photo mashups

hybrid culture update is still in the works. for now, here are two photo mashups that i recently “wrote” for some mcc paperwork that i turned in amazingly late. happy photo-feasting.

a glimpse at primary schools in north karamoja

top: pajer primary school pupils; staff room karanga boys primary; primary 5 pupil, kiru primary school

middle: talking trees-pajer primery school; primary 4, pajar primary; school management committee representatives, lobalangit primary school

bottom: english department cabinet karanga boy’s primary, artwork, kotido mixed primary, poster promoting education, kaabong district



kotido mixed: the road to nationals

top: original composition, regional competition; drama, town council competition; traditional folk song, national theater performance

middle: folk song, national theater performance; traditional dance, sliding rock-pre-national competition party; original composition, national theater performance; speech on the benefits of the east african community, town council competition

bottom: traditional dance, national theater performance; original poem on the theme (child protection), sliding rock-pre-national competition; traditional dance, national theater performance


a very karamoja thanksgiving

happy thanksgiving!

today marks my third thanksgiving celebrated in uganda, and this one is going to be the best one yet, i think. whats that? “why?” you ask? well, let me tell you why:

house-mate and i are armed with the following recipes:
*alton brown’s roasted turkey
*rachael ray’s scalloped potatoes
*”the joy of cooking” pumpkin pie
*someone’s grandmother’s recipe for candied sweet potatoes

also in the arsenal:
*stovetop stuffing from the u.s.
*national lampoon’s “christmas vacation”
*mulled wine
*general frivolity and mischief

our turkey has the potential of being the most fresh turkey i’ve ever eaten, as she was alive this time yesterday. i believe this is the first turkey i have ever made “on my own” so it should be quite the adventure. perhaps i should say “continued adventure” as procuring said turkey was an adventure in and of itself.

mama rose made some phone calls to track down someone selling a turkey, a short-ish walk to this mama’s house, a selection of turkey, and a payment later i was following house-mate and mama (who were carrying the live turkey, each holding a wing…sorry for no pictures, the camera was at home!) back to the compound.

perhaps i should mention, i thought it was a good idea to take the dog along to the picking of the turkey. a lesson in being good and learning how to behave on her leash. there were no casualties, but i do have a bruise from her leash as she attempted to pull my arms off repeatedly. we all survived. (well, turkey didn’t…)

not possessing the strength to kill my own turkey, it was done on my behalf by one of the boys at mama’s house. they also did the majority of the de-feathering and de-gutting said turkey.

however, when she (the turkey) arrived all naked from her plucking a lot of her neck was still attached. i was a little grossed out removing it–but not enough to discontinue the turkey-preparation adventure. the animals were quite happy with this as they were the ones to consume said neck.

whomever slaughtered the turkey made a strange cut from the neck to the breast. much laughter ensued as house-mate and i performed minor surgery to sew up the incision with dental floss in our poorly-lit kitchen around midnight last night. i laughed so hard i cried! it was one of those moments when i realized the true ridiculousness of my weird life. delight!

as i type, the turkey is tenderizing in the fridge–bathed in a sumptuous mixture of yogurt, tomato, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper over night. (thank you, india, for tandori!) a trip to the market for remaining feast ingredients is impending this afternoon.

obviously, this is not a holiday in uganda, so i am taking a half-day from work for the thanksgiving prep and festivities. ironically, today is the nomination day for the upcoming elections in uganda so there are parades of people in town cheering for their candidate(s). not quite the macey’s parade, but, at least its a joyful noise!
(debatable, i know. believe me, i know.)

discussions of pulling out the mini-christmas-tree have been overheard…and i might break my own “no christmas stuff until advent” rule this year and start listening to christmas music. (you will not, however find baby jesus in the creche until christmas eve!).

gobble. gobble.

hybrid culture: one

i invite you to consider this sculpture––la malinche, by jimmie durham––with me.

currently, i am working on a piece inspired by la malinche, my trip back to the u.s. for a few weeks, eve ensler’s book “insecure at last” and my ongoing wonderings on pilgrimage/culture/missions/anthropology. more to come.









“this sculpture appears at first to be a traditional native american carving. the melancholy face decorated with beads, snakeskin and feathers speaks of a stolen inheritance. but a work by durham — cherokee indian artist, and political activist — is never what it seems. this is no ‘authentic’ artifact. the figure is wearing plastic, hippy jewellery and a chain-store bra, the body an assemblage of recycled objects. la malinche was an indian princess who was the mistress of a white man, and, as such, this work can be interpreted as a symbol of sexual oppression and colonial domination. playful and poignant, this sculpture comments on hybrid culture, and also questions the prejudices of the western viewer — our desire to treat non-western art as exotic ethnography and our readiness to accept stereotypical representations of indigenous peoples. referring to himself as a ‘post-modern primative’ durham pinpoints his complex intellectual position as a native american artists in a eurocentric world.” the 20th century art book. phaidon press, 2001.

