  before take off, a young man walked up to me and insisted I was in his seat. 

    I was tired so I was torn between ignoring him and being polite. 

    I chose to be polite, I told him there was no way, they allocated the same seat to two people. 

    I showed him my pass or what was left of it and he refused to look at it. 

    I was over it, I went back to the cheap option of ignoring him. 

    Someone on the crew came and politely sent him to his seat. 

    But God, why are people like this? 

    6 hours later I was at Entebbe. 

    I couldn’t  help but compare our airport to where I had been. 

    I prayed that the good Lord shall one day also make our airport a sight to behold. 

    Of course people were skipping the queue as we lined up at customs. 

    It was infuriating. 

    I just took a deep breathe and waited my turn. 

    I prayed against “bafeere” for my luggage. 

    I bought airtime and called to find out if my welcoming crew had arrived. 

    They hadn’t just arrived, they had found their way inside to look for me.

    Mother Dearest and two of her daughters. 

    There was too much hugging and not enough breathing. 

    It was good to to be home. 

    I kept fantasizing about my first actual meal in 8 days the whole way home.

    ​Exactly 1 year ago (Part 3)



    *Originally posted on facebook* Read part 2 here

    There I was, standing in this gigantic room in disbelief. 

    I said a prayer of thanks giving to the Lord Jesus.

    I must have broken into a song in my mother tongue,its possible!

    There was a huuuuuuuuge bed with 4 pillows and 2 cushions. (Yes I counted)

    Everything was white with sprinkles of black.

    There were two beautiful  lamps on both sides of the bed.

    There was a couch and a  coffee table.

    There were magazines.

    There was something that housed a coffee machine, coffee sugar and all those tea related things, which I learned how to use two days before I left.

    There was a really fancy version of a reading desk over looking the window.

    There was a humongous television. (yes it was flat)

    There was a small glass fridge.

    In one of the drawers on the bed there was a safe.

    I wanted to utilize all the money paid for me so I opened it and threw my dollars there.

    I proceeded to tour my home for the next 8 days in awe,  thinking, “Gyenvudde”!

    I walked into the closet.

    There was more space than the clothes I had carried.

    I started questioning if I had carried the right clothes or if they were enough.

    I unpacked and made my way to the bathroom.

    Banange the bathroom was exquisite.

    I wasn’t sure if I was clean enough to use it.

    It was all white..

    There were too many towels of all sizes and shapes and no manual on how to choose.

    There two bath robes and I thought about how it was such a mockery of my ‘baeless’ life.

    How come all other things were not in pairs?

    There were all these fancy smelling liquids and lotions.

    I didn’t know what to do with my self.

    So I sat on  the bath tub and decided to read the labels.

    I concluded, that if they are good enough for this “Amelikan” hotel, they are good enough for my African skin.

    I poured half a bottle of something in the tub.

    I had trouble balancing the temperature of the water.

    The taps were weird.

    Finally I slid into that foam and as I sat there relaxing from all that travel, I thought about home. ( I really need to learn how to relax)

    I missed my sisters and mother dearest.

    I hadn’t talked to them since I left, except a text at the airport to let them know I had arrived.

    I got out, robbed up and headed for the room  phone.

    All my attempts to reach them failed, then I remembered the small fact of time zone and how they were probably sleeping.

    I began to feel officially hungry.

    I looked at the hotel menu and nothing made sense.

    I knew if I called, they would have trouble understanding me.

    So I got the TV remote, hopped inside those covers and tried to watch “Amelikan” television.

    I was spoilt for choice.

    I really loved the commercials, so I would switch from one to the next.

    I got my phone and tried to sign into the hotel’s Wi-Fi.

    I was not successful.

    Okay now I was really hungry and I felt very stupid being a hungry adult.

    It looked warm outside so I put on a dress , body socks to be safe incase it was still cold, a sweater and a shawl I had stolen from my sister Luckie Kirungi.

    I had been advised to carry my passport until I got an ID for the bank on Monday.

    I left my room and first took a moment to appreciate how well carpeted the hotel corridor was, as I waited for the elevator.

    When I got to reception, I asked for help with the Wi-Fi, which I got, I also asked if I was allowed to bring in food from outside and they said I was, even though I had no idea where I was going.

