Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kampala (first days at Tuhende)


How have these days flown by so quickly? We landed in Kampala only three nights ago, yet I already feel almost comfortable and at home in this bustling capital city. From the staff at Tuhende Lodge to its deeply spiritual and genial owner, Sam, and the many young Western passerbys, these three days have introduced me to many amazing people. The hectic markets and city streets have yielded the same results, as smiling faces of strangers are almost a constant, usually followed by greetings of "hello, sista" and questions of home country and, of course, the well-being of Obama (except for the guy who claimed to be Barack's brother and therefore was already aware of his status).

After returning from touring the largest Mosque in Uganda (conveniently located a block from Tuhende) which included a half hour of huddling under a church roof during a stint of torrential downpour), Maressa, Kate, Megan and I sat down with the hotel owner Sam. We talked for a long time about Uganda's past and future, and I was disappointed to hear the pessimistic opinion of Sam concerning progress, education, and pretty much everything we are working for here in Uganda. He felt that the people lack all iniciative and instead are happy in mediocracy. While he has lived in Uganda much longer than I and has had many more years to gain wisdom, I can not help but disagree.

In Uganda, will widespread corruption, there is often no reward for hard work and accomplishment. If this were to change, if the government and bureaucracy were to become more legitimate and accountable, people would have something to strive for and this lack of desire and committment that Sam described could be overcome. I am optimistic and I choose to believe that conditions can and will continue to improve. Being submerged in a society so focused on personal, human interaction over material possession gives me this hope, and makes it impossible for me to believe that this is the best that there can be.

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