“whites in shining armor”

alas, i cannot take credit for the delicious title of this post. so let me start off by giving credit where credit is due to a post from “good intentions are not enough.” the post and the blog are both worth reading.

the good intentions are not enough blog mainly focuses on discussion regarding development/development practices/relief work, a lot of which (in my opinion) intersects with mission trips or other faith-based travel. (sometimes called voluntourism.) this particular post helped to attach a very vivid image to some squeamishness i feel in regards to “traditional” and historical missions in the christian tradition.

two works of fiction come to mind when contemplating “traditional” or historical missions by christians. the first was one of those books darn near everyone was reading many summers ago thanks to oprah’s book club: the poisonwood bible. and one from the american christianity course i had in seminary, a terrible novel about a terrible missionary called “no graven image.”

both of these narratives of missionaries feature a “whites in shining armor”  (WISA) protagonist cropping up in foreign fields, a bible in one hand and magical-white-person-western answers in the other. (and if s/he had a third hand s/he would have a hymnal in it.)

my inner feminist shouting about knights in shining armor being a hoax is just barely muffled by the trying-to-be-faithful christian who seems to be banging her head against a wall at this common pattern or model of christians interacting with others through missions. just as i, a mere female, do not need/desire/care for a knight in shining armor to come swooping in to “rescue” me; the people of the world do not need white westerners swooping in to “rescue” them.

the father, nathan, in “the poisonwood bible” is a classic example of a white in shining armor. he is an american pastor. educated and qualified for pastorhood, he “gives up” and “sacrifices” the comforts and familiarities of home to take the answers to “dark africa.”  in full WISA fashion he swoops in and immediately plants a demonstration garden. however, nathan has put his cart before his horse. while his garden grows large and healthy plants, there are no vegetables to harvest from these plants…he has a pollination problem.

nathans mistake, and the same mistake made by his wife and his daughters, was assuming possession of sufficient knowledge.

margaret, the main character in “no graven image” somewhat more meekly finds herself in a foreign country with all the answers one could need stored between her ears.

many times (most?) when white people swoop in to places foreign to them, be it a country or a neighborhood they would never usually enter, do not tend to think of the potential danger or harm their presence/lack of knowledge of place/people can be.

some dangers posed to local people because of a “whites in shining armor”, as illuminated (in brief) in these two novels:

the poisonwood bible- the dear father and reverend really wants to save these people’s souls, and the best way he knows to do this is to baptize them by immersion in their convenient local river.  now, don’t get me wrong: i’m not against baptism. or against being baptized by immersion or even in a river. the issue here is his crazed insistence that it must be done! this way! now! he doesn’t realize that the people fear that river and the deadly animals that lurk within it. it is his lack of knowledge and arguably his lack of desire to grow in knowledge, that keeps him held at arms length by the people.

he also provides an amusing illustration of acting without knowledge: the good reverend plants a vegetable garden. this is not a harmful move, and could really be one the most endearing things this fellow does throughout the whole narrative. it is arguable that his intention (to SHOW the people how to eat) is “whites in shining armor”-esque and it certainly shows that his attitude is one of  having more knowledge about a place than the local people do.

the results of the vegetable garden are fantastic! huge leafy green plants! but there is a problem…no fruits or vegetables are on the huge leafy green plants as there was nothing to pollinate his foreign varieties. oops. a nonhurtful (other than to his pride) example of how ignorance of a place can lead to results that are not exactly fantastic.

switching gears a bit, in “no graven image” margaret commits the same sin as many missionaries/aidworkers/random foreigners in places that aren’t their own: she practices medicine with no medical training. at first, this kind of works out for her- she has some good luck and her little practice becomes quite busy–and she sees this as a good way into the “hearts of the indians”. but, as most quacks usually do, she messes up. and someone dies.

i’m not going to even insult your intelligence by telling you why this is bad.

some people metaphorically “practice medicine” without training.
some people really do practice medicine with no training, armed with “where there is no doctor” and good intentions.

the same things are done today by missionaries and aid workers across the planet. the “whites in shining armor” swoop in with their seeds, their bibles and their answers not taking a hot-minute to even ask if the people they are there to help even want their help. we bring our answers without knowing the true questions. we practice medicine without knowing the difference between tylenol and advil. and this is terrifying.

and this “whites in shining armor” sickness or delusion of grandure is what i’m trying to work against. skin color does not denote wisdom. or truth. country of origin does not denote personal value or potential.

at least it shouldn’t.

we need to rethink how we interact with people, who we think we are, and where the “answers” come from. don’t be a “white in shining armor”. be someone who is compassionate. someone who listens to what people say and don’t say, to what they truly desire and need. be someone who is humble enough to admit being wrong. be someone open to new experiences and different ways of doing things.

bad blogger!

yes, i will admit it, i have become a terrible blogger. i never update and i keep promising that i will blog or promising specific posts. (i am still working on at least one of the promised posts…really…i am!)

but at the moment i’m sitting in the airport at kansas city getting ready to head to my home on the other side of the ocean, and have free-really-fast-wireless and am taking advantage of the moment.

thinking about two homes
the other day while poking around my email inbox i noticed something. in had an email from a friend in uganda who was ready for me to come ‘home’. she said “ready to see you when you come home (uganda)!” and the email just after that was from a friend on this side of the ocean wishing me a good stay at ‘home.’

in uganda i am frequently told to “feel at home” and in the states am told to “make yourself at home.”

a lot of people have said a lot of things about “home” and “going home” or “being home” so i’m not really going to add anything pithy or attempt to be profound on the subject of “home” but invite you to think about where is “home”? where do you feel “at home”?