    I walked out of the hotel with the confidence of a DC dweller.

    I attempted to use Google Maps to find  places to eat but that stuff always confuses me so I gave up.

    I figured if I was smart enough to get here, I sure could find a restaurant.

    But the coldness, “yamawe” the coldness!The wind almost blew my hungry self off the side walk.

    I saw a young lady walking out of the hotel and I asked her for directions.

    She was also just in DC to visit but Google Maps had located Pizza Hut for her.

    I don’t eat pizza and I didn’t know at the time that Pizza Hut served more than pizza.

    I thanked her for being kind, and we went our separate ways.

    I thought I saw a Mac Donald’s but it seemed too far off from the hotel and excuse me I wasn’t trying to get lost in a country that makes horror movies about people getting lost.

    I discovered a few days later that it was actually not that far, but oh well.

    I walked the opposite direction of the hotel and I bumped into a Starbucks.

    Thank you Jesus, I could really use a hot drink.

    I ordered for a hot chocolate (it’s the only thing I thought I would pronounce without sounding stupid)

    I paid I think almost 4 dollars for it.

    When they gave me my change, I didn’t bother counting because honestly, that Amelikan money was too confusing.

    I didn’t understand at the time why prices are written with a big figure and tiny ones.

    That hot chocolate saved me from coldness.

    Since my brain was slowly unfreezing, I could open my eyes and see restaurants.

    The closet one had sea food and no please I wasn’t trying to experiment with “Amelikan” sea food.

    I just walked into a grocery shop and purchased a good number of snacks including cranberry Pepsi Cola.

    It tasted horrible when I took it later.

    I got another cup of coffee on my way back and decided, food was overrated.

    It was about 8pm and I was shocked to see  that the sun was still out.

    The other  shocker was  discovering  that it’s possible to walk around in a place and come back  without any dust on your shoes.

    I don’t remember when I finally slept.

    What walk me up was a knock on my door from my team mate Katende Stephen,( oh yeah I didn’t travel alone)

    He had blacked out the minute we arrived.

    It was maybe 9am in the morning of Sunday.

    He was so hungry and luckily the horrible testing cranberry soda was there plus a cake to cure the biting hunger until we went down stairs for breakfast.

    I was called that our DC contact was at the reception.

    We went down to meet her.

    We also met the team that was just arriving at the hotel from Kenya.

    It was great seeing them.

    I had read their articles and part of me felt like I knew them.

    While Riro Jeremy was too exhausted to do anything but sleep Mercy A. Okoth just dropped her bags and decided to join us as they took us  around the city.

    We visited or saw all the buildings that house the World Bank where we were going to be spending the week.

    And of course took pictures in front of the  White House.

    How else was I to prove to the world that I went to the Washington District of Colombia?

    We found our way back and even got burgers on the way.

    I was officially settling in.

    Every place I passed I made a mental note to remember.

    When we got back and as I helped Mercy unpack, I noticed she had a small flag of Kenya for her night stand as well as a pin for her clothes, with the words, “make it Kenya”.

    I was so disappointed in myself for not thinking about carrying something Ugandan.

    I realized in that moment that I needed to make a better effort to love my country.

    That is actually when I decided, that when I got back I would tie on the cool kids of #koikoiug to travel this pearl of Africa and fall in love, enough to carry around a piece of it whenever  I traveled.

    Patriotic sentiments aside,  I went back to my room very determined to call home.

    I used WhatsApp to call.

    First thing Mother Dearest asked after establishing that I was alive, was,

    “Oliire? ” (Have you eaten?)

    Exactly 1 Year Ago (Part 2)

    *Originally posted on facebook*  Read part one here
    I can’t exactly remember everything that happened on the flight to Dubai. 

    I remember paying more attention to the safety instructions than I have anything in my life.

    I remember being very excited to use the flight mode setting in my phone for it’s intended purpose.

    I remember pinching myself literally to make sure I  wasn’t dreaming.

    I remember looking out and seeing lake Victoria grow tinier and tinier until it disappeared.

    I remember seeing  the clouds and taking a picture.

    I remember being shocked and disappointed  that the windows don’t exactly open for me to put my head out.

    I remember being handed a menu for dinner and not knowing what to pick.

    I remember  regretting  my choice in  food because I couldn’t taste it.

