About the professor who turned stripper

image

My friend of over a decade Prima Prima, threatened to break up with me if I  don’t put words together about Professor turned Stripper formerly known as Dr Stella Nyanzi.

So I don’t know about you and your friends but I like my friend so am going to break a promise I made to myself to remain silent about the professor turned stripper and give my opinion.

So, there is this silently loud practice (for lack of a suitable word) around work places and even class (at least my class).
It goes something like this,  when a man asserts his position, he is being determined and ambitious, but when a woman does,  she is being a bitch with an unattractive attitude and is too emotional.

So what do women do?  They either keep quiet so they can be liked ( which makes for the most number)  or go ahead and unapologetically assert themselves and risk being known as, “the bitch on wheels”.

By the way, the name calling is by both men and women, so yes guys you are off the hook for this one.

Then the professor turned stripper, formerly known as Dr Stella Nyanzi happens and proves all those nay Sayers who think women are just a bunch of irrational beings without the requisite emotional ability to keep it together for a job or anything right.

So what do I do ?
She raises some valid questions.
Like,
1.why do we all too often glorify those who strip every day for the camera and get paid for it?
2. Are we judging her because she stripped or because she found an unconventional way to put her point across?
3. Is it her or is it the system that has pushed her to the limit?
4. She got her job back, so does that amplify the good old end justifying the means?
5. Has Uganda taught women activists,  that the answers to their problems are tucked in their boobs and all they have to do is flash them and make them go away?
6. Should Anita Fabiola , she of the non existent hips who lost her job because she took nude photos and they ended up on the web, go to NTV and ask for her job back?
7. Are we proud of professor turned stripper? do we shun her? Or are all of us who systems have messed with at some point wishing we are her?

I won’t answer those, hopefully you will help me out in the comments section.

Am however, going to answer a question my future daughter would ask me had she been here, which would be something along the lines of,  “when it comes to putting your point across, how far is too far? ”

To which I would say,
Young girls( yes this is about girls) in some countries aren’t even allowed to so much as go to school.

Boko Haram in 2014 abducted over 200 girls because they were in school.

Right here in some parts of the pearl of Africa,  girls drop out of school the minute they reach puberty, because they can’t afford to maintain menstrual hygiene.

So when you get an opportunity to survive the odds and be a holder of a doctorate,  you are not allowed to strip because you are mad.
Because you strengthen the forces that already think you don’t deserve to be educated or in an office.

Being an activist doesn’t mean you lose your dignity  and no the answers to your problems are not safely tucked away in your boobs so don’t flash them for any boss of yours because those decisions come back to bite girls and women everywhere, some place where it really hurts.

So how far is too far when you want to put your point across? Right there where you are about to unbutton the first button on your blouse.

8 Days later, Has anything changed?

My heart is breaking. While I was looking around to buy coffee at the Dullis International airport in Washington,  I ran into my pastor Gary Skinner of Watoto Church in the flesh, without any lights and sound from church.

Excitement couldn’t be contained and a selfie was requested, but in typical me mode,  I didn’t save it.
So yes my heart is breaking but it’s a warm fuzzy break because I still had an opportunity to talk to someone I revere, admire and whose vision I am proud to be invited to, I just don’t have a picture to prove it..

7 days, 8nights , enough junk food to last me a lifetime,  a year older, a whole bunch of business cards to fill my brand new wallet, and an IMF/World Bank credibility chip later,  am on my way back home.
image

Back to life as I absolutely know it and love it. Back to comfort, warmth and a pretty huge assignment. (Because my big mouth landed me in the amazing trouble).

I have hours to kill on this flight from Washington to Dubai(13 to be precise)  and am trying to ignore the voices telling me to catch a movie or much needed sleep. (There wasn’t any last night)

By the way, Friday was my birthday.( I will be collecting gifts the minute I arrive. I take cash,  cheque and mobile moneyimage

I celebrated it with the World Bank staff who invited us for an informal dinner. There was cake, food, and African music played direct from YouTube so essentially a full fledged party.
I never have those on my birthday so it was pretty special and because yes Americans and calories we got to take the rest of the cake back to the hotel and drown in chocolate amazeballness.

Otherwise how are you doing?
Tired of my rural approach to urban issues yet? 
Don’t worry after today, you may not read as much words flight and Washington anymore image

As I figure out what to write about, am also curious to know if anything has changed because quite honestly, I would hate to have wasted a whole lot of time,  and World Bank money just for a trip.

