This post is my reflection on the Christmas day I spend with new found friends and family in Uganda…
My friend Amina, in the black dress below, was our safety guide while rafting the Nile river 2 days before. She saw that I was traveling alone and asked where I would be on Christmas. When she heard I would be alone she invited me straight away to be with her family. Keep in mind that Christmas in Uganda is not Christmas in the west. There are acts of kindness and revelries but no extreme gift giving and rarely is Christ mentioned, though they are generally devout Christians. There are some Muslim communities as well and a lot of unknowns. Anyway…
Water is hauled from a local well. We cooked with it and I was fine. I can’t remember the name of Amina’s husbands sister but what a smile. I think this is the only time Amina hasn’t smiled in her life. This is the jack stove I cooked chicken stew on. I asked how often the family eats meat. She said once a month and today because I was there. Aww, she sure knows the way to an Alaskan guys heart! There’s that smile again Dinner is served. Chicken stew, rice, matooke (a type of banana that is boiled), ebinebwa (ground peanut sauce).. I said I thought we were cooking for the whole village and she laughed and said we cook a lot becasue you’re here…then came some questions:
“Is it true that all men from your land like really big women?”
Is it true that in your land the more babies you have the richer you are becasue the government gives you more money?”
Now it was time to eat and then nap. They made a bed for me outside on the ground where all of the village children gathered as I snoozed and ran when I awoke. I was a bit shy taking photos, particularly of the others around. There are people all around us, it is no private party. The women are dressed very traditionally but all of the sudden some of the boys are dressed in some cheesy gangster outfits and strutting their stuff.I ask Amina about this and if the girls like it. She said “yes, and at dark they will go into the corn. And August there will be many more of us.” Yup.
I am now completely forgetting the name of Aminas husband but when he got home from work he looked at me and said, “we go”. We were off to a “bar” to watch professional wrestling. Seriously. He asked if I liked wrestling and I told him I did (like 30 years ago). Relveries continued all night. Way longer than I could dance. But we boogied a good amount until Amina said it was time. We walked back to their 9 square meter home and snacked on leftovers. I was flying to Ethiopia the next night so I would see them again. When I stood up to leave each one came up and embraced me to the fullest and asked that I come back. That I go to the corn and stay.
I am not a Christmas guy at all but I do love the spirit of togetherness that holidays instill in us all.
Happy Holidays to ALL of you.