[Awa]Kanda Africa Ch. 1 #UGBlogWeek: Day5

It’s the smell of rain, I think to myself as I walk up Shady Av. I like walking, walking gives me time to think. My destination is the library, there is one in my neighborhood and it’s free so naturally it’s going to be one of my chosen escapes in this amazing place. It’s frigid windy and I forgot my pack of tissues in my bag at home. Well, perhaps the correct thing to say would be I forgot my bag all together. Hmmm… Forgot is the wrong word, laziness is the more operative term. Forgotten tissue means frozen nose, frozen nose means… This is not the intended direction for this post.

As I walk up the gravelled uneven sidewalk, I’m convinced that it’s the smell of rain. I haven’t smelled the rain or the coming of the rain in a long time and yet I’ve seen rain. A lot of rain.

Taking the left turn off Gayaza Road, there are no boda bodas in sight. The sky was rumbling and doing so rather loudly, any minute now she would let loose and it wouldn’t be a good idea to be in her path. The smell of her impending wrath was obvious when I started this journey on Kampala Road, but I’d been sending up desperate pleas the entire trip. Even when the Hmmmph, egenda kutonyas were whispered in the taxi, with all the faith and conviction I could muster, I rebuked and cancelled. I should have included the boda bodas in the prayer.

The breeze has her scent in it, rain that is.

That is probably the reason why the usual bodas guys are not here. The last time this happened, I was walking down from the Senate building at MUK (LOL! Yes, we have a senate building but it’s not what you think – I wonder if it’s still called that) and then people around me started running and I mean sprinting. I chose to stand still and look back instead of following the crowd – big mistake. H.u.g.e mistake! Soaked and drenched really do not really adeptly cover what happened next in this story, but it was the scent of rain that I’d missed.

The wind the blows your way and instinctively you know, rain is coming. Who taught you that that scent means rain? Why do we ran to take cover? Hmmm… Lol! Dumb question – who in life wants to get drenched?

We are more open and sensitive than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes in life, it’s the simple things like this that engage or release the creative part of who we are. Those tiny quirks that add to our authenticity and make us who we are. In a different context, or out of our context, it might seem strange and something that we try to hide because it seems strange to someone else (because I mean come on, this is about to hit 500 words about the scent of rain and it’s not even a sonet – Nghihihih).

Don’t lose you because it fits someone else.

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This post is part of April’s #UGBlogWeek – a week that Ugandan Bloggers come together to write under one theme. For this edition, the theme is Wakanda Africa Do You Envision. The first if it’s not clear: ‘[Awa]Kanda Africa’ is a spin off of ‘Our Kindda Africa’.

The second if it’s not clear (munange, never assume), the reason for this post is we have grown up “knowing things” things that may or may not have a scientific explanation and because they do not fit in cultured circles, we shun them. We shun them to fit in and in so doing, we lose a piece of ourselves – lol! I’m not being overly dramatic. Or perhaps I am…

Don’t lose the ‘kuku’ part of you for nada… Cluck Cluck as loud as you can… I see these chickens getting busy all up in my cage, I’m about to pluck two weeks, I’m up in my pay, Cluck, cluck, bodies rocking all up in my crib, Anybody want to know, the party’s still sick, Somebodies knocking, knocking, knocking at my door

Nghihihhihi, Ofcourse I couldn’t resist! If you do not know that song, consider visiting the unsubscribe section – WHAT?! This is my blog, I’m allowed to judge you – uh oooh, uh oh oh oh! … Just show a little love, represent your side like me… Lemme hear you say… 

Lol! Lemme gerourra hia!

S/o to these four peeps (they are also the reason for me jumping onto the wagon) who have fearlessly taken on this blogging challenge – Pearl Hmmph (Tehehe, I can see you doing the hmmph in my head),  Miti Pius, Kabiite, and Awori 😉 .

Image source: Google.

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some kind of jungle

No. This is not a post about the corporate world or any ish like that. Nope. What I need you to do, is go make some chai – some strong chai, then come back and sit down for this kelele. Make sure it’s black tea, then get some tangawuzi, and add it in so that the kawowo can drift into your nostrils as you read.

Yesterday started out well. Very well actually. I’d managed to get a lot of things that were on my to-do list (read: 2 out of 7 things, yes that is a lot – and no my standards have not dropped). So here I am, for the first time in weeks feeling like, I gat this, I can do this… That evening I went for a happy hour – dubbed WAPpy Hour (I know! Wappy sounds so cute – I bet you said it in your looney toons voice, didn’t you? Tehehe… It has nothing to do with that beloved Saturday morning cartoon show. It’s part of the InterVarsity Graduate Fellowship that I attend).