Anyway that’s just me thinking out loud and am sure if you are an ardent reader of my blog,  you are fully aware that all I do is replicate my unpolished thoughts in a way I would have a conversation with you.

My typical day in DC involved getting up unusually early at least for me,(let’s just say you would never catch me up at 5am anywhere without ceremony but something about being away from home never allowed me to sleep in), telling God how extremely grateful I was,  promising myself to write a blog that day, making good use of the option to have a bubble bath,  breakfast and then heading to the World Bank (which is housed in about 5 humongous buildings so more like finding the one where  I had to be for the day.

The most amazing thing about these meetings was,  we had an option to choose which meetings to attend and which ones to skip,  so I didnot have to go listen to the climate change and it’s impact or agriculture and it’s awesomeness.( I have nothing against food and weather for the record)

So I went to things like ‘Youth Transforming Africa’, “Let Girls Learn’,  among others where I knew I could find a bearing.
We also had an opportunity to meet with the younger World Bank staff, ( the more fun guys)  in an informal setting and just have them ask us questions and we them which, I particularly needed to gain perspective on how exactly I hope to implement image

the idea

I also spent a whole two hours in the book store. Maybe it was the need for a lone time surrounded by the universally familiar ( books) but it was a beautiful investment.

I also had an opportunity to meet maybe one of the most polite lawyers out there who is Kenyan and works for the bank. He had a lot of helpful advice and warmly answered the millions of questions I asked. (People can be really nice)

One of the most meaningful interactions we had together was an meeting/interview with the founder and CEO of The African Bazaar Magazine, based in New York.
Of course as a writer an opportunity to sit across from her was honorable enough and then we got to talking.

It was like being home and just having a conversation in the sitting room. The greatest take away from it was, I have been given an undeserved privilege not to  mess up.

Africa needs us to change the perspective the rest of the world has about it.
So when we find ourselves in a position to tell the rest of the world,  that we are equally smart, and resilient and strong, and that hunger, poverty, disease and failed democracies
(as much as those issues are still real)  don’t define us, we can’t mess that up.

We did a final interview on Saturday for the bank just to talk about our week’s experience and those ‘what message do you have for the young people things. ”
I have to warn you, if the video of it ends up on the web which it will,  there was an unwelcome, tear moment, but am hoping Bobo( the bank’s media person works magic and gets rid of it)

Why did I cry?
Maybe because I hadn’t cried the day before on my birthday like is the tradition or maybe because he asked what inspires me to write and I remembered how I started to write because Makerere decided to have a field day with my scholarship in a former life, and how overwhelmingly grateful I am, that happened because that’s how I ended up in that beautiful atrium to answer that question.
image
In conclusion ,I have also always wanted to do an, “If you were having coffee with me” episode. 
Something my long lost cousin from Zimbabwe., Beaton does.
I couldn’t n’t write it as magically
as him but I have had my fair share of coffee this last week so am qualifying myself to say..

image

image

If you were having coffee with me
I would tell you, embrace the journey.
Somehow God has a way of lining up things to work to our advantage.
To create beauty from ashes.
The pain or the struggle just makes for a beautiful messy story, which you have the power to make work for you.

I would tell you that, the only person whose permission you need to dream is you.
I like that I  wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.
That I come from a place which villagers would also call a village.
I love that I sat my form 4 the first time and my results didn’t come back and I had to do it allover again.

I love that I left Makerere law school for UCU Mukono,  because it created  a need to stand out and I am taught by people who care.

It’s a whole list of things but the point is
who I am,  who I aspire to be is a refined product of a hot messy story.

Embrace yours.
Has anything changed? You tell me.

image

PS, I love you for reading..

Lessons from Outside Countries.

I know I promised to make a daily update of my stay in DC,& but we all know how many of these writing promises I really keep so let me not waste any of your time trying to make another empty promise also am experiencing abit of a brain freeze, literally.

Today is day four, I have been up to a lot of good and walking.
I am also mad at my phone for being out of battery the day we did a tour of the town on a tour bus, am also mad at American sockets because they are too tiny for my Ugandan phone  charger but more than that, am so grateful to be in a position to be mad about those things, also I miss matooke!

Where were we?
But first how are you doing the people I love for reading my blog?
Today I figured I should let you in on a few lessons I have learnt from this place.