    I remember taking a lot of black tea.

    I remember starting a number of movies and not finishing them.

    6 hours later, we landed at the Dubai airport.

    I was mesmerized to say the least.

    Everything from the size of it to the washrooms was nothing like I have ever seen in my life.

    First of  all as I got off the plane I bumped into  a friend of mine from way back Lillian Mugasa.

    Our mothers used to hustle together in Mpanga market in Fort Portal to send us to Buhinga Primary school.

    I did a ululation, a jump and a victory dance.

    Speaking rutooro that many miles from home was comforting and exciting.

    She was going to New York where she lives and I was so glad to have a personal tour guide in the monster city that is Dubai International airport.

    I had four hours to kill before my connection flight to “Amelika”.

    But first things first, we had to find food.

    It was a whole other issue.

    Too many restaurants I have seen on TV and not enough tummy space.

    We settled on Burger King.

    My friend took the lead.

    After food fest, I launched into my trip around the airport.

    I visited the waterfall on the wall,some may call it a fountain but it’s all a matter of perspective.

    I took a few pictures because now the excitement was fully loading.

    I stared at mountains of chocolate and heaps of perfume.

    My eyes hurt from looking at jewellery.

    I traversed the place all the while paying keen attention not to miss the flight.

    After walking around for about 2 hours, exhaustion kicked in.

    I escorted my friend to her gate and I got back to mine.

    The long awaited flight to Washington was about an hour and a half a way.

    Everyone at the gate was either  sleeping or dosing so I willed the sleep to no avail.

    I remembered my notebook and nice clear pen.

    I got them out and I started writing.

    The pages kept turning and the words kept spewing out.

    It’s like every buried feeling since the World Bank had told me, I was going for this trip was coming to life.

    I thought about every moment leading up to me sitting in that place.

    I thought about Mother Dearest and how she was probably awake praying for me.

    I felt like my emotions were raging faster than the speed of my pen.

    I cried and laughed and smiled and shook my head and sighed and said a prayer of thanks giving

    And when I was done I repeated the process until I was called to board.

    By the time I got to my seat, I was ready to drop.

    This time I didn’t have a window seat, frankly I didn’t care.

    It was 2am the sky was very dark and I promised myself, I would sleep every minute of the 13hours on that flight.

    Again I paid close attention to the safety instructions before take off.

    Maybe this time with less interest.

    I wore two pairs of socks and got two blankets because I have a bad relationship with coldness.

    I was advised  to wear my seat belt over the blanket so I am not disturbed when I am asleep.

    I slept for what felt like eternity only to wake up and find I was only out for 3 hours.

    I had 10 more hours.

    Sleep had eluded me.

    So I decided to track the flight.

    I watched on the screen the different places we passed.

    I tried to calculate what time it was at home, depending on the different times.

    My head hurt from it.

    I watched what felt like an entire season of Mike and Molly.

    I watched world news ,music videos and maybe even soccer.

    I stared at the flight crew.

    They looked so perfect.

    Every inch of hair in place and the uniform so well fit.

    I admired the color of their lipstick.

    I was tempted to asked what shade and brand it was for my sister Patience Karungi ‘s sake, but I resisted the devil and he fled from me.

    I wondered if they loved their job or if their lives were nearly as perfect as  their appearances.

    6 hours to Washington I was officially over the flight.

    Every minute felt like an hour.

    I was afraid to stand up, but considering the amount of tea I took I had to pee at some point.

    I made my way to the bathroom.

    It was so tiny.

    I had so many follow up questions about it!

    Like I am peeing on someone’s head on the ground or the aeroplane has a septic tank?

    Of course logic says there must be a septic tank!

    I started an official count down to DC when it was about 3 hours to go.

    I was sooooo tired.

    My head had a funny feeling that wasn’t a headache.

    Finally we got to Dullis (I still refuse to pronounce it as Dallas)  international airport in Washington.

    I was officially in Amelika.

    It was 25 hours after I had left home.

    What a Wow!

    I had village excitement.

    All my 30 plus teeth were out.

    The queues to clearance were very long.

    There was one for American citizens and another for us.

    You can guess which one was longer but luckily no one was skipping it.

    The people in the queue all seemed exhausted and laden with stories.

    I had a Homeland Security agent to explain to what I was doing in the land of the free.

