Friday, August 18, 2006


Coming Up


Bahai Temple Kampala.jpg

Africa's Bahá'í temple is located in Uganda on the outskirts of Kampala on top of Kikaya Hill. I'd seen photos of the structure and heard that the gardens surrounding it were beautiful, and I always wanted to make a visit to the temple (all Bahá'í Temples are open to the public), but for three years, I could never drag myself up to it. I decided that yesterday was the day. I kinda knew where it was, but I really did not know how to get there. It ended up being further away that I anticipated, and the road to get there was quite dusty. My friend, Charles, and I reached there just after 5:00pm, and the gates were to close at 5:30pm. We did a whirlwind tour of the grounds, and one of the guides allowed us to go into the temple. I wish we could've stayed longer; it was a very peaceful spot, and I would've loved to explore the gardens a bit more, but time. We were invited to come back for services on Sunday. My response was, "Perhaps." I know I will not be there on Sunday. Maybe I'll show up one day.

I'd never heard of the Bahá'í faith until I moved to Hoima, Uganda in 2002. I became friends with a tailor (actually, he became my stalker) who was Bahá'í, and he used to give me literature about his faith. I read a little about the persecution of people of the Bahá'í faith in the book Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Then in American Samoa, I taught a student whose family were Bahá'í. He would miss school for Bahá'í holidays, and his mother would always send me information explaining the holiday, so I learned a little about their faith as the year went on. I was even invited to their home one evening to celebrate one of their special days before their fasting began in March.

There are only seven Bahá'í temples in the world: Wilmette, Illinois USA; Kampala, Uganda; Sydney, Australia; Langenhain, Germany; Panama City, Panama; Tiapapata, Samoa; and New Delhi, India. All temples have nine sides and are topped with domes. For more information click the link: Bahá'í Temples

Outside of the Kampala temple was a display board which highlighted some of the main beliefs of Bahá'í. One of the cards on the display summarized their belief about the position of women in society.
The world of humanity has two wings; one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.
(Selections from the Writings of Abdul-Bahaá, sec. 227, p. 302) [13]


Monday, August 14, 2006

2006 is all about



That’s right, folks! You heard it here first. I’m all about the lesbians…I think. I won’t reveal much about the woman who won over my heart last night because I’m in Uganda, and, well, homosexuality is illegal here. Even though it is rare for legal action to be taken out, there is quite a bit of mud slinging that goes on:

Gay Shock

is more easily said than done in some places than others. The above segment ran in one of Uganda’s newspapers last week. (I use the term “newspaper” loosely. It ran in The Red Pepper, more of a tabloid than a legitimate newspaper. Reading the Pepper was a guilt pleasure of mine when I was in Uganda before. I never felt comfortable reading it in the public’s view. Maybe that was an indicator that I should’ve put it down.) Not only is the feature mean spirited, it’s just tacky, and the writer has not corrected his bad habit (which is oh so common in Uganda) of writing “leaving” when he really means “living”. If nothing else, the article has people talking about the issue. That’s good. Isn’t it?

Back to my new GIRLFRIEND… Who has no clue that she’s my GIRLFRIEND… Because she, herself, has a GIRLFRIEND… GIRLFRIEND!

This woman is a celebrity of sorts in Uganda. She’s been written about numerous times in the tabloids because she was a popular woman in Kampala, and her private affairs were not hidden from the public. I bumped into her for the first time on Saturday night and was won over by her dynamic smile. We happened to be in the same place at the same time on Sunday evening, too. (Yes, a sign.) This time, she introduced me to her girlfriend, who is not completely unfortunate looking. In fact, her girlfriend is beautiful, and she was wearing an extremely sexy ensemble.

Two strikes against me:
1. She’s not attracted to men.
2. She has a sexy, beautiful girlfriend.

That’s only two strikes. I’m entitled to one more. I still have a chance, right? It’s my own, personal Chasing Amy.

My new crush and I had a long conversation about nothing in particular, but I did not want it to end.

Grace Adler said it best to Nadine, Vince’s hag who hated Will because she was secretly in love with Vince: “You will never have him.”

In the end, we exchanged phone numbers, and she promised to give me a call.

