“Sounds to me like you have been depressed.. “

Source :Google Images

You are African. 

You are Ugandan.. 

Do you know how many real problems people are dealing with? 

Mulago hospital doesn’t have a cancer machine. 

Girls are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary towels. 

We really are busy. 

Let’s just say your insomnia is not on top of the ‘problems food chain’

Pray that God gives you sleep. 

So you pray. 

72 hours later, you are still awake. 

Your anxiety level is sky high and your appetite non existent. 

You can’t stop pacing.

Despite the fact that you are really exhausted. 

Now the family is worried. 

Your sister walks into a pharmacy.

I would like some sleeping pills she says! 

We only give them out on prescription the pharmacist tells her.

But thank God for this country, a small lie gets her one pill.

You take the pill.

Hours later you are still awake.

It’s four days now. 

They make an appointment for you to see a psychiatrist. 

Now your family is really worried. 

You are frustrated that something as simple as sleep has you checking in to Nakasero hospital. 

But you need answers too. 

So you sit across from this good doctor. 

He asks you what feels like a million irrelevant questions. 

Lucky for you, your talking machine of a sister went in with you. 

She fills in all the gaps for the good doctor.

After what feels like years, he turns to you and makes a shocking revelation, 

It sounds  to me like you have been depressed for a while..

 Ps:For the next few posts this month  I will be sharing my sister’s journey with depression through my eyes. 

It was the hardest thing I have had to deal with and it’s still a journey,  but if it taught me anything, it’s about how much I didn’t know. 

And also how much stigma surrounds the issue of depression in Uganda, or at least the part where I come from. 

So I promised myself that at the very least I will be part of the people that participate in opening up a conversation about mental illness and health in this country. 

And to shine a light on the fact if you find yourself depressed, there is help. 

When!

image
Yesterday on my way to my gender and the law class, one of my friends told me that he has never seen a class so well suited for anyone .

He said, gender and law and I are a match made in education heaven.
It was not a compliment
but I was running late, it was a hot afternoon and quite frankly I didn’t have the energy to start explaining why the class is important.

Anyway, today is the international day of the girl child, and the theme this year is Girls’ Progress=GoalsProgress. That is light of The Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.
Am about done with the technicalities of the day so let me get to the point.
Alot of people I know may make a case against why a day like today is even observed.
They will say women propagate their own inequality by asking to have days like today marked on calendars.
Some may even go ahead and state that gender inequality is no longer an issue and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Gender inequality will cease being an issue:

When all the 65 million girls currently not in school by reason of their sex can sit in a classroom and learn.

When militant groups like Boko Haram finally bring back our girls.

When cultures and religions stop treating women as subordinates.

When becoming a female CEO is the norm not the exception.

When I can walk through down town Kampala without fear that someone of the male species will feel entitled to grab my hand and butt or both .

When making noise about it doesn’t make me a psychotic bitch.

When we stop blaming victims of rape for inviting it by the way they dressed or where they chose to hang out.

When my university stops telling girls that their jeans are indecent but boys get a free pass.

When girls stop being expelled from school for falling pregnant while the boys get to stay, because they didn’t conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When all girls can get  jobs and stay at places of work for their brains not their cleavage.

When  girls who don’t like heels and weaves aren’t referred to as manly.

When everyone understands that girls can dress up to look good not to impress the opposite sex.

When girls stop fighting one another when they find out they were played by the same guy.

When women can walk away from abusive relationships without the ‘judgeness’  of their societies and churches.

When a girl’s NO can stop being interpreted as a yes.

When marriage stops being looked as every girl’s ultimate goal.

When Hillary Clinton can run for president of the USA and her gender is not an issue.

When everyone realizes it’s an issue.

When talking about gender issues is no longer interpreted as hate speech against men.

When asking for equal treatment no longer means I want to become a man.

When enlightened men stop citing African culture as an excuse for letting their wives break with house work while they change TV channels.

When women stop apologizing for being vocal and men stop getting intimidated by seemingly strong women..

When being referred to as a strong woman can finally become a compliment.

When economies and democracies realize that including women and girls is the smart thing to do.

When feminism stops being a dirty word.

When I can stop writing things like these because everyone gets it

Happy International Day of the Girl Child.
We need it.
Otherwise how are you doing?

One Big Fireplace-A tale of #koikoiIslands

I changed the title of this post so many times, as well as my mind about writing it.Then I remembered that  I promised to share.

I want to be dramatic and say, it’s because I was awash with emotions but the truth,  is I was deciding whether I should just post pictures, or go ahead and tell the tale literally.

