“What did you do for your last birthday?” I couldn’t recall, so l just stood there wondering aimlessly. Nothing came to mind about what l did on my previous birthday. Of course this means I did nothing special or memorable and was probably just in the house sleeping. I think my sisters gave me a card though :).
Anyway, I was thankful to just be alive. There was cake, soda and friends…what more could a hot gial ask for. Lol. Spoiler: I sensed the surprise folks, when Miss.Kahunde began pulling me aside from the crowd and redirecting me to my hotel room upstairs, I knew something must be cooking. Everyone prepared themselves then I was taken down by Kahunde. She didn’t even prep me to put on makeup or a nice kadress. Kahunde babe, y’all need to work on yo’ surprise techniques. Hahaha. Anyway, she was ambushed by the people to like hide me as she too did not know about the surprise prior, so isorait. Am using her sur name because I find it so beautiful. Lynette is her first name. She is from the Toro community. I love listening to them speak in ‘kiganda’… to me it sounds like a mix of luo and luhya- kenyan local dialect languages. Uganda has indeed preserved its cultural roots to the core. From its food, to even the village setting in the city. It is in Uganda that I first tasted smoked fish in g-nut/groundnut soup. They also still have a king who actually holds some say in how things are run in the country and his opinion is respected. Uganda is usually tagged the name, “The Pearl of Africa”. The words of Winston Churchill published in 1908 still ring true today in the 21st Century. “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.” The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale.
Lynette be like: ‘Banange‘- like she din’ do nothin’ …mhnnnn—
In 1858 John Hanning Speke and Richard Burton ventured through Uganda and were amazed by what they found and it was John Hanning Speke that discovered Lake Victoria as the source of the Nile, were impressed by how wide and open the streets were of the capital of the Buganda Kingdom and were amazed by the local culture and ways of the people.
Surprise!!! They rang out-!:). So I was in Uganda for a project entitled S4C- increasing career opportunities for youth in sub-Saharan Africa spearheaded by SMK university in Lithuania and sponsored by the European Union. During break Bob goes like, “It is illegal to not appreciate a woman during her birthday in Ugandan culture,” we all laughed. Bob is the founder of Uganda Youth Skills Association (UYUSTO) one of the partner organizations involved in the project and of course, our able hosts in Uganda. I did not know if the statement Bob pronounced was true but what I saw and experienced is how well the Ugandan men treated their women. They truly value them. This reminds me when my friends and l travelled to Dar es Salaam and one time we were out with a South African gentleman and our Tanzanian friend as well. So after eating, the South African guy goes like “In our country, a woman cannot pay for anything when the man is present.” He then proceeded to pay for us all our bills. The Kenyan ladies were really shocked and touched at the same time because when we compared that generous act to one of the men in these two countries to the ones back home in Kenya… well let me just use the phrase we use often… “tungechonga viazi.” Our Tanzanian host was also very awesome… He took care of us so so well it was as if we were his 4 wives. Hahaha. I had met him in Slovenia, Europe on yet another EU sponsored youth exchange project. I just love how he hosted my friends and I. The memory of how we felt is printed in our minds.
Travel tip: When you travel and can get a great host, please do. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble. From knowing the places in the city, receiving the full experience in that place, to getting the best prices.
Anyway, back to Uganda. There were people participating from Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and the project coordinators from Lithuania(earlier mentioned)- a country in Europe with a population of only up to 2.8 million people….about half the population of the Kenyan capital which is 4.5 million. It also has some of the tallest people in the world; almost as tall as the Sudanese.
We ate cake and we couldn’t even finish. They sang for me of course.
There were even gifts from Lietuva(Lithuania in local dialect terms): natural honey in a small cute jar and an embroidered handmade bookmark written Lietuva. They were divine because these friends, earlier acquaintances did not know l did not take sugar with my tea; I actually took honey a lot. Also, I was an author but had not published my first book yet while still in Uganda.
Giant group hug from one of the tallest people on earth 😮
We had fun… played games till some people fell sleepy. I liked the dare given to someone to carry me, coz l love being carried- such a turn on to me. It was simply fun & awesome. I remember the feeling. The next day we had a site visit to UYUSTO and I carried my cake to share with the amazing youth there. It was so heart-warming. I felt so loved. And look how happy Bob is to help me cut the cake.
So this Birthday, I will always remember. It is a warm thought in my heart, mind and soul. The essence of it is its simplicity. It was simply amazing. Thank you all who enabled this memory to be marked in my mind, heart and soul. I felt at home in Uganda. I hope we will share more happy memories together, but for this one, it is a mark in my mind that I will always remember.
P.s Make your days in life memorable, life is short ooh 🙂
N/B: I volunteer and travelled courtesy Volunteer Action for Change Kenya (VACK) and the European Union ([EU] – earlier mentioned).