19 February 2009

Do you DIG?

If you happen to visit Uganda1, you might experience a (mis-)conversation like this one:

Ugandan: Do you know how to dig?
YOU: [with slightly narrowed eyes] Yes[?].
Ugandan: Sure? ... What do you dig?
YOU: Usually just holes.
Ugandan: ...
Ugandan: What do you dig with?
YOU: A shovel.
Ugandan: Sure? Not with a hoe?

Most Ugandans can dig, ya dig? "Digging" is Uganglish for gardening or farming, which most people (something like 80% of the population) use as a primary mode of survival. The hoe2 is really central to most people's lives. Now, it's important to understand that digging is hard work; especially consider that people don't plow here. Yes, there are cows, but it is a rare thing to even hear of someone using them to turn up the earth. Every piece of land that is "reclaimed from the bush" had to be fought for: cut down, cleared, and broken up with a hoe in hard hands.

Up until about three weeks ago I was pretty useless with a hoe, but as I was pretty bored while school was out I invited myself to go out and dig with my neighbor Yeko3. Part of this was to match up my current thoughts on exercise4 with an attempt to connect more with Ugandans. Before I go on talking too much, here's some pictures:

Sowing Beans

Just today, I learned how to sow beans. Two beans in a hole. Cover it up with your foot.5 Move on. Easy and nicely Zen. Juliet, niece to Yeko, is in the background and in the far background you can see a lot of people at the borehole.

Ms. Nakajje in traditional digging attire

Yeko, Smiling, scoops out little holes for beans

A poem to end:

They ask "To dig, do you know?"
sillily I reply "yes,"
and invite myself to join Yeko.
In the garden I do my best,
but somehow manage to hit my toe.
Besides that little mishap,
I enjoy digging, Yeko calls me a pro.
Productive exercise spent with friends,
who knew how far, with digging, I'd go?

Peace Out Bruthas (and Sistas and Muthas, etc.),


0 - This is the first of a few little blogs in which I want to focus on Ugandan life and take the opportunity to post more pictures than I usually do. Upcoming topics are likely to be: THE BOREHOLE, MY FAVORITE "RESTAURANT", and others (suggestions welcome).
1 - Which you should. It's beautiful, the people are nice, even if they point out your whiteness a bit too much. And I'm still around for some time...
2 - 10 points to whoever can come up with the best "hoe" joke. GO!
3 - Note that this sentence with a bit of selective editing could easily guarantee that I'll never become president and simultaneously win 10 points.
4 - I had recently rationalized to myself that exercise -- the willful wasting of energy -- is just silly. Why not do something with that energy? Something productive, or at the very least something fun. This comes after my failed attempts to train for a marathon. Running is not fun. For me anyway. (Uncle Ken,if you're reading this, you are totally right.) So, some things I decided to do more of or start doing are 1) digging, 2) pumping at borehole (in next feature blog), 3) playing with kids (frisbee, hacky sack, juggling, handstands & cartwheels), 4) chopping wood (strangely I do find this fun). What's been especially awesome about this is that I've felt a lot better in the last few weeks and have also gotten a lot more contact with Ugandans.
5 - I had to be a bit careful as on my second day of digging I managed to catch myself in the big toe and about half my toenail is hanging on by a flap. Shoe goo came in handy to secure after bending it a bit today -- don't know why it hadn't occured to me before.

12 February 2009

Sorry, sorree (1)

As has been pointed out to me, it's been far too long since I updated this blog. Partly because I haven't been to the internet in almost 2 weeks and partly because my computer time is often being eaten by other, more nerdly pursuits (see Christmas below). I'm planning a couple more interesting blog posts, with pictures (if the internet gods allow) and as a lot and a little has transpired in the last month and a half I'm just gonna hit some big bullet points.


  • Kenya week-long vacation: Please refer to the blog of Ms. Brett, my travel companion

  • Christmas_time = 'non-event' + ' programing in Python to pass time' + ' reading interesting stuff' # On interesting reading, if you thought that my emotional graph was cool, you should check out a guy named Seth Roberts who has been doing serious and insight-lucrative self research for years.2

  • P2 Thematic Curriculum Training: A whirlwind 6-day workshop co-facilitated with my new counterpart, Arthur. In a word: harrowing. But, I felt quite accomplished afterward, and learned some things about working with Ugandans and people in general. Here's a picture of our participants packed into one of the school classrooms (sorry, internet's slow, no pictures:

Paranoid Post3 International4
(Sent & Received)

  • From Ken, Tracy, & Boys: Got the awesome book Black Swan and card you sent. To them, "Thank You So Much! " and a short letter is on the way back. To others, you should read this book if you get a chance - I'll put up a goodreads review in a bit, but as of now I'm planning on giving it *****.

  • To Patty: a short letter of thanks and information digging.

  • To Grandpa Dick: a photocopy of a photocopy of the letter that seems to have gotten lost.

  • These Already Mentioned?

  • To Nicole: longish mess of rambling resembling a letter.


1 - At first annoying, this commonly used Ugandanism has become part of my vocabulary along with the incorrect use of "somehow" and the ever-present-and-ever-loved "mmmm." It's usually used to be a showing of empathy about misfortune, about the closest we have is "man, that sucks" or on a lighter occasion, "oops."

2 - By-the-by I am serious, you should check it out, it's really cool. I'll even email you the major article he wrote about it for the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences if you request.

3 - I decided "Letters" was dull and need some jazzing up. It's "paranoid", because I want to know if things I send get there--for example, my mom received only the front of the envelope of a short letter I sent (and unfortunately forgot to photocopy)--and also so you know the wonderful things you send me have been received exuberantly.

4 - I say "International" because I've been sending some letters and Cds back and forth with other volunteers recently. This has been a fun way to trade music and other ideas that often get glazed over with a little too much beer at PCV get-togethers. All of these people are amazing--I just wished they lived closer, same as you all.

* - Actually, that's not exactly true, there is one big piece of news for you diligent footnote readers. Although, I've been thinking about extending my service for a while now, I haven't been talking about it much because it was still a big question-mark on the horizon. Well, now it's more of a period. I'm here an extra three months until about Mid-August, which'll put me back stateside around September if I do a little traveling. There will be more explanation to appear on the computer lab site in a bit.