Clearly I decided not to go down the ‘only pictures road’ because I have been in this country long enough to know when to leave issues of the generals to the generals.

So ladies and gentlemen of the blog sphere and beyond, allow me tell you about my trip to Ssese Islands last weekend in full measure, but first a history lesson:

You see before society sold its soul to DSTV and cable TV and long before family time became about taking and posting selfies with #familythings, and #MyFamilyIsBetterThanYours we used to sit around fireplaces and listen to our grandparents tell stories.(If you missed that then am sorry dotcom child life happens), but we have evolved.

Our grandparents if we are lucky to still have them today  are waiting for our annual visit to the village on Christmas day to see us  and when they  do, the fire place may or may not have been replaced by UMEME or solar energy and the time has to be divided between taking those selfies and posting them because  we have to make good use of that data bundle from #TheSmartPhoneNetwork

Which brings me to the point.

A little over a year ago, cool people got together with their cool other cool friends and decided to start telling Ugandan stories. I was invited by the same way you learned about Branjelina divorce or #savesomeone a.k.a social media.

Their name Kafunda Kreazy Kreatives (emphasis added)

Through an initiative dubbed #koikoiUg and a lot of help from their friends, Vivo Energy and Airtel Uganda these cool people decided to start telling Ugandan stories one awesome trip at a time.

In other words taking advantage of the biggest fire place in the world right now  as Collin a.k.a SpartakussUg a.k.a Daddy, passionately described it as.  Which in 2016 is Facebook, twitter,snap chat, Instagram, whatsapp and all their other social networking cousins

So on Friday 30th September 2016, I packed my excess luggage and headed for my second #kokoi trip, more affectionately known as #koikoiislands partly because I knew law school and all my assignments would still be here when I got back and partly because whats not to like?

I was really late, to get to the meeting point, because a thief decided to  exercise their ‘constitutional right’ to access my hand bag and all its valuables but, I  was beyond determined to go, so in retaliation, I didn’t even to the police to report or lets just say it was not a day where i felt I had it in me to deal with Uganda Police.

I will not bore you with the geographical details of the trip because quite frankly geography was not my favorite subject. Also  Joel Jjemba did such an awesome job writing a complete guide to Kalangala ( that’s the name of the district that plays host to the magnificent Ssese Islands) that I am unworthy to even give it a try.

When we got to the Islands, there was an actual fire place and this became the place where a lot of conversations, banter, dance moves, games,and stories happened during  the two  nights we spent at Panorama Cottages .

image

Someone say "FIRE"

I am writing this under the assumption that you are sitting with me at the fire place, by that lake on a dark night.

The darkness is good because it gives the stars a sharp brightness, or at least that is what is going on in my head.

We are contemplating if its a good idea to go and get meat from the men manning the barbecue, but we cant bring ourselves to interrupt this peaceful nothingness, and we slowly disappear into a reminiscence  of the events of this trip.

DAY ONE

It was a great long day.

We went out on a boat okay scratch that, we were carried onto a boat.

We had had a heavy breakfast, so the carriers were visibly struggling but we didn’t care.

We rode on that boat for two hours to Bukasa Island. We enjoyed the ride. The end of it came sooner, for us anyway.

Because the hotter it got, the more of an opportunity it gave us to show off our Shell Fuel Save water bottles in the name of hydration.

image
Plus we were sitting near very chatty people and The Kreativ Adikt was taking all these “out of a magazine” pictures of us, a job he effortlessly juggled with sending the boat rider bottles of beer for his taste buds’ pleasure.

image

In great honor of #WorldSmileDay


If we are being honest we forgot we were on a boat a few times, only to be awakened from our oblivion by the vastness of Lake Victoria, or was it by the yelling of our rather eccentric tour guide Kassie.
image

With sunglasses like those , Kassim didn't need a life jacket


We got off the boat finally, again by very manly hands, because well all our diverse skills don’t include, disembarking wooden boats without ladders and we love our legs too much to pull one of those ninja warrior moves.

We then walked 14kms through the forest and out of it, 1st to the Orthodox Church. When we got there, we were greeted by the magnificent beauty of the hand built church, overlooking the lake. image
We finally got some answers about the difference between the Orthodox Church and other religions.
They use the Gregorian calendar, so Christmas  for them is on 7th February. They also really like to show that Jesus was pierced in the feet when they do their prayer symbol, and yes they have existed on the Island since 1983.
The proof is in the vintage Land Rover in their massive compound. image
Before we could  ask if they know about the vintage car show in Kampala, we are already on our way, we had  a shrine to visit.
We were curious about the shrine or was that fear I sensed? 
We shall go with  curious, although non of that curiosity was satsified because the care taker of the sacred home of all the spirits and gods of Buganda is very unrelenting in his resolve to give us any information we cannot even take a picture.
We understood because from our time watching spy TV series we learn’t , that there is a such a thing as classified information.