    He asked me so many questions that I thought were obvious from my visa but I answered them because I had  gone too far to be deported.

    He begged my pardon a lot because the accent.

    Finally he said,

    “Welcome to the United States Ms Fionah, enjoy your stay ”

    Hehehehehehe I had arrived people!

    This was it,  I was outside countries, overseas in fact.

    I patiently waited for my luggage and I strolled out of the airport like a movie star.

    I wasn’t ready for the cold that hit my face all the way to my brain, spine and toes when I walked into the parking lot.

    I was naaaaaaatt!

    I froze, literally.

    I felt naked,  yet I had to use my now iced brain to get a cab to the hotel.

    I had the address on a piece of paper in my hands.

    It was around midday,  “Amelikan” time.

    I got into a cab sprinting to OR for warmth.

    The driver was a nice Ethiopian old  man.

    He asked me so many questions which I answered.

    He told me his story of how he went to Amelika and his hustle.

    He was so excited to drive me because apparently Uganda is neighbors with Ethiopia, so I reminded him of home 😂

    I wondered how many times he modified  that line depending on who he was driving.

    He asked where I was going and I told him I was going to the Reinassance hotel.

    As I attempted to hand him the proper address, he assured me that he knew the place and engaged me in a conversation.

    I made a few ‘hmm’ sounds to let him know I was listening.

    My body was officially ready to let go, but I stared out the window.

    The roads

    Lawd Jesus the roads.

    It was really Amelika.

    The office buildings..

    The Potomac bridge!

    The coldness.

    The White House.

    I Fionah Komusana from Ngombe B Village, Busoro sub county, Burahya County   Fort Portal town, Kabarole District was in the Washington District of Colombia!

    We  got to the hotel.

    I parted with about 70 dollars for the ride.

    The driver  got out, opened the door for me,   took my luggage out and wished me a nice stay in Amelika.

    I forgot to ask him for a receipt.

    One of the hotel staff came and helped me move my luggage to reception so I could check in.

    At this point I really needed a shower,  very nice katogo and a bed.

    The nice lady at the reception shocked me with information.

    I was at the wrong Reinassance hotel people!!

    There were two of them and had I made a better effort to convince my cab driver to look at the address, I wouldn’t have ended up  there.

    I chose to think of  it as a part of  my Amelikan experience.

    I left, got another cab that was called for me by a nice hotel staffer and this time made sure I handed  the address to the driver.

    He was young ,black and really handsome but I was to exhausted to engage.

    The ride to the right Reinassance hotel was 20 dollars long.

    It was about 2pm.

    When I got to the reception.

    I was told that I was two hours earlier than my hotel booking information indicated so  my room wasn’t ready.

    Lord Jesus Christ whhhhhhhhhyyy!!!

    I took a seat in the lobby and contemplated how I was going to spend the next two hours.

    I asked to make a call to the person who was going to be my contact in DC.

    The phone went to voicemail, so I did the American thing and left her a message.

    I went back and sat but only for a few minutes.

    I remembered how mother dearest always refers to  me as her child with numerous alternatives.

    I walked back to reception with a solution.

    I explained that I had been traveling for almost 30 hours, so if there  was any room available even though it’s not the one the World Bank had booked, I would gladly take it.

    I had them at 30 hours and World Bank (I should have thrown that name around earlier)

    They were so sorry to have kept me waiting.

    I was told in the next few minutes that,  there was a room on the 9th floor.

    Originally I was supposed to sleep on the 3rd floor.

    I said I didn’t care.

    They handed me my key, someone offered to help me with my small suitcase and I declined by the shaking of my head left and right.

    I didn’t have any more  conversation in me, emotionally or physically.

    I disappeared into the elevator, pressed the number 9 and closed my eyes.

    I opened my room very sure I was about to experience my first black out but I neither slept nor blacked out.

    First thing  I noticed was Amelikan sockets were too small for my phone’s  charger!

    Exactly One Year Ago Part 1

    *Originally posted on facebook *

    It was a Friday 8th April and I remember everything that happened. 

    Major throwbacks were created for moments like these. 

    It was the day I was finally going to Amelika 😂 

    I was experiencing a bit of an internal conflict, to be excited for real for real or to stay modest.

    I chose modesty. 

