The pearl of Africa tag was granted to us because we are obviously very endowed as a country (pick your mind from the gutter, physical beauty and everything else your SST teacher told you…what were you thinking??) and we have carried it proudly for years on end.
Take a bus to Karo Karungi and you will know why it was called that, go north to the plains of Kidepo Valley National Park or looking for the sunset in Murchsion falls National Park, have you stopped at the old train station next to the post office to watch the sunset with a friend or a lover as the abandoned train carriages lie below you in the dark while you bathe in the glow from the platform? (Platform 9 and three quarters wouldn’t hold a candle to that experience). Yes we are the Pearl in Africa’s crown and no one will ever take that away from us, it’s ours; the Pride of the 256 (see what I did there? No? Ok proceed)
But all good things come to an end and we must go forward (no Mr. Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi this isn’t about you and your big brother) and the winds of change have been blowing across the soul of the pearl and am not sure we ourselves knew what we were doing when we first set out to achieve these dreams. I speak of what it means when we speak of #KlaRestaurantWeek, #Writivism2015, #Laba2015, #IPickEddy among other trends.
The Kampala Restaurant week saw 40 participating restaurants prepare signature dishes at a standard rate and doors were open for each and everyone to walk right in and enjoy the food.
The third edition of the Writivism Festival saw authors from across the African continent converge on our dusty Kampala city in the name of African literature, teaching and mentoring young writers, African novels were the talk of the day and no one who attended failed to walk away with an African Novel, the Short story Prize was announced and sex was spoken of; not in hushed whispers, but on stages with alongside many other sessions including one on blogging.
The Laba Arts Festival returned under the theme Back to the Future. Two stages, a whole street shut down, mad deejays on deck and Art. So much of it that your eyes didn’t know where to begin from; in all shapes, forms and sizes. Amazing beautiful African Art work right here in Kampala, Bukoto street to be precise.
Eddy Kenzo has been on a globe-trotting mission this entire year that has caught the eye of the BET fellows and now the hommie is in line to win an award. The hashtag #IPickEddy is how you vote for him ON INSTAGRAM ONLY. Here is a lad whose songs are Ugandan grown; STAMINA, SITYA LOSS and the rest. He speaks to a Ugandan Audience, we love him, the world loves him and so the world is beginning to take note of Uganda when she speaks.
Therein lies my point; the world is beginning to listen to Uganda as she sits in her crowning glory playing, laughing and whispering to her children.
This whole cultural self-pity of how the colonialists came and stripped us of our culture giving us theirs and OH! If only they hadn’t how far along we would be is frankly a tired tale. So a bunch of 256ers set out to make their own small contribution and together they have started a cultural change. I speak of Bwesige Ba’ Mwesigire, Phillip Kalibwani, Eddie Kenzo, DJ Darkmeme, Kemigisha Elizabeth and the rest of the team at the Gothsen and all those underdogs out there that want to sing their song, tell their story and create something new from the recesses of their minds. Because of people like them who step outside the box and away from the mainstream, we as 256ers now have a billion reasons to believe (shout out to Coca-Cola).
I admit we will never be our grandparents; and may never fully understand their ways and their cultures but we shouldn’t let that stop us from having our own. Growing up I never imagined my identity going beyond the cows I grazed with my grandfather, asking my Kaka for another rap, the omwitiryo my aunties prepared and the folk stories I picked up wandering around the hills of my village. That was then this is us now and I find it hard to imagine how I will define my identity as a Ugandan a few years from now; the possibilities are endless.
In fact before 1986 we would never have imagined any of these things I write about now being possible, before 1986 bigwigs were never on the TL, nudes weren’t blowing up whatsapp group chats and the Cultural Revolution had not begun in earnest (do I hear Evelyn Anite clapping for me?) And now after 1986 we have gone forward (and the clapping has stopped).
But I digress.
Not only are we known for outter beauty (light skins take a seat) but inner beauty as well. We are known for what our minds can imagine and conjure as well as for giving ourselves our own culture that the world can enjoy. Let us hold our heads high and together say, “we are proud to be 256ers”
And whatever happens don’t forget to follow @Bet_intl on Instagram and use the hashtag #IPickEddy to help our boy bring it home.