Well that was unfruitful, but we had a waterfall to get to.
The sight of it could have given us a warm enough satisfaction until we realized that we are allowed to deep our tired feet where the fall rests.

We both agree that there was no greater feeling than the one our feet experienced when they got wholly immersed in that nearly black ice cold water of the nanziri falls
image
It felt like tickles that could only draw silent laughter.
Too much would give the secret away.
We didn’t stay long, but at least were allowed to take pictures. We also had a boat to catch, but wait, its almost 7pm. And what is synonymous with 7pm, besides NTV Akawungeezi? 
The sunset. This time we cared to see it set, to finally understand the obsession with it, and also if you must know, camera people were pulling out all sorts of pauses to catch it. So we couldn’t help but fix our eyes on their target.

Then we saw it, glaringly bright,as if daring us to stare back with as much intensity.

We consented that it won the staring contest,

Instead we retrieved our sight to its rays, that held the water in such an embrace

Lake Victoria, is so lucky we thought,

It gets hugged by the sun,

It stayed that way for some time but somewhere in the middle of our ride back, the sun kissed the lake goodnight, and someone with the DNA  of a photographic genius
captured it.
image

We retired to that fire place and our beds in that order

DAY 2

It was our second and last day.

We were not about to leave an Island without visting a fishing village.

So we headed to Lutoboka fishing village, although Joan will insist its a shopping village.

Its not exactly marred in all sorts of grilled fish like we envisioned.

Its a miserable looking place, with semi permanent structures and circles of drinking buddies waiting for 5pm to sail out and catch some fish.

There also a lot of children and we started wondering, what inspires them.

How do they ask for more yet, they have been exposed to one kind of lifestyle?

How do they make better life choices?

Then we met Gloria, we talk about how she ended up in Lutoboka from Gulu with her mother.

She is in primary 5 and she wants to be a lawyer like her uncle.

I told her am actually in law school, but I skipped the part of I missed class for two days for the trip.

She was very impressed, and we talked like old friends about her dreams.
image

There she was a towering symbol of hope.

We had swimming pool to get to and a trip back to Kampala to take.

We agreed, our work at the Ssese Islands was done.

The story had been written in our hearts

To be told on this big fire place.
Till next time, thank you for sitting with me.
Photo Credit: The Kreativ Adikt

Then I will remember.

When I wake up tomorrow morning.
For a moment I will remember that Monday is not my favorite day of the week and the thought will be aggravated by the fact that Independence Day falls on a Sunday.

Then I will remember.
That last weekend I  was on lake Victoria.
And then on some of Ssese Islands.
It was a weekend of so many firsts My first ferry ride.
My first boat ride.
My first real swimming pool experience involving something more than my toes and feet.

Then I will remember, I walked 14kms and then some and how I can do it again.
Because the view of Nanziri falls was worth every one of those 20000 steps.
And the feel of its water on my feet could be a cure to an ailment.

Then I will remember the boat ride back to the shore at 7pm when the Kreativ Adikt taught me something about photography.
In a great conversation.
While the sun kissed the water in a breath taking effort to set.
Giving us it’s beautiful audience.

Then I will remember every white bird I saw on the lake.
And my jealousy at it’s natural swimming skills.
In comparison to my non existent ones.

Then I will remember every single person on this #koikoiIslands trip
And all the color or noise they add to the situation.
And how this trip has forever changed the game of charades.
Because Joel Jjemba. revolutionised it.

Then I will remember that I could never afford any of this if the good people at #koikoiUg didn’t make great partnerships with the good people of the smart phone network and fuel save.
So I get to pay way less than I would ordinary have for something priceless.
And like a good girl I will be grateful.

Then I will remember all the moments I wanted to go and sleep but decided to stay seated at the camp fire.
Because the moments in that circle by the fire were too great,
And  I couldn’t bring myself to ruin them by being human.

Then I will remember why I fell in love with the KoiKoiUg initiative in the first place.
Because its the right combination of people and fun.
It’s an incredible, “not to be found anywhere ” opportunity to tell the Ugandan story, from unforgettable experiences.

So I will remember.
The experience of #koikoiIslands
And I will write about it..
Because it would be mean not to share.

But first I will reminisce
And bask in the glory and splendor of my weekend.
As the awesome picture takers arrange their Images so I can use them in my posts.