Chatting is happening all around me, people catching up, others meeting other people for the first time, my focus was on the food table – there is that kachumbari read salsa that has mango in it – Yo! Any day of the week!!! So we are talking and then someone says:

The deer are coming out…

Me: giphy1

Every bone in my body was now alert… I would have said antenna but really what would an antenna be doing on your body? As if a dudu? So much talk about kingdom Animalia happening on this blog today, but wait, does dudu belong to kingdom Animalia or Insecta.

Dang! I digress…

So I silently thought to myself, they must have escaped from the zoo or a game park in that area. Hmmmmph! Mwana wange, take another sip and listen to this tale!

Zoo? Nassing!
Game Park? Nassing!

They live in the park.

My mind was now actively refusing to believe this reality. Next guess where this park is – behind my school. I mean a stone throw away from my school.

No. Because you are probably thinking that my school is in a kyalo. No! In the city. see-teh. The next evening, another person remarked about how he had seen one in downtown.

Okay, let me take a step back… Have you ever been in Javas or Cafesserie or on a game drive in Masai Mara or lining up to bungee jump above the Nile and then you hear someone smugly say:

TIA

*Rolls up sleeves* Nugu ki??????? As I pull on my ear lobe!! I just need someone to say that to me again. Come and say it to my face-o. Come and tell me-o. Come…  giphy2

T.I.A.

If you are reading this and you do not know what TIA is – (insert Gabrielle Union’s voice – because my inside-my-head voice is Gabrielle Union’s voice) Awwww… Look at you… So cute… So sheltered. TIA is This is Africa – this is a pass that some people use in a sometimes derogatory way, sometimes joking way. It’s Africa (read: not developed or literate) do not expect too much…

For some reason, my mind still hoped that these two people from different circles of life were just pulling an elaborate joke on me.

Alas. On. My. Way. Home.

In. The. City.

There chewing on grass in the park, was a cousin of the Impala (It’s my blog, I can anoint cousins when I feel like). It was as if God was also in on it too. On the next turn, boom! 4 more cousins of the Eland eating grass.

Imagine for a second, you roll into the parking lot at Javas Kisementi. You walk around the car to open the door for your person (because chivalry is not dead). As you walk into the almost-always-crowded-and-loud-branch of Javas, you spot a family of Antelopes grazing in the park below.

No. This is not in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

In the city

Roll back to the day before the day before yesterday, the conversation that sparked this blog post: someone says,

Yeah, remember when there was a fox in your backyard….

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You are probably thinking they meant:

Nope…

A fox.

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Image Source: Google & Giphy


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sharing music on a Sunday afternoon…

Throwback to when sharing mix tapes was a thing. Actually Mix CDs was my thing… Haha, did we call them Mix CDs?

There used to be a guy on Luwum street… Guy used to take all my allowance in the name of music.

Heneway, now to the era of Mix Playlists – lol!
Although this one is 99.92% Boyz II Men.

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I have tried to pick out a fav, so I can post the lyrics here and make this post complete but alas – I have failed. Although, I have noticed that after all these years of being on Team Shawn (because Shawn), I think I am joining the Nate boat.

the one of new mantras…

God, you’re not done. 

I can see the promise
I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons
I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it’s worth my patience
Then if you’re not done working
God, I’m not done waiting
Cause you can see the promise
Even in the winter
Cause you’re the God of greatness
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that you take your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead you sent a child

Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come

Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh, how nature acquaints us 
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia

– Seasons, There is more – Hillsong Worship Live

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The first time I listened to this song (yesterday :)) something about it stayed with me. Initially, I couldn’t hear the lyrics at all! Lol! You know how images can be blurry, well the sound was all blurred up save for the word ‘sequoia’.  Yet even with the blur, it just sounded so pretty to me. Lol! How can sound sound pretty? i dunno

Then Google happened and I found the lyrics and now I’m even more into it. Lol! Weird how on some cognitive (bwahaha! Yes I used that word) level you can connect to something without fully understanding it.

This is now on my new playlist… Also, I went and looked up sequoia – issa tree. A humongous tree that doesn’t look like it could have come from a seed. It looks like it just shot down from heaven in a magnificent explosive boom! You know, I think the title should have been From seed to sequoia – but that doesn’t sound very spiritual… just pretty but not spiritual!