1. Believe in something.
So we met the vice president Africa region of The World Bank Group on Monday.

image

Pretty awesome, (like go-down-in-history-books-kind of awesome) but all he and everyone wanted to know was why we came to DC, what inspired us to write our essays and more importantly what can the World Bank do to help us accomplish those dreams and ideas we wrote about. 
Sounds like a question of a lifetime  right?
It’s only as good as if you believe in something.
I have met extremely sharp amazing young people from Kenya, Rwanda, and of course my team mate from Uganda.
And the moment I heard these guys speak about their passions, I was in awe.

image

I am beyond grateful I get to hang out with these guys for another four days, they are a fountain of knowledge.
So go find yourself a great cause and believe in it so when someone asks you make a believer out of them as well.

2. It truly is a small world.
Yesterday we attended a meeting on The Youth Transforming Africa at the George Washington University Business School. (Damn: This university makes mine look like child’s play and we didn’t even visit the entire campus any way we shall overcome some day )

The point is there was a panel of young African people sharing their ideas on how we transform Africa and one particularly stood out for me.
Her name is Nosarieme Garrick.

image

A writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur whois on a campaign about changing the perception the rest of the world has about Africa. It’s a platform she calls ”My Africa is”, and they go around the continent filming stories of Africa by Africans aimed at casting Africa in the beautiful light it is.
So I remembered my koikoiUg people who have a similar campaign for Uganda and it was particularly exciting to find someone who thinks like them and  is doing her work on a bigger platform.
Small world right?
So of course I got her contact and asked if a partnership with koikoiUg is something that would interest her.
She said yes.
The story of Uganda untainted by corruption and political turmoil is what the world needs to see.

3. The World is looking for solutions.
Everybody watches the news okay? And by everybody I mean the people we have met here.
So everyone one knows about the poor infrastructure, 30 year presidency, poverty and unemployment levels and all our wail worthy African problems.
Now they want solutions.
Another amazing lady Rahama Wright, one of the speakers at the meeting yesterday, closed with a powerful statement.

image

She said the reason we are all in that room is to see how we can impact just an individual.
You see having ‘change the world’ dreams is amazing, but the World is so freaking big, the time zones collide and I can’t speak Chinese.
The point is, we have the power to impact one life by each one reaching one.
My teammate from Uganda is very passionate about helping young girls stay in school in the villages in Uganda by providing menstrual hygiene training and materials
Dominique from Rwanda, cares about the brains of Rwandan young people (not in a carry out surgery kind of way but in helping them find their passions and be creative).
Mercy the 19year old Kenyan is passionate about helping businesses have access to finance and other services they need, and then, there is Jeremy, another son of Kenyatta, who more than anything wants SMEs  to survive beyond their 3rd birthday and also improve the quality of their products to a global market.

So solutions are what the World needs and if you are looking for a place to start, your neighbor is a good place, you don’t even have to pay me for directions.

4. People can actually be very helpful.
From the special ladies at the World Bank country office who after I won the contest made sure I was all set to travel, to Lantoharifera, the beautiful lady who received us in DC to every single person on these streets who has so generously offered their guidance on these cold DC streets, people can be very helpful, all you have to do is ask.

5. Just do what you love, someone will notice or won’t, but where your heart lies, therein is your treasure.
Right now am standing at an event where the first lady of the United States is about to speak. (Am sure I will have a lot to say about it when it’s done), but I know for sure that our passions and dreams can take us places, beyond our imagination.

Ps: I love you for reading.

Washington Take One

image

I discovered something thing or two about myself today, first that I tend not have over the top excitement when I need to be ,and it doesn’t matter where I am or what am doing, the urge to take pictures never seems to quite hit me.

What is the relevance of all these candid confessions you ask?

About two months ago I won a writing competition by the World Bank.

How?
The guys who selected me were either high on something, or I kicked some serious writing butt and my feelings aren’t coping yet or boundary lines have fallen for me in those biblical pleasant places.

The prize?
An all expenses paid trip to Washington DC to attend the World Bank Spring meetings for 8 days.

Get this tit bit also,
I had never had a passport to call my own or even left the Pearl of Africa on a plane.
My experience of ‘outside countries ( that’s Ugandan English for abroad) up until now, was a trip to Burundi on Gaga Bus via Kigali for mission.

Any person with high levels of enthusiasm and excessive cheerleader skills like me, would be all screaming and feeling all kinds, sizes and colors of butterflies, but believe me when I say non of those feelings surfaced.

