IT HAPPENED TO ME TOO
An Activist’s Dilemma Ever heard of the phrase “Practice what you preach?” What about one that says, “Do as I say, not as I do” Right? It can be confusing. You might wonder why the Catholic priest who weds people in marriages and quotes how God commanded Adam and Eve to bear more fruit and fill the earth never got married or fathered children himself. Or why a marriage counselor might be single, and scenarios like that. It is like one saying a certain feminism extremist said everything could be done in her power until she got married and complained to the husband that he was not taking care of anything. In his head, he was like, “Well, last night on TV you said you could handle everything all by yourself.” Ha-ha. Let’s not go deep in there, but this is the world. There is a situation you once insulted but later found yourself in. You did not know what to do about it. Either you had put yourself in such a dilemma, or the universe had. Now you either had to betray your inner beliefs for a minute, or you had to walk away confused and act like it never happened. Or you were praying that something else happens that would save you from that dilemma. You prayed that no one who knows how homophobic you’ve been all your life catches you kissing another man, or how you insulted one political party, only to find yourself joining that very party two years down the road. Think opposition. You were a non-religious extremist and a sworn atheist until one day you confessed Jesus. Do you ever sit on your bed and quietly meditate? Have you ever tried to think of what you would do should the tables turn? If you got caught in the position you have never wished to see yourself in? A person I met in a girl empowerment session said she had critiqued abortion practitioners all her life until she had found herself pregnant with nowhere to stay, nothing to feed the future child with. Imagine being homeless, poor, and pregnant. At the end of it all, she had come to a conclusion that she did not want to bring a child on earth that she would never be able to take care of. If she was not able to take care of herself, how was she going to be able to take care of herself and future baby? She had ended up terminating the pregnancy and it had been for such reasons that she had been attending the session. See? Some call this Karma. Since then, she had wanted to let other girls know that they didn’t have to carry the stigmas from tradition and religion when the burden was already too heavy they could never carry. You know, there is something collective about tradition or culture. As a group, it is easy to say, in our culture, we do not do this. In our family, we do not eat mangoes, and etcetera, until you find yourself in a situation that calls for only an individual. At that point, your clan, tribe, village, and all these circles we claim are ours have no say. There is a point when ubuntu somehow disappears and the situation is entirely about you. Not about your mom, sister, auntie or grandmother. It is about you. You are alone and it is up to you to close your eyes and pretend no one is in the room with you, or consider all are watching. In most African societies, we have a saying that “A child belongs to the village” or rather, a child is never raised by just one person. They are raised by a community. What I am not sure you have observed is also how everyone cheers when you are pregnant but are nowhere in the ward while you are pushing that baby. Or, why while we are often in lack, the community somehow disappears. You are on your own. You starve on your own. Everything somehow becomes difficult. What we mostly do is to mourn the dead. While the deceased was in a hospital and asking for financial assistance to get better medication, no relative was nearby but as soon as the die, ten thousand people show up for vigil, they somehow get the money to cater for the food, the coffin, the mass and yet, all that was not even half the price the deceased needed while in a hospital. I might never get to understand this bit of our culture. How loud we cry and mourn the dead. I prefer to call this hypocrisy, maybe someone else has a better term for it. In other words, its easier to cater to the dead than it is to cater to the living. Most of us are like that. We will critique a situation until it turns to us. Some mothers will insult the neighbor’s teenage daughter for getting pregnant at such a young age until one day their thirteen-year-old daughter dies trying to abort; reason? The stigma they had created. The girl had not wanted to bring home similar shame like the neighbor’s; she had wound up dead while aborting! Now they would realize that maybe the girl who had kept her pregnancy had not done badly after all because had they not sent so much energy critiquing her, their daughter would have survived. Even as a teen mom! It’s not the worst thing that can happen. Some lessons are learned the hard way- huh! I will tell you what happened to me; it is coming to one month since I moved into this new amazing place. You know, I was raised in a home where we gather our rubbish at the pit, and then we burn it when it’s dry enough. So we don’t just dispose of like that. (I heard that burning is illegal in Europe). Well, it is not in Uganda and if it were to be made illegal because of the release of gasses in the atmosphere, then the whole country would stink. I also somehow believe that the kind of rubbish we burn here is more organic. Things like dry grass and leaves. I assume that in Europe they would burn mostly plastics and stuff like that. Ha-ha. You know their lives – So, yes. The other times I lived in some apartment, we would just put the rubbish in the bins outside and later the care-takers of the entire premises would take it away. I don’t know where to. My dilemma in this new place, however, is that I have never talked to the landlord in person since the day I received the payment receipt. So, a couple of weeks ago I asked my neighbor if she knew where we had to put the garbage and she excitedly volunteered to show me to a place where we are supposed to dump it. I saw it and
couldnt help but be shocked. How was I supposed to carry to rubbish from my house to an obviously healthy green field forty meters away from the main gate?
You know, it’s a plot of land that someone bought and I assume they have not enough resources yet to make their establishment; either a house or something like that. And it’s the place that the entire neighborhood has now started to dump their garbage. Besides this being someone’s property, I felt guilty that I would have to betray my concern for the environment and take all my plastics and other garbage to the green field. How am I supposed to be concerned about the environment, and the SDG’s and climate change etcetera but be caught up in such a dilemma? It was one thing that previously did not know where we would dump the garbage, or that we have burned all our rubbish all my life, then it is another thing to carry plastics and dump them in a field I can see is healthy and blossoming, and is obviously someone’s private property.
For now, my rubbish has not accumulated since I do not stay home much so it is still sitting in a corner in the kitchen which I have also never used. But what is going to happen when it accumulates and I have to get rid of it? What would you do if you knew what you might have to do is not in line with your individual virtues? What would you do if you were me?
Please leave a
comment below on what you would do! I am interested in hearing your thoughts on