HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD ACTIVELY ENGAGE IN YOUR COMMUNITY.
Ever heard of the biblical saying that ‘a prophet is never accepted in his own homeland’? Well maybe something like that but also, maybe not exactly. What if a prophet comes from a homeland they know nothing about? After all, what do you know about your homeland? In this post, we are yet to discover a few individuals in Africa who came from the ghetto or slums and did something about it, or a few people who saw a need and responded with solutions, or even some who knew no boundaries about indulging in communities that the society frowns upon. We are going to explore from individuals to companies, scenarios, among others. Ride in! Eventually, you’re going to get it all together. The point is that you discover what’s happening in your community and engage to the best of your ability.
LET’S PICK A FEW SCENARIOS.
- 1. Honorable Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, also one of Uganda’s most influential people, is a musician and politician/activist famous for not only his songs but also his movement “people power”. Why people love Bobi Wine? – because he is self-made. Growing up in the ghetto. He’s street-bred, but somehow, hustled, learned, made it to the top because of his incredibly educative lyrics, which somehow placed him a position of what an ideal leader should be. Hello, good things come from anywhere. Don’t intimidate other people because of their background, and also, do not be afraid to share a story of where you come from, you don’t know whose life you’re touching. Back to the first line- perhaps Bobi is one the few accepted in his own homeland. I am here to discuss ghettos or slums in Uganda, not necessarily Bobi Wine even though he is one of Uganda’s iconic figures from the ghetto. ( very Glad to have your attention).
2. I remember the first time I heard about Eco-post Kenya, a company that is focusing on re-using plastics to manufacture other incredible tools like fences, signposts, etc, all over Nairobi and other parts of Kenya. This company hires people to collect plastics for re-use. In fact, its founder Lorna Rutto is one of the most incredible women in Africa. I guess that’s how I came to know about it initially. The plastics are usually from slums. Though, I couldn’t help but shock when I saw the number of Plastics in Kibera, Africa’s biggest slum. I thought no, what’s Eco-post doing? Then it hit me. That one company can’t be surely cleaning up the whole city. One body is not enough.
Come to think of it. What hits you when you walk through a slum or ghetto or a new town? A lot! What do you expect the government and companies to be doing about the state of your town? Scrap that shit! Blink. Think twice. The real Question is; what are you doing about the state of the slums in your city? Do you even go there? Or you just hear about them?
- Yes, so I had pledged that I would visit this company on my first visit to Nairobi. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to do so during my stay there (had my issues) but hey, the knowledge that this company existed sparked interest in me. I wanted to do something like this for my country too. I remember sitting by a beach on Lake Victoria some time and seeing this man swimming, picking plastics from the lake, and putting them in his huge sack. I walked over to talk to him when he was finally done. Unfortunately for me, he seemed rather more interested in that fact that I was a good looking woman so, amidst our conversation, he kept asking me if I wanted to go to his house and make babies with him. But he did give me some valuable information though. Ha-ha. I remember another young man walked over and asked me if I was not been scared. Scared was the last thing I had been at that time. I come across such people a lot. It is not bad to talk to people everyone else thinks you shouldn’t talk to because of their appearance, but it does not mean you should be negligent either.
Some of these people, because of what they are inhaling maybe drugs, could turn from sober to utter crazy the next second, so at least you have to make sure you are psychologically prepared and ahead. It means constant studying of the body language, monitor the approach etc. Don’t appear scared, don’t be intimidated, neither should your body give you away. (Dung! Learned some of that from Dave)
- The first time I was in a slum was in the Kibera slum in Nairobi. I wrote a series of articles about it. Check HERE. and HERE.
Most of us in Uganda have heard of Katwe, Katanga, Kisenyi, etc. These are all slums, but we don’t really go there. We just hear what happens there. Our parents are always trying to protect us from such places. The Legendary Queen of Katwe movie by Kenyan Star Lupita Nyong’o is what globally popularised Katwe, much as the slum was already known in Uganda, being the place in which you can easily find made in Uganda products. Made in Uganda shoes, etc… These people somehow, know how to make this magic work; I prefer to think that the products here are actually good. I suspect so. Next time I will try to purchase something and perhaps I will share with you, just for
Also being in Kenya, all my Kenyan friends would be shocked whenever I mentioned that I was staying in Kibera. They would mostly say something along the lines of (hey, but you’ve got to be careful. That place is really rough. It is dangerous.) Some had been to Kibera some had not. But of course, word goes around faster than wildfires.
I remember telling Dave almost the same words Kimanthi told me that afternoon in Nairobi. “Be careful. The slum is really tough, Kibera especially.” Kimanthi’s warning came back to my mind as soon as I revealed to Dave about how I am not sure about his decision or interest to photograph in the slums. ME: “Be careful. I have not really been to Kisenyi. Only passed there while in taxis but I have heard that strange things happen there. People’s phones have been grabbed there.” Ha-ha. The irony of life! I remember how scared I was. Admiring him for his bravery and audacity to go to places that Ugandans including myself are scared, yet he is a foreigner. A few days later, I was in Kisenyi with him, having now an experience of my own. Only then did I wish that I had not been so scared of going to these places before. I believe that somewhere somehow, I got so many insights from there. Sometimes it’s better to confront your fears.
The whole experience made me realize a few things.
- It’s easier to try visiting these places while in a different country than one’s own.
- These places are not really that scary all the time. Only sometimes.
- If you look scared or intimidated, yes. You are likely to be attacked, so you need to outsmart the predators in these places. They are eyeing you like prey. So you have to be smart. Be a mixture of predator and prey. Be polite but don’t show fear. Psychological competence is power. Know your enemy before you invade their territory. This is a battlefield. You are not carrying guns, but your body language is going to determine whether you survive or not.
- Other people live in these places. It’s mostly not their wish. Who are you to judge? They are not even different. They have the same desires as you. Just in a different location, maybe wilder, but this is a matter of what life has thrown before them. They did not choose it. Don’t spit at the street children when you’re locked up in your comfortable Mercedes. Maybe that is your uncle’s spouse’s nephew and things like that. It’s a small world.
- Be a fuckin’ pro! Whatever you do, you’ve got to give it your best. I learned this from Dave. He has mastered the art of photography so well that even amidst a bunch of street smart boys playing with his pockets, hugging him from the back, grabbing his shoulders, playing with the camera handle while they are trying to figure out how best they can rob him of the camera, he is focused. Taking the right shots, paying attention to detail, delivering, while still being aware of what is going on around him. Now listen, you can’t out-smart a person who has done his homework, upped his game, is psychologically and physically more competent than you are and is far more focused! So keep in mind, what you do demand that you give it your utmost best. Be a pro in your niche. Um. If you aren’t challenged, at least you are impressed and I am glad.
- You lose nothing when you engage in your community. If anything, you benefit.
- I am so eager to share with you about the Non-Government Organisations making an impact on Uganda’s slums. Be on the lookout. But for now, check out this. (The Mbuyu Foundation)
If you carefully think about the above, you might be able to master your community so well; you might become an accepted prophet in the land haha! Cheers and see you soon! Friday is just around the corner. Episode 2 of the thing between our legs is soon here. Read episode one here.