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.


  1. Congrats! You're the "Peace Corps Blog of the Day" on the National Peace Corps Association's Twitter Feed.

    When you have a chance, check out our new website at http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org and sign onto the social networking area, Connected Peace Corps. It's a great way to interact with members of the Peace Corps Community. Family and friends of Peace Corps are welcome too!

    Enjoy your stay in Uganda!



  2. jones,
    i dig ya g! congrats apparently that you're the peace corps blog of today! :) i'm leaving for Brazil and Costa Rica in about a week, and things are getting crazy up here. i'm well overdue to call you to talk before i bounce. hope all's well, and you look rather skinny, i'm gonna have to feed you plenty of lamb and duck when you come back to "plump you up"! miss you very much, brotha.

  3. You made a point that I have felt for a long time...exercise, as in going to the gym, and (for example) lifting heavy things and putting them back down again, is pretty silly when you think about it. It's even more silly to me that the ultimate goal is to build more muscle so that even heavier things can be lifted and put back down again at the gym. Rarely is there actual, practical application for all of that working out. I am all for exercise that accomplishes so much more than just physical fitness. Go Jones!