    I woke up earlier than usual. 

    I had to pick my passport from the embassy at 10:30 and even though I knew the Visa was assured, part of me felt like it wasn’t happening. 

    Flight was at 3:50pm.

    Air ticket advised that I am at the airport at least  3 hours earlier. 

    After heavy katogo breakfast that came highly recommended by my sister Luckie Kirungi and as she left to go to work (Who knew,  going to America doesn’t make the world stop?),   I planned my route.

    I had a jacket to pick from the dry cleaners. 

    I was advised to carry warm clothes. 

    Still not sure why I hadn’t picked it up earlier. 

    Procrastination and I really have such a solid relationship.

    Anyways it had rained and because traffic jam and rain are siblings in Kampala. 

    We agreed with my sister Akiiki D that instead of having my brother pick us from home we would take bodas instead and meet him in town. 

    I had tried successfully to pack light for the first time in my life. 

    I had just a small suitcase and a handbag.

    I got a boda to the dry cleaners, handed the jacket  to my sister on her other boda and proceeded to the embassy in Nsambya. 

    I made several prayers on that long ride from Bugolobi to Nsambya. 

    They all started and ended with safety. 

    I struck up a conversation with the boda guy. 

    He was very interested in knowing why I was going to the American embassy. 

    I told him I am going to Amelika and he didn’t believe me.. 

    He said people going to America don’t ride on bodas.

    I agreed with him because I thought it  was safer not to disagree with my boda guy.

    I got to the embassy a few minutes to 10:30,

    The process this time was easier than when I went to do the interview. 

    And all the staff this time were Ugandans with accents I could relate to. 

    They handed me my passport with the visa and the guy who held the heavy door for me to get out said, 

    “Congratulations, you are going to America.”

    Maybe this was a sign, I thought,  the point where I should do my victory dance. 

    But I was like what if I miss the flight.  

    I called my sister to be sure we were ready to rock and roll to the airport, but mother dearest was still in the salon. 

    She understands that slaying is very important. 

    With every extra minute she spent in the salon, I experienced a new level of anxiety. 

    Finally she got out, all looking fabulous and I couldn’t be mad at her.

    The drive to the airport was longer than usual but luckily there was no traffic. 

    Mother Dearest kept telling me how proud she was of me. 

    She also kept asking me to check if I had everything. 

    About six times she asked if I had my passport, ticket, yellow fever card, phone (even though we were using it to take pictures with my sister in the back),  charger, hankie, sweater, shawl,  if my clothes were comfortable enough or my shoes warm enough. 

    When we got to the airport, it was 1’o’clock. 

    I was hungry. 

    Mother dearest told me I could eat in one of the restaurants and I joked that I didn’t have the Uganda Shillings to pay for the meal. 

    She handed me 50 dollars and 5 thousand shillings. 

    Time to say goodbye. 

    My sister launched a tear fest (she would have cried even though I was going to another district so no surprise there)

    My brother hugged me for what felt like eternity,  as though he would never see me again.

    Mother Dearest, patted my head and said,Ruhanga akulinde mwana wange”. ( May God protect you my child) 

    And she advised me to chew gum during take off, because my ears or something like that. 

    I refused to cry. 

    I disappeared to start checking in.

    Someone tried to skip the queue and I politely asked them to stop being rude,  everyone wanted to go through the machine.

    When I reached the immigration people, I was asked a whole bunch of questions and I started thinking, there is room to still be sent back home.

    Lord Jesus!

    Finally the lady at the counter also said her hearty congratulations and sent me through.

    First things first I needed  to eat. 

    I went to Good African Coffee (it’s the first place I laid my eyes on.) 

    As I waited for my order, they announced that my flight would start boarding in a few.

    I asked the nice guy waiting on me, if I could cancel my order. 

    He asked me to keep calm, because I had time. 

    I stayed but my nervous “villagism” couldn’t let me prosper and eat.. 

    When I finally made it to the plane. 

    I was grateful for two things.

    1. That I  had  the window seat 

    2. That I was sitting on it.

    I got my phone and started making calls to say my goodbyes or gloat. 

    At this point we had left modesty  town. 

    I was at peace but I still couldn’t find that excitement.

    I felt like this trip was going to change my life.  

    I didn’t know how until 6 hours later.