Friday, July 9, 2010

Zhank-you vaaaary much!

So this isn’t really work related, but it is a typical day-in-the-life story, so I thought I’d share.

Today in Katosi, Colleen and I decided to go for a run on our normal route up to the top of the cell phone tower hill. As we start to leave Mama Gertrude’s compound, we notice that there’s a lot more noise than normal coming from the streets. When we poke our heads out the main door, we notice that about 50 meters down the road there’s a huge swarm of people jumping and dancing to tribal drum music while pumping sticks up and down in the air. Perplexed, but hey, it’s Africa so not entirely surprised, we decide to do what we’ve become used to doing and just act like it’s business as normal.
Quick background, my runs here in Uganda are anything but normal. As a mzungu girl in running shorts, I’m going to get attention no matter what I’m doing, but me jogging just seems to be the greatest entertainment since color TV to some locals. So, a typical run will usually entail the women in hysterics, boda boda drivers honking and cheering, and my own personal fleet of barefoot runners aged three to ten trailing in my wake. So, that’s a typical jog.
Today, however, the Bagishu’s (a local tribe) street celebration added a new level of fun. Colleen and I slowly approach the festivities, trying our best to remain as inconspicuous as possible (which is actually impossible). Before I can comprehend what’s happening, I’ve been enveloped by a mass of people wearing banana-leaf hats and skirts, fist pumping with sticks, and doing a sort of African hip-dance. Lost beyond belief, I turn around to search for Colleen, and to even greater shock when I turn back around I have now been approached by the band (which includes drummer, dancer, and numerous other instruments). Now surrounded, people are chanting and encouraging me, the mzungu in jogging clothes, to start dancing and jumping. I fall into hysterical laughter and slowly try and extricate myself from the crowd. About sixty seconds after the entire episode began, Colleen and I find ourselves on the other side of the crowd, shrug off the incident, and take off for business as usual.
What was this celebration, you may wonder? As Mama later informed us, it was the tribe’s circumcision celebration. As an endnote, here’s an enlightening Ugandan statistic: 73% of the time, I have no idea what’s going on.


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