You Will Never

”You will never have [her]”

Saturday, August 05, 2006

High Flyin’,


Bugolobi Flat

I have spent three whole nights in my new flat in Bugolobi. The place is empty, so it does not quite feel like home; however, the place is comfortable, and I will soon carve it into my own little space. I have a huge canvas to work with. The flat has two bedrooms, two toilets, a bathroom, a huge sitting room, a dining room, a kitchen, laundry area and balcony. It was recently renovated so there are screens in the windows to keep out the mosquitoes (Just say “No!” to malaria!) and new tiles on the floors, which keep the place quite cool. When there is power (which seems to be every other day), I even get hot water! My flat is walking distance from the school where I teach (I begin in three weeks.), which is a big plus. All of this for the whopping price of about $250 a month.

The wildlife in the area is quite frightening.

Room With A View

If I were a scientist doing research on the marabou stork, I’d have quite a view from my bedroom window. If I were Mary Poppins, I'd stick my finger out the window and let one land on it as I sing while the children I watch tidy up the nursery. It's scenes like the above that make me glad I'm not a British nanny.
(Marabou, pronounced MAR uh boo, is one of the largest birds in the stork family. The marabou lives throughout Africa. Two closely related species, the greater adjutant and the lesser adjutant, are found in India and Southeast Asia.
The marabou has long legs and stands up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall. The wings and upper body are slate-gray or black, and the underparts are white. The bird has beautiful, soft, white tail feathers, which are also called marabou. Manufacturers once used these feathers to make scarves and to trim hats and gowns. The head and neck of the marabou are almost featherless. A long pouch of reddish skin hangs down from the neck. A marabou can inflate this pouch with air, which may help it attract other marabous as mates.
Marabous feed largely on the remains of dead animals. They also eat live prey, including frogs, fish, reptiles, and locusts. Marabous nest in colonies. They build platformlike nests high in trees or on rocks and lay two or three white eggs.
Scientific classification. The marabou belongs to the stork family, Ciconiidae. Its scientific name is Leptoptilos crumeniferus.)

This has the be the most disgusting creature on the face of the planet. They eat rubbish, so if there are dumpsters (skips) around, you’ll find a flock of birds. I saw one of these beasts chasing a poor dog yesterday. A couple of years ago, I even saw one chase a woman down the street. As a bystander, I found it quite hilarious, but if I were the one being chased, I would’ve been terrified. They are HUGE (About 5 feet!), and they have a horrendous stench. People used to tell me that the meat of the bird was poisonous. While I find that hard to believe, I still wonder how drunk someone must’ve been to sample a taste of the marabou’s meat to make this discovery. My friend, Charles, and I saw a dead stork beneath a tree yesterday and noticed there were no flies around. Charles commented, “Even the flies refuse to eat these birds.”

I have an idea, remake Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, but replace all the birds with marabou storks.

The Birds

That would be one scary film.

Who says you can’t go


Bwikya Koran Dawn

(Sharon, it’s Bwikya Koran in the foreground.)

I made the journey to Hoima, Bulera Primary Teachers’ College and Bulindi, earlier this week. This is the area I called home for three years, and I left what feels like family there. For the most part, I found everyone well. Murngi has grown. He was a hyperactive three-year-old when I first arrived in Bulindi. He’s now seven years old, lost a lot of his baby fat and mellowed out just a touch, but he’s as cute as ever. Sadly, the principal of Bulera College, Mr. Isaac Munnu, passed away in June. He’d been sick for about two years. He was someone I held a lot of respect for, he was a mentor and a friend to me. In some ways he served as a father figure to me while I was in Uganda. His son died shortly after my father did, so he kind of adopted me. He was a progressive educator and made things happene for the college. I could always count on his support and wisdom. I hate that I did not get to see him again, and he is sorely missed.

The seasons are really messed up in Uganda this year. There was no rain in the rainy season, and now is supposed to be the dry season, and it rains almost daily. A side effect of the late rain is a late season for enswa (white ants or termites). Walking home from the college on Tuesday evening, Jaime (the Peace Corps Volunteer at Bwikya Coordinating Center who is leaving this month) and I walked by a cloud of these insects leaving their nest.

Boys with enswa

Check out the orb in this photo.

Enswa and Orb

Yes, I’ve eaten them: raw, fried, in ground nut stew, and in a sauce with tomatoes and mushrooms. I’m not a huge fan of them, but they are not that bad.

Nicole, I think Harriet got tired of Samoa and stowed away in my baggage. I feel a presence in my flat.