Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Royal baby, Great Britain, Common Wealth, USA and the world at large

At the corner of a very busy street there happens to be a wide kerb which serves as the sun-break patch for members who stay in a very large apartment building. Different groups spoke different languages; Vietnamese, French, Japanese, German, Bengal, Bhutan, Chinese, English, Spanish, Portuguese and a sprinkling of African dialects. The reason for this gathering and murmurs was a topic whose events were happening in St. Mary’s Hospital in London in another country on another continent far away from the Americas. On July 22nd 2013, an 8 pound (lbs) happily bouncing baby boy was born to Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Middleton Duchess of Cambridge. The baby boy was named George Alexander Louis on July 24th 2013.

It is said all sorts of names were put forward by royalty followers both in Britain and outside of it. Alexandra, Charlotte, George and James were ranked so high. There was an expectation of either a boy or girl. No one thought of twins or triplets! But anyway it has been settled and the title of the baby is His Royal Highness (HRH) George Alexander Louis, Duke of Cambridge.

HRH, the newly born is third in line and waiting for the crown. There is a popular saying doing the rounds: the baby makes three. This is a symbol of blessing. And in Great Britain, a Christian land this lends itself the Trinitarian attribute. In it lie godliness, kindness, mercy, blessedness and promise.

I had to get to the library, to get to my very liked haunt on the 3rd floor in a very quiet well-lit corner, with windows the size of a table-tennis table. I would have told the group about how all children born on this day in Uganda will get to be given names like; Georgina or George. I also didn’t share with them that I come from a smaller Kingdom nation in Africa with a similar arrangement to that of the British crown. I did not tell them that the naming of the royal child in Buganda is so different. In Buganda, the royal child is given Christian, cultural and gender-related names. Like the British we also name after a past long gone relative. Unlike the British, our culture does not reveal a royal child until that child is around a year or two years old.

The world is watching in anticipation. What happens in Great Britain has its reverberation felt at all corners of the world. The message to all of us is that: we are living in a hopeful world with possibilities and opportunities.

Monday, 22 July 2013

As a feminist, I find this article insightful

When was the last time somebody raised questions on the feminism movement and the entire women emancipation agenda in this country? Has the gospel gone too extreme, almost on the border of losing track? Are there things the feminists are not taking note of and should do better in articulating their message? Well, a group of vibrant, almost elite Kampala women actually think the feminism movement has lost track.
They think it is time to start posing the hard questions, if only to salvage the original woman, who they argue gets lost in the emancipation labyrinth. 
This is the aptly named Beautiful Feet Dancing company Uganda, which in the words of its managing director Jacqueline Tumusime, is “an all-female dance company that draws from the roots of traditional African dances, blends them with elements of contemporary genres to create a fresh fusion of ethnic and contemporary dance”
Not your average group
And the group, founded in 2009 by Nancy, Kacungira and professional dancer Catherine Nakazibwe strives to establish its niche on advancing the feminism cause through dance. Contemporary dance at that, whose origins date as far back as the 1920s is as a protest to ballet.
Certainly, the group, managed by Autumn Ventures with training studios in Makindye, a Kampala suburb, is not a charity. Like any social enterprise, they are out to hunt for some money. The name, Beautiful Feet, is derived from the book of Isaiah Chapter 52, that acclaims the beautiful feet of those who bring good news. The group is not your average dance group that will stage performances for the sake of bagging the money after pulling crowds.
The girls, many of them corporates drawn from different career pools in their mid 20s, pride in their diverse and all culture embracing style, performing a variety of dances, each enveloped with a message that touches on aspects of womanhood such as virtue, resilience, compassion and misery. 
For instance, to portray the message of resilience in a single mother, 24 year old Florence Ndagire twists her body to a rigorous West African dance that engages all parts of the body, she swings her hands in the air, throws the legs crossways and gets lifted by a colleague as tranquil music from Qwela Band plays in the background.
Another set of dancers take on Dance from the heart, fusing western Uganda dance, ekitagururo, Indian dance and Buganda’s Bakisimba, to play out pertinent issues afflicting the ordinary woman like domestic violence while in essence questioning the woman too. Their attire, designed by Ras Kasozi, a renowned fashion designer in his own right, is also inclined to the theme. This was evident at their latest 30 minute production at Sheraton Kampala Hotel on 5 July which questioned feminism, “Is there a danger of women losing themselves in the pursuit of their emancipation?”
For Ndagire, a sponsorships coordinator with Watoto Church ministries, “it is easier to act out something that comes from the heart, we identify with our performances because many of us have gone through these experiences. We are not just articulating the woman’s troubles, we identify with them so the dances are not choreographed, they come from the heart.”
Reviving the original woman
Ndagire, who speaks with Bible in hand during our interview and quotes it often, is convinced her performances can, “touch a soul and revive the original woman, that woman God created in Genesis who is beautiful, hardworking and responsible. Through our dance we are saying you can be a CEO but you don’t have to overthrow your husband.”
These issues, Tumusime emphasises, form the backbone of their performances, and company philosophy, “we think contemporary dance has been abstract, we endeavour to remove it from the theatre and tailor it to issues the society relates with. We keep talking of the girl child education but where is the boy child? Feminists always bash the male species, but are we not being blind to our own weaknesses? You hear female activists advocating for homosexuality. Now what is that? These are the issues we want to bring out through contemporary dance.”
But well, how do you advance that conversation beyond the dance floor and audience seats? At Sheraton for instance, over 1,000 guests attended but how sustainable or even measurable is the impact of the dance?
“Sustainability is not our worry because these issues affect the everyday person, ours is to set the agenda, we want to first start that dialogue through dance,” Tumusime explains. At the Sheraton, there was a 40 minute dialogue after the dance by eminent women activists like Dr Miria Matembe who discussed the feminism question. And yes, if policy dialogue and dance are fused, then the question on feminism might be in the right hands.

Diaspora, sending money to Africa and hoping the money will grow

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Exercise Marthan agility and a Marian humility as we possess this world

There are practical books that give us direction as we continue living happily and fruitfully in this world. Good conduct aside, skills and connections can help one but all are rendered obsolete without God’s blessing. Ever since I took a spiritual soul search, I have taken to reading various spiritual books from different religions, ethnicities and writers. The Bible has tended to be my source on ‘accepting God in our lives’:  In Genesis 18: 1-12 one reads of Abraham’s experience of hosting God and how Sarah was to have a child in old age. In Luke 10: 38-42 one reads about Jesus pointing the way to possess this world by balancing spiritual and physical needs. In the reading one meets Martha ‘the woman of the house’ in her spirit and element. She is obsessed with entertaining Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi. We also meet Mary ‘the wise one’ sitting at Jesus feet intent on listening to every word that comes out of Jesus. Martha complains and asks Mary to come over to help with preparing meals. But Jesus reassures Martha and Mary that His word was all they needed at that moment. Jesus was a frequent guest at this home and he must have been entertained numerable times. Jesus emphasized various actions but the five that were important are: love of God and humans; forgiving; appearances/attitude; fairness in how we treat each other and; giving (especially alms). We meet this advice in Luke 11: 41-54. Elsewhere in Mathew 16:24-26, Jesus castigates us and guides us on how to winning both the world and our souls. We need to strive to gain both the world and our souls.  Humans were created to possess the world but as we do so let us keep in mind our Marthan duties and Marian imperatives..