So it’s taken me some time to get back into the swing of things enough to post. It’s not for lack of something to write about. On the contrary, the first two weeks have been full. I’ve been so busy attending rituals and thinking and writing and transcribing…there hasn’t really been much time for blogging.
Maybe it’s appropriate then that now I do have a little time on the day I went to my Ugandan host family’s place near Ntinda. I had been biding my time until most of the family could be there. What a happy afternoon! Mr. Magoba invited me for lunch, but they all knew as well as I did that it was a leisurely affair that would take all afternoon.
Lunch was fantastic as usual. Local food really is good in Uganda. Maama Magoba’s food is a whole new level, though. I eat matooke almost every day here. Some people would get sick of it, but I really like the stuff. Today, Maama’s tooke was really a cut above anything I’ve had since I got back here. That set the tone for the whole visit.
This really was a homecoming for me. Don’t get me wrong: I love my family in the States. When people make me feel this at home when I’m this far from home, though, that’s a really special thing. I realized this morning that I had been eagerly anticipating this for two weeks.
I always bring gifts for my family and friends here. This time my wife sent me with really nice gifts for the ladies in the family. Maama got two necklaces, and she absolutely loved them both.
Gloriah’s necklace is going to go well with her newest pink gomesi (local nice dress for women here). People really like to match things up exactly here. Needless to say Sister Glo was elated.
Then there’s Nantongo. This girl took such great care of me when I was here last year. She’s the girl who cooks and does much of the laundry in the Magoba household. We call her Nakinyonyi (Big Bird) because she’s always smiling. She nicknamed me similarly as Ssekinyonyi (Big Bird, the male version) last year. After greeting Mr. and Mrs. Magoba properly, she came out of the girls’ room there and shouted,
How great to see my good friend again! I don’t think she expected much of anything from me, but she’s part of the family. Jenn really made a cute necklace for her with little blue stars and some clear beads. It was like watching a child on Christmas morning.
Settimba and some of the others weren’t there, but I will see them soon. In the mean time, it was really cool to see Mr. Magoba with his bazuukulu (grandkids).
At age 6, Mugumya is a total Curious George with a priceless gap-toothed grin (akazigo).
Then there’s Vincent (in the yellow), who can really school Uncle Kigozi in soccer.
As we relaxed after lunch and drank some of Maama’s homemade pineapple wine, they invited me to three upcoming family events. Among these, Jjajja Omwami Kaweesa (Grandpa Kaweesa) turns 100 this month, and we’re going to celebrate with a big family reunion on the 26th. I’m so excited. These are the people who initiated my linguistic and cultural education in Uganda. Now that I’ve been coming here for three years, they are still the people who teach me most about language, culture, and how a family lives together here.
When Jjajja Kaweesa prays, he still thanks God not only for all that he has, but also for all of the blessings that he has yet to receive in his life. It’s such a hopeful outlook. Maybe this is how a person lives to be 100 and has the riches of family that he has. This is how a coffee farmer in Uganda and his wife educate their 11 children, 10 of them through university level, and several through post-graduate studies. Now that he’s dependent on them, it’s inspiring to see that he still lives in his own home, where his children and grandchildren take care of him. This, I have the privilege of saying, is my family in Uganda.