Along the way, the excitement would build up and get dampened by all the paperwork that comes with travelling, (it’s apparently not as fancy as showing up at the airport with your suitcases as seen in the movies) and a yellow fever shot. (Why haven’t they invented a pill or syrup for this yet? )

Oh also did I mention that this trip is a time when am supposed to be sitting my exams?

But thank God for having awesome deans.
The good Doctor Kakooza gave me a free pass. More like permission to sit special exams at a time when the rest of my class will be having a good laugh somewhere not in school.

Am still undecided on whether I got this exemption because my university  is better than Strike-rere (read Makerere), or because it is sharp enough not to pass up an opportunity to be mentioned in the corridors of a World Bank Spring meeting or two.

Anyway so I tried to write about the experience but like I mentioned a while ago, my relationship with words went through a rough patch.

But I have a lay over of 4hours at Dubai airport, the Wi-Fi isn’t working like I thought, the place is so damn big, everyone is taking a nap, it’s a whole new world and I happened to carry a nice clear pen and a notebook.

I promised myself to feel excited once I got my Visa and nothing like that or it’s equivalent happened.

Then I postponed that jittery feeling to when I got to Entebbe airport (which by the way in comparison to this place seems like a glorified warehouse with ample parking space) and still I died in my own movie.

Not even my sister  Dear’s wailing fest at the airport now turned warehouse, or the incredibly polite emirates crew with their tonnes of exotic food I have never seen or tasted, and nasty tasting things that give  biscuits a bad name  (I had to try them) gave me the desired effec

image

t.

Where were we?
Yes the hunt for excitement.
As it turns out, I was looking for it in the wrong place.
I have been looking for it in a feeling and feelings are very unreliable sources of information.

In all honesty, I am excited and maybe a bit overwhelmed and here are a few reasons why.

1. I wrote my essay on the  deadline, I neither edited it nor thought about it, and up until the World Bank called I had actually forgotten I wrote.

2.When they called me in to do an oral presentation of my essay, the country manager in an attempt to compliment me, compared me to Chimamanda Ngozi. (If you don’t know who that is, my friends Atim and Luka think I should judge you.

image

3. I got my passport in one day, and no I didn’t bribe anyone, God just sorted all the mess before I set foot at the ministry of Internal Affairs, and because my sister  Luckie is kind of a magician.

4. I went to the place I used to call home, about a week prior to this life revolution, and it must have taken a real actual miracle dressed like Mother Dearest  to have come out of there into  the sky. (All pun intended)

5. The first visa in my passport is a USA one with an expiration of two years which makes me believe that another trip is somewhere in the heavenly works.

6. I get to go to Washington DC for free and get paid for it.

7. I get to celebrate my next birthday outside countries.

8. I finally have learned to travel light. Usually I am  the girl who packs 6jeans, 12 tops and 5 dresses for a 3 day trip to Fort portal.
But I have only one piece of small luggage today which makes me so glad I got an opportunity to make my sister Pesh Darling proud, because she has lectured me about the importance of traveling light all my life

image

9. I made Mother Dearest really proud, maybe it was the sparkle in her eyes or
the fact that she travelled all the way from home sweet Fort portal, got a hair do’ (which cost me a few minutes of my check in time) to come and push me to the airport turned warehouse.

10. I almost successfully survived a crying party from my sister Dear, but I didn’t win that one. (Can’t win them all right?)

11. Xhosa Girl Sinawo actually called me from Hustle burg. Forget the whatsapp voice notes, it cost her some serious Rands.

12. I have seen the clouds up close and personal and the ocean and wow  they look good
y

image

13. I have the best friends in the world. Starting from Iryn Kaka who makes it really hard to be her friend because her love and generosity are insanely unmatched to Dada who am very sure has a heart of pure gold, I won a lottery with these ones.

14. On a flight to unknown land, I met a friend, I haven’t seen or heard from in over a decade and it feels so freaking amazing to speak my mother tongue miles away from home in a place where everything is in English or Arabic.
g

image

15. I am at Dubai international airport and it’s no where close to life as I know it..

Damn straight I am excited, it may not be packaged in obscene amounts of selfies, butterflies and ululations but feelings are overrated..

image

Now if only I can get the Wi-Fi to work so I can post this.

ps: The Wi-Fi didn’t work so am posting this from a really long queue at the US border customs at the DC airport!! .
Also forgive all typos, I left home 25hrs ago and haven’t had proper sleep!

.