Ps: I moved the verses around.. 🙂 What?! You post the correct flow on your blog if you want… 🙂

Pps: Sylvia Baguma, if you are reading this… My dedication to you <3. This song reminds me of when you introduced me to the other Shane and Shane song ft John Piper. Come out of hiding, my girl. My soul is missing you!

for all of us who have had a difficult start to 2018, God is not done! His promise is loyal, from seed to sequoia.

Photo Credit: Rose Erkul on Unsplash

casse

The seed breaks to give us wheat
The soil breaks to give us the crop
The sky breaks to give us the rain
The wheat breaks to give us the bread
The bread breaks to give us the feast
There was once even an alabaster jar that broke to give Him all the glory

Maybe the love gets in easier right where the heart’s broke open.

– The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp

The one after the other one…

I’ve been staring at my computer for the last hour… I’ve got three papers to read and one huge homework to hand in by Wednesday, but my mind will not align itself. I speak in tongues. It’s a thing I do, when my thoughts get out of hand. I try to force myself back on track. That verse that talks about capturing every thought – this is my way of putting that into action. I do not know if that is theologically correct, or the intended use, but it’s been helping.

But tonight, tonight, none of it is working. I’m an empty shell seated staring at my newsfeed and listening to more pieces of my heart fall into the deep crevices of my soul.

Juggling between a broken heart and a grieving one takes a lot more strength than seems possible right now. But it’s all grief. It’s all loss. It’s all being in a place where raw and grit gnaw at each other continuously. Facebook is not your friend, not right now. Facebook is a place your mind goes on trips, little inward facing adventures that have no bearing in the presence yet etch themselves into the fabric of your reality.

I watched Black Panther for the second time today – second time in 48 hours, I might add. I loved it even more this evening – but then I also found obituaries this evening. Obituaries with your picture in them… I’ve been fine for most of the week until this moment. This moment when I cannot remember when I last saw you, or what our last in person conversation was about.

My vision is blurred right now, so likely, I’ll blame any typos or grammar issues on these tear-streaked cheeks. But this is life, is it not? Navigating through uncertainty hoping that your feet are steadfast and your hope is sure.

There are brief moments, moments when light penetrates the grey fog that has shrouded me. Those moments when I’m in a theatre watching Black Panther and wondering if actors know what their armpits look like in IMAX, or M’baku erasing that thin line between theatre and reality – I’d like to write a review, but may be not yet. That obituary made me realise that tribute is a fancy term to help me slowly cope, while the former dredges up memories of BBC’s 6am beeps that were preceded by Radio West’s obits. Or was it Radio Uganda… Why would that play so early in the morning? Why would old people listen to it first thing in the day?

Dear God, I really do not appreciate it when life throws multiple punches with out a single time out. Well, I do not appreciate any punches to be honest – let’s just do away with punching all together.

Sigh… this is not finished, it’s bedtime…

My Neve’r’nder… #CelebratingNevender

I am beside myself, lost in an overwhelming sense of grief. Since I heard, I’ve had brief moments of sanity that last no longer than a few minutes then disintegrate back into loss and disbelief.

All it took were three messages, three messages that propelled me from a lazy Sunday morning (debating on whether to go to Church or do homework) to a state of numbness with intermittent clouds of sanity. I rushed to the UGBloggers group and there was nothing there about this news, so perhaps these people were wrong. Patricia wasn’t among the three, so surely there had been some form of miscommunication. We had our group, the three of us. A group that was initiated by the fact that some agency would not pay us for the work we had done and we needed coordinated strategies on how to communicate with them – You were the more diplomatic of the three of us. We called it TeamReview. A group that later turned into a place where we could quickly check-in with each other. TeamReview had nothing about this news – I rushed to ask Patricia but she was only finding out herself.

You were gone.

This wasn’t a crisis that you were going to recover from. There wasn’t a message looking for volunteers to help cover the event because you were not feeling well.

This time, you were gone.

Gone for good.

I am still having a hard time processing this (whatever processing is supposed to mean). I know that 60% of my tears are selfish, in the fact that I cannot believe I will not see you when I come home, I cannot believe we are not going to have a tea date. I cannot believe that you are not going to post anything on TeamReview.

On my birthday last year, you bought me a copy of Flame and Song! You knew I would love it… You got my weird taste in literature and always encouraged it. You told me to get Kintu, and I wasn’t having it – then Jackee gifted me a copy when I started my writing journey and I fell in absolute love with that book. Tail between my legs, I returned back to you with my verdict and had that I-told-you-so look all over your face.

I usually say we met back when blogging was the dope in-thing – complete with awesome pseudonyms. Yours was Nevender but for some reason, there were those (I may have been among the ‘those’) that added the ‘r’ and boy did it irk you royally! Almost like how Rogue King would sometimes be called Rouge King, and he never liked it either. I remembered your reaction and for the gentle soul in you, I couldn’t see you being annoyed over this, so the name stuck for me.

I later found out that we were both at Nakasero Primary School, class of ’97. The ones who prided themselves in the fact that we studied with the years – Lol! I realise that this is such a Ugandan thing to say. So the truth is, we were always meant to be in each other’s radar.

I fought with you constantly in those early blogger years – Looking back, I blame the momentary disease called ‘the-twenties‘. Even still, you were steadfast in our friendship – the solid one who held onto his beliefs no matter what was going on around you. I became your review board, you shared your graphics with me and I’d give you my rather novice-biased opinion at the time. I just scrolled back to our earliest emails, there are some horrendously atrocious designs in there – from banners I made about your thoughts, to BlogBpirit banners to UBHH banners. You won’t mind if I share some, would you?

When you were changing your website template, I was once again on the review board, and the first design would always be a “hmmm… this is not working” and we would work through why together. Basic Family, when it was just starting out and you told me about it, we looked over what the logo would look like, t-shirts.

Similarly, you encouraged me on my writing journey. I remember confiding in you about taking Jackee’s class and you telling me to go for it. The book reviews I got, I was trying so hard to write like you and I was failing miserably. At one point, I sent you an IM in distress… this review thing is terrible, I lamented. You said to use my own style, not to try and mimic you. You told me to be authentic and find my own voice. And I did, and you said that you like my review-style, which for me was the highest form of praise.

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This year did not start out great for me, and I remember posting in TeamReview and you reaching out after the fact – kindda like a followup conversation, but I wasn’t ready to talk so I actively avoided you. You wouldn’t have it, because I opened my eMail and there was a message from you. So I deflected to how you are and how you are holding up. You told us you were losing strength, and we would not have it. Not our Joel, so I got even more serious about praying harder for you – because for me that is my default. Let’s pray for a miracle, let’s pray for these crisises to stop, strength – anything rather than the thought of losing you.

There was a different plan already in motion…

We’ve talked about a lot of things over the years, from faith to music to literature to relationships to the trending twitter wars. We have spurred on some of them and shared frustrations about some of them. There is so much I want to write, but I’m 1 word shy of the 1500 mark and I remember having a ‘serious’ discussion with you about the length of your posts. I know that you always read my blogs, some days you were the only comment I got (You knew about my obsession with analytics).

This is going to be the first one you will not read.

We were supposed to write my memoir together. Now who is going to help me? You were always one step ahead of me, though. I did not know about Pumpkin Soup, I am not sure why – or maybe you told me and in the story that is my life I did not hear you say it.

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You wrote that. Why would you write that? If I’d read that, I’d have berated you for writing that! I’m going to miss you so much, Joel! I should be saying RIP, I cannot believe I’m writing that, but I can’t. I cannot physically bring myself to say those words out loud.

I had a dream about you, Joel. You were so happy in this dream. So happy I could feel it, you were working with someone famous – I knew who it was in the dream, but wouldn’t figure it out when I woke up. We had each been having a crappy month, so finally something good, even if it was just a dream. I rushed to tell you guys and you both told me to remember who the person was, but I just laughed it off.

I sat at the front of Church today, I wanted to stare God in the face and ask why? Every single song sounded like you saying bye to me, Joel. So of course I cried my-way through the first half hour. After Church, I half walked half cried my way around Oakland, and walked straight into another Church. A catholic one, this time, I just sat at the back and just sat there – lost. I just needed time. Time process – there is that word again… I knew if I went home, it would be real (indeed I got home and couldn’t speak, just cried even more in Judith’s arms). After the service, I lit a candle for you. I looked for the tallest one, it looked new, I hope the flame won’t get blown out. Just like your flame will not burn out in my heart.

They say that time heals all wounds, but what they really mean is that soon, you will forget and forgetting is the band-aide to heartache. I cry because while this a reality of life, I do not want to forget you. I do not want to forget your laugh. I do not want to forget your voice.

In many ways, you were my counsel and support. Your ear was never far and your heart always attentive to what I was saying or trying not to say. You were both sensitive and attentive to those that were around you. Your wisdom and conversation always widened my perspective. Your essence always a calm wind to the turmoil that I would bring to the table.

Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa, my Neve’r’nder.
You are gone.

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Photo Credits: Mostly Facebook/Twitter.

Funeral Arrangements are in the graphic below and details on where/how